I took my first trip to Rome in October (2015) to celebrate my 26th Birthday. A quick Google search says that low tourist season in Rome is between November and March. I can safely say that the weekend I visited was most definitely not low season. It was the second week of October so still very busy.
There. Were. People. Everywhere
Where Did We Stay?
We stayed at a hotel Called Hotel Diana. It was closer to the Termini station area of the city, but still a fairly good location to walk to places. The hotel itself was more than adequate for what we needed, with a rooftop bar, which we utilized on our first night.
Hotels in Rome sell out fairly quickly, at least in my experience. And if you book further in advance you can quite good deals on better locations. I left my accommodation booking too late and was left with limited option in my price range.
How Not To Pack For A Rainy Day
On our first day in Rome we were greeted with rain. Lots of rain. The old cobbled streets of Rome were filled with puddles. I’d never even thought to bring an umbrella, so we ventured out in search of one.
I had one pair of shoes, one pair of jeans and no socks. My vans were brand new and by the end of day one, my feet were ruined, my shoes and jeans absolutely soaked.
I spent the evening blow-drying my one pair of jeans ready for the next morning all while being laughed at. Probably not rocket science, but if you’re traveling it’s probably best to bring MORE THAN ONE PAIR OF JEANS.
Leave The Tourist Area For Food
Rome is a food lover’s dream, and Italian cuisine is my favourite of all favourites. But I left feeling unsatisfied.
While I had some good food in Rome, it didn’t blow me away like I’d have hoped. My biggest mistake in Rome was giving into the tourist restaurants. They are always conveniently located next to tourist attractions, and therefore we chose these places because we were hungry RIGHT THEN. If I were to return to Rome (I will be back one day) I’d seriously like to do a food tour and have heard great things about Walks Of Italy. Or even just a quick search on TripAdvisor will give you better knowledge of where to get that famous Italian pizza or pasta.
Getting My Caffeine Fix
The coffee, however, was a different story.
While I might be a basic bitch that drinks Starbucks at any given chance, I also enjoy the unique independent coffee shops.
I must make a confession, and say I Googled if there were any Starbucks prior to my visit and was disappointed when I found there were none. Oh what a culture-less woman!
Rome was the home of coffee! I had the best cup of coffee in Rome I’ve ever had in my life. Still, to this day nothing compares. I left Rome being thankful that there were no Starbucks, and realising that if they ever did move into the city, that would be the disappointment. Forget everything you know about coffee. Italy is the place to get the best.
Pistachio is always my go to gelato flavour, but here it was orgasmic. Like the smoothest melt in your mouth, most amazing gelato I’d ever had.
We returned to the same Gelato shop several times throughout our visit. And while enjoying my gelato outside the store one evening, minding my own business, a German tour group passes us. A lovely (and I use the term loosely) German man started to yell at me. Just Lovely. I had no idea what he said, and just continued to casually lick my gelato cone.
What an Experience. I was far too invested in my gelato to really care. It was that good.
Built between 72 & 80AD, during the Flavian Dynasty, the Colosseum is the main icon of Rome and one of the most visited attractions in the world. It is the biggest Amphitheatre in the world and had 80 entrances and sat 50,000 people. Underneath the Colosseum were several rooms and passages that were used to keep Gladiators and animals prior to events.
There are tours available that take you to the lower level and passages of the Colosseum but these sell out months in advance. I wasn’t able to get tickets for this so I just used my admission through the Roma Pass. I ended up taking an unofficial tour of the Colosseum to learn a little more about its history. The tour cost €10 and was good for the price, there are tons of people outside the Colosseum offering these type of tours.
Come back during the nighttime to see the Colosseum lit up. We managed to see a light show projected onto the Colosseum during our trip.
The Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
From the Coliseum made our way over to the Roman Forum.
The Roman Forum was the centre of the Ancient city of Rome, and featured several government buildings. It comprises several Temples including that of Antonius Pius, Temple of Vesta and Temple of Saturn.
This is one of the most fascinating places I’ve ever been. I tried to imagine what these temples might have looked like in their heyday.
After a visit to the Roman Forum, the Palatine Hill is a must. It’s also handy that it’s included in your ticket price. There are some amazing views from the Palatine Hill that are not to be missed.
What To Do?
I’d dreamt about the moment I’d finally see the Trevi Fountain, make a wish and throw my penny into the fountain.
Alas, it was not to be. The Trevi Fountain was under construction during my time in Rome, which I was pretty bummed out about. But on the other hand it’s given me a good excuse to come back some day.
The Spanish Steps were also under construction, so I never actually got to sit on the steps. While this wasn’t a big must-do for me personally, the surrounding area is really pretty. I enjoyed just wandering the side streets around the Spanish Steps. If you want to do any shopping while you are in Rome, this would be the area to do it.
Piazza Venezia & Altare Della Patria
Piazza Venezia is one of the busiest squares in Rome, cars everywhere. The main attraction here however is Altare Della Patria, a magnificent monument built in honour of Victor Emanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy.
Capitoline Hill is home to the Capitoline Museums, another fantastic Art Museum within Rome. This museum is included in the Roma Pass.
There are some amazing views of the Colosseum from the Capitoline Museums.
Piazza Navona is a wonderful Square filled with little cafes and street performers. I visited here just before sunset, which was great as it lit up the square perfectly.
Once a temple, the Pantheon is now a Church. My first visit to the Pantheon was during a downpour so naturally we headed inside, as did everyone else. Naturally it was packed inside, so we returned on a sunnier day. This inside is absolutely beautiful and is free to visit.
The Vatican City
Visiting the Vatican City was a dream come true. Somewhere I never imagined I’d ever step foot in. I had a tour of the Vatican Museums booked for the second day of my trip in Rome. The museum is stocked full of paintings, amazing architecture and sculptures. I did enjoy seeing a painting by Michelangelo that was in fact also a self-portrait, tucked away in the back of the scene.
The last stop on the tour was of course the Sistine Chapel. Having a love of art and having studied it in college I’ve heard about the Sistine Chapel on so many occasions. It was as grand as everyone says it is. The Chapel itself is crammed full of people, there is a strict no photography or noise policy.
Unfortunately I didn’t make it to St.Peter’s Basilica as we exited the wrong way and would have had to stand in line for what looked like hours.
Whenever visiting a major city, I always prefer to walk as much as I can. I feel taking public transport can sometimes make you miss out on seeing some of the coolest areas of a city.
Rome was no different. While my feet were ruined due to the old stone streets, at the end of my trip, I felt I experienced the city far more. The only time we took public transport was then we went to the Vatican City, it was a pain-free journey that dropped off right outside the city walls. A bus pass is included in the Roma Pass so we didn’t spend anything to get there.
Walking around the ancient city of Rome was like being transported to another era.
As you can probably tell I fell in love with Rome on day one. There is an abundance of things to see and do, especially in four days. I never even got to the neighbourhood of Trastevere. Everything listed in this post I managed to do in four days, and a lot of it was free!
Have you ever visited the city of Rome?