Last year we were lucky enough to spend a few days in Rome. We booked a hotel in the North East of the city – this was perfect as it meant we did the South of the city on one day and the West, towards the Vatican, on another day.
Italy is wonderful for students and young adults – if you are 18-25 and a European Citizen, you can get free/discounted entry into lots of top attractions! So take ID with you!
Although Rome is meant to have very good transport links we walked the entire time!
The Colosseum, The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
When you buy a ticket for the Colosseum, you also get entry into both the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. When in Rome, the Colosseum is a must see! There are a few signs when in there but I would definitely recommend getting the audio guide as you get to find out lots of really interesting facts – did you know it was mainly used for animal fighting? They found a giant blue whale on the beach, so they brought it in and used it as a stage prop. It’s mouth opened and bears came running out!
As it is a super popular attraction, the queue was very long! So get there early to avoid the huge wait!
For all three attractions, have sturdy shoes as it is all cobbled and uneven flooring. It is also all outside, so take suncream!
As they are included in the ticket prices, The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill are worth doing too. They are both very close to the Colosseum, so you can’t miss them. The Roman Forum was where the old parliament met, and there are lots of remains still there. Palatine Hill is where, in Roman mythology, Romulus killed Remus, and thus Rome gets it’s name.
Free to get into, this is really interesting place and a must see! It is the resting place of many famous people, including the Renaissance painter Raphael. The dome is, along with the main door, the only source of light, and is a thing of beauty to look at.
Outside is a lovely courtyard, surrounded by lots of lovely gelato shops! Yum!
Unfortunately, while we were there, parliament was in session and we couldn’t get to the fountain as armed police were blocking the way! But it looks like it is a thing of beauty!
The walk to Vatican City is beautiful, passing by lots of shops (mainly touristy and gelato) and castles, along the river. Unfortunately, you are plagued by people trying to forcefully sell you stuff until you get to the gates. Once you are in St Peter’s Square, they are not aloud to sell – wahoo! The outside is very impressive, with a semicircle with large statues of Saints looking over you. There is quite a long queue to get in, mainly due to bag searches, but it is free once you are in (do not let the people at the desks try and con you into giving them deposits or your passport!) The inside is beautiful, but incredibly busy. I personally got very annoyed I found people incredibly disrespectful – I saw people posing for photos outside of confession boxes, talking on the phone and posing for photos in cornered off areas for praying! A colleague said they went very early in the morning and had a far more pleasant experience, and were blessed to be witness to four separate masses going on at the same time all in different languages!
When in the country, the Pope does an audience on Wednesdays, but you have to get there early!
Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel
There is an entry cost, but it is definitely worth it. We were fooled into thinking it was just the iconic Sistine Chapel but it is far more! You walk through mazes of rooms, filled with gorgeous artwork from the likes of Da Vinci, Raphael and even Matisse. The ceilings are phenomenal. Finally you get to the Sistine Chapel! This was far more respectful as once inside you were not aloud to take photos as it is still used as a practicing church. Michelangelo’s iconic artwork is clear and pristine, and I was shocked to see was only a small portion of the much bigger artwork! It truly is breathtaking. You leave through the iconic spiral stair cases at the end of the gift shop.
Piazza del Popolo
Here they have a really tall Egyptian statue (similar to the one outside the Pantheon). While here we popped into a Da Vinci museum – which was not worth the money! They had no/limited original things! You could play with the wooden recreations of his designs (at least, I did, whether we were meant to or not…) but I was expecting a lot more!
These were very close to our hotel, so we went there numerous times. Unfortunately, once again I got very frustrated with people selling things as they wouldn’t leave us alone! Especially when trying to get pictures, they would shine the green lazers at the Vatican.
We had a super time and would definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone.
Have you ever been to Rome? What did you do?
Is Rome on your bucket list?