Yes, it can be done!!! I accomplished this when I had an 18-hour layover on my way back from Greece. Now, I would definitely recommend taking more than 18 hours to see some of the hotspots in Rome, but sometimes you have to make the best with what you got.
Before I dive in, here is your PSA for the day:
WEAR COMFORTABLE SHOES!
I know it may seem silly, but the central part of Rome around the Colosseum and the Roman forum is a whole lot of cobblestones. And trust me, wearing very thin, flat sandals in 100+ degree heat on cobblestones, no bueno. My feet were sore the entire next day. So, if you know you are going to be walking around a lot (which when traveling is probably a pretty good guess) wear shoes you won’t be cussing out in two hours.
Now that we got that out of the way, here is how I did it. I flew into the Leonardo Di Vinci Airport and took a taxi from my hotel into Rome, which was a great way to see the streets around the area. I started walking and let my feet take me where I wanted to go. Finding the Colosseum wasn’t too hard, just follow the crowds.
There was a lot to see so I had to drink everything in. And being an anthropologist /historian at heart, I was totally geeking out! To think how many people fit in that place is mindboggling.
On the high end, it could hold almost as much as the AT&T Stadium where the Cowboys play, and this was built in 60-70 AD! Like I said, mind boggling. Also, it is bigger than you think.
I wish I had had the time to actually go in, but alas, only 3 hours, and so I kept walking.
I walked right into the Roman Forum, by accident…I just took a turn. To see where democracy had one of its roots was very exciting. It was also nice that I got to walk around the area because all of the crowds were near the Colosseum, so I had the Forum all to myself.
I definitely recommend taking the time and learning about the Forum because it is an important part of history and is extremely important to the rise and fall of Rome (nerd).
The next destination was the Trevi Fountain. Finding this took a little more effort. I started walking down some random streets, which I am glad I did, because I got to see more of the Italian architecture. luckily since this is a very touristy area, you just listen for crowds and you will find it (shamefully I listened for English too, tourists). Even though it was swimming with people, the architecture and beauty of the fountain still rained supreme.
The beautiful workmanship on this fountain was breathtaking. This fountain always reminds me of the classic film Roman Holiday with the amazing Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck (old movie buff alert!).
My final stop was the Spanish Steps. After I made it here, I grudgingly had to head back to the spot where I would be picked up by my hotel’s car, or it would have been one hell of a cab fare.
What I learned most from doing this was to take in what you can and when you have the opportunity to see or experience something, take it, because you never know when you might get the chance again.
I’ve been to Rome! I can say that now. I got to walk where Julius Caesar and Marc Antony walked. That’s a joy that I will cherish forever. And I did it in 3 hours!!