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Rome In A Day: The Bite-Sized Tour That Packs A Punch

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By Lucy Cocoran on 22nd May 2024

We all know Rome wasn’t built in a day, but experiencing the highlights reel in one is entirely possible.

A trip to the eternal city feels like a rite of passage for anyone looking to experience the real Italy. As the capital of the Roman Empire, it is home to some incredible landmarks, including the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Spanish Steps and Vatican Museums.

Last year, Rome was voted seventh in a list of the world's most tourist-stimulating cities and overall, is the most populous city in the country. Its seemingly endless lineup of attractions can feel daunting for a first time visitor who is eager to soak up everything Rome has to offer, which is where the benefit of a tour comes in.

We spent three days in Rome, and while planning an itinerary ourselves was entirely possible, we didn’t want to spend our limited time with our faces in a map — we are on holiday after all! Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of tour companies available, but we chose Tourist Italy’s Rome In A Day tour offering. We found this had every attraction we were planning on visiting, with the added appeal of a food element. We also liked their promise of keeping the tour groups small, as wrangling more people usually cuts into your already limited time.

As their name suggests, Tourist Italy are experts in showing off the country. Spanning fourteen different regions including Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Milan and Cinque Terre, the company is certifiably passionate about Italy. Crafting itineraries which uncover hidden gems, unique experiences and authentic culture, they are focused on showcasing the real essence of your chosen destination. 

Our day began at 10:30am at the Piazza del Colosseo, located near the Colosseum. Here, we were introduced to our guide Mario and set off with our group (there were ten of us in total). 

The line to purchase tickets on the day was unbelievably long, so there was a collective sense of relief at the ability to bypass those hours spent waiting in the heat! Mario was a real character who detailed the Colosseum’s history in a fun and engaging manner. Given that it was active for 500 years, there was plenty of information to condense, but he kept things really straightforward and easy to follow. I could really visualise the historical picture he was painting, and the major events which were held there. 

Tickets from this tour also include entrance to Palatine Hill and the Imperial Forum. It was busy, but once inside, the sheer size of the grounds means you disperse quickly and have plenty of breathing room. The weather was great and we enjoyed our time wandering through and experiencing the most famous of Rome's seven hills.

Given the distance between the Colosseum and the Spanish Steps, Tourist Italy offer a car transfer to ensure you don’t waste precious time walking between them. This was a really thoughtful touch and gave our legs a break, too! 

Our transfer dropped us at Babington’s Tea Room where we met our second tour guide, Yuval. Before our tour began, he asked whether we would prefer we prefer to learn through facts and figures or storytelling. As a journalist, I love a good story, so he ensured our tour was rich with vivid details for each location. 

We began at the Spanish Steps where we discovered the interesting backstory behind the Barcaccia Fountain at the foot of the stairs. From here, we walked to the Spanish Embassy and onto the Trevi Fountain, where Yuval shared the meaning behind several of its key figures. There were fascinating details he pointed out which I wouldn't have otherwise noticed, so I was really grateful for his insights.

Following this, we walked through the Galleria Del Corso, before reaching the tasting portion of the tour. We made two stops, where we sampled the best coffee and best ice cream in Rome. I don't want to ruin the surprise and disclose their names, but I can confirm they both lived up to their 'best in class' titles.

The coffee shop pride themselves on growing their own beans in Rome which is a quality Yuval says sets their coffee apart. We drank our cappuccinos at the counter in true Italian style, while watching the baristas prepare orders at impressive speed. Here, Yuval also cleared up the misconception that it’s frowned upon to order a cappuccino after midday — a fact which was music to my caffeine-addicted ears. 

The gelato store was a real treat (pun absolutely intended). The pistachio flavour was perfectly rich and creamy, and as someone who spent most of their Italy trip sampling pistachio gelato, I can safely say it was up there with the best.

Feeling sufficiently refuelled, we paid a visit to the Pantheon and learned of Rome’s religious historical background. This portion of the tour includes optional free time to enter the Pantheon if you wish, or explore the surrounding area if not. 

A short walk away, we stopped at a local deli and sampled a few savoury items including truffle spreads and parmigiano reggiano cheese with honey. We then headed to the back of the store to taste some alcoholic liqueurs. There were a few flavours I hadn’t tried before, (including Yuval’s favourite which was melon). They were each delicious and full of flavour, but special mention must go to the refreshing power of the Italian limoncello. 

The tour ended near the Travestere neighbourhood which we’d visited the night before and loved. There are plenty of bars here with an authentic, local feel and mostly importantly, plenty of Aperol. 

As we reflected on the day, it was clear just how much information we had absorbed. Rome has no shortage of attractions, but looking at them and actually understanding their significance are two very different things.

With a city as deeply historical as Rome, relying on the insider knowledge of a guide was truly invaluable. By the end of the day, we had a much richer understanding of each major monument and their historical backgrounds. It felt as if we’d had both the tourist and local experience combined into one tour, uncovering a solid blend of major attractions and local gems.

I couldn’t recommend Tourist Italy more for curating a stress-free day filled with passionate people and memorable learnings. Now, to share everything I've learned with my loved ones back home and teach them a thing or two.

You can book this Rome In A Day tour through Tourist Italy here.

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