When in Rome, Italy : Eat, Pray, and Wander

Italy is one of my dream destinations in Europe. After my trip to Switzerland, I headed to Italy for a 10-day visit. I decided to choose three cities to explore in Italy. First stop was Rome.

Rome is one of the most popular places to go in Italy. It is considered one of the most historic and probably one of the romantic places to be. A place filled with history, culture, adventure, and food to explore. From charming views, ruins, fountains, parks to great food, there is so much to do and see that an entire week wouldn’t be enough. However, if you plan to visit Rome for a short time, I recommend three days of stay in the beautiful city. Though Rome is a big city, the historical places are near to each other. But to make things easy for yourself, plan and research sights, tours, and food to try.

 

I went to Italy last April. The month of April and May is the high season to visit Rome. The weather was gorgeous. It wasn’t so cold or hot. It was perfect to go around, but the only thing is high reason comes with a high price for the hotel, tour and more tourists in the city.

 

Where to Stay

There are wide choices of accommodation. From a five star hotel to share a room in a hostel, you can take a pick. I stayed in a budget hotel and spent 153 EURO/178 USD/ 68 OMR/ 9,000 PHP for my 3-day stay. It is a small room with a private toilet and breakfast was included.It wasn’t extravagant but just enough to what I need.

I stayed near Roma Termini Station

 

The neighborhood where I stayed in Rome

 

Buffet breakfast at the hotel; unlimited coffee, juices and pastries

I split up the sights into three days. I spent my first day in the Vatican City and Trastevere neighborhood. Day 2 was for seeing the Colosseum, Roman Forum and the Palatine Hills. Day 3 for exploring the heart of the city such as the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and Piazza Navona.

 

Getting Around

There are lots of public transport options in Rome. There are buses, trams, taxis, and trains. You can choose from single tickets or travel passes valid for 1,3,5 or 7 days. I purchased 72 hours (3 days) Roma Pass that costs 38.5 EURO/ 45 USD /17.5 OMR/ 2,295 PHP. It includes metro, buses, and tram within the city boundaries. It also gives two free admissions to all national and city museums in Rome and discounts to other covered sites. You can purchase it online, museums and PIT (Tourist Information Points), ATAC – Subway ticket office and Trenitalia Ticket Offices. However, it should be noted that the Roma Pass does not include travel to the airports. I find it convenient to go around by riding any public transportation available, especially at night with the use of Roma Pass. But if you don’t mind walking and you want to save a little money, the best way is to go around by foot.

I bought a bus ticket at the airport going to the city. A one way ticket costs 5.90 EURO/ 6.9 USD/ 2.6 OMR/ 350 PHP

First Day:

The Vatican (Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica)

I decided to check first the world’s smallest city state. It is a dream come true having visited the headquarter of the Roman Catholic Church. The three spots not be missed are the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and the St. Peter’s Basilica. Vatican Museum has an amazing collection of Christian, classical and Renaissance art masterpieces. It contains roughly around 70,000 artworks. Sistine Chapel with its ceiling decorated by Michaelangelo was incomparable. Seeing the painting for the first time made me realized, he is truly one of the greatest artists of all time.  St. Peter’s Basilica as the largest church in the world will mesmerize you. The church has a great architectural design. Inside the church is where the tomb of St Peter which is the first Pope and Michaelangelo’s Pieta and Bernini’s altarpiece Baldacchino. I suggest exploring the site with a professional tour guide. I’d seen a long queue going inside the Vatican City.  When I went there,  everything went out smoothly with the help of our tour guide. I spent 54.7 EURO/ 64 USD/ 24 OMR/ 3,249 PHP for the ticket ( Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s).

 

Entrance at the Vatican Museum

 

Inside the Vatican Museum

 

St. Peter’s Basilica

 

Swiss guards at the Vatican

If you are lucky, you might attend the Papal Audience when you visit the Vatican City. The Pope holds Papal Audience on most Wednesdays at 10 am. I met few Filipinos on my travel and encouraged me to attend. It ended up to be one of my favorite experiences in my whole trip to Europe.

 

When I woke up as early as 5 am to have this view!
An opening parade before the prayer and homily at the Vatican

 

Trastevere

Enjoy the lovely nightlife in Trastevere. Stroll around the winding alleys filled with restaurants, cafes, bars, and pizzerias. Trastevere is a popular place for the locals. It is a highly recommended place to try for an authentic Italian meal. I tried the rigatoni with pajata ( intestine of veal or lamb) which is a local Roman delicacy. A cocktail glass of limoncello after the dinner is one of the things to do in Trastevere while watching the people around.

