Rome was never a place I was dying to go to. However, when looking at holidays for this year, Rome was cheap for when my boyfriend and I wanted to go and was easy to get to from East Midlands Airport as I live in Nottingham.
== Getting there and first impressions ==
From East Midlands Airport, flying with Ryanair cost us roughly £50 each for return tickets. Although Ryanair don’t have the best reputation, they have been fine each time I have flown with them and their airfares are extremely cheap. Being a budget airline, Ryanair fly to the smaller Ciampino airport in Rome. From here, it takes roughly 40 minutes to get into the city center and buses cost about €4 each way. Getting to and from Rome, both from the UK and the airport is extremely easy and stress free.
The bus drops you off at Termini Station where you get your first real experience of Rome. The area isn’t very nice, there are people everywhere trying to force you to buy things and generally, is not the nicest thing to have to deal with. Termini Station is massive and has three different sides to it. The streets aren’t named very well in this area so if you are walking anywhere from here, just figuring out which way to go can be difficult. As we began to walk around, there was a strong smell of wee in a lot of streets and we realised just how rough this area was. My first impression of Rome was not a good one.
== Where to stay ==
We stayed in a B&B not too far away from Termini Station – about a 10 minute walk away. Due to not being right in the city center and near all of the tourist attractions, the B&B was very reasonably priced and cheaper than anywhere else I had looked at. Hotels in the city center can cost you a fortune and some didn’t look very nice at all. I would highly recommend looking for somewhere near a metro station as we did, as you will need to pay to use it anyway and if you stay near one of the further out stops, it will make your accommodation much cheaper.
== Transport ==
Rome’s metro system is extremely easy to use. There are only two lines to follow, red and blue, so it would be really hard to get lost. If you need to switch lines, you can do so at the main station, Termini Station and I found that getting anywhere by metro took 15 minutes maximum. Tickets for the metro can be bought at all stations or from tobacconists around the city. We bought a 3 day ticket which also covered bus use and this cost us €16 each. However, we didn’t use the buses at all as they seemed far too confusing. There are lots of bus stops all over the city but as we didn’t understand where they all went etc., we figured it would be easier just to stick to the metro.
It seems as though so many locals drive in Rome. I wouldn’t recommend this as a tourist. Drivers in Rome don’t appear to pay any attention to proper crossings and seem to go wherever they want really. There were so many times when we began to cross a road and a car would come zooming around the corner even though the lights told us we could cross. I didn’t imagine crossing a road could be so dangerous.
== Eating out ==
As we were only in Rome for 3 full days, we didn’t get the chance to eat at too many restaurants. Some helpful advice though is to look for places that aren’t close to tourist attractions. Walk a couple of streets further away and you will find places that are much better priced. Restaurants near tourist attractions are extremely overpriced and not worth the money. One restaurant we found which was exceptional in both price and service was Caffe Leonardo. This restaurant is around the corner from the Spanish Steps and you can read about it in full in another of my reviews. The restaurant served amazing, authentic Italian food for very reasonable prices. If you want to play it safe though, the city does have big chains like McDonalds and Burger King. We did go to Hard Rock Café while in Rome as I had never been to one before and we were starving when we walked past it. Hard Rock Café wasn’t any more expensive than other places we had eaten at and the service and food, again, was fantastic.
Strangely, we saw so many Chinese restaurants in Rome but that was generally in the area which our B&B was in. There are also many smaller shops which sell a lot of baguettes and sandwiches which are great value for money and easier if you want to eat something on the go. We did this one day and managed to sit somewhere with a great view and take in some of the sun.
== Attractions ==
Obviously, one of the biggest and most famous attractions in Rome is the Colosseum. We paid to have a guided tour of this amazing building and it was well worth the extra money. I would highly recommend doing this and getting the most out of your trip. Guides from tickitaly.com cost around £30 but include entrance to the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. This will save you paying again for the two latter areas. The guide lasts 3 hours but you gain access into the lower and top levels of the Colosseum which you do not get with a normal ticket. At the end of our tour, our guide also gave a 30 minute tour of the Roman Forum which is also better than just walking around on your own as the different building are explained. The Colosseum was the most amazing place I visited while in Rome and should be on the top of your list of things to do.
The Trevi Fountain was one of my favourite places to visit in Rome. The fountain is close to the Barberini metro stop although about a 10 minute walk from here. The fountain is constantly surrounded by a lot of people, filling the steps in front of it. The fountain has a story where if you throw in a coin, it will guarantee your return to Rome so if you visit here, you will see many people doing this. During the day, the fountain is pretty but I would advise you to also go back at night. The fountain is fully functional and at night the flowing water is lit up, making it such a stunning view.
The Vatican is a usual must on lists of things to do in Rome. If you want to see St. Peter’s Basilica, you need to get there extremely early. We headed into St. Peter’s Square at about 9am and there was already the longest queue I had ever seen. The line does move quite quickly but expect a wait of a minimum of about an hour. The view from St. Peter’s Square is stunning in itself so if you don’t want to head inside or visit the Vatican Museums, this is worth doing just on its own. Be warned, girls have to have their shoulders covered (no spaghetti vests) or you will be refused entry to all areas.
Somewhere not as popular is the Borghese gardens. There is also a big villa and some small museums in the area so the gardens are not the only thing to see. To get here, head to the metro stop for the Spanish Steps and it is signposted from inside the station. The gardens are vast and extremely beautiful. You can rent small golf carts to ride around the grounds which is nice because you will be shaded. In the middle of the gardens sits a fountain with a large pond like area surrounding it. We sat here for a long time, taking in the view and sitting with our feet in the water.
While there is much more to do in Rome, these were some of the best things I did while there. There are plenty of shopping areas, cute piazzas and all kinds of weird and wonderful shops and streets to explore here.
== Overall ==
We visited Rome for 3 days and this was enough time for me. The heat at the end of June made it difficult to be out all day and it was really tiring. I would advise going during a slightly cooler time of the year so that you can really make the most of the city. While I liked Rome, I did not fall in love with it. .