Rome, a city built on seven hills, often described as lasagna by the locals because each time they dug the earth to start a project, they found another layer of an undiscovered part of ancient Rome. In an area close to the Colosseum, for the past ten years, they have been trying to construct a train line, however, each time they dig the ground, they discover secret tunnels or caves that need to be preserved and as a result, reroute the train line, and this has been going on for a decade.
Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain.
In order to explore the main sites of Rome within this short period, I will advise that you get a hotel in town. Fortunately for me, my friend’s sister who had lived there for two years booked a hotel for us and it was in the centre of Rome but I had no idea how close it was to most of the tourist attractions. I walked a few meters from the hotel, found Piazza del Popolo, kept walking straight and literally walked into designer store heaven, which was a street with every designer store you can think off. After a few meters, I saw some steps and I was in denial that those were the Spanish steps right in front of me, unbelievable. The cherry on the icing, the Trevi fountain was less than a five-minute walk from there. So for my first day in Rome, I visited the three places mentioned above, went shopping and had dinner.
Living in the centre means you can walk everywhere. With all the pasta and gelato I had eaten, I had no problem walking around the whole city to burn a few calories. Okay, that wasn’t the main reason why I walked the entire time but firstly, they just had uber black and above in Rome which meant higher fares for me. Secondly, most of the time I compared how long it was going to take to walk to a location by how long it was going to take by driving or by public transport, walking was almost the same as driving or going by public transport. Thirdly, you save money doing this. You will also discover so much in the streets while walking and have time to stop, stare, admire and be admired… lol. Lastly, it was flattering when the men yelled “Ciao Bella” at us in the streets lol.
In relation to walking, make sure you have comfortable shoes. I made a mistake and wore sandals, apart from the fact that my feet got dusty at the end of the day, my feet hurt so bad. The streets of Rome are mainly cobbled stones which are not very easy on the feet. You would need shoes that are cushioned on the inside, I’d say ditch the sandals or heels or wedges and wear sneakers to save yourself the stress. I read a blog post that said the exact same thing about sandals, I ignored it and on both days I wore sandals, boy did I regret it!
I set off at 10 am to explore the city, which is late if you want to visit the Vatican. It took me about 40 mins to walk there which for some reason wasn’t tedious, it was rather relaxing for me. On arrival the area was packed with tourists and tour guides trying to secure tour groups, there was an army of soldiers in the area which at this point had become normal to me as they can be found in every corner. The queue to enter the St. Sistine Chapel was extremely long, I was thirsty and the sun was scorching so it wasn’t difficult for me to skip this. I tried to get water from a vendor and the price was almost 4 times the normal price of water, went to a different vendor, my friend spoke Italian and got it for the normal price. If possible you should try and avoid buying souvenirs, food, drinks or anything around tourist attractions they tend to exploit tourists. Also avoid people handing out roses or anything else around these places, once you take the item they demand money.
Colosseum and Roman ruins
Walking from there to the Colosseum was another 45 mins if I remember correctly and at this point, I was worn out. On our way, we saw the Castel Sant’Angelo which I had no clue existed, took some pictures. Carried on and stopped a couple hundred times more to regain some energy.
Save yourself the stress and book a tour. It is just a few extra euros more than the standard ticket prices. Plus you get to learn a whole lot more. You can also download this app tiqets and book your tickets ahead of time to cross the lines, had known this earlier I would have gone to the Vatican. Needless to say, it is always advisable to book your tour at least a day before. The tour I booked cost 35 euros which was just about 7 euros more than the regular tickets I had to queue for. My travel buddy didn’t come for this tour with me. It was a two-hour tour of the Roman ruins which was very informative but if you have no interest in history I’ll suggest that you skip it, and an hour tour of the Colosseum.
I had strangers take pictures of me at both places and if you know me well, you’d know I hate taking pictures and cameras make me awkward. So even though I’ve got pictures of myself there, I’d save you guys from the awkwardness.
You could probably go and see a lot more places but you’d probably be exhausted at the end and not enjoy your time. I will recommend that at night, you find somewhere nice to have dinner, somewhere locals go cause that’s where you’d find the best Italian dishes. Avoid restaurants close to tourist attractions they tend to be very expensive.