Italy was my first stop in a three week journey through Europe. I started in Vancouver, where I flew to LAX via Air Canada. I am NOT a fan of LAX…just need to get that across from the start. The airport is like running a marathon, takes lots of energy to make a transfer.
I had to grab my bag, re-check in, go through security (where I forgot I had water still in my bottle so I had to give up my $50 Swell bottle from my sister), and run to the gate. You know when you’re trying to catch a connecting flight and you’re hoping it’s the closest gate but it’s always the FARTHEST gate away…yep that was me. The boarding was scheduled an hour before departure time which seemed odd to me, but it now makes sense because we had to take a bus to the plane on the tarmac.
I flew Norwegian Airlines to Rome, which I would highly recommend. They’re a budget airline though, so if you want to check your bag you pay for it, if you want a meal, you pay for it etc. But they were great!
I took the train in from FCO (Rome’s airport) into the city costing me €15, then an additional €1.50 to take the inner city train to the stop closer to my Airbnb.
Rome is a busy city, holy guacamole. Lots of people hustling around – business people, tourists, families and normal people. I was overwhelmed. LOTS of smoking as well. I mean Vancouver I think has a high population of smokers, but it compares nothing to Rome, if you don’t like the smell, be prepared. BUT everything is beautiful. The smallest streets, the biggest sights, the cars, the people…it’s all picture worthy.
I stayed at an Airbnb closer to the Colosseum in the Monti area. It took me a while to find the apartment because Italy has NO street signs! It was close to the metro, classic tiny italian streets and was quiet at night. I didn’t ever see my hosts or other guests (not even in the hallway), was just given codes to enter space but it worked out perfectly. Big room, tall ceilings, clean space and towels, beautiful bathrooms + a mini breakfast room. I never was around for the fresh breakfast but rather would eat the morning’s croissants when I’d come home late at night, ha!
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I took public transportation in Italy everywhere, super easy. I purchased a 2 day pass which allowed me to travel as many times on the train as I wanted throughout the two days. I find this type of transit pass a lot easier than maybe a 10 ticket pack because one can feel restricted, and when you’ve already walked 20,000 steps in the day you’ll want the train to get back home at night!
Heavily Italian (no surprise), more touristy areas they speak some english but know your ‘excuse me’, numbers 1 – 5 and ‘thank you’.
Woke up 7:00
The night before I had arrived after flying from Vancouver to Los Angeles then into Rome at about 20:00. It was then an hour train ride into the city, followed by a quick metro train to my Airbnb. Jetleg didn’t seem to a problem for me because I was so exhausted and was able to go to bed on time, making it feel like a normal night.
My Airbnb was in walking distance to the Collosseum, how cool. As I was walking it just sort of appeared and I can imagine for anyone living in Rome it’s just part of their everyday life, but for me wowza, how beautiful! As you walk around the perimeter everyone is asking you to take their tour (felt like I was in Vegas all over again) but I had no interest to go inside. You can walk around the entire perimeter, with some areas being able to get a sneak peak of the inside.
The Colosseum was fully constructed by year 802…can you imagine that?! They didn’t have cranes, factories, machines etc. to construct and create like we do today. It was also Rome’s first Ampitheatre. If you do want to take a tour I’d suggest pre-booking as the lines looked LONG.
Arch of Constantine
Right next to the Colosseum is also the Arch of Constantine. Rome’s Triumphal Arch (which I later discovered almost every major city in Europe has their own Triumphal Arch), was constructed from pieces of previous buildings and made in memory of the victory of Constantine I the Great in the Battle of Milivian Bridge.
Took the train
Next I headed toward the Vatican City but had yet to have breakfast. My Airbnb came with a small breakfast room but I was up too early. Near the train station I stopped into Lemongrass Gelato. At first I thought gelato for breakfast may not be too bad but I had a caffe which is what they call an espresso and a croissant. I had to ask for some milk in the espresso, because WOW it was bitter.
St. Peter’s Square
WOWZA, this square was absolutely stunning with the sun shining the day I went. There were hundreds if not thousands of people walking around, but the atmosphere of such a historic plaza is breathtaking. I could have people watched for hours.
