Take a trip back in time: 4 Days in Rome

It’s impossible to experience everything this incredible city has to offer in just 4 days in Rome. The allure of the historic city is undeniable, which is why countless travellers find themselves drawn back time after time. To make the most of a brief stay, read on for my favourite sights and activities to have a memorable Roman getaway.

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4 Days in Rome: The historic city

The closer you get to history the more interesting it becomes and Rome offers the perfect setting to put this theory to the test. Every visit to Rome leaves me wanting to better understand the lives of those who once wandered its cobblestone streets. Rome isn’t just a place to visit, it’s a gateway to the past, offering a glimpse into another era. 4 days in Rome is as close to time travel as you can get without a DeLorean.

4 days in Rome

4 Days in Rome: Getting around

Rome is a city for walking. Walking not only offers the best opportunity to marvel at the city’s monuments, each a testament to its rich and well-preserved history, but essential to justify that second gelato. With 4 days in Rome, time is on your side. Pack a pair of comfortable walking shoes, all the sites listed below are conveniently located within walking distance to one another.

4 Days in Rome: the must-see sights

Palatine Hill

Entrance to Palatine Hill, the Colosseum and the Roman Forum require a fee-paying combined ticket. It might be tempting to skip the entrance fee and view Palatine Hill from the perimeter, but it’s well worth closer study. Those spending 4 days in Rome can justify getting closer to the action.

Old Rome Atlas Introspective

Palatine Hill is one of the oldest remaining areas in Rome, and people have walked these paths since as early as 1000BC. The longer you spend at Palatine Hill, the more you see. At first glance, it may appear to be a collection of buildings in various states of decay, but a rich tapestry of history lies before you. A knowledgable guide will significantly enhance the experience.


The Colosseum remains a colossus of a structure despite centuries of decay. A true symbol of wealth and power, originally completed in 70AD. After crossing the threshold, the below-ground cells are revealed. It takes a morbid imagination to contemplate the blood-lust necessary to create this amphitheatre of death. But this show had a willing audience: 50 000 spectators filled the stadium for 4 decades to witness the gladiatorial games. Slaves, criminals and POWs fought against one another and wild animals, in bloody battles to the death. Time, fire, pollution and earthquake have threatened this monument. Yet it continues to stand, in defiance. It’s both a fascinating and vile testament to the human condition.

When 4 days in Rome isn’t enough: Trevi Fountain

If 4 days in Rome leaves you wanting more, travellers folklore dictates that those who throw a coin in the Trevi fountain, ensure their return to Rome. I’m obliged to perpetuate this superstition because it has rewarded me on two occasions (self-determinism has nothing to do with it). On one occasion, the fountain was undergoing a major renovation. Despite being bone dry and obscured by scaffolding, I tossed a coin. Even a skeptic has their weakness.

If you’re going to do it, commit fully. The correct action is right hand over left shoulder. Rumour has it that many of the cities homeless relieve the fountain of its Euros under the night sky. It’s not technically stealing & I love the opportunistic exploitation of a tourist trap.

The Trevi fountain will be familiar to many. Most notably as the location where Anita Ekberg takes a leisurely dip in ‘La Dolce Vita’. The Trevi fountain is part of the Aqua Virgo aqueduct created in 19 BC, and is the largest Baroque fountain in the city. It’s best admired, gelato in hand.

San Crispino Atlas Introspective

4 Days in Rome: The best Gelato in town!

Fortunately, the Trevi fountain it’s near the best gelateria in Rome. Continue walking passed lurid-coloured gelato covered in frou-frou. These trimmings disguise inferior quality and I refuse to waste a single calorie on rubbish gelato. The real thing doesn’t need window dressing.

One street back from the Trevi fountain is San Crispino. Understated and pretentious. They refuse to serve in cones for fear it will ‘contaminate’ the experience. Come for the honey flavour and take in the Trevi Fountain, smug in the knowledge that you are eating the best gelato in Rome. Then come again after (or for) dinner.

Vatican river bridge rome Atlas Introspective


Originally completed in 14 AD, then rebuilt in 126 AD, the Pantheon is recognised as one of the best preserved buildings in Rome. There are a number of tombs within the Pantheon, including the remains of the Renaissance painter, Raphael.

The front of the building features large columns, unlike the stone used in the rest of the structure. The stone was likely quarried in from Egypt. It’s thought that the columns were transported over land on rollers, where they were sailed down the Nile to the Mediterranean sea and then the Tiber river. At this point they may have been dragged or rolled to the site of the Pantheon. If this theory is correct, the columns were rolled over 100kms and then transferred from barge to vessel, then barge again, on water. At 60 tonnes each we can speculate that many, many slaves were required to accomplish such a feat.

Of further architectural interest is the concrete dome that forms the ceiling. Built over 2000 years ago it remains the largest unstructured concrete dome in the world. Analysis of the dome concluded that the use of less dense stones, such as pumice at the height of the dome as well the use of a honeycomb formation ensures that the remarkable ceiling is strong, without unnecessary weight. The oculus (hole) located at the centre of the dome provides the only light source.

Vatican Museum & the Sistine Chapel

Vatican 2007 Atlas Introspective

The Vatican City is actually a country, independent of Italy. At 110 acres, it’s a city within a city and a country within a country. The Vatican museum is a must-see for art-lovers.

Please note, the Vatican Museum keeps odd-hours. It’s not unusual to arrive and discover it closed for a religious holiday or for certain exhibits to randomly close early. Review the opening times beforehand and plan your 4 days in Rome itinerary around it to avoid disappointment. I once missed seeing the Sistine Chapel because it closed 15 minutes after purchasing my ticket, in the middle of the day. It cost me a coin at the Trevi fountain.

Spanish Steps

Modern street vatican Atlas Introspective

Drawn by its beauty, the Spanish Steps have been a popular meeting place for artists throughout history. Women seeking work as models soon followed and before long it was the meeting spot for the wealthy and tourists alike. The poet John Keats lived in a house on the corner. Today the Spanish Steps continue to draw crowds from all walks of life. It’s the nucleus of the posh shopping district, so spend a few hours window shopping then stop for an aperitivo.

4 days in Rome is never enough!

4 days in Rome is long enough to take in the highlights of this historic city, allowing for lingering meals and leisurely siestas. But expect to leave wanting more. Do as the locals do, take your time and enjoy la dolce vita (the sweet life). Cin-Cin!

4 days in Rome

How would you spend 4 days in Rome?

While you’re in Italy, why not explore Venice?