We immediately fell in love with Rome during our trip in 2014.
There is a fascinating building (or the remains of one) on every corner!
Upon landing, we had no onward travel booked so we had to guess where to go. I was only 19 and, although I was well travelled, I felt out of my depth.
The train to the city centre doesn’t leave from Camipino Airport. Instead, the train was a 15 minute walk away or a 5 minute bus ride.
We made the decision to walk, the sun was shining and we thought it would be nice to stretch our legs after the 2hr30 min flight from London.
Once we stepped foot outside the airport, we found that we couldn’t read any of the signs as, rightly so, they were all in Italian. I stood wishing I’d learnt Italian at school (I still want to learn).
We English speakers have it too easy, don’t you think?
Most places we go the locals speak fluent English and, like me, a large percentage of native English speakers don’t know any other languages. I always feel so guilty going to explore another country and not knowing how to communicate in the local language. Do you wish you could speak another language, or is it just me?
Luckily, a short while later, we met Maria who was also trying to get to Termini (Rome’s central train station). We started chatting to her and decided we would get a bus together as she was also slightly confused. Maria could speak some Italian so she helped us figure out which bus to get.
Maria was Spanish and she was studying in Italy (and she could speak both English and Italian!). She told us all about how her boyfriend had flown over to see her for the first time in Italy. He had told her to meet him at Camipino Airport but had actually landed at an airport the other side of Rome!
Her boyfriend had got a train to Termini and she was on her way to meet him there. It was inspiring to hear about her life in Italy. We swapped contact details and said our goodbyes before hopping on a bus to our apartment.
We didn’t realise how warm it was going to be in Rome. There we were, in our stifling jeans, walking up and down the residential area trying to find our villa.
In the end, we found it tucked away down a little side street.
The villa had recently been converted into apartments and we had the top floor. The villa itself was surrounded by beautiful grapevines and luscious gardens.
We dropped our bags off and headed straight back out to get the tram into the city centre.
After a delicious baguette and a refreshing drink, we wandered around the busy roman streets. In those first few hours, powered by our adrenaline, we found the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. By the time the sun started to set our feet were sore.
As night fell, we returned to the Spanish Steps to find a restaurant. My friend had recommended the area for its romantic atmosphere. However, being young and naive, we unknowingly chose the most expensive restaurant in the square.
When our food came, two tiny plates of pasta, we couldn’t help but laugh. The pasta was nice but it was just in a simple tomato sauce nothing special if I’m honest.
We were seated in the corner and our table, which wobbled as we ate, was practically in a bush. Those tiny pasta dishes and two small cokes came to 50.00 €(£42.65)!
We left promptly, still hungry and headed to the nearest pizzeria. We ordered a pizza to go, grabbed a couple of beers and went to sit on top of the Spanish Steps.
We enjoyed our pizza in the moonlight, overlooking Rome, sipping our beers as the world passed by. When we had finished eating, we walked down a few steps and began to hear singing. Peering over a ledge, we found six or seven Nuns singing and dancing to the beat of a tambourine. We couldn’t help but sing along, finding ourselves lost in the moment. Others joined the dancing, total strangers coming together as one to create a memory that will last a lifetime.
A sentence in one song still sticks in my mind and I can still remember the tune as if it were yesterday. One of the most memorable evenings of my life.
After a few more days of exploring, eating gelato and dining in little independent cafes (rather than big expensive restaurants), our last day quickly rolled around.
We had to be out of the apartment by 10am so off we went, with our rucksacks, walking down the river Fiume towards the Vatican.
When we arrived at the Vatican, we were taken back by the amount of people we found. There were security checks being made and guards were everywhere.
We joined the crowd of people standing directly in front of the Vatican and watched the events unfold. We witnessed an entire ceremony in Italian. We struggled to understand what was happening but stayed to soak in the atmosphere. Beautiful songs continued to be sung, bringing tears to my eyes and raising the hairs across my body.
All of a sudden, the Pope appeared at the entrance to the Vatican. Cameras live-streamed the event to the large screens situated around the enormous square and the Pope began to speak. It was such a surreal experience. The entire crowd stood in total silence as he spoke. All eyes watched him intently.
Then everything stopped. I looked around at the people closest to me, wondering what had just happened. People suddenly began to turn and embraced those closest to them. An Italian man turned and shook our hands joyfully. Completely taken back, we copied others and began to spread the joy through the crowd. Smiles painted peoples faces. We felt so completely blessed to be there experiencing this unique moment in Italian history and, to think, it was all by chance.
The service recommenced and the Pope walked down into the crowd. He climbed onto a float which proceeded to bring him through the crowds.
The entire ceremony lasted over two hours, we had no water with us and the sun was beating down the entire time. By the time it was over we were pretty thirsty. The adrenaline rush had left us exhausted. We joined the sea of people trying to leave Vatican city.
I managed to find a newspaper with the event on the front page. We worked out that the previous Pope had blessed the new Pope after he’d received recent death threats.
It was a truly breathtaking experience. Despite the unfortunate reason for the ceremony, I’m so grateful to have been there to experience the historic moment.
I cannot put into words how great our trip was. We stumbled upon two truly magnificent experiences and for both, we just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
You will not regret spending any amount of time in Italy. Even if you only have a few days, get yourself on that plane (when we are able to again)!
My advice to you, don’t plan to much, let Rome guide you.
Oh and make sure you eat lots of pizza and pasta, enjoy the carb overload and worry about the holiday weight afterwards!
Now for the essential travel guide stuff…
Once you get to Termini Station, you will be able to purchase various tickets to get you around the city. Depending how long you are in the city, you can pick up a 24, 48 or 72 hour pass which will provide unlimited travel on the metro, buses and train travel within Rome.
During our trip we purchased a RomaPass for 72 hours and this provides you with free entry to 2 museums or archaeological sites, free public transport throughout Rome, discounts around the city and reserved access to the Colosseum. A 72 hour pass is 52.00 € or alternatively a 48 hour pass is only 32.00 € and trust me, it is well worth the purchase!
You can find more info on this at the RomaPass website here.
During our stay in Rome we had an apartment, in Gianicolense district, called Residenza Maxima which has since been completely renovated. A night here in a 1 bedroom apartment is approximately 107.00 € and is situated approximately 2.5 miles from the city centre.
To give you an idea of the prices closer to Rome city centre, I have provided estimated prices below for one night based on two adults sharing and close to the city centre: –
A double room with a private bathroom is approx. 35.00 €
2 bunks in a hostel dorm with breakfast and shared bathroom is approx.29.00 €
An entire apartment near the Trevi District is approx. 187.00 €
Okay, so day to day here’s what your looking at for the cost of refreshments: –
A bottle of water 1.50€
A coffee in a café 4.00€
A casual café lunch for two 15.00€
Pizza from a Pizzeria 10-12.00€
One course in a restaurant for two with drinks 50.00€
Of course, you can make it cheaper by buying food at supermarkets and cooking at your accommodation, but if you’re only in the city for a few days, why not splurge a little?
As ever, if you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch.
Happy (Virtual) Travels!
Love Travel and Coffee