For me, it is the most extraordinary place I’ve ever visited and it’ll always hold a special place in my heart.
However, rather than ramble on about how gorgeous it is (you all know that already), I thought I’d use this platform to explain the ins and outs of Rome for those of you who are planning on visiting this sensational place.
If you haven’t thought about it, start. It’s more enriching then you could possibly imagine and you’d be crazy not to experience it.
Don’t get a taxi, get the coach!
If you’re flying from Manchester, you’ll most likely arrive at Rome’s smaller airport, Ciampino, which just so happens to be slightly closer to the centre of Rome. Unless you’re arriving at stupid-o’clock in the morning, I would never recommend opting for a taxi as they will cost you on average €50 each way and take the same length of time as a coach transfer.
On arrival, we purchased a return shuttle bus ticket with Terravision which cost us only €10 for a return ticket. The journey took around 40 minutes and dropped us at Rome’s main train station, Termini, which provided bus, train and metro links to all corners of the city.
Take the Underground
As we only had 3 days to explore, we decided to purchase a 72-hour Metro Pass for €18 as it gave us more flexibility to cram more into our days. It’s important to note that Rome is deceptively big and unless you have the luxury of a week to explore, walking from site-to-site can take up a lot of time.
The subway runs from 5.30am until 11.30pm every day, but is available till 12.30am on Saturdays, so heading out for a late meal and drinks will not be an issue.
Ditch the hotel and get an AirBnB
Okay, so it’s possible to explore Rome on a budget, but if you’re looking to stay in a central location for as little money as possible, hotels are definitely not the way forward. AirBnB is.
During my search, I was lucky enough to stumble across a quaint room in an apartment in Cipro, just 5 minutes’ walk from the entrance of the Vatican. The room, which was cleaner and nicer than most hotels I have stayed in was only £30 per night, per person, and came with complimentary breakfast foods, bathroom essentials, a balcony and our very own breakfast table in the kitchen.
Located right next to a metro station (2 minutes’ walk), it made accessing the main attractions quick and easy- something which is pretty important if you’re only visiting for a couple of days.
Take a tour of The Colosseum
After watching ‘Gladiator’ all those years ago, I always knew I wanted to visit the Colosseum and experience it in all its grandeur.
As such, we opted for the Belvedere Audio Tour which which allowed the Colosseum to really come to life.
Whilst it’s incredible to simply look at, the tour delved into the captivating history surrounding its creation as well as taking us to the highest tiers, which can only be accessed by tour guides. The tour also came with Skip-the-Line too which is always an added bonus.
If you’re more interested in exploring the underground where real life gladiators lived and suffered, there are also tours for that too. That’ll be first on my list when I return.
Eating & Drinking
One of the many desirable reasons to visit Italy is of course, the food. From freshly made pasta to authentic, thin-base pizzas, there’s very little room for disappointment when it comes to classic Italian cuisine.
For our first night, we decided to stay local in Cipro, stumbling upon a quaint restaurant called the Ristorante Pizzeria Falcone which turned out to be quite the surprise. The food was absolutely excellent and the waiter – who kept bringing us FREE, frozen Limoncello, made the evening really special, even if we were hammered by the end of it!
On the Saturday, we wanted to venture into the city and were drawn in by the picturesque allure of the famous, Trevi. A stark contrast to the almost bare streets of Cipro, Trevi was heaving and we struggled to get a table at a restaurant (you should always book in advance). Eventually we were lucky enough to squeeze in at a stunning restaurant named, Il Chianti, which was located right near the fountain.
The food was absolutely incredible, but the most unique feature about this restaurant was the vast selection of wines, which laced the walls of the restaurant like ivy. If you see yourself as a wine connoisseur or just enjoy a glass of the good stuff, I’d always recommend this place because you’ll be absolutely spoilt for choice.
My main tip to you would be: if you’re on a budget, stick to the outskirts of the city for meals as they tend to be a lot cheaper. Similarly, this too is relevant when it comes to Gelato. If you plan on consuming a disgusting amount of the stuff like I did, avoid Gelato shops near the main attractions and always opt for smaller, independent parlours. After all, the more money you have for gelato, the better!
See Also: From Manchester to: Rome, with food
Don’t skip Vatican City, Skip-the-Line
Did you know that Vatican City is the smallest country in the world? Fact! But there is much more to this historically poignant place that makes it a must-see when visiting Rome.
There are many contradicting opinions on line as to whether a ‘Skip-the-Line’ pass for the Vatican museums is essential. From personal experience, I would say without absolutely certainty: yes.
Otherwise, you will be queuing for a minimum of two hours – if you’re lucky.
Vatican City is split into several parts: The Vatican Museums (a series of museums which eventually lead to the Sistine Chapel), St.Peter’s Basilica (the dome where you’ll be able to see a full view of Rome), the Vatican Gardens and the Hidden Museums; tickets can be purchased for some or all areas.
We opted for an open-tour of the museums and Sistine chapel with breakfast beforehand, which cost us around 38 Euro each- though general entry with Skip-the-line can be purchased for 17 Euro if you’re really trying to budget.
The enormous museum complex occupies the 5.5-hectare Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano and will take minimum of a few hours to complete – depending on how extensively you explore each room. Considering up to 20,000 people can visit the Vatican in one day, it is cramped – I won’t lie – but it’s worth it.
The museums are a breathtaking and arguably the most exquisite things I’ve ever laid my eyes on. I’d go back in a heartbeat. However, make sure you purchase a Skip-the-Line ticket for St.Peter’s Basilica too because the queues are just as long. We made that mistake and unfortunately missed out on the chance.
Explore for free
There are loads of free places to explore, but the Trevi Fountain, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, Spanish steps and Pantheon are the essentials. However, if you want to dip into every corner of Roman history and culture, you’ll need at least 5 days- a week to see it all. There’s literally something on every corner.
From Manchester to: Rome
Flights start from as little as £49 return in January with Ryanair