Rome, Italy : Travel Guide & Best things to do

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No other city on earth evokes its past as powerfully as the Italian capital city, Rome. Its ancient, and rich history earns it the honourable title of the most UNESCO world heritage sites in one region. I travelled to Rome on a weekend trip on 14 October 2016. While I discovered a lot in 2 hectic days, it would have been a better idea to spend around 3 to 4 days in this historic city. Sure, the city is busy, congested, full of tourists and selfie-stick sellers, but one cannot take away anything from its beauty and grandiose status. And, if you let yourself wander enough, you can find ample of gorgeous spots where you can get away from the crowds, and still be amazed by the city.

My Favourite Moments

1. Sunset at Passeggiata del Pincio

I’ll be honest, as I approached the steps for Passeggiata del Pincio, I was feeling more tired than anything else. After hours of constant walking, the only thing I was actually looking for at this park was a bench, and some shade (and well, Wi-Fi). Little did I know that a few minutes later I get to discover my favourite moment in Rome: Watching the vividly beautiful sunset setting down on this gem of a capital city.    

2. Ancient Rome 

Ancient Rome was an Italian civilisation that was established as early as the 8th century BC. Centred in the city of Rome, and occupying lands along the Mediterranean sea, this civilisation expanded to become one of the most prominent empires in the ancient world. At its height, between the first and second centuries AD, the empire constituted to around 20% of the world’s population, covering 6.5 million square kilometers. One cannot be grateful enough for the opportunity to walk around this ancient part of the city, and explore the history, and archaeological sites crafted by people so many years ago!

2b. Colosseum

No words can really give justice to the feeling you get standing in front of this magnificent piece of history. As Timur Vermes wrote in his (thankfully) fictional, and humorous book, “For it is a very special experience, indeed a magnificent one, to enter a silent place after it has been the scene of an overwhelming triumph. An office prior to the industriousness of the day;  a stadium emptied of its ecstatic crowd, in which one hears nothing but the wind of the victor”. When you’re there, close your eyes, imagine yourself back in time, immerse yourself in history and recreate that euphoric feeling this place must have had. 

3. Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican City

The towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, and the Vatican city a few steps away can prove mesmerising for people who love architecture, art or history.

4. Sunset at the Spanish Steps

Ok, Ok, I know. Another sunset moment. I realise that I am slightly biased with sunsets! However, they offer such a picturesque and tranquil scenery, that it is one of those few moments in life when you can truly connect with the world and forget about everything else that is happening in life. Combine that with people watching, kids jumping and playing, people taking selfies or indulging in books, travellers and locals speaking in at least 15 different languages – I just didn’t want this moment to end! Especially since this stage of humans, architecture, and nature closed down the curtain to my trip in Rome (Till next time, of course!).

Top Tips

  1. Getting to/from airports: There are a lot of different companies offering busses to/from Ciampino and Fiumincino airport. Unless you’re a group of four people, the bus will prove to be a cheaper alternative to taxis (Prices range from 4-6 Euro). No need to book ahead when there are so many different providers. I used Atral-Schiaffni, slightly more expensive than the rest, but they had a very good and timely service with helpful staff.
  2. Accommodation: The price of accommodation varies according to the type of accommodation, and location. While staying in this city can prove to be quite expensive, I opted to stay in a hostel near the termini station. I paid 29 euro per night. Don’t forget that one also has to pay the tourist tax – quite expensive in Rome at €3.50 a night. If you’re not travelling alone, renting an apartment will make the cost of accommodation much cheaper. Better yet, you can follow this link on AirBnB and get a €28 discount. 
  3. Getting around: If you are willing to walk, all major attractions in the city of centre of Rome are within walking distance. In the 48 hours I had in Rome, I walked a total of 50km. While I must admit this had a slight effect on my legs (I’ll start looking for a gym membership tomorrow, I promise), it was a great way to explore Rome. If you opt not to walk as much, the city offers a good and efficient public transport system.
  4. Timing: Timing your activities well in Rome is vital. I was in Rome in a relatively off-peak season, and the amount of travellers there was still out of this world. If you want to go to major attractions (like the Trevi Fountain), start your day early, and visit these places before 9am – before the tour groups start flocking around.
  5. Food: Please do yourself a favour and get to this little place called “Pastificio” and indulge in homemade delicious pasta and wine for just 4 euro! There’s no place to sit down, but its setting offers quite a unique experience!  

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