When in Rome, eat the pizza, the gelato, the pasta, and honestly anything in sight amirite? Can you tell we ate a lot when we were in Italia?
*General Warning: Prepare for TONS of pictures. Sorry, not sorry.
We left Athens (click to read now) at 7:10 am and arrived in Rome (CIA) airport at 8:05 am. We had been up since about 3 am that morning, so to say that we slept on our flight is an understatement. Somehow, I did manage to catch a few good pics of the sunrise while high in the sky.
Transportation to the City Center
Once we got out of the airport we had to try to find our means into the city. Bus 278 is a shuttle bus from the airport to the nearest train station, at which you can then take a train to the city center. At the time the bus cost €1.20 and was about a 20-minute ride. The trick is the bus takes exact change only and has long queues. The bus arrives at Ciampino Station where you can purchase a ticket to Roma Termini for€1.50. Our total cost from airport to city was a whopping €2.70 ea! You can’t beat that!!
Accommodations – Couchsurfing.
When we finally got into the city center we were 1. extremely exhausted, 2. a little cranky, and 3. HOT toting our winter coat around. I knew already today was going to be a looooong day. We were lucky enough to come across Cezar on couchsurfing.com, who was willing to host us for the two days we would be staying in Rome. Cezar was a great host who gave us great tips on where to eat, and what to avoid while in Roma. Sadly he was sick while we in Rome and was unable to explore with us and show us, Rome, his way, but we were lucky enough to make a new friend and maybe we’ll cross paths again one day! We had planned to meet up that night with Cezar, so we had the entire day to explore, and tote our heavy backpacks…
As soon as we departed from Roma Termini we were in the heart of Rome and opted to wander and see where we ended up. One of the first sites we came across was a Basilica that did not disappoint in its beauty.
The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
Following the Basilica, we came across this random face on a wall and it seemed just SO Italian I couldn’t help but to take a picture.
Now we planned to visit The Colosseum on our second day, but we couldn’t help but keep away. Can you blame us? It’s stunning.
On the second day, we returned to The Colosseum and paid a whopping €12 ea. at the official ticket counter which gives access to The Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and The Roman Forum. We bought our tickets at Palatine Hill’s ticket office first thing in the morning and then walked over to the Colosseum and avoided the massive queue for ticket sales. We maybe waited all of 20 minutes before we went through security and were cleared to enter to the Colosseum.
In front of the Colosseum, expect to be poached and targeted by various “tour companies” trying to sell you exclusive tours in the Colosseum where you can skip the queue. One tour guide tried to sell us a package (which they lowered the price THREE times after I kept saying no) to €45 ea, to enter the Colosseum and skip the queues. Now I’m not saying they’re not legit companies, but I would hate to spend all that money, and get to the Colosseum and find out I was ripped off, or that I actually did have to wait in the queue, or that I couldn’t even enter The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Some of the horror stories on google alluded to situations like that. Might as well be safe, rather than sorry and buy from the official ticket booths.
Pro Tip #1: Do NOT pay exorbiant prices for an entrance to all three with a tour group, when you can pay FAR less at an official ticket counter.
Pro Tip #2: Buy your tickets AT the Palatine Hill ticket booth. The Queues are non-existent in comparison to the Colosseum.
Pro Tip #3: Do NOT bring bulky backpacks/huge bags into the Colosseum as you will not be allowed to enter.
My favorite part of the Colosseum was not only seeing a “wonder of the world” but reading all of the interesting information on all the placards throughout the Colosseum. All the history and information that you don’t learn in school.
Fun fact, back in the day while some of the games were occurring spectators would be hosting their own games in their seats. Carving chesslike boards into the steps and very seats where they sat they would wager bets and gamble amongst themselves.
Here we are outside the Colosseum.
The Colosseum at night is just as stunning during the day.
Arch of Constantine
The Arch of Constantine is just to the right of The Colosseo and it is so beautiful. I love the carved stone and the intricacies of it all.
On the second day, I managed to get a stellar shot of the Arch from the Colosseum.
