I am super excited (yet knackered) to be blogging about my trip to Rome, because with this first one, my Euro trip officially and finally begins.
So… Rome is no doubt the cultural and historic beacon of Europe. I doubt there is any other city in Europe with that many historic treasures but that’s not all there is to Rome and on my trip I discovered things many don’t even know exist in Rome. We spent two days and thankfully they were enough to fit everything in (without having to rush). So, here are the things you must see and do when in Rome:
Sightseeing: Colosseum, Vatican City, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Vittoriano, Palentine Hill
Sightseeing is going to be a major chunk of your trip to Rome. The sights are beautiful, have lots of history to learn about and most of them are colossal, as the name suggests. The heat can be excruciating in summer time which means you would need lots of breaks, especially as most of the sightseeing can only be done by foot, walking from one piazza to the other. One thing we absolutely loved about Rome was that there is water fountains everywhere. The water is clean, safe to drink and chilled, so staying hydrated is not a problem.
Sightseeing at Night
While major attractions are crowded and hustling in the day, the city tells a completely different story in the night time, once it is dark. It is more peaceful, the lighting is absolutely stunning, you can see the horse carts going by, traffic is much quieter and weather is mild. Also, there are documentaries and shows about the Roman history that are played in open air in the night. We did not know about them before we actually went out in the evening and saw one of them being played on one of the old buildings opposite the Vittoriano (five minutes’ walk from Colosseum) on a projector. If you are tired from a day of sightseeing; sitting and relaxing here is could be a good idea.
Unwind at Trastevere
An Italian friend recommended I go to Trastevere, and thank God I did because it was one of our favourite places in Rome, especially as we were exhausted from walking and sightseeing in the sun. Trastevere means riverside and it is just what it says. While there are many bridges you can go to, with lots of different views we went to the Ponte Fabricio as it seemed like the most convenient one to reach from the Trastevere Metro station, by taking the Tram 08 in the right direction (about ten minutes). It is absolutely beautiful, you can walk down the stairs and sit by the water. Also, there are shops and restaurants by the river side where you can relax and have a drink or snacks. We went to a Mexican restaurant where the ambience was on point and so was the food and service.
Food: Gelato, Pizzas, Pasta
If you’re a foodie, you’re in for a treat. The food here is amazing. And ofcourse if you are going to come to Italy you need to have their pizzas, pastas and gelato. The ice cream/ gelato is fresh, so much so that you can even feel the fruit in it. The ones we got were a little overpriced though, costing us 5 Euros for a medium sized portion (I am guessing we got ripped off, but I am not quite sure of what is reasonable in Rome, but then again we got in from right next to the Trevi Fountain). Secondly, almost every café or restaurant is going to serve pizzas and pasta, out of which the ones which are made fresh are the best ones but relatively more expensive. They also have pizzas where you can buy according to weight. The food is not the cheapest. We paid on average 10 Euros for a complete meal but the best meal we had was in Ostia in a family owned small café, which only cost us 5 Euros. So, I am guessing the cafes and restaurants in Central Rome have higher prices.
Ostia/ Fregene Beach
Many people don’t know but there are lovely beaches not very far from the centre of Rome and getting there is not difficult at all. I am a freak for beaches and a holiday is not complete for me unless I go to one, so I had to find a beach near Rome. Our initial plan was to go to Fregene, Singita Beach Club, however we found out that it is much longer to get there as compared to Ostia. You would probably need to go to the Fumicino Airport and take the Cotral Line Bus from there to Fregene (Final stop Cornelia). On the other hand, Ostia’s beaches are only a metro ride away to Stella Polare and the quality of beaches is more or less the same. There are private clubs on the beach, which you probably cannot enter but there is another public entrance too along the beach where you need to pay for entrance, sunbeds, umbrellas, swimming pool or just sit along the beach. Heading to one of these beaches is a perfect way to say good-bye to Rome, as this would allow you to recover from days of walking, sightseeing and hustle bustle in the city.
Other Tips & Warnings
This is probably the most hands on part of my blog and should not be a surprise to anyone who has put any research into visiting Rome. Pickpocketers target tourists, so be careful with your belongings, having said that the situation is not as bad as it sounds. We did not have anything misplaced or stolen in the whole trip, but we were careful to not leave our belongings out of our sight. The real challenge is that salesmen near the tourist attractions, people dressed as gladiators etc will trick you into spending money. They take pictures with you and ask you to pay 10 Euros later on. Similar, they would say something in 5 Euros and once you have it in the bag they could demand 10 Euros for it. Also, the street art shows will put you on the spot and tell you to give them money if you take their picture. So, my advice is to not stop for anyone who approaches you randomly. Also, language is a problem. While most shopkeepers, train ticket officers and some locals do speak English, I would recommend knowing some basic words or Italian atleast.
Happy traveling folks!