In this post I am going to share one of the most magical experiences so far in my life. I had an opportunity to visit Rome for roughly 4 days together with my family. Being an avid fan of ancient Roman history and mythology I was extremely thrilled to see the everything myself, the city which was built around this great history and cultural roots of Europe. I knew I will be impressed, however, I did not know that it will impress me to this extent.
We arrived to Ciampino airport, which is around 30 minutes away from the city centre by a shuttle bus. I do not recommend taking a taxi from the airport, because it is overpriced and people are complaining that taxi drivers are trying to rip off extra money even though the taxi fares are regulated by the city council. Anyway, the shuttle bus costs start, I think, from €4.90, which is at least 6 times cheaper than taxi and it takes people from the airport (the stop is located near the arrivals). The bus took us to Roma Termini, the main railway station of the city from which we walked to our apartment for around 20 minutes.
The apartment we stayed in was a good price for 5 people sleeping 5 nights, as I remember. Located just few minutes away from Colosseum and Roman Forum; all sightseeing spots were within walking distance. More about bookings and the links I will write later down below.
Colosseum and Roman Forum
“Once one has seen it, everything else seems small. It is so huge that the mind cannot retain its image; one remembers it as smaller than it is, so that every time one returns to it, one is astounded by its size” – J.W. Goethe on Colosseum.
We dedicated first day of our journey to visit Roman Forum and Colosseum. Ticket reservations can be made online (link), however, as I did not fully understand the online booking, we decided to buy on the spot and ended up paying less. We came straight to Roman Forum, which was close to the placed that we stayed, and joined the queue for tickets, which went fairly quickly, as you can also observe the beautiful scenery. So, the tickets were €12 for adults and €7.5 for young people (ages 18-25) and they are for both, Colosseum and Roman Forum, one entry each, for two days (starting with the day you bought them).
Roman Forum is ancient ruins of government buildings dating back to 8th century BC. Rome as a city was built around Forum, which functioned as a marketplace, site for trials, elections, gladiator fights, important speeches and list could go on. Basically, everything important for the city and the country would be found there. The site has a path from the entrance, which could be followed easily around the site. Exhibits are secured by chains, so most of them have to be admired from a near distance, but there are also few buildings that you can enter. Going further, you can discover a panoramic view of the city, so take your time to admire and savour it. I suggest taking a book or preparing some information beforehand, because not all exhibits have explanations and the little map that you will get on the entrance contains too little information to understand what really you are seeing.
The site is accommodated by drinking water fountains (as also is the whole city) and toilets a bit further within the site.
So, when you are through all Roman Forum, make your way to exit to Colosseum, which will be seen straight ahead. If you have already bought the tickets, join the ticket queue and pass through the security (they will check your bags) and make your way to see the, oh, mighty Colosseum. Really, its presence was overwhelming. There will be footpaths for you to follow, but be aware, as I am going to warn you, there will be loads, I say, LOADS of people. I will be honest, as amazing as Colosseum was, it was a bit challenging to enjoy it through the crowds of people. And it wasn’t the tourist season yet. But it should be in everyone’s /Bucket List/ as it is an important part of history. Colosseum, or sometimes referred to as Flavian Amphitheatre, dates back to 70 BC and has lived to this date with some restorations. It was used to host various events, and yes, there were the gladiator fights.
Inside the Colosseum
Pantheon, Trevi fountains and more
So another day of our journey was dedicated to wandering out and about the city, seeing other famous sites. We paid a visit to Trevi fountains which were built in 18th century by Nicola Salvi and Pietro Bacci. One of the most famous fountains in the world, surrounded by tourists and young couples taking pictures.
Trevi fountains were followed by Spanish Steps, that led us towards Villa Borghese. We went around the park, however, didn’t enter the villa itself. Went through a path which was accompanied by busts of famous people and then relaxed while laying peacefully on the grass, nearby a pond.
Fountains in Villa Borghese
We continued our journey by strolling back to the city centre, while popping into 150 flavour gelateria. If you ever find yourself in there, first thing you got to do is to prepay for your gelato at the till and then go and select your flavours. The place was buzzing with people and was quite confusing, we left without getting anything, but it looked impressive (vegan soy gelato was available as well).
Going a bit further we arrived to Pantheon, that I was very excited to see. The entrance is free to witness this masterpiece from 2nd century. Originally, it was a temple for all ancient Roman gods, however, later with the Christianity it was accustomed to the needs of the new religion.
Altere della Patria
On the way home, we stopped by Altere della Patria, a monument for Victor Emmanuel, king who unified Italy. It is a really impressive building, worth seeing!
Food and accommodation advice
Contrary to my belief, Rome was not too expensive for food, as a large city. Sure, local food shops charged way more than those of a small village or a town, but in exchange we were able to buy fresh vegetables, fruit and delicious meals from there to take home! The Italian food quality is something impressive when you are coming from the UK. Also, there are many canteens, restaurants, pizza places to cater for your meals, a lot of them, usually bigger places, have vegan/vegetarian options. If you cook in your apartment, there should be no difficulties in acquiring vegan products, especially fresh veggies, but the problem is that Italian cuisine uses a lot of cheese, something to look out for when going out for a dinner. Be sure to try Italian wine in there, it is devilishly cheap and very tasty!
As for accommodation, we stayed in Baccina 45, this particular room. It was clean, spacious, had all kitchen and bathroom inventory, towels and a nice view through window. For me, the street, although in centre, was calm enough to get good sleep. If looking for a cheap student sleep, I suggest looking out for hostels, their prices are reasonable.