After my quick stay in Budapest, Hungary over Labor Day Weekend, my friend and I returned to our European gateway city of Rome to do some exploring in our last span of time.
Because it was the two of us and we were short on time we decided to take a taxi from the airport with a flat rate fare to our hotel, which saved us time and the split cost was just a little higher than if each of us bought subway tickets. Getting around town we used a mix of uber and local bus to get to and from main sites but mostly walked from site to site throughout the day.
We stayed one night at the A.Roma Lifestyle Hotel, just in the outskirts of downtown Rome where the main attractions are. This is a lovely hotel to have as a base in Rome as its clean, modern and away enough from the hustle and bustle of central Rome but close enough that its an easy and quick access. The hotel even offers extremely affordable scheduled shuttle bus services to two pick-up and drop-off points in the city as well as shuttles to both Rome airports, just remember to book your seats on any of these shuttles in advance.
Over all I felt Rome was not that expensive compared to some of its other Western European neighbors.
- We arrived mid-afternoon in Rome and headed straight for our hotel.
- After settling in and checking out the hotel grounds (it has a pool in the shape of Taiwan!), we ordered an uber to take us to The Vatican.
- Arrived in The Vatican City, marking my 50th country to date. Unfortunately the Sistine Chapel was not open because it was Sunday and with our limited time we did not want to line up to go see the Vatican Museum. Instead we just wandered Saint Peter’s Square and soaked in the grandeur and beauty of the Vatican. It is truly a country and place to behold. Far more beautiful and surreal than pictures or footages make it seem.
- Afterwards we began our walking tour of Rome’s key sites.
- First up was Castel Sant’Angelo along the River Tiber, the line to go in was incredibly insane so we just walked by and took in the wonderful exterior before proceeding to cross the Tiber on the Ponte Sant’Angelo.
- We then walked by the Piazza Navona, which underneath it is the original Roman chariot racecourse, the plaza itself is in the shape of the racecourse.
- We then walked to The Pantheon, which for me as an almost-architecture major, was a dream come true. The building is stunning and perfectly designed and constructed. The dome is something to behold. The line to go in was long but moved very fast and entry is free. You can get a guided tour inside or simply walk around and take in the perfection that is this architecturally significant historic landmark. Oh and dont forget to look up and follow the sun!
- Next stop on our walking journey was the Trevi Fountain, the amount of people surrounding it is insane, making photo taking difficult. The fountain itself is gorgeous but its just not as nice of a site with the amount of tourists surrounding it. Nonetheless worth a visit, perhaps earlier in the day or at night when it is all lit up.
- We then walked down the street to the Altar of the Fatherland.
- From there we walked past the Roman Forum, before heading straight for the Colosseum.
- The Colosseum was the second site of the day where we actually went inside and it being Sunday, entry was free! The Colosseum itself is another site to behold. Larger and slightly more spectacular in person that I would have thought, especially in the golden hue of the setting sun. Definitely worth spending the time and money to gain entry and soak in the glory or pitfalls of Roman history here.
- We then walked to the Roman Forum entrance but it was already closed and then proceeded to walk uphill for some views before heading back down.
- At sunset we headed behind the Colosseum to have dinner at a charming little wine and food bar called Divin Ostilia, would high recommend it for some delicious pastas, bruschettas, and desserts.
- Afterwards we walked back to the central area and took in the lit up sites such as a lit up Colosseum. Before taking a bus back to the hotel.
- We proceeded to the rooftop bar of the hotel Sky Stars Bar for drinks. The owners of the hotel are Taiwanese so the house cocktail is a Taiwanese-Italian inspired infusion, using Taiwanese Kinmen Kaoliang liquor, delicious!
- The next morning we enjoyed our complimentary breakfast at the hotel before taking the 9AM hotel shuttle to the international airport for our noon departure back to the United States.
Rome exceeded my expectations. You often hear how dirty or unsafe or overly touristy it is. It is indeed flooded with tourists during the summer months. However, the sites, the history and the food make Rome a worthy stop on any trip to Italy. If anything, stop by for the Vatican City.