i really really LOVED Rome :))))) such a beautiful city with so much to offer. there is just so much to see, and i was just totally awed by the Colosseum on my first day when i saw it. and around every corner, along every street, this city just unfolded in front of my eyes, welcoming us. i hardly know where to start because i’m so excited to tell you about my favourite italian city! ^^ hehe. *o/* before coming here, we were really wondering what was so nice about italy because having lived here, it’s really an understatement to see exactly how messed up this place is -.- *feel like singing the song ‘Home’ now, Singapore is still best!! haha* but now having come to Rome & Florence, my opinion of Italy has improved, somewhat (: at least for these two, officially my favourite cities in Europe (so far) <3
i’m really proud of my itinerary for this whole italy trip btw ^^ hehe. well-organized in terms of attractions, places to eat (including gelato breaks haha), with time for chillin’ as well ;) anyway…
Must-Sees in Rome
first stop: the awe-inspiring colosseum :’)))))
it was a jaw-dropping moment to be standing in front of the Colosseum the moment i stepped out of the Colosseo metro station. there are some must-go places when you’re in Rome and the Colosseum is definitely one of them! (: tickets to the Colosseum cost €12 which includes entry to the Roman Forum and Palentine Hill which are just right next to it. queues for the Colosseum can be really long, so a suggestion would be to get your tickets at the Roman Forum instead. the ticket allows entry for 24hrs, so if you don’t have enough time in a day, you can always come back! you can pay an extra €5 for a guided tour, which i opted for, and i encourage it! it was pretty interesting to hear the history about the significance of the Colosseum and understand its structure better, which (i heard from my friend) you wouldn’t get with an audioguide.
the Roman Forum (nearest metro: Colosseo) was another interesting stop for us! ^^ it was really fascinating to see the ruins of an entire Roman city! did you know that the ground level in the past was lower than what it is now? and they just kept building layers and layers of ground over each other over the years, that it’s described as “lagsane” haha.
the Spanish Steps (nearest metro: Spagna) was one of my absolute FAVOURITE places in Rome :)))) it’s crazily touristy and hence, freaking crowded, but it’s soooo pretty! :) the perfect weather that day and the fact that it was spring and all the flowers were blooming definitely helped ^^ but it just totally gave me the feeling that i was in Rome! :) it’s the place where all movies set in Rome are filmed, and it was so so so gorgeous :) plus the fact that i saw a bride there taking wedding photos *squeals!!* haha :D
the Fountain of Trevi (nearest metro: Spagna/Barberini) is what makes you coming back to Rome time and again ;) there is a saying that if you throw one coin in, you’ll return to Rome; two, you’ll fall in love with a Roman; and three, you’ll marry a Roman. obviously it’s not real haha but i threw one anyway ^^ so i’ll definitely be back!!!! <3
the Pantheon (right smack in the centre with no metro nearby. walk! :p) was another impressive Roman structure. didn’t know it was meant to be a church! quite interesting architecture (: i didn’t pay for any tour for this though. it had free entry, so just walk in and take a look around!
of course, when you’re in Rome, you can’t miss the Vatican City (nearest metro: Ottaviano). the smallest country in the world, simply enclosed by a wall in the city of Rome. it was a rather complicated event visiting this place! firstly, tickets. the Vatican is probably one of the few attractions in Rome that offer student price tickets for non-EU citizens (the rest didnt boooooo). for students, the reduced price is €8, and full price is €16. the queues to the Vatican can be really really long though, depending on your luck. some days, they say the queue is long but move relatively fast. on the day i went, apparently the queues were 3hrs long, so it was lucky that i’d pre-bought my tickets! it costs an additional €4. you can pre-buy the tickets for the Vatican museums & Sistine Chapel here.