 

Small winding alleys at Trastevere
Trattoria in Trastevere, one of the best places to try local food. I tried Rigatoni Pajata at this place!
Trastevere at night
I can eat pasta every day!

Second Day:

Ancient Rome (Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hills)

Colosseum is probably the thing that first comes to the mind of people about Rome.The Colosseum, one of the famous sights in Italy is not to be missed. Opened in 80 AD; the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built.  Nearby, check the Arch of Constantine which was built to commemorate Constantine victory at the battle in 312.Adjacent to the Colosseum is the Roman Forum and Palatine Hills which is the center of Ancient Rome.

 

The Colosseum
Inside structure of the Colosseum
Arch of Constantine

You can buy a joint ticket for Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Roman Forum that costs 12 Euros/14 USD/5 OMR/715 PHP that gives you access to the three sites. Not everyone is aware of it, so most will fall in line for the Colosseum to buy the tickets. Instead, purchase tickets at the Roman Forum or Palatine Hill.  If you buy a Roman Pass, you might get free access to the three sites.

The Ancient Rome was spectacular. When I went there, I decided to join a small group. It’s cheaper to buy tickets there, but I prefer to have a tour guide to bring the ruins to life. I paid 38 Euro/ 45 USD/ 17.3 OMR/ 2270PHP.

Ancient Rome
Look at the intricate design of the arch!
At Palatine Hill
The small group I joined in touring the Colosseum and Ancient Rome

Third Day:

Pantheon

This ancient 2000 year concrete dome is a truly an architectural phenomena. It was built as a temple for Roman gods but now work as a Catholic church. It has been called the world’s only architecturally perfect building and most preserved monument of Imperial Rome. You can visit for free all days except Sundays when Mass is held.

Enchanting design inside the Pantheon

 

Trevi Fountain

Rome has more than 2000 fountains, but Trevi Fountain is the most extravagant I had seen in my life. It is one of the most famous fountains in the world which appeared in several notable films.

Spanish Steps

Climb the famous grand steps leading to the Triniti Dei Monti church to admire the beauty of Piazza d Spagna and the Benini’s fountain from above. The stairway was built in the 1720s and become a popular place for the tourists and locals to hang out.

Piazza Del Popolo

Close by Spanish Steps, Piazza Del Popolo is an impressive square in Rome.  In Italian language it means “People’s Square”.

The only photo I’ve taken at Piazza del Popolo

Piazza Navona

The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and Piazza Navona are all free to visit.  

 

Lots of beautiful churches you can visit!
Can’t missed the gelato!

 

Tips:

1. Join Group Tour When Visiting the Busiest Tourist Spots.I took two tours with GetYourGuide during my stay in Rome which I booked online before the trip. The good thing about the small tour is you get in depth knowledge, and insight about the place visited. I booked skip the line tickets ahead of time for Vatican City ( Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St Peter’s Basilica) and the Colosseum and Ancient Rome (Palatine and the Roman Forum). Rome is beautiful but crowded. Having a knowledgeable guide will help you understand and experience Rome in a memorable way.

2. Stay Connected. As a solo traveler, I decided to buy a local sim card and loaded it with a prepaid data plan from TIM. I purchased the sim card as soon as I arrived at the airport and costs around 20-30 EURO/23- 35 USD/ 9- 13 OMR/ 1,190 – 1790 PHP. You will need your passport to buy a local sim. I find it convenient and efficient. I used it all throughout the ten day trip in Italy.

3. Stay in a Hotel Closer to the Attractions. I stayed in a place a little far from the attractions but next to Rome Termini train station. Though you can find a lot of hostels and the proximity to the trains and buses can’t be beaten, I suggest you stay in a place where you can just walk out the door and see the tourist places.  I guess it is more worth it.

4. Adore Early Mornings and Late Evenings. It ‘s nice to wake up early in the morning if you want to see the tourist spots not crowded by a lot of travelers. Rome is packed even during off season, so it is unlikely to have the tourist attractions by yourself. When I went Rome, I woke up around 5 or 6 in the morning then return to the hotel for a siesta in the afternoon then small walk in the evening.

5. Dress Modestly. Be aware of the strict dress code at the churches and Vatican. Bare shoulders, mini skirt, midriff, and hats are not allowed. Bring a scarf or a cardigan so you can cover up if you need to.

6. Be Vigilant at all Times. Rome is a safe place but does get a healthy share of tourist scams and pickpocketing. Keep an eye on your valuables.

Exploring Rome for a limited time isn’t impossible. However, it requires planning and preparation. Hopefully, this will guide on how to explore the city of Rome. Next stop, Florence!

 

Attending Papal Audience

Have you been to Rome? What are the things you enjoyed the most? Share in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

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