Rome has everything. History, architecture, art, religion. Narrow cobblestone streets that wind leading into huge piazzas centered around century old fountains that Romans still drink from today.The piazzas are lined with local shops, cafes, bars, children running, playing, and laughing, tourists being suckered into cheesy souvenirs, locals gossiping at lunch, and even the cliche old man sipping his espresso in the corner of the cafe watching the world. Live music fills the air from street performers everywhere you look. It is no wonder Rome is so easy to fall in love with.
The first time Christie and I visited Rome, we rode the train in from having spent the past two nights in Florence. I was enamored before even setting foot off the train. Seeing the ruins sprinkled throughout the route into Termini was so exciting. As if I had been watching a movie and not living my own life.
We stepped off the train at Termini to take a local metro to the stop to our hostel, Nika Hostel. Nika Hostel is a compact little apartment basically with limited shared and private rooms. It is very conveniently located in San Giovanni, very close to the colosseum. The manager of the hostel, Marvin, is honestly the most helpful and friendly person we could have asked for. Upon arrival, he helped us with our bags as it was not quiet check in time yet, took out a map of Rome and helped up plan out our days, showing us all the most popular sites, some unknown ones, all the cheapest places to eat, all the best places to explore AND the best walking or train routes to get there. He really made a difference in our trip and we are incredibly grateful. So much so that we came back on a separate trip but, that is a whole different story. We spent our first day just letting ourselves get lost in the city and exploring as much as we could. We set out toward Quartiere Flamino, to see a beautiful view of the city. We hopped back on the train near the Colosseum which was almost unnerving to see in real life. We of course visited Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps [which were unfortunately under reconstruction.] We visited Giolitti for their famous Gelato per recommendation of Marvin and boy, were we not disappointed. And then we discovered Piazza della Rotonda. I cannot express the feelings this Piazza gave me. Sitting there starting down the centuries old Pantheon was overwhelming. The structure was so huge and has withstood nearly everything people have done to each other over the years. We sat near the fountain sipping Aperol Spritz as we took it all in. We wandered into L’Antica Salumeria, sampling every meat and cheese they had to offer, vowing to come back the next day to eat everything. After spending the day traveling and exploring, not to mention drinking Aperol Spritz everywhere we could, we were drained. We made our way back to Nika and passed out. We planned on visiting the Vatican early the next morning, having bought our tickets with Get your Guide prior to arrival.
Fontana di Trevi
The Pantheon, Piazza della Rotonda
After waking up at the crack of dawn we boarded the unbelievably crowded metro to arrive at the Vatican. The Get your Guide package we purchased came with a live guide which I recommend as there is so much history behind everything, you would really not know about unless its something you have studied in the past. Really interesting and unique information. It always allows you to skip the line however this does not include the security line. That is for everyone and it honestly passed by quickly regardless of crowd size. Was the Vatican crowded? Yes. Was it worth it? Completely. Seeing the Sistine Chapel was being packed like sardines in a tin but it was beautiful and unlike any other form of art I have ever encountered. Awestricken, I quickly snuck pictures on to my iPhone. [Sorry guys, I know photos aren’t allowed and by all means I’m not encouraging breaking the rules.. .Wait. I am. Everyone else did it too.] We were able to venture into St Peter’s Basilica afterward as well. The feeling you get standing above where a Biblical figure was supposedly buried beneath you makes you feel so small. I’m not a religious person per say but you feel so insignificant knowing how the world has been turning before you and with or without you. Of course the first thing we did upon leaving the Vatican was tuck into a small store to buy large Peronis for our walk back. We headed to Trattoria Luzzi, a cheap restaurant near our hostel in San Giovanni that Marvin had suggested to us. We ate here day after day because besides the fact that it was cheap, it was great food and had a huge selection. Not to mention the staff kept giving us limoncello.
Pizza at Trattoria Luzzi
To read more about our visit to Rome – click here to find out about to the Roman Forum, The Colosseum, Trastevere, affordable places to eat and drink, and where to find the cheapest, largest take away Aperol Spritz we could find in Rome!