The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
On the first day we walked past The Forum and Palatine Hill sightseeing from the outside, but on the second day we went in and explored it at deeper lengths. An official ticket to the Colosseum grants access to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
Here’s the view of the Roman Forum from outside the compounds. Its filled with various arches, column fragments, and the remains of a once bustling city center.
Here are some shots I took from inside the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Palatine Hill is actually a massive castle grounds of sorts, while the Roman Forum was the “center” of Roman life back in the day.
James MADE me take this picture because he loved that the trees looked like they belonged in Savannah in Africa and he can’t seem to take any of his own photos. Of course, I had to include it in this post. All in all, we spent maybe 4 hours exploring the three areas. A perfect way to spend a morning in Rome.
On our first day in Rome, we came across Circus Maximus, which is an ancient Chariot Racing Stadium. Pretty cool to think we walked around where they raced CHARIOTS.
Teatro di Marcello
Following the Circus Maximus we found Teatro di Marcello. Fun fact, the Colosseum is NOT the only building that looks like THE Colosseum in Rome. Teatro di Marcello is built QUITE similarly to the Colosseum with WAY fewer people. Obviously, you should totally check out the real thing, but if crowds aren’t your cup of tea, Teatro di Marcello is the way you wanna go.
Capitoline Hill is one of the 7 hills of Rome. After seeing the massive steps I completely understood why. We visited the hill on our first day in Rome when we had our bulky backpacks with us and let me tell you trekking up the stairs I felt like I was training for some huge athletic feat.
At the top of these stairs is Piazza Campidoglio, which was stunnig.
At the very corner of the Piazza is the Capitoline Wolf. This wolf depicts Romulus and Remus, nursing on a wolf, and has become a symbol of Rome and the Roman people
The Rome Keyhole
Okay, if you’re ever in Rome you NEED to check this out. It’s one of the coolest sites I’ve seen, and we visited it on our first day in Rome. Find the doorway to headquarters of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Through that teeny tiny keyhole, if you peep through, you’ll see these magnificent arches in a garden and beyond the distance perfectly under the arches you see St. Peter’s Basilica. Unfortunately, I could NOT take the photo, because the light exposure and distance of the Basilica did not work out. But off in the distance where the light peeks through at the end of the arches is the Basilica. Seeing it in person though is breathtaking.
Did you go to Rome if you didn’t visit Piazza Venezia? We visited on our first day and it truly was a spectacular sight. At the very top of the piazza is Palazzo Venezia which houses the memorial for The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I always try to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in each city we go to and pay respects.
Fun fact: you’re not allowed to sit on the stairs of Palazzo Venezia or rest your backpacks on them to prevent damaging them. They’re quite stern on this.
The view of the Piazza from Palazzo Venezia is just as stunning as the Palazzo.
ALSO, let’s talk about the fountains, because what is Rome without fountains?! How beautiful is this fountain on the corner of Palazzo Venezia.
My favorite fountain however, was obviously..the Trevi. Okay, for all you Lizzie McGuire fans out there, OBVIOUSLY, When in Rome, you throw a coin in the Trevi just like Lizzie..Yeah, I wasted like 5 pennys to get this photo, but totally worth it. James told me I should’ve just fished my first penny out of the fountain and throw it again, but I’m pretty sure that’s frowned upon. We came across the Trevi on our first day, but I’m not ashamed to say we visited again on the second, because well, its the Trevi.
Fun Fact: The Trevi Fountain collects roughly €3,000 EACH DAY.
The Mouth of Truth
One of my favorite things about Rome is all the various statues you come across. Check out the Mouth of Truth at Bocca della Verita. The Mouth of Truth is a massive marble mask that is the face of the sea god Oceanus. We came across this statue on our first day in Rome!
Piazza Navona was one of my favorite discoveries during our first day in Rome. Look how stunning it is.
Okay so, I forgot to mention but outside every major attraction in Rome, expect to be haggled and bombarded by scammers trying to get you sign fake petitions and donate money, or buy rinky-dink souvenirs. In front of the Pantheon, a particular gentleman approached us, and at this point, I already had been haggled like 20 times that day so when asked if I spoke English and the clipboard was shoved in my face I shook my head no, and he then started yelling at me for lying as I’m going to enter a Church because I understood what he said. If you’re trying to put me in any charitable mood, yelling at me is not going to make it happen. Sorry bud.
