Roma, or Rome; the capital of Italy. Downtown isn’t particularly large, especially considering how large some other cities are, but there is certainly is a lot to do. Since my weekends are free, I decided to spend one of them in Rome. What a great decision! The city is filled with culturally significant art, historic landmarks, and delicious food.
I took the train from Padova to Rome in about three hours. It was pretty expensive (75 euros, one-way), but the train was by far the most efficient way to get to the city. I got off at the main station, Termini, and jumped on the metro to get to my hotel. Unfortunately, the metro is very limited in Rome, with only two lines (and the bus lines weren’t particularly convenient), but my hotel was about a 5-10 minute walk from the Bologna station.
I dropped my heavy backpack off at the hotel and headed out for some much needed fuel since it was so late. The wonderful maitre d at the hotel recommended that I get pizza at the famous Pizzeria da Enrico right down the street. He definitely steered me in the right direction! I ordered the capricciosa pizza, and it basically was covered with everything but the kitchen sink. An artichoke heart, salami, prosciutto di parma, mushrooms, even half of a hard-boiled egg! And of course, I had white wine to wash it all down. Unfortunately, I was super tired, so I headed back to the hotel for an early night.
The next morning, I was up bright and early (the kitchen was located next to my room in the basement of the hotel… Not exactly a pleasant experience…) and headed out after my complimentary continental breakfast.
If you’re thinking of going to Rome, absolutely invest in the Roma Pass. You pay 34 euros in exchange for free admission to 2 approved (there are many to choose from) archaeological sites or art museums. Oh, and all public transportation is included, so no paying for the metro or bus! The Pass also comes with a map of the city and a list of all optional museums/sites that are eligible. Even if you use the Pass for your first two sites, you can use the Pass to get discounts at any other participating sites as long as you flash your card! Did I mention that Roma Pass holders have their own waiting lines at venues? It definitely paid off at the Colosseum, where I got to bypass an entire line of 200-300 people just because I had my Roma Pass. Booyah!
Ahh, the Colosseum! Not only did I get to go to the front of the line, but I was impressed by the interior of the site! It’s not particularly large inside, especially when compared to the sports stadiums we have today, but it is very well preserved and can momentarily transport you to ancient times. This is definitely a must-see if you are in Rome.
Directly across the street from the Colosseum is the Palatino, which leads into the Forum ruins. Again, I used my Roma Pass to get in here. The former is the ruins of an ancient house, complete with gorgeous views, gardens, and lots to see! I walked around for quite a while, just observing the ruins, but it was so hot and humid that I headed to the ancient forum so I wouldn’t get sunstroke and pass out.
The forum is, well, ruins.
After that, I tried to power through, despite my grumbling stomach, and check some more sites off my list. I walked over to the Pantheon and looked around (free admission!) and then saw the Piazza Navona to check out the fountain. There were a bunch of stupid tourists going through the barrier to the fountain so they could dip their hands in and take pictures.
After a delicious pizza lunch (twice in two days and I’m proud to admit it!), I headed to the Trevi Fountain. It was quite dramatic and gorgeous, but there were too many tourists and I headed off to the Piazza di Spagna. I climbed the steps and found myself looking at the Villa Borghese, a gorgeous public park. There were a lot of people on bikes and Segways, so I decided to go have some fun for myself. I rented a Segway for half an hour and had a blast! It was so much fun! Unfortunately, I didn’t get my picture take on it, but I can attest that it did actually happen.
One of the things I was looking forward to most was visiting the Galleria Borghese. While in college, I took a class about Ancient Roman art and architecture, and the sculptures by Bernini strongly captured my interest. The Galleria Borghese houses four Bernini sculptures, so I was super excited to see them in person! I arrive and get in line to buy a ticket, but there’s a sign saying that tickets to the museum are sold out until Tuesday (it was Saturday). Bummer! I started talking to a man in line behind me, and he offered to include me in his group (he pre-ordered tickets) to try to get me admission. It worked! What a gorgeous museum. The Bernini sculptures were absolutely captivating and mind-boggling because of the incredible attention to detail and the way they exactly capture the human form. What a treat! Out of all the things I did in Rome, this was my favorite (along with riding the Segway!).
I walked back to my hotel (god, was it a long walk!) for a short rest and then headed out to dinner. I headed back to the ancient part of town, and had an (unfortunately) unremarkable dinner of gnocchi with clams and mushrooms.
In the search for some sort of night-life, I headed over to the Campo di Fiori and sat down at a bar for a drink. It was outside, and I watched all of the groups of people fraternizing around the square. It wasn’t really my scene since I was alone and unwilling to approach a group of strangers, so I headed over to an Irish pub that I read was more of the style of bars that I’m used to. Many bars in Italy don’t have space to sit down, and I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable standing around by myself all night. So, at this Irish pub, called Scholar’s, I met a really nice couple from Chicago and talked with some of the people working at the bars. I ended up taking a cab back to the hotel at 3am. Wow, I haven’t done that in a while!
It was a great first day, albeit a bit busy. I would highly recommend people visit a lot of these tourist sites during their time in Rome because they’re interesting, gorgeous to see, and you can see them in one day!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Roman holiday!