6 March 2015

Suitcase. Rome, Italy – Travel Guide

It would be fair to say that Rome and I got off to a bit of a rocky start. I arrived in the country with what you could only call a DEATHLY flu, my cab driver blatantly took advantage of my delicate state and stole €20 from me, I unknowing booked a hotel room literally the size of a shoebox and I discovered that my European power adapter [that has worked everywhere else in Italy mind you] didn’t fit the plugs in Rome. Cue exasperated sigh.

Needless to say my first day in Rome tested me.

Thankfully, I’m happy to report that over the next four days my trip got better thanks to some awe-inspiring sights and a beautiful friend who made my visit to Rome much more enjoyable. I left with a heart full of inspiration, a stomach full of pizza and a mind full of Italian words.

There are endless sights to see and places to visit in Rome, the length of your visit is your only restriction. In 3 days I managed to see all the main sights including the Colosseum, Roman ruins, Trevi Fountain (which is sadly under renovation until 2016), Spanish Steps, Palatino Hill, Vatican City, St Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum and the Pantheon. I also took a stroll around the lovely area of Trastavere with its shuttered buildings and cobble-stoned streets.

The Colosseum

The Pantheon

The age of this city really is incomprehensible. Most things date back to around the year 0; it simply boggled my mind to comprehend the age of everything I was seeing. When you consider that parts of Australia have been populated for barely 100 years, it really puts it into perspective.

Roman Ruins where Julius Caesar was killed - interestingly this place is now a sanctuary for homeless cats

View of the ruins from Palatino Hill

When seeing the sights of Rome, I highly recommend opting for the organised tour route; as much as you’ll feel like a herd of school children, there is so much more to learn about this city than just what you see at face value. There is a fantastic free walking tour that runs each day for two hours at sunset where I saw some great sights and learnt several interesting facts. A tour for the Colosseum and also Vatican City are pretty much essential, not only for the information they provide but also to skip the lines which are otherwise 2 hours plus at each place, even in winter.

View from the very top of St Peter's Basilica - I highly recommend the climb

Rome has its own version of the underground and while the lines and stops are a little restrictive, it will generally get you where you need to go. Any trip you take is €1.50 and you can buy your ticket at the machine. Just be careful of dodgy entrance gates, I actually got completely stuck once – those things will really wedge you in. Thankfully after some arm-flailing someone came to my rescue.

Cabs frequent all areas of the city but be warned, they are rather expensive and if you’re unlucky you’ll get a driver who will try to rip you off so it’s best to act like you know exactly where you’re going and throw in a few Italian words for good measure.

Depending on which airport you land at you have the option to get a train or a bus into the city. These will take you to Termini (the main station) and from there you can make your way to your hotel. Much cheaper than a taxi the whole way.

Inside St Peter's Basilica 

Italy – food. Food – Italy. The two go together like two peas in a pod. There’s only one general rule for eating well in Italy; avoid the tourist traps and everything else should be perfection. I had a few great meals during my trip, all of which consisted of pizza, pasta and gelato. After all, it’s the Italian trio. Try La Boccaccia in Trastavere for a yummy pizza slice on the go, anything on Via Panispera for Roman cuisine or Antica Pesa for some celeb spotting.

For a city break that’s bursting with culture then you can't go past a long weekend in Rome. Despite the fact that it’s a little rough around the edges, you can’t beat the history and culture that exudes from every square inch of this city. My recommendation? Go with an open mind and an empty stomach. You’re guaranteed to return with both well sated.

Inside Vatican Museum

Inside Vatican Museum

Ciao Roma, arrivederci!

Photos by Krissie.