Anyway, the Pantheon is an amazing piece of architecture, with an oculus in the ceiling. The floor is convexed so the water runs towards the drainage system when it rains. We were lucky enough to visit this gem on our first day.
The Vatican City
On our second day in Rome, we made it a priority to not only see The Colosseum, but to take a visit to the famed Vatican City.
Fun fact: The Vatican City is its own recognized country. Technically we got to see a whole extra country, wooo!
This is the view from the city center of Rome, prior to crossing the bridge over to the Vatican City.
We then crossed over the bridge that lays directly before the Castel Sant’Angelo and walked left from it towards the Vatican City.
A short 5 minutes later we were in the Vatican City, in front of St. Peter’s Basilica. Behold:
We even got to witness the changing of the guards at the Vatican. Fortunately, there was a crowd of schoolchildren in front of me, so it was like I was standing front row since they were all shorter than me, yay.
We tried to walk around and get a picture of it from the back, but it was blocked. This was the best I could do until I got yelled at by a guard to get out of the road, oops.
The Good Eats
So Cezar our host recommended we get gelato from Fassi Gelaterria, Rome’s second oldest gelateria. Oh my goodness, thank you for that recommendation. It was so good, and so affordable that we got gelato three times there. We got gelato in a cone, gelato in a brioche bun with cream, and cannolies with gelato. To die for.
Obviously, you need to have Pizza in Rome right? Well, we were uber excited to try the pizza, and kinda just settled on one of the first places we came across. Big mistake, honestly I’ve had better pizza in Long Island, NY than I did in Rome. Not to say it wasn’t good because it absolutely was, but it didn’t blow me away. I think we were too close to the tourist area and probably needed to go further out. The Bruschetta however was absolutely delicious!
The BEST meal we had in Rome, was the pasta. We ate from Pastasciutta located in the Vatican City. It is literally a take-away location. Not a dine-in restaurant by a long shot yet by far the most amazing pasta I’ve ever had. And I can say this with fact because I generally eat pasta ALL the time. This pasta was made fresh right in front of us, cooked in the sauce and served in plastic plate, maintaining the super casual atmosphere. PLUS it was only €5.50.
Transportation back to the airport
On the third day, we were up at 3 am heading to the train station to catch a bus shuttle to take us to Rome’s FCO airport. The hardest thing of this whole ordeal was finding the location in front of Rome Termini’s train station where the shuttle would pull up because nothing was explicitly marked as a shuttle stop. But there were tons of other people with luggage and we just stood where they were standing and eventually the shuttle pulled up. We bought the tickets as we boarded the bus with cash, and took the T.A.M. shuttle, (Tirreno Azienda Mobilita) to FCO for a whopping€6 ea. and within 30 minutes we were at the airport.
Miles Walked: 15.3 mi, 12/14/16 & 15 mi, 12/15/16
Total Cost James and I: $60.07 on prepaid flight, €74.45 in Rome
- Euros spent: €74.45
- USD spent: $60.07
- Beginning balance of Euros: €628.78
- Total Euros spent: €74.45
- Ending balance of Euros: €554.33
Breakdown of costs
Prepaid Flight Cost:
***ALL 9 Flights Totaled Roughly $301 ea. This portion:
- Flights to Rome: $60.07 USD per 4/18/17 conversion rates
- ATH-CIA 7:10-8:05 for James and I
- €55.98 = $60.07 USD
Cost Incurred in Rome:
- Post Card: €1
- Attractions: €24.05
- Colosseo/Roman Forum/Palatine Hill: €12 ea, total €24
- Food: €32
- Pizza €7
- Bruschetta €3
- Pasta €5.50 ea, total €11
- Cannoli €2
- Gelato on cone: €2, twice, total €4
- Gelato on Brioche: €2.50, twice, total €5
- Transportation: €17.40
- Bus 278 to Ciampiano Station: €1.20 ea, total €2.40
- Train Ticket: €1.5 ea., total €3
- T.A.M. Shuttle to FCO: €6 ea, total €12
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