If you’re coming to live or stay in Florence for a few months, or just a few weeks, a weekend trip to Rome is definitely necessary! Rome’s history dates back to more than two and a half thousand years ago, starting with the Roman Empire dominating all of Western Europe from the 1st century BC until 700 years later. Okay, so if that brief history lesson from Wikipedia doesn’t fascinate you, then I don’t know what will. Basically, you’re missing out if you don’t go spend a few days in Rome. Most of us have grown up learning about the Romans. Some of our favorite films are based on the ancient Roman Empire, like Gladiator, which makes traveling here that much more incredible; actually experiencing this culture is indescribable.
I spent a full three days in Rome, which was the perfect amount of time. I was able to see everything I wanted while not feeling too rushed and overwhelmed!
I went with a couple of my close friends. We left Florence early on a Friday morning on the high-speed train, only an hour and a half, to Rome. After arriving, we found out the buses were on sciopero (strike), so we had to walk about an hour to our hotel in the Trastevere neighborhood. I highly recommend staying in this area; it’s really safe and has a lot of character, like you’re actually staying in Italy instead of a tourist trap.
On our first day, we wanted to walk around and do more exploring, rather than hitting up the big tourist sites right away. So, we just wandered around without the map. I’m a big advocate that it is NOT okay to eat bad food or gelato (ice cream) while traveling in Italy. I prepared and came with a list of places that I wanted to try in Rome (courtesy of my friend Kelle).
After visiting the Pantheon, we stopped at a nearby gelateria – a very hidden, local spot, called Gelateria del Teatro. There’s another popular gelateria right around the corner from the Pantheon, called San Crispino, but I prefer del Teatro. It had a wide variety of flavors, and you could tell the gelato was made with fresh ingredients! Frequent gelato stops are a must in the summer; it’s just so hot.
Plenty of walking, people watching, and gelato eating later, we relaxed before venturing out to find our dinner destination. We ended up at Alle Fratte di Trastevere. Actually we were coaxed into sitting down because the Italian man outside said his wife would cook us the best pasta we’ve had in our lives! We obliged, and we weren’t disappointed, either.
We decided to spend the rest of the evening next to The Colosseum. I really wish you could tour it at night because it’s absolutely stunning, but just going for the after dark photos is completely worth it.
After waking up from a great night’s sleep in our air-conditioned hotel, we were well rested and ready to take on Vatican City. We asked the man at our hotel what bus to take, and then we were on our way! I definitely recommend taking a bus because you will do plenty of standing and walking once you arrive.
We started off with St. Peter’s Basilica, which was great because entrance is free. Wow, this place was amazing! I’ve seen my fair share of churches in Italy in the last two months, but this was one of the most beautiful yet.
Then, we strolled on over to the Vatican Museum where, like most tourists, we really just wanted to see the Sistine Chapel. It hosts Michelangelo’s legendary works: The Last Judgment and The Creation of Adam (the finger-touching one). You can’t miss seeing some of the most famous masterpieces in the world while in the Vatican City. Also, if you’re a student, show them your student I.D. for half off the entry price!
After the museum, we had a mandatory gelato break at the Old Bridge Gelateria. This place had the biggest portions I’d ever seen (I got the smallest size and look how much they gave me!), and, coming from your very own gelato connoisseur, their ice cream is very tasty and high quality.
After dessert, we decided it was time for some real food. I hadn’t tried a kebab yet (sort of like gyros), and a friend recommended a place nearby. They are super filling, and a great meal for when you are on the go from one attraction to the next!
Next, we visited the Trevi Fountain, where we tossed in coins to ensure our return back to Rome. Can you believe over 3,000 Euro worth of coins is thrown into the fountain each day? That’s tourism for ya. The Trevi Fountain was one of my absolute favorite places in Rome because it had this sort of magical feel to it.
Our last touristy spot for the day was the Spanish Steps in the Piazza di Spagna. This was the perfect place to wind down; we filled up our water bottles at the giant boat fountain (one of the best things about Rome: cold water fountains!), and relaxed our tired feet, on the steps of the widest staircase in Europe, accompanied by a very entertaining array of people watching!
Even though we’re young, walking around Rome for two days was pretty exhausting. So, instead of some crazy nightlife, we opted to enjoy the Trastevere neighborhood, which had plenty of street performers and some of the best gelato in Rome: Fior di Luna. The banana flavor is to die for; it tastes like blended frozen bananas. All this walking and gelato just made me want to go to sleep; the air conditioning was once again calling my name.
This day was dedicated to our last stop of the trip: The Colosseum. Even though we had already seen it from the outside at night, it was definitely worth going on the tour of the inside. The line to get in was by far the longest of any of the tourist attractions in Rome, so we saved the entire afternoon for this spot. We spent an hour or so waiting to get in and then spent a good amount of time inside. It was so surreal! I loved ending my trip to Rome at The Colosseum because it’s a reminder of how deep rooted the history is in this city.
Veni, vidi, vici. I came, I saw, and I conquered Rome’s best gelaterias! I’m no Julius Caesar, but I am an American who not only loves seeing the historic sites but also eating the amazing food this country has to offer. A weekend, or more, in Rome is definitely worth every penny that you’ll spend there. It was by far one of my favorite weekends during my two-month stay in Italy, and I can’t wait for my return (which the Trevi Fountain has promised to bring me).
Ci vediamo presto a Roma!
If you want to see more photos from my trip to Roma, check out my video of all the photos on my blog.