So I wanted to share some of the things I have learned through my own travels, with you! Since Rome was my first big trip, I will begin there! At the end of each of these “travel tip” posts, I will rate each trip on various things!! (Based on my opinions and personal experience!)
So here are some tips for when you’re in ROMA…
- You can buy bus/metro tickets at metro stations or at green newspaper stands located throughout the city
- It costs 1.50 Euro for one Metro/Bus ride
- I recommend investing in a Day pass or a 3-Day pass (depending on the amount of time you are staying in Rome) because it saves you a lot of money! A day pass is 6 Euro and gives you unlimited access to bus/metro for the day! A 3-day ticket is 16.50 Euro and gives you the same unlimited access for three days!
- I preferred the bus system over the metro. The busses seemed to get you to better locations and you were able to see more of the city that way!
- Also, if you are flying Ryan Air and landing at Chiampiano, I recommend taking the Terravision bus into the city. It costs 4 Euros one way and takes you right to Termini Station. From there, you can easily catch a bus or walk to wherever you are staying! (You can also purchase a Terravision bus ticket for you’re return to the airport as well, for 4 Euros). I recommend booking online to get the times you want to arrive and return…just make sure you are able to print your tickets before you leave! http://www.terravision.eu/rome_ciampino/ciampino_price_timetable.html
- The Colosseum & Roman Forum. It costs 12 Euros for one time entrance to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. The pass lasts two days, so we were able to see the Colosseum one day and the Roman Forum another. Unfortunately, if you are not a member of the European Union, there are no discounts for students! However, going inside the Colosseum and exploring the Roman Forum are something you must do when visiting the eternal city!
- St. Peter’s Basilica. Whether Catholic or not, Vatican City is a sight to be seen. The architecture is incredible and the Basilica is beautiful. Even if the line to enter St. Peter’s seems to stretch on forever…trust me and wait in it! It goes by a lot quicker than you think! Security at the Vatican has it down to a science, and the line moves fast! We were hesitant to wait, but it was certainly worth it! It costs 5 Euros to walk to the top of St. Peter’s and 7 Euros to take the elevator. Depending on how ambitious you are determines which route you take. However, if you are crunched for time, or do not like waiting-you might want to walk! There is only one elevator, so the wait takes a long time! Also, I believe walking the 500 steps is definitely an experience! You feel very accomplished when you get to the top! (But please note, that the elevator does not take you directly to the top. You still have to climb some narrow stairs- if you are claustrophobic it might not be the best idea for you to go!) However, the view is incredible!! It was one of my favorite things in Rome and definitely worth the trek!
- The Trevi Fountain. Visiting this fountain is free if you are just checking it out, however, a wish will cost you some change! It is crucial that you face away from the fountain, with the water towards your back, and toss the coin over your shoulder as you make a wish. I am not sure the story behind it, but I know that people come from all over the world to make wishes in the Trevi Fountain! They say if you toss a coin in, you will return to Rome again one day! (I hope that’s true). The good news about spending money on some wishes, is that the coins are collected out of the Fountain and the money is donated to the Red Cross!! Such a great cause to make a wish for! A tip for visiting the Trevi Fountain is to go earlier in the morning to avoid the crowds! (That will allow you to make your wish in peace and snap a few good pictures!)
- Vatican City. Although I discussed St. Peter’s Basilica already, which is located in Vatican City, I wanted to note something else! If you are in Rome on a Wednesday, you should definitely go to Vatican City in the morning! The Pope does a general audience with the people at 10:00 am on Wednesdays if he is in the City (in nice weather, it is held outside in the square, if not, inside the Basilica). I recommend arriving early for a good spot! He drives around in the Pope mobile before addressing the audience, so you might have the chance to see him up close and wave hello!! It’s a very awesome experience!
- Vatican Museum. Now, if you are not a museum person, this probably isn’t for you. You might be better off exploring the streets of Rome, shopping or visiting more ruins! However, I enjoy museums a great deal and recommend this one! We originally were going to the museum to see the Sistine Chapel, painted by Michelangelo. However, we ended up spending 2 hours seeing all the other statues, art and ruins they had in the museum! It is certainly a huge collection and is worth setting some time aside to see. The full entrance to the museum is 16 Euro, but for a student is 8 Euro, so bring your ID!
- Gelato. That is my #1 recommendation for you. Although you can find gelato in almost all of Europe, the Italians are the masters! They have so many different flavors, that change with the seasons! I only got gelato once while in Italy, and it might be one of my few regrets!! Try a new flavor each day if you can! (Trust me, it’s that good!)
