Rome. Probably one of the best cities in the world. I finally managed to see it two years ago, in the middle of February and I loved it. I was there for only 4 days which I packed with all the tourist objectives I could think of, having the Google map of the city marked with so many stars, you could barely see anything else.
This was actually not the first time in Rome for me, though when I first went there, back in high school, I only had half a day in which I toured the Vatican Museum and took a tour bus on a rainy, cloudy day with heavy traffic – I barely saw a thing. Naturally, this time I would make the most of it.
From the Rome Ciampino Airport, we took a bus to the city center, as our accommodation was near Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II. The ride took less than an hour, I believe and from there we only walked for a few minutes. The accommodation was a small room with a private bathroom in an old building. I vaguely remember it as it was one of those trips when you only see your room at night and immediately fall asleep after a long day of walking.
Being in Italy, we started with a gelato. Then, we headed straight to the Vatican Museum. Although we’ve both visited it before, it’s simply one of those attractions you can’t get enough of. TIP time! It was the middle of the day, a Friday, and there were only 2 people in line at the ticket office. However, there was a pretty big line outside for groups. So, if you get there, and you’re not with a group, make sure you stand in the right queue.
After visiting the museum, we thought we might try the Basilica San Pietro as well. However, the queue was rather long, encircling over half of the Piazza San Pietro, so we decided to try another day. Instead, we headed to Castel Sant’Angelo, a large castle, very near Vatican City. After this, we crossed the Sant’Angelo Bridge, passed through Piazza Navona, and visited the Pantheon, which is a circular temple, a quite impressive structure.
TIP time! We wrapped up our day with Fontana di Trevi, where we threw the smallest coins we had and discovered one of the most delicious foods in the world – porchetta. Porchetta is a pork roast, a roll made out of pork belly and various herbs and spices. It is to die for and you have to try it if you have the opportunity.
We spent our second day in Rome going around the Ancient ruins of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Trajan Forum, then waiting in a queue at the Basilica San Pietro for about two hours before finally getting in. The entrance to the Basilica was free, although there was a fee if you wanted to go up on the roof or visit the catacombs if I’m not mistaken.
TIP time! For the ancient ruins, if you’d like to enter and do a thorough visit, I suggest buying tickets online or trying to use either the entrance to the Palatine Hill or the one to the Roman Forum, where you might have a better chance at not growing old before getting in. I very much enjoyed looking at the Roman Forum from above, without going in and getting a nice panoramic view. So, if you’re not one who enjoys walking around ruins, you can save some money by doing the same.
We ended the day on the Spanish Steps, among a huge neverending crowd that seems to populate this area at all times.
On day 3, we decided to discover the area near Termini, the largest train station in Rome. We visited the Roman Baths, Palazzo Massimo Alle Terme then headed to the Villa Borghese Park. By the time we got there, it started drizzling, but it wasn’t that bad, so we walked through the park, got out, and reached the top of the Spanish Steps, again.
On our last day, before heading to the airport, as we had an afternoon flight, we decided to take a last walk through Rome and hit some other places on our list. We walked from the accommodation, through the Park del Colle Oppio to the Colosseum. From there, around the Palatine Hill, to Circus Maximus, with a stop at the Pyramid of Caius Cestius and the Non-Catholic Cemetery of Rome. This was possibly the biggest surprise as it ended up being one of the places we most liked in Rome, without ever being on our list. The cemetery houses the graves of Keats, Shelley, and other well-known names and is also the house of various cats, who pretty much own the place in the most regal feline way. We spent at least one hour strolling around and trying to befriend the cats. We sadly said goodbye to them and headed to our next stop, Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Somewhere along the way, we stopped for a porchetta sandwich and after visiting this massive cathedral, we finally got on the subway and to the airport for our flight back home.
As you’ve probably gathered, we almost couldn’t leave this wonderful city, where every corner brings something new (but usually old) and unexpected. There’s always something to see, to eat, to enjoy. I would gladly return to Rome as often as possible.