ROME IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE CITIES BECAUSE…
We’ve been there twice, in 2012 and 2016…I think. Yeah, Rome is dirty and grafitti-laden, but it freakin rules. There is SO SO SO much to see, and the first time when we went, we did all the expensive touristy stuff like the Sistine Chapel, Colosseum and Forum tours, etc, but the second time, we did all the free stuff, and there was an amazing amount. It rules!
AND NOW, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, THE STUFF I REMEMBER FROM OUR 2 ROME TRIPS
Rome, like ancient Greece, is one of those places/cultures we always studied as kids, both in school and at home. We had been in London and Norway on the first trip and it was our first time to Europe and everything was amazing. It was nice going from cold and dark Norway to semi-warm Italy and aside from the long bus ride from the airport late at night, the trip was great from the start.
As I am wont to do, I got sick in Norway and it got worse in Rome. We were there on New Year’s Eve and had planned to go to the Trevi Fountain to see fireworks and kiss in the new year, but instead I was in bed watching fireworks out the window. Still cool.
I remember getting to our hotel way late the first night and being so bloody hungry from the trip and walking around this not-super-nice area looking for late night food. I found this hole in the wall place full of, sorry to say, stereotypical type Italian dudes yelling at each other. They were like the Fratellis from the Goonies. But I got a pizza and it changed my life. I realized Italy was the food capital of the universe.
Since it’s been a minute since we’ve been to Italy, I asked Caitlin for her top 3 things from Rome, and here’s what she said…
CAITLIN’S TOP 3 THINGS IN ROME
3: Trevi Fountain
2: Sistine Chapel
My commentary: Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes. The Trevi is just incredible. We went at day. We went at night. We went at dawn. We went at dusk. OK, not dawn, because it was a vacation and I hate mornings, but yeah, it rules. And we threw coins in backwards, which is supposed to mean you’ll return to Rome. Several years later? We did. It worked. Do it.
Plus, right by the Trevi is a place called Gelateria Valentino and it’s the best gelato I’ve ever had, hands down, end of conversation. Yes, it’s worth the long wait in the long line. It will change your life. And going to the Trevi at night, which is by far the best time to go, then ending your night at Valentino, is amazing and perfect and good and wonderful.
The Sistine Chapel is almost too big to comprehend, at least for my rabbit brain. I remember walking and walking to get there, and the halls and ceilings of the building you walk through are so ornate that several times I thought maybe this was the chapel. But no, the actual chapel is so nuts. It would be amazing to be able to lie down and just look up at each part. The annoying “no photo…no photo…no photo” monotonous security guards were annoying because it’s a very spiritual place and that detracted a bit, IMHO. Still bloody incredible. A testament to human achievement.
And the colosseum? Oh my shuv. I remember we went on one of those ghetto train lines that are covered in graffiti (getting around Rome is SUPER easy and relatively affordable) and we got off the stop and were looking around for where it was and then BOOM. It’s one of the coolest experiences of my life, seeing it for the first time. Just an incredible structure.
We ended up taking a tour of the inside for something like $100 which I think was a waste. There’s not much to see inside but cement, but I guess if you’re a visual person you could imagine the gladiators and stuff. SO SO SO cool to see the outside though.
The Pantheon is another incredible building. We went a couple times, and it’s just insane to see from both the outside and the inside. Looking up through the dome oculus and seeing the sun coming through is insanely cool. Plus, there are a bunch of steps outside to hang out on and eat ice cream and watch street performers and just be stoked you’re in Rome. 10/10 would recommend.
MICHELANGELO’S MOSES AND PETER’S CHAINS
At the church called San Pietro in Vincoli there’s a “lesser known,” if possible, Michelangelo statue of Moses, and it is so rad. You can put a Euro into a machine and it lights up, which is cool, but the statue itself is amazing. I had read that it was one of the less famous statues in Rome, and there was basically nobody there when we went, which made it cooler. And Peter, my favorite Biblical character and hero, was in chains and those chains are in this church. Amazing. And from there, it’s a 30 minute walk to…
THE KEYHOLE IS SO DOPE
I can’t explain it in a way that makes it seem that cool, but the keyhole is so so so so cool. I mean, look it up online to see some good pics, but basically you look through this keyhole on a locked gate in some cul-de-sac and it’s this perfectly unobstructed view of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. I can’t even explain how dope it is, nor how that view could be unobstructed when the city is so big and there are so many buildings. I just looked it up and it’s located at via di S. Sabina and via di Porta Lavernale in Rome. You’ll see some people standing in line for it at some random gate and it’s incredible. Just Google it and then go.
I’m always confused if the Vatican is it’s own country but it seems to be listed as one so I count it as a country I’ve visited. It’s tiny and old and walled off and incredible. Saint Peter’s Basilica is just beautiful, and the statues lining the top are certainly creepy and foreboding (to me anyways) but amazing. We spent a full day at the Vatican both times we’ve gone and I would love to stay closer to it so I could spend even more time there. I had the best pizza of my life either inside the Vatican or very near, but alas, no idea what the place was called. I have a video but it has basically no clues as to where we were, and that tears me up inside. By the way, at restaurants, request tap water, otherwise they bring you bottles that are expensive and still taste like rubbish.
Also, the Pieta statue is incredible. One of the most moving pieces of art I’ve ever seen.
Piazza Navona is another cool place, especially at night. It’s got 3 awesome fountains and the whole area is bustling. We loved sitting at each fountain and watching all the people around. We got lots of good food (mostly gelato) and took a couple hours strolling around.
We did a tour the first time of the Roman Forum, which takes you around a bunch of famous ruins in Rome. It was cool but probably not essential, as you can see a lot of them without a tour. Yes, some are gated and locked off, but you can still see them. It’s fun to try and imagine what it was like back in the day. Just like Jerusalem, it’s so cool to see the merger of ancient and modern cities. There will be some ancient aqueduct with highways built around it or a train running through it or something. Rome will forever be a place I could go for a day or a week or a month.
So…what did we miss? Hit us on Facebook or Instagram or YouTube and tell us how we’re the worst travelers ever and missed the best parts of Rome, or drop us a line at email@example.com.
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Ah Roma Roma Roma, such a beautiful place. Did you just stick to the touristy stuff? I've been to Rome a couple of times, but any recommendations for off the tourist track stuff would be cool as I saw the tourist stuff the last two trips.
Some great recommendations here! Do you recommend anywhere specific for food as I feel like half the experience of Rome is in the cuisine?
I'm confused about the Vatican too haha! From what I understand it is its own city but also in Rome, is that right? Would you recommend dedicating a whole day to the Vatican or can it be appreciated in a shorter time period?
Great to know public transport in Rome is easy and affordable.
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