i have to say i was kinda disappointed with the Vatican though? i didn’t manage to see much of the ‘city’ in general. it was just museums and art galleries, which had no significance to the Pope/religiousness of the place?? i guess we’d gone there expecting something different and so were disappointed. the audioguide (€7) didn’t seem to be very helpful either, as it merely explained where the paintings etc had been excavated from/who were the artists, but didn’t explain them! btw, a tip about audioguides, you can usually bring your own earphones and therefore you can just get one audioguide for two people to share (:
Tip: if you’re interested in the museums, you could probably spend more than 3 hours there, so be sure to grab a bite before you go in because i don’t think there is re-entry. DO NOT buy from those push-cart kind of stuff though. i bought a hotdog bun there and it was the most inedible thing i’ve ever tasted (tasted like pesticide and i threw it away after 2 mouthfuls :/). there is also a cafe/pizzeria inside the Vatican if you need.
the entry to the Vatican museums & St Peter’s Basilica is really confusing. there are two snaking queues towards both entrances, but it takes awhile to figure out where the entrances are. there are plenty of people who would try to sell you tickets to both places, especially if the queues are really long. i wouldn’t really advise you to go for those though? i think they’re really expensive. but they’ll help point you in the right direction, so just stick around for that, and don’t get cheated! (i’m not trying to sound pessimistic here, but italy is really full of such people!)
i preferred St Peter’s Basilica wayyyy more! (: imo, you don’t really have to pay to go in, especially if the queue is really long, just skip it and walk around outside. it’s beautiful enough :’) it was raining unfortunately, on the day i was there. but it was still so awesome anyway!! (:
Piazzas in Rome
oh my, this post about Rome is really long eh? :p anyway, another thing i love about Rome is its numerous piazzas! (: there are so many of these squares around which you can just walk into and sit at the steps and relax etc. Piazza del Polpolo (nearest metro: Flaminio) is one of the biggest squares in Rome.
and my favourite piazza in Rome was Piazza Navora! :))) really near to the Pantheon, it’s this huge piazza with a beautiful fountain, cathedral, many cafes with alfresco dining looking out into the piazza (i would LOVE a cafe experience like that ^^) and lots of stalls selling gorgeous paintings in the middle of the square :)
Just a few other things
walk further down from Piazza Navora and you’ll come to River Tiberina, which is just a really long river flowing along the city centre of Rome! (: it’s really pretty, especially in spring when the weather and trees are so nice ^^ but there are lots of stuff flying in the air into your eyes, which makes it quite irritating to walk along the river if you don’t wear sunglasses haha. the Trastevere area is located along this river, and is famous for numerous cafes and restaurants there! although i didn’t get a chance to go there (one of the places i missed out >.<), i heard that it's pretty good!
along the river, you find Castel Sant’ Angelo, and standing there, you can see St Peter’s Basilica in the distance! :D heehee. i just stood along the river and snapped pics with the castle haha.
one of my absolute favourite places, and best experience i had in Rome was spending a lazy sunday afternoon at Villa Borghese (nearest metro: Flaminio), or rather the park surrounding it. it was such a wonderful time spent just strolling there, amidst all the Italians who were out in full force on a Sunday in spring, all picnic-ing on the grass, frolicking in the fountains, eating gelato, cycling/rollerblading, with street musicians playing jazzy music which totally added to the atmosphere there! it was AMAZING :”) i could have spent my whole sunday there if not for the fact that we had other places to go. omggggg :) this is how sundays should be spent!!!!!
walking from the park to Spagna metro station, you will pass this area where you have a picturesque view of Rome. gorgeoussssss (: spent some time there just admiring the view :)
How to get around Rome
The transport system here is pretty convenient, with just two major metro lines bringing you to all the important attractions (: i have indicated the nearest stations in italics above, so just mark them on the map! most places in the city are within walking distance of each other, and i highly recommend walking because that’s how you stumble upon random gems all over the place! (: rome is FULL of them – please give yourself enough time to explore the place :)) to get to areas outside the city centre, buses are a pretty good way to get around too!
