Abbey and I were able to get a direct train from Florence to Rome. We took a regional train, which got us there in about 3.5 hours. We had the option to take a high-speed train which would have only taken an hour, but we would have had to make seat reservations at 10 Euro each. We weren’t in a hurry so we decided it would be worth it to save the money. We arrived just past noon and were able to check in immediately.
Our AirBnB was not in a central location, in fact, it was very far from the main parts of Rome, but it was conveniently located next to the train station we arrived at. It was also located close to metro and bus stops, so getting around was easy even if walking wasn’t much of an option. Although the location was less than ideal, we were at least able to get a completely private apartment.
After check-in, we decided to go grab a late lunch. We walked for about 30 minutes before finding a vegan restaurant that was somewhat of a disappointment. Walking around Rome was amazing because the sun was shining and I didn’t even need a jacket. Florence wasn’t very warm while we were there, so Rome felt like a tropical paradise. It wasn’t exactly hot outside, but this was the most comfortable I had felt walking around since last fall in North Carolina.
After lunch, we hopped on a bus that took us to Olympia Stadium. Lazio was hosting Juventus that evening and we were hoping to buy tickets to see our first live European soccer game. I wasn’t too worried about tickets because the stadium is huge and Lazio rarely sells out. However, because Juventus is such a popular team they were already sold out by the time we arrived. We were disappointed, but at least we’re saving money. We got on a bus to leave the stadium to go find dinner. The buses in Rome never run on time, so we ended up having a late dinner and returning to the AirBnB much later than expected.
The next day we woke up early and headed over to ancient Rome to see the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. It was a 30-minute walk from the apartment, but the weather was nice so we didn’t mind the morning stroll. We were lucky enough to be in Rome on free museum day (first Sunday of every month), so we didn’t have to pay an entry fee to either attraction. While this was nice, it also meant that the attractions were overcrowded.
By the time we arrived the line was wrapped halfway around the Colosseum. We got in line, and luckily it moved pretty fast so we were inside in less than an hour. Since we were saving money on tickets we decided to buy an official guided tour of the Colosseum. The tour was excellent and very informative. I’m very glad we decided to spend the money on one because otherwise, I would be looking at the ruins with no background information. Overall, the Colosseum was a great experience and absolutely worth doing as long as you can tolerate the crowds and pushy solicitors constantly harassing you (all you have to do is ignore them completely).
After our tour, we grabbed some lunch at a nearby restaurant with surprisingly reasonable prices. We are even able to sit outside for the first time in what felt like forever (although we did need jackets and a heater). After lunch, we headed over to the nearby Roman Forum where we again had to wait in line. This entry was free as well, but no guides were offered. Due to the size of the ruins and the confusing layout, a guided tour would have been nice. Regardless, we still enjoyed walking through the ruins and reading the signs along the way. The Forum was much larger than expected and we ended up spending almost three hours inside. It is an amazing experience for anyone interested in ruins, and there are some great views from the top.
Upon exiting the Roman Forum we decided to walk further into central Rome and cross the river to go see another museum. However, on our walk, it started to rain and by the time we reached the museum, it was a downpour. There was a long line outside the museum to get in and given the undesirable weather conditions we decided to forgo that attraction. Instead, we found a small cafe nearby to spend some time in and dry off. After a couple hours at the cafe, we went to an amazing vegan burger restaurant for dinner and then headed home for the night.
The following day we awoke to more rain. We decided to get on the Metro and go see St. Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican since it seemed like a good indoor activity. Unfortunately, the line to get inside was very long by the time we got there and wrapped almost halfway around the country. Nevertheless, we stood in line in the rain and waited to go inside. Unfortunately, our rain jackets soaked through, so we were both pretty wet by the time we got through the line. Once inside we were able to climb the stairs to the top of the Basilica where we were treated with a rainy view of Rome. We then descended the stairs and walked around the main floor of the Basilica for a while before leaving.
After the Vatican, we went back across the river to have lunch at Buddy’s Restaurant, which had vegan options. We took a long lunch to dry off and enjoyed some wine with our meal. Abbey was pretty cold by the time we were done with lunch so she headed home. I decided to stay out and see a few more sights before going back to the apartment. From lunch, I was able to walk to the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, and Spanish Steps.
All of these attractions were free and nearby so I thought I might as well see them. The Pantheon was a disappointment because it used to be a pagan temple, but now its just another Catholic Church on the inside. However, the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps were amazing sights that are well worth the visit. The rain had let up by the time I reached the Spanish steps, so I was able to enjoy a nice view of Rome from the top of the steps.
After the Spanish steps, I took the metro back to the apartment where I joined Abbey. We stayed inside for a while to warm up and dry off before heading back out that evening to meet up with some friends. We had originally planned to arrive in Rome on the same day as them, but their flight from the US had been canceled so they arrived two days late. They got in sometime late afternoon and met up with us for dinner.
After dinner, we decided to go to a few bars together. We ended up back around the Colosseum area. This was a pleasant surprise as we were able to see the Colosseum lit up at night and without so many people surrounding it. We eventually made our way to a bar called The Barber Shop. This was a speakeasy-style cocktail lounge that had no clearly marked entry. Instead, you had to ring a bell at a blank door and someone would come from downstairs to let you in. It was a very fun experience and the cocktails were great.
The next day we were finally greeted with nice weather. We went back to the Vatican to meet up with our friends again. This time we went to the Vatican Museums to see the Sistine Chapel. Inside it was very crowded, but once we got to the chapel it was all worth it. No matter how many pictures you see, they cannot accurately portray how amazing the paintings are in real life.
After an amazing experience at the Sistine Chapel, we crossed back across the river to go see more sights. I took them to the Trevi Fountain and to the Spanish steps. This time the weather was better and I had a better time admiring the attractions. I decided to forgo the Pantheon because of how disappointing it had been the previous day, and it is an indoor attraction anyway.
When we were done admiring the sights of Rome we found a cafe to hang out in for a while. We then went to a bar for a couple hours and finally went and got dinner together. Following dinner, Abbey and I headed back to our AirBnB for the night. We had to wake up very early the next day to catch a train to take us even further south into Italy.
Sun! Rome was the first city we had consistent sun and…that was the highlight of the trip for me. I didn’t like Rome as much as Kevin did. The attractions were interesting, but the overall vibe of the city was off-putting. I didn’t like things being practically shoved in my arms so that I would buy them (I never did). The traffic was ridiculous and the buses were never on time – which isn’t hyperbole, we truly never caught a bus that showed up at it’s scheduled time. I get that Rome is a city with a lot of history and ancient architecture, but I am not looking to go back anytime soon.