Rome was our second destination in Italy in our Europe trip back in March 2017. I actually wanted to go directly here from Athens, but we went to Amalfi first instead. Well, some compromises are inevitable when you are travelling with other people.😁 But finally, I got to spend 3 days in Rome the Eternal City.
I soon understood that the phrase “Eternal City” coined to the city was so perfect. Founded in 753 BC (if what I read was accurate), we can still witness today the legacy of the Roman Empire and how big it was! I felt like walking and living in a big museum. Everywhere we went, there was always something historical and interesting to see and learn.
THINGS TO SEE IN ROME
You can never run out of things to see in Rome. But since we only stayed here for a few days, we chose to see some of the famous historical sites, all by foot. We actually walked from Trastevere, where we stayed, up to the centre.
COLOSSEUM (Anfiteatro Flavio)
Admission: € 12, including entry to Palatina Hill and the Roman Forum. Check the tickets here.
Built in the first century AD, it took three emperors from the Flavian dynasty to complete the construction (Vespasianus, Titus and Domitianus). It was used not only for the famous gladiator fights but also for other spectacles, like public executions.
I did not enter inside because of the very long queue and it was already late afternoon. By the time we got our turn, there wouldn’t have been much time left. Maybe if you plan to use the public transport a lot or visit many museums or sites, buying a Roma Pass or Omnia Multi Pass will be worth it (and come early!). And look how tiny the people up there are compared to the structure. Just imagine that 2,000 years ago, around 50,000 people gathered inside to watch and cheer the gladiators fighting for their lives!
Standing 40 meter above the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill was once an upscale neighbourhood where the the rich and noble families of Rome lived, including Emperor Augustus. It is also said to be home to Romus and Remulus (the founders of the city).
FORO ROMANO (ROMAN FORUM)
Considered as the most important forum in ancient Rome. This was the centre of political, social and religious activities of the Romans. There were the Senate Building, a temple, a basilica and a number of monuments to commemorate certain events, plus some shops and open-air markets. Elections, public speeches, trials, executions and even gladiatorial combats were also held in the forum! A lot of historical events also took place here, like the funeral of Julius Caesar and the execution of Cicero.
Outside the Roman Forum, there were more to see, like ruins of houses at Clivus Argentarius and other forums – of Caesar, Augustus and Nerva – along Via dei Fori Imperiali that ends at the Colosseum.
Located right in the heart of Rome, near the Roman Forum. So eventually everyone, especially those who are in Rome for the first time, will get to to this place at some point. A lot of tourists flocked in this area, mostly to take pictures of Il Vittoriano / Altare della Patria monument – dedicated to King Vittorio Emanuelle I – and also to watch the guard changing there. I don’t know how those guys feel having to stand up still with a plain, emotionless face for hours while a bunch of random strangers take their pictures every day! 😆
On the way to the Roman Forum, we walked past a big square called Piazza del Campidoglio, designed by Michelangelo in the 16th century. The piazza is surrounded by 3 buildings, Palazzo Senatorio (built in the 11th century), Palazzo dei Conservatori (built in the 16th century) and Palazzo Nuovo (built in the 17th century). Palazzo Senatorio has been the town hall of Rome since 1870 and the other two palazzi are now known as Capitoline Museums.
Admission: free entry to St. Peter’s Basilica. For entry to the museums, the Sistine Chapel and other tours, check their official website.
This is another place in Rome where visitors need to arrive earlier, too. I was there in March and yet, there was already a very long queue outside the Basilica (I can’t imagine how it is in summer!). Don’t forget to dress properly, i.e. shoulder-covered top, trousers for men and women or at least knee-length skirts for women. Read more here.
FONTANA DI TREVI (Trevi Fountain)
Honestly I didn’t know why I went here. 😂 It was packed with tourists more than I could ever imagine and it was very difficult for me to get through that many people just to reach the fountain. It was also impossible to take any decent picture so I don’t know how other people did it! I guess it’s just one of those places in everyone’s bucket list that needs to be checked off. Maybe we should have gone here in the middle of the night….
WHERE TO STAY IN ROME
Well, it depends on your budget. On our first night, we stayed in a budget B&B hotel near Roma Termini because it was already late and we had not found the ‘right’ place to stay (yeah, being too spontaneous could sometimes end up not so well!). It was okay for me, not much to expect from a place near a train station. I have been told that the area was rather unsafe due to the number of (illegal?) immigrants in the neighbourhood, but at that time there was nothing to worry about when we were out looking for dinner nearby. On the next day, we moved to a very nice apartment we found on booking.com in Trastevere area.
Trastevere turned out to be a very nice place to live in. It is not far from the train station, so it was very easy for us to go to Vatican. We decided to walk to centro storico on that day (Colosseum, etc.) and as we were getting closer to Tiber river, we noticed some (at that time still closed) restaurants and bars. I read that Trastevere was well-known for the hip, trendy restaurants, but unfortunately we were not willing to pay €15 for an appetizer! 😂