A Day In Rome – 24 Hours in Italy’s Capital City

Trevi FountainPin

Rome was not built in a day, but can you explore it in one day? After having visited Italy‘s capital city four times in the past decade, I can safely say no! But you don’t always have the luxury of time — sometimes 24 hours is all that you can spend in the Eternal City. Which is exactly what happened last summer when I went on a cruise aboard the newly launched Norwegian Viva. The cruise began in Rome and ended in Lisbon (you can read about my experience here and here). I arrived in Rome a day before embarkation and this is how I spent 24 hours in Rome.

Roman ForumPin


My flight landed at 7 a.m. and after clearing immigration and collecting my luggage, I boarded the Leonardo Express to get from the airport to the city centre. This is a convenient (and economical) way of getting from Fiumicino Airport to the central station, Roma Termini. Airport taxis charge a flat rate of €50 while the express train ticket costs €14 and trains depart every 15 minutes. From the station, you can either use the metro or a taxi (the stand is just outside the station) to get to your hotel or apartment. I opted for the latter and I paid €9 to reach Corso 281.


Sant'Eustachio Il CaffePin

Since standard check-in time is 2 p.m., I left my luggage at the hotel and set out for the day. First order of business was coffee, of course, and luckily my favourite cafe in Rome was located just a short walk from the hotel. Sant’Eustachio Il Caffè is located near the Pantheon — I love its cheery yellow interiors and strong coffee. So I ordered a double espresso and a pillowy, custard-filled bombolone (kind of like a doughnut) to have a truly Italian-style breakfast.


Fortified with coffee, I ambled around the Pantheon — entry used to be free, but since last year, you have to pay €5. I had already seen it thrice, so I skipped going inside. If you haven’t, you absolutely should pay the entry fee and admire the former Roman temple. The Pantheon is an architectural marvel — almost 2,000 years after it was built, its dome is still the world’s largest un-reinforced concrete dome! Inside, it houses many royal tombs as well as that of Raphael.

Piazza NavonaPin

From here, it was a short distance to Piazza Navona, which is hands-down my favourite piazza in Rome. I love its Baroque architecture and the stunning Bernini fountains.

River TiberPin

A short walk from the piazza brought me to promenade by the River Tiber. Here, I stood and admired Castel Sant’Angelo, which was originally built as a mausoleum by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It was later used as a papal fortress and is now a museum. Frankly, I have never been inside, but I do love this view (below) from across the Ponte Sant’Angelo. Also, built by Hadrian (completed in 134 AD), the travertine marble-faced bridge is lined with exquisitely detailed sculptures of ten angels.

Castel Sant'AngeloPin
Roman StreetsPin
Campo de' FioriPin


I then looped back towards the city centre via Campo de’ Fiori. This bustling, medieval square hosts a daily market with seasonal produce, flowers, and some trinkets. It’s quite touristy but it’s a fun place to walk around and people-watch. There are many cafes and restaurants here and you can stop for a drink or lunch. Speaking of which, I had booked a table at Emma, a pizzeria that I had read glowing reviews about on several local blogs. It’s a sister concern of the famed Roscioli, which is also nearby, so I had high expectations. Sadly, the pizza turned out to be an over-priced disappointment and I would not recommend this place at all. I wish I had just gone to Roscioli as usual…

To make up for the sad lunch, I treated myself to gelato at one of my favourite gelaterias. Fatamorgana has many outlets around the city, including one a couple of minutes from Emma. I love their inventive flavours and I picked Pensiero, which has pink grapefruit, ginger, horseradish, and lemon zest – yummy!

Largo di Torre ArgentinaPin

I started making my way back to the hotel, but first I stopped at Largo di Torre Argentina. Every time I visit this place, I’m gobsmacked at how ancient Roman ruins just stand casually by a busy thoroughfare. This particular square contains the remains of four Roman temples and Pompey’s Theatre. But more importantly, the spot where Julius Caesar is believed to have been assassinated is in this square!

Piazza del CampidoglioPin

A short distance away is Piazza del Campidoglio, a monumental square designed by Michelangelo. From here, you can get a bird’s eye view of the Roman Forum, with the Colosseum in the distance.

Piazza VeneziaPin

I walked past Piazza Venezia, stopping to take photos of the hulking Victor Emmanuel II Monument, which honours the first king of unified Italy.

Galleria Doria Pamphilj interioPin


By the time I returned to my hotel, my room was ready so I quickly freshened up and headed back out. I had pre-booked a ticket to Galleria Doria Pamphilj. Housed in a 17th-century palazzo, this gallery contains one of the largest private collections of artworks and sculptures in the city. The Hall of Mirrors that’s lined with gilded Venetian mirrors is particularly stunning!


Next stop, Tazza d’Oro near the Pantheon for a coffee, followed by a gelato at Il Gelato di San Crispino near Trevi Fountain.

Il Gelato di San CrispinoPin
Spanish StepsPin

I then walked (uphill) towards the Spanish Steps since I had reservations for aperitivo and dinner at Hotel de la Ville.

Hotel de la VillePin

Housed in a 17th-century mansion, this is a stunning design-forward boutique hotel, which is part of the Rocco Forte group. Their rooftop Cielo is a lovely spot for an aperitivo with a view of Rome’s rooftops. I ordered a Campari spritz and later, a cacio e pepe for dinner. If you want more recommendations on where (and what) to eat in Rome, read my feature for Zee Zest.

Spanish StepsPin

I walked back to the hotel but not before admiring this gorgeous sight of the Spanish Steps at night.

Trevi FountainPin

The next morning

I had to board the cruise this morning, but I had time for one last wander and coffee in Rome. I went to Sant’Eustachio (again!) and then walked over to the Trevi Fountain to take a photo minus the crowds. This was around 7.45 a.m. and just a few people were milling about.

Via del CorsoPin

I returned to my hotel to this sumptuous in-suite breakfast.

Breakfast at Corso 281 Pin

That’s it – my 24-hour jaunt around Rome had come to an end! Leaving you with a few photos of random things that caught my eye on my way back to the hotel. If you need more recommendations on what to see and do in Rome, check out my earlier blog posts as well as my feature in the February 2024 issue of Air India’s magazine.

Ciao e ci vediamo presto (see you soon)!

Roman sightsPin

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