Rome. A city brimming with history, culture and food. Even with the recent increase to tourism tax, it still gets camera happy tourists flocking to gaze in awe at some of Italy’s most stupendous architecture. Even starling’s like to migrate annually to Rome, laying down their faeces all over the city. My advise is not to copy them but to go out and explore this beautiful city on foot. Sit back, relax and enjoy our 4 day adventure in Italy’s capital.
As budget travellers going into a city centre with nothing booked until the last minute, we were extremely cautious, especially with a name like “Magic Place Guest House.” We thought we were in for a Thai massage with a happy ending! This wasn’t the case and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. It was very affordable (€50 per night), centrally located (see map) and had a very helpful Sri Lankan man making sure our soy milk was topped up each morning! There was free breakfast which was easy to raid anytime, unlimited coffee, a communal kitchen and a clean room, plus maps of the city.
Carbonara originated in Rome and is easily one of my favourite dishes. Simple and effective, like myself, we were itching to find the perfect carbonara. There’s unconfirmed reports as to the founding of the dish such as miners made it due to its simplicity but all I care about if it tastes good!! We researched profusely and tried to get in at Da Danilo’s who had the rudest staff imaginable and Armando al Pantheon which you need to book a few days in advance. Turns out we couldn’t get in at either so we stumbled upon an American diner which is ironic as they usually dowse it in cream, my pet peeve! A restaurant called Baccano rustled one up and for a modest €14, I was expecting gold. Boy did we get it. The glaze was foamy and the pig just boosted the flavour. Wonderful
The best and only piece of advice for travel around Rome is to do it by foot. Only then will you get an authentic experience of the culture and diversity brimming around the city. Plus, it burns all the carbonara and gelato calories! Where we were however, by the train station, there could be a need to walk to the Vatican!
Most of these are well known and worth the visit including:
- Rome Colosseum
- Vatican City
- Sistine Chapel
- The Pantheon
- Trevi’s Fountain
- Capital Museum (fantastic from the outside)
- Sant Angelo Castle
- Piazza del Popolo and the surrounding park
What we got up to
We arrived late in the evening and were wandering round the train station area, which in most cities are shady to say the least. Rome was no exception. Known as the immigrant area, there was a distinct lack of Italian culture on our first sights of Rome. How wrong we were!
Our first full day was the Colosseum day. Used in the Roman era as a propaganda mechanism, the Emperor would invite all citizens to the stadium for the shows and then use it as a manipulative outsource, just like TV’s are today. It’s heavily policed as we unfortunately found out. As we made sandwiches that day, we had a knife in the bag. This was for spreading cheese, not hate. Forgetting this and putting my bag through the scanner, they detected this. The army guy that was security, obviously not knowing the sandwich related backstory, insisted for my arrest to begin with. A little schmoozing and apologetic whimpers and we were allowed to continue with the visit.
We ended up getting roped into a tour, which we kind of wanted anyway but were left slightly disappointed. Our guide gave us a few intriguing facts as we stopped at certain points but she clearly wanted a quick in and out job and obviously just scratched the surface. If you were wanting to get a tour, I’d prebook with a reliable company. The second part of our tour, around Palatine Hill and the ruins of Rome, was more engaging and factual, yet that was done from a viewpoint and pointing was the choice of the day. Some areas worth mentioning are the Roman Forum, Domitian’s Palace built in AD 81, Augustus’ house built in AD 1, the Temple of Cybele the Farnese Gardens (great views over Rome from here) and there are numerous others. We wandered round the Capital Museum which is monumental in stature and grace before heading back.
Day 2 saw us do all the nitty gritty bits in central Rome, most notably, the Pantheon. This was an old meeting hall for Roman Emperors and people in power. Standing in the centre shows the sheer magnitude of this basilica. The Trevi Fountain which as lovely as it is, it’s a massive pain in the arse and you’re likely going to get trodden on by selfie loving tourists. Apparently, €3,000 is thrown in their every day! I clearly need to update the water feature at my place. We visited various other lesser known locations such as the Chiesa di Santa Maria della Vittoria, Villa Borghese (which is a neat park overlooking Rome), Piazza del Popolo and a look around the shops.
Our final day was spent seeing our good friend, Pope Francis. We had a lot to catch up on so we got there around 10am to avoid all the queues. Unfortunately, everyone else seemed to have a similar plan and we were left waiting outside for an hour in the rain. There was a few tour guides trying to get us a really good price, no seriously, just for us! We turned them down and waited patiently to marvel at the Vatican. It may be the smallest state in the world but it utilises that space to the maximum of it’s potential, mainly in its epicentre. For a period between the 1800’s and 1900’s, Pope’s wouldn’t leave the Vatican and it’s clear to see why. The sheer stature of this epic human feat of architecture is staggering. Even after seeing Florence’s duomo, Milan’s duomo, or any other duomo for that matter, this creation will blow you away.
During our trip around St Peter’s, we were left in confusion as plenty of Christian’s merged together to take pictures with a superior religious figure. I honestly think he could’ve been a normal bloke just dressed up but for a moment we were thinking it could be the Pope himself. The Vatican museum didn’t inspire us personally, although the Sistine Chapel was gorgeous and the tapestry and art throughout was of epic proportion. We did see something particularly bizarre when we left. 2 children on leashes! Is this normal?!
Rome certainly can be conquered in 3 days, unlike the approximate 1,009,041 days it took to build. A smaller capital city brimming with culture & style, Rome is great! Happy travels.