Rome is, I think, the most beautiful European city which I have visited yet. It has something about it which I cannot describe to you. It’s not like Paris, nor London which is constantly go, go, go(!!) instead it has this relaxing character, a little similar to York, in West Yorkshire England; but as well as the relaxation you feel, blissfully strolling down the river Tiber, you have bountiful amounts of history, the Vatican, amazing food… its like a blend of awesome. Honestly, I recommend anyone and everyone to visit Rome.
We I arranged the whole trip. I was certainly getting better at travel by this point (bonus) and because I am particularly good at research, and particularly good at accommodation sorting, and particularly good, might I add, at travel (my spatial awareness and sense of direction is quite utterly brilliant) I sorted out a cheap way to get to our apartment – because we rarely stay in expensive hotels when we I live on student loans. I booked the apartment through tripadvisor, a simple studio in Trastevere. It was beautiful and I gave it a very good review. Trastevere is an area one must visit, it is quite charming, there is a market on a Sunday morning, and opposite our apartment the bakery with the chocolates are to die for. Trastevere has its own train station which makes getting from the airport easy. If not, we would have had to get the train from the airport to the centre, then the metro as close to the River Tiber as possible, as no metro’s run under the river, or over the river for that matter, and then catch a tram, resulting in it taking us hours to get to the apartment. It took us five minutes from Trastevere train station – I highly recommend it.
In terms of getting around Rome, ensure you have an empty water bottle as the water fountains are, in my opinion, the best tasting water I think I have ever drank! Better than the tap water there (its probably the same water but it tasted better from the fountains (aesthetic value I think.)) We walked a lot, primarily because we missed so much in Paris because we took the metro, but also because the public transport system does not cover the whole city, as I previously mentioned. We could catch the number 8 tram from the next street from the apartment and then walk from the end for about 25 minutes to the Colosseum.
Of course we did all the tourist things because I am a lover of history, and Rome *sigh* is truly too beautiful to not view the main tourist things.
We were in Rome for 5 days and as well as all the tourist things there are a couple of things I feel I should mention that are sometimes forgotten about. In terms of getting around because I never pay for internet for my phone I screenshot maps of places I want to visit and directions from locations. For example our apartment to the Colosseum I will have google mapped and took screenshots to ensure I had a full map of how to get there. I purchased the lonely planet guidebook, as I do for nearly all my travels, but I also purchased a quiet corners of Rome guidebook. I knew we had five days and wouldn’t be spending all of our time sightseeing so knew we could venture to some more Roman areas if time allowed. We therefore visited the Pyramid of Cestius (however, it was covered in scaffold so we didn’t get very good pictures), and from there ventured to the bus station across the road and caught a bus to the Via Appia. You really, really, must visit! Via Appia is near to the Catacombs, but we did not do the Catacombs (I am very very scared of confined spaces (not sure I should be telling people on the internet that(?))) Via Appia was beautiful, but hard to find. I can’t remember which bus you get but if you ask at the station, because most people speak English in Europe, unless you’re outside of the main cities of course. Ask the bus driver to tell you when to get off and how to get back, because the bus stop is nowhere near the one you came off at. Anyway, when you get off of the bus you need to walk up the stony road and keep going, its beautiful and peaceful, you then come upon some houses, if you see anyone ask again where to go, however I think you turn right at the end of the houses and then right again and you’re at the cafe. (I’m probably wrong, its been almost a year since I was in Rome, though I’m trying to be helpful.) You take the bikes from the cafe and then pay when you get back, test your bikes! We ended up with one bad one, which thankfully my travel companion took. The bikes don’t cost much, I can’t remember the exact cost but, not very much.The road on Via Appia is hard at first but then gets smoother, there are water fountains sporadically placed as well as ancient ruins, its truly a beautiful place. I wish we would have spent the whole day going up there. Afterward we ventured to the cafe for food, it was reasonably priced, they don’t speak English, and the food was mainly sandwiches but very good.
A quick note on Vatican city, before I forget, the queues are laughably bad, even first thing on a morning. When you come up to Vatican city the queue will end to the left, we went to the right where the water fountain is, its also the way to the Vatican museums which are another beautiful thing to visit in Rome, and jumped in with a tour guide company. They got a bit mad that we were pushing in but we said it was others not us (LOL – that would be my mischievous travel companion, I was scared at the time but its funny now.) The Vatican museum is a certain visit, Basilica of Saint Paul is touchy, it was amazing but whether the queue size was worth it – *sighs* I honestly couldn’t make that decision for you, but for me, I wish we would have skipped it, though my travel companion would most likely disagree.
Now I have been to Rome I know I will venture back. I honestly don’t think there is much I would do differently. I would stay in Trastevere or maybe the Jewish Ghetto; the Jewish Ghetto has a lot of restaurants, bars and shops it seemed like a really good area which I would like to visit more; Trastevere has its market, restaurants, the area generally, and ease of access due to the train station. I would do all the bits I felt I missed also, like the gardens and parks etc. We did not go to Pompeii which I did regret, but I know I will be back to Rome and can do it then.
In terms of tips, watch your stuff because of pickpockets, research areas to stay in, youtube has great videos on places to visit in Rome, and ensure that you know where you want to go and how to get there.
I hope this helped,