- Pizza. Of course you have to try a pizza when in Italy!!! In all honesty, I ate an entire pizza in one sitting while visiting Rome! However, to my credit, the crust of the pizza is a lot thinner than what we are used to in the States.
- Wine. DUHHH.
- Panini. Had a Panini for lunch and it was delicioso! Perfect mid-afternoon meal!
- Cannoli. Sad to say, I did not get my hands on a cannoli while visiting Rome but I wish I did!! Let me know how it is if you try one!
- Chocolate. Now this may seem strange but grab a bar of Italian made chocolate at a grocery store or little market before you leave! I have been trying chocolate in each country I visit, and the Italians know how to do chocolate! Very rich!!
- Be very careful when crossing the streets in Rome! Unlike many other large European cities, not all crosswalks have a little green/red man directing you when it is safe to cross. Most streets it is a free-for-all, so be cautious! Cars will buzz around you as you attempt to cross the street! By best suggestion is to follow locals as they cross, or cross in large groups! Cars will eventually be forced to stop! Just be aware that Roman drivers can be aggressive and crossing the street is a lot more difficult than you would expect!
- Take Bus 64 to get you to Vatican City! (Use the side entrances to Vatican City rather than the front–you will get in much more quickly, and possibly snag a better spot to see the Pope if it is a Wednesday! Bus 64 takes you right outside Vatican City, and a quick 2 minute walk will bring you to the side entrance!)
Cleanliness: * *
- Rome gets two stars for cleanliness. Although the city is filled with many historical sights to visit, the city itself was dirty and not as impressive as you would think the capital of a country should be.
Safety: * *
- Rome gets two stars for safety. There were police all over the city, carrying large guns, patrolling the streets and stopping many random people. For one day, two helicopters were flying very low and circling the city. Maybe this was simply a rare occurrence, but for the days we were in Rome I did not feel very safe and constantly felt like something was going on that I did not know about.
Transportation: * * * *
- Rome gets four stars for transportation. Mainly I am referring to the bus system, but both the metro and bus were relatively cheap. The day pass is the best investment. The bus system is also very easy to figure out. If you have questions on which bus to take, ask your hostel or hotel and the people should know which one is right for where you want to go!
Food: * * * * *
- Rome gets five stars for food. (Did you expect anything less?? I mean, I am Italian you know!) Everything I ordered and tried was delicious! The Romans pride themselves on being known for their great food, and they do not disappoint! Although some meals can be pricey, it is worth it! (However, you can find cheaper places if you search back roads like we did–food is still amazing, just not at the high cost a restaurant on a main road might charge you!)
Friendliness of People: * * * * *
- Rome gets five stars for friendliness. Romans, or Italians in general, were very, very friendly. It seemed that just the way they talked, with their expressive sounding language and hand motions that they were always excited about everything! They were willing to point you in the right direction or small talk with you in restaurants. I really enjoyed the company of the Italians.
Overall Cost of Visiting the City: * * *
- Rome gets three stars for overall cost. Although transportation and cost of staying in a hostel were relatively cheap, food and entrance to tourist places were not. I think I spent the most money in Rome, not from shopping, but rather from cost of food and tourist attractions. It is doable on a budget however!
Hostel Rating: * * * * *
- Hostel Mosaic (where we stayed in Rome) gets 5 stars. The people at the front desk were always very helpful at directions and answering questions. There was a complimentary breakfast included each morning and the rooms/bathrooms were very clean! I could not have been happier with my stay at Hostel Mosaic, and recommend it to anyone traveling to Rome. It is in a good location and the prices are very reasonable. If I remember correctly we paid 14 Euro a night to stay here, but since Rome has a 2 euro a night tourist-tax, it turned out to be around 16 euros! http://www.hostelmosaic.com/rome/
Days needed to see the City: 4 days
- Although Rome has a lot to offer, you really only need to stay for 4 full days to see all the main sites. We were only there for 3 full days and managed to squeeze everything we wanted to do in, so it is do-able in less! For a more relaxed paced stay, 4-5 days would be perfect!
It is evident that Rome is a very international city, filled with tourists from all over. Of course, that is the case in many country’s capitals! I’ve heard from others that Rome is the least of what Italy has to offer, and if that is the case, then I am very excited to go back one day and visit other cities, such as Florence, Venice, Milan and Tuscany. My trip to Rome however was definitely a holy pilgrimage, in more than just the religious sense. I traveled to the city that I had been learning about in school for years now. My humanities and history classes came alive right before my eyes. For any history nerd like myself, Rome is a must see!
If you have any questions about planning a trip to Rome, feel free to reach out to me! xoxo