Ciao! I’m back with another 72 hours blog post, one I’ve been itching to write for months now.
Rome is without a doubt the most beautiful city I have ever visited. As an archaeology student at the time of my visit, I couldn’t wait to see the Forum, Colosseum, Pantheon and countless other Roman ruins which I had learned about in depth during my studies of the ancient and classical worlds.
Here’s my guide to making the most of the Eternal City in just a few days.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
- Pantheon – possibly my favourite sight in Rome. A former Roman temple commissioned by Agrippa during the reign of Augustus in the 2nd century AD, the Pantheon now stands as a Catholic Church. Its spectacular domed roof is a sight to behold, both inside and out. The Pantheon is also completely free to enter.
- Colosseum – of course, the Colosseum is perhaps the most iconic sight in Rome. Hard to miss, as you catch glimpses of it at the end of the street and between buildings, it is everything I expected it to be. As we went in summer it was quite busy, but still we didn’t have to queue very long to buy our tickets (which allows visitors into the Forum too). Tickets are also available online for around 12 Euro or 2 Euro for students/under 25s. Find more information here.
- Roman Forum – a sprawling ancient citadel, the Forum is overflowing with incredible temples, dedications, monuments, and the remains of buildings which were integral to the success of the Roman Empire. I was totally in my element here and could’ve spent an entire day wandering around the ruins and the gardens. The fact that the Forum is right next to the Colosseum, and included in the ticket price, makes for a lovely day strolling around and basking in the glory of ancient history.
- Trevi Fountain – a stunning white marble fountain with beautiful blue water, tucked away in the middle of the city. Beware the crowds and the security guards whistling at anyone who tries to sit on the edge of the fountain!
- Ara Pacis Museum – an ancient Roman altar dedicated to the goddess of Peace, the Ara Pacis is a beautiful white marble monument engraved with scenes of Augustus’ return from his campaigns against the ‘barbarians’ in Spain and Gaul in 13BC. Not necessarily a ‘must-see’, but certainly an underrated monument to Rome’s ancient history (plus archaeology, classics, history, literature, and music students go free!).
- St. Peter’s Basilica – we dedicated pretty much a whole day to visiting St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel (bucket list moment), and the Vatican Museum. It was fascinating and although it was an intense day, it was definitely worth buying a joint ticket for entrance to all of these. Tickets for either a self-guided tour (28 Euro) or a guided tour (44 Euro) and further information can be found here.
- Vatican Museum – an insight into the history of the Vatican and Papacy in Rome, and its impact on the rest of Europe.
- Vittorio Emmanuele II Monument – AKA the ‘Wedding Cake’ monument! The traffic doesn’t distract from this huge monument, signifying the unification of Italy under its first king. It is amazing to look at as you walk past on your way to other sights, but take 10 minutes to climb to the balcony and enjoy the view.
- Spanish Steps – iconic steps leading up to a beautiful church at the top, with brilliant views of the piazza below.
The Pantheon; inside the Colosseum; the vast expanse of the Roman Forum; the Ara Pacis; St Peter’s Basilica
HOW TO GET AROUND
My favourite way to get around any city is by foot. Walking from one place to the next may take longer than other means of transport, but there is so much you can accidentally stumble across round each corner. Rome is a really great city to walk around in particular; although it can be swelteringly hot in summer, there are fountains in tiny squares off back streets and gelato places every few metres.
The metro in Rome is also a great way to cross the city if you are going from one side to the other and need to get there quickly. If you fly into Fiumicino airport, there is a metro station there which can take you right into the middle of the city. The only time we used the metro was to get to Vatican City. We started at the Colosseum and changed from Line B to Line A at the central terminal and then sped straight to Ottaviano San Pietro. A single journey ticket, valid for 75 minutes, costs 1,50 Euro while a full day ticket costs 6 Euro. Check out the metro map and ticket prices before you go here.
WHAT TO EAT & DRINK
- PIZZA. This is fairly obvious but eat as much pizza as possible while you are in Rome. You don’t need to go to a fancy restaurant – you can simply head to a deli and buy a slice for a couple of euros.
- Pasta. Equally as obvious as pizza, the pasta menus go on and on and on. A real bolognaise is a must, or try a delicious seafood linguine.
- Risotto. One of the best meals I have ever had in my whole 23 years on earth has been in Rome at a restaurant opposite the Forum called ‘Angelino’s’, where I had the most incredible green risotto…and went back the next day for more!
- Gelato. We went to Rome in August and it was around 40 degrees every day, meaning lots of necessary ice cream stops! Again, no need to go searching for one particular place as they are all similarly priced and equally amazing.
Whether you enjoy relaxing breaks spent sipping coffee and eating your bodyweight in pizza and ice cream, or if you enjoy exploring the culture and history of an old European city, Rome has something for everyone to enjoy.