They say “all roads lead to Rome” true if you look back to the Roman Empire when the empires roads redirected out from its center, somehow I felt this secret road of Rome calling.
I have flown to Rome, Fiumicino airport at least a couple of hundred times and I know what clearance ATC, Air Traffic Controller will give us before we check in on the frequency, what altitude, next waypoint or a heading of 315 degrees after passing ROM vor. I have seen Rome from above tons of times, and I could probably get around pretty well without a map or Google (but I did use a map because that is just the tourist way to do it)
The other day I flew with a Captain who asked if I have ever been to Rome. I gave him a look as if he were crazy “what are you talking about, it is basically my second home and I know this place by heart” “No, have you ever been to Rome” Talking about the city and instead I was the one left feeling stupid for not understanding what he meant. I am more of an outdoor kind of person, and when I go travelling I try to stay away from big cities, rather spend time in the nature. But the more I thought about it, the more tempted I was to explore Rome and its history, never heard anything bad about the city I planned a solo trip for my next off days.
The plan was to spend two days in the city, “it is just a city, for sure two days will be enough” That´s what I thought getting there whole different story. Leaving Sicily on a 45 minutes flight to Capital Rome. Stayed at one of the city’s five star hotels (a totally different experience from my normal camping gear and sleeping bag) NH Collection Palazzo Cinquecento (NH Collection Palazzo Cinquecento) was an experiance itself, and with its super comfortable beds I managed to get back on the lack of sleep I experianced over the last few weeks. The staff couldn’t have been any friendlier helping me organise my stay, city guide and what not miss while in town. A special thanks to Emanuela who helped me organize my NH experiance, I wish we could have met so I could have thanked you in person.
I took the train with (Trenitalia) from Fumicino to Rome, Termini 40 minutes, 14 Euros one way. A bit pricier than the shuttle bus that costs around 9 euros and takes an hour.
Day one and it absolutely poured down rain. I ended up walking around the city, from the hotel to Colosseum, Via Corso to Fontana di Trevi, Pantheon, Via Condotti to Villa Medici and Trinita dei Monti to then head back to the hotel. The hotel itself was luxury and I decided to stay in for the night, ordered room service and went to bed well before midnight.
I set my alarm for seven o’clock the next morning to make it all well in time for sightseeing, problem with too comfortable hotels beds, snoozed and ended up not leaving the hotel before ten! I went straight to Colosseum, a ten minutes walk from the hotel and Termini station. I planned to walk the same route as the night before only today capture it with pictures and videos, add the Vatican and Vatican museum to the list. Don’t do as I did, don’t go to Colosseum around ten, it was absolutely packed, and this was low season! A ticket to get inside costs 12 Euros and you will spend at least a good hour queuing to get there. I ended up paying 30 Euros for entrance and a guided tour, when taking a guided tour you don’t have to wait in line (or you can pre book your tickets online to skip queue).
Euros 30 was a total rip off and you can negotiable the price. Travelling solo it is difficult and even embarrasing to haggle for prices leaving one braver when in a group, so I ended up paying full rip off blonde tourist price. It was not before I saw the tour guides Rolex and Belstaff coat I wished I would have negotiated the price. I am happy I took the tour though, and I actually ended up learning a lot from it. The tour guide was a total blast, native Roman and making fun of every other nationality in the group, impressing us with his language skills in both Spanish and even a few words in Swedish, who doesn’t know Ikea and Abba, no, not chocolate, that is Switzerland, as a Swede and answering the question “where are you from” and I answer Sweden I always get….”ahhh chocolate and mountains” no that´s Switzerland, at this stage I start doubting my own pronunciation and maybe I have been saying Sweden wrong this whole time.
Visiting Colosseum gave me mixed feelings. It was built for entertaining Rome and I couldn’t help but thinking of every slave or prisoner who lost their lives fighting to entertain the wealthier, or the stupid one who voluntarily joined the games for the sake of fame.
The tour was planned to take two hours with a 20 minutes break (one hour Colosseum and one hour around Palatino and Arco do Tito). I don’t know where time went but it wasn’t finished before three o’clock and I had to rush to the Vatican to get there before I had to catch my flight back to Sicily. On the way I stopped for Gelato, twice to be exact. I love ice cream and if you go to Italy without trying their Gelato you are committing a big, huge mistake!
Make sure you won’t need to use the restrooms while visiting any of the sights! Even if it was low season the queue for the bathrooms seemed longer than the queue to actually get into Colosseum.
There is a maximum of 3000 visitors at one time and it seemed like all of us needed to use the restrooms at the exact same time. I would never recommend anyone not to drink enough water (summers in Rome gets absolutely roasting) but to be honest I don’t know what would be worst, pee yourself in the toilet queue or fainting falling down one of the fighter rings due to dehydration. I ended up going outside to a nearby cafe, used their restroom and at the same time getting a coffee, win, win coffee and skip the queue.
I stopped first at Lemongrass (Lemongrass) on the corner of the Metro stop Ottaviano same as you need to get off at for the Vatican. Fifteen minutes later I walked passed Gelateria OldBridge (Gelateria Old Bridge ) the wating line outside was long enough for me to understand it had to be something special and I couldn’t help but to stop there too. It was on Viale Bastioni di Michelangelo just outside the Vatican and this was seriously the best ice cream I have ever had! (and I would consider myself a professional ice cream taster if anyone ask) I tried their Pistachio, Bacio and asked for a surprise flavour as third, that was the best one of course, but I have no idea what it was! In Rome you always get the option to top it off with whipped cream and that is a definite must! The cream in Italy is so rich, tasteful guess that is why the amazing ice cream, no idea what they feed their milk cows with but we should definitely do the same everywhere.
It was something special about the Vatican, a calmness, peacefulness of people sitting and lying down in the middle of Piazza San Pietro, like there were no cares in the world. I couldn’t stay very long unfortunately, had my flight back to Sicily at 9 o’clock and it was already approaching 4 in the afternoon and I had to take the train back to the airport at six thirty. I took the metro to Termini. The underground in Rome works fairly easy having only two lines, A and B, both crossing at Termini if you need to change from one to the other.
It´s all about priorities and I needed to rush back to have enough time to go to Palazzo del Freddo and di Giovanni Fassi (Gelateria Fassi) for my final ice cream, 80 cents for a two flavoured gelato with whipped cream can not beat that! This was the gelateria most you you recommended for me, and I loved it, so thank you!
I had a long list of things I wanted to see and do in Rome and I honestly thought two days would be enough, how wrong I was. If you want to do all the sights in Rome I definitely recommend you give yourself at least four days, you want to be able to sit down, relax have an ice cream or coffee without feeling stressed to run to next sight, just to tick it off your list. I will definitely go back, this was only an introduction and I am so excited to see more of the city.
I am ending this blog post quoting what the tour guide said, “how do you spell Rome in italian….Roma, what is Roma backwards, Amor! (plus an e ;)) Paris you’ve got competition – Rome, the city of love. Rome part 1 🙂 Amore!
All the best, have an amazing weekend!