How long should you spend in Rome??
haha kidding. i wouldn’t :p never gonna live in italy for good haha. i don’t mean it in a bad way…i would love to come back for a holiday but to stay here is just too difficult, unless they get rid of their la dolce vita attitude and work a little harder, but that would completely destroy the attitude of italy wouldn’t it?
but look at how much there is to see in Rome!!!!!! i haven’t even covered everything. give AT LEAST (and that is realllllllly rushing everything) three days. i promise you can spend one week in rome and you might not even see everything if you really want to fully soak in the atmosphere here. it is simply wonderful, it just takes your breath away! :’) i spent around 4 days here? which gave me some time to see most of the attractions, as well as relax, but not quite enough. which gives me the perfect chance to return :)
Where to stay in Rome
we absolutely LOVED our accommodation in both Rome and Florence! it was a little sian because we moved house FOUR times in that whole trip because i was stupid and booked late (lesson learnt: always book accommodation early!!) but we were really lucky to get good accommodations in the end by moving house during our stay in both cities (: we stayed in Airbnb for the whole trip and OMG they had the best beds ever!!!! super huge and comfy! i could have stayed in bed all day ~
okay this picture isn’t very flattering of the bedroom, but it’s actually super cozy! (: the bed was uber comfortable and we had such a good sleep that night ^^ really important, because you’ll realise that after a day of exploring the city you just reach home completely exhausted and need a good bed to collapse on and fall asleep haha.
the owner, Sara, was a really nice host – accommodating and willing to answer our numerous queries. she was never in the apartment, so although the listing is a ‘private room’, we pretty much had the whole space to ourselves! awesome ^^ and she even provided breakfast for us which was super sweet of her! as in it’s just biscuits and coffee/tea etc, but it was a really nice touch (: i also LOVE the neighbourhood it was located in. though pretty far from the city centre (you need to take a bus to the roma termini station or take the metro), but it was located in this area that looked SUPER like singapore!! (so nostalgic :’) esp when i had been away from singapore for months) it seemed like quite a safe neighbourhood and there were little shops selling groceries which was quite interesting! their opening hours are quite short though :/ so most of the time we got our groceries from the supermarket at roma termini which opens till later. oh yeah there is a kitchen! which was pretty spacious and convenient to cook :)) there’s also free wifi!
the ONLY gripe i would have is the bathroom. the water heater tank was super small!!!! :O which means we ran out of hot water pretty fast, and i found out the hard way on our first night there -.- freezing cold water ain’t nice to bathe in when the whole place is freezing already!! haha. so the only way is to conserve the hot water.
overall, it was a really nice apartment (: i paid €35/night for this. you can check it out here: https://www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/921416
the second apartment we stayed in was one of the NICEST airbnbs we stayed at!!!! :) i HIGHLY RECOMMEND this place, even though the location was even more ulu than the other one haha. you have to take the metro all the way to the last stop if i remember correctly. but it’s sooooo gorgeous! there is even a fireplace ^^ (not that we used it haha)
this was supposedly a “villa”, which was kinda like a terrace in a private housing area. it was quite an atas area, as you could tell from the cars around ;) and all the houses in the area looked so pretty! the house was loft-style, and we slept in the attic! it was so pretty!!! go check out the listing below for more pictures (: it was a lovely place to stay in. we had a skylight in our room! and it’s just super duper cozy (: the best part was the kitchen!!!! O.M.G. it was like a masterchef kind of kitchen!!! i was so excited! hehe i could live here forever ;) it doesn’t look that good in pictures, but if you see it irl, it looks amazing. and any chef would immediately be inspired to whip up something good in that kitchen :) our host, Angelo, was a really nice guy who picked us up from the metro station on our first day there! and he’s a manager in a hotel i think, so he was the most hospitable person ever, and gave us lots of advice about exploring Rome :) wifi is included!
downside would be its location and also that the bathroom is downstairs which is slightly inconvenient, but not too much of a problem!
one night here cost €45 and you can check out the listing here: https://www.airbnb.com.sg/rooms/402615
have fun!! and feel free to drop me a comment or something if you wanna know anything more and i’ll try to help! and tell me about your experiences in Rome if you go there ^^