GUEST ARTICLE: With historical ruins and historical monuments around every corner, you’ll need more than a day to explore Rome (Roma).
The way in which old mixes with new makes Rome such a unique city. Walk one-way and you’ll be surrounded by well preserved monolithic ancient ruins. Step the other way and a relentless stream of car and motorcycle chaos will whiz past you.
Roma Termini station is a major rail hub in Italy and is in a rundown area; so don’t linger about longer than necessary, especially after dark.
Take the metro or the bus and head off to your accomodation, but beware of pickpockets at all times. As with anywhere, unless you want to become an easy target, don’t look overly paranoid by strapping your backpack onto your chest with every zipper padlocked to the hilt.
If you want to hit the big three – the Roman Forum (Foro Romano), the Palatine (Palatino), and the Colosseum (Colloseo) buy a combination ticket valid over 2 days (12 euros per adult) from the Palatine and you’ll save time and money.
Another way to jump the queue is to join a short tour of the Palatine and the Colosseum (8 euros per adult). This is handy if you don’t have a guidebook or knowledge of Roman history as the guides will point out some quirky facts and retell classic tales.
Ancient ruins ranging from temples, arches, basilicas and columns are strewn around the Palatino. They look even more amazing set against the backdrop of the Colosseum from the Palatino panoramic lookout point.
Despite being ravaged by flames and floods, The Colosseum stands today symbolising the eternity of Rome. The Colosseum’s interior will amaze you. The underground area where caged animals were hoisted from for the entertainment of tens of thousands of spectators is now a labyrinth of mossy, grassy vaults and corridors.
Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) is a haven for tourists tossing coins and posing for endless snaps, day and night.
Follow the foot traffic that funnels through the area and you’ll pass the columns of Piazza di Pietra, an obelisk in Piazza di Monte Citorio, the magnificent domed Pantheon, the stadium shaped Piazza Navona, and Largo di Torre Argentina where Caesar met his end.
The Vatican Museum in Vatican City (15 euros per adult) is overwhelming. You’ll see more pieces of ornate marble housed in and around the museum than you’ll ever see in your life – a reflection of the Vatican’s ruthless ability to zealously ‘acquire’ just about anything.
If you really want to take in all the history, it’s advisable to sign up for a Vatican Museum tour, or refer to a guidebook.
Photos (without flash) can be taken in most places except the Sistine Chapel, of course that doesn’t stop some trigger-happy photographers.
Entry to St. Peter’s Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) is free, and flash photography is allowed everywhere except the Vatican Grottos. The interior is richly decorated with colourful marble and elaborate sculptures.
The dome of St Peter’s is a feature of the Rome skyline. For less than 10 euros you can climb the steps to the top of the dome and get a high level view of Rome.
A metro station is situated nearby the Basilica, but the walk from downtown Rome along the River Tiber to Vatican City is enjoyable too.
If you time your visit to Rome well, you might be lucky enough to get your hands on a free ticket to be part of the audience for the Wednesday morning papal address.
Located on the other side of the River Tiber, the Trestevere district is a nice place to find a local trattoria or ristorante away from the city squeeze. For many visitors, Trestevere’s quiet cobbled alleys and colourful houses are what they imagined Rome to be.
Campo De’ Fiori is a quieter square near the River Tiber, featuring fruit and vegetable markets on the weekend.
The Spanish Steps, located by Piazza di Spagna is alive with tourists and poseurs sitting on the sparkling white steps watching the constant stream of traffic go by. Venture further down the street and you’ll find a shopping strip best left to the cashed-up crowd.
If you want to catch a nice sunset, head down to the water feature at Piazza del Quirinale, nearby Trevi Fountain.
Hotel Lodi (recently renamed Hotello di Roma) is a well priced hotel/hostel located in a quiet suburban street, within 30 minutes walking distance from Roma Termini station. Note that the walking directions listed online can be a little confusing for a first timer in Rome.
From what I gathered, the hotel offers a few private rooms upstairs and two eight-bed dorms downstairs. Lockers, free wifi, linen and a breakfast croissant (‘cornetto’ in Italian) served with coffee or juice were all included.
Service was outstanding from the minute I walked in. I especially appreciated how the front desk staff marked up a large map for me to make sure I made the most of my five days in Rome.
This article has been written by Pranav Bhatt. He is a graduate of the Faculty of Economics and Business at Sydney University. He has an interest in world travel, cricket, politics, technology and the media.
If you’ve travelled somewhere off the beaten track, can write well and have good quality photos I encourage you to contact me and I’ll consider publishing your travel diary here including generous attribution and links back to your website as thanks for your contribution