St. Peter’s Basilica
The line up to go into the church was LONG, now I’m not talking a bunch of drunk kids at McDonalds at 3:00 long, I’m talking a kilometre or two long. I was pre-warned that if I wanted to go inside I should book my tickets ahead of time, but this was of no interest to me. I am Catholic and felt very connected being in such a holy place, where the Pope resides and leads service every Sunday, that would have been cool.
*Travel Hack: there are bathrooms on the left side when you’re facing the church, and free!
After being surrounded by thousands of people, I needed a little break and decided to explore the streets nearby. Watching the priests and nuns go into the Vatican was a unique experience, because that’s their work place and what they have chosen to dedicate their lives to.
I walked around the corner towards the museum and again a line-up kilometres long. What frustrates me about this, is in that time you could explore so much of the city Rome has to offer, for me it wasn’t worth my time to wait.
While walking away from the museum I was greeted with ‘Preggo’ (not someone yelling pregnant ps), which means welcome in Italian and sat down at Taverna Lino. Established in 1947, their Margherita pizza was DELICIOUS. The classic Italian lunch and pizza I was looking for.
Travel Hack: In Italy at restaurants they don’t serve tap water. If you ask for water you will always get a bottle and always be paying for it. Not something that’s helping reduce waste either…
Took the bus
A beautiful castle over looking the River Tiber. Again I didn’t pay to go inside (they’re expensive!), but the sun was shining so bright that day looking from the outside was stunning enough.
During a warm day, a beautiful long walk alongside the river may be the highlight of your day. Although not clean water, in a city so busy, rich in layers of history, seeing a pathway for a wide water way is impressive.
A free site to see…and just to be blunt…it is a bunch steps and that’s about it. Just really crowded steps. If you climb to the top the view of the city is quite beautiful. Their significance is that they connected a plaza to a church, so…if you miss the site, you won’t be missing much.
BUSY, BUSY, BUSY. So many people. The Trevi is thought to bring you good luck. If you throw one coin: you will return to Rome (I threw one when I was younger… it came true). If you throw two coins: you will fall in love with an attractive Italian. If you throw three coins: you will marry the person that you met.. Well…I wasn’t in the mood to push myself to the front, so guess no Italian man for me, ha!
Then I needed to use the bathroom and spotted a McDonalds…45 minutes problem was solved, blah.
It was about time for a snack after all the walking. I chose stratecialla from La Bottega Del Gelato. DELICIOUS!
What a sturcture! Ooo this plaza was one of my favourites. A BEAUTIFUL busker was playing, I had a gelato in hand observing the most beautiful columns I’d ever seen. Bonus, it’s FREE! You can enter inside to see the magnificent architecture of the Romans.
Church of Gesù
On my way back to my Airbnb I stumbled upon this stunning piece of architecture from the Baroque Italian era. I wish sometimes the smaller lesser known pieces of history in a city received as much attention.
Again…didn’t go into any of the museums or buildings at Capitoline Hill, but wow, what pieces of work. If you climb up the stairs (there’s a lot) to the church (which is free to go inside), you get a beautiful view of Rome (and can watch all the crazy traffic), without a lot of tourists. The Altar of the Fatherland really amazed me, the building is HUGE! And imagine that structure standing without all the cars and buildings surrounding back in history, it would have really stood out.
Took the bus
Back to my Airbnb to relax my feet as they had gnarly blisters on them, while I asked my host for a dinner recommendation.
Took the train and walked
Il Gallo Matto was recommended to me and what a place! The owner instantly hooked me onto his arm and sat me down making me feel very welcome. The kind of place where the decor doesn’t do the talking, but the people and food do.
A delicious ravioli with tomato sauce accompanied by lemon cake for dessert. Let’s not forget about having to dance with the owner as he was grabbing all the ladies in the restaurant to, so fun! I had a great time sitting next to a British mom and daughter hearing about their adventures!
Took the train and walked
Rome for me is check mark type city. I’ve been, I’ve seen, and don’t feel the need to come back for another 15 years. I’m sure in the outskirts there are hidden gems and rich culture to be discovered.
Steps for the day (according to my iPhone): 29, 989 | 20.3km | 38 floors
Next stop Imola!
Historical information on Rome from: