I’ve been lucky to have been to Rome a handful of times. Two times were backpacking experience, which included the last time I was there. This time, I went in June. I arrived at noon, with the sun beating down on us and – like a classic Italian – the first thing I did when I arrived was take a nap.
- We were staying a stone throw from the Roma Termini Central (the Station), partly because we were taking a train early the next morning, and partly because a friend of ours runs a guest house (pictured below).
- The simple guest house was perfect, mostly because the rooms were cool and dark – perfect to take a break from the heat.
- It was also located to the best ice cream shop in Rome – Fassi (think quality – not charm. Unfortunately it’s located in a large type of diner room, but the price, flavours and quality are excellent. You see the locals lining up to get buckets of artisanal ice-cream to take home for their dinners / lunches.
- Go while it’s still there, as local rumour has it that it’s being taken over by an Asian commercial company. Try a new flavour while you’re at it – raspberry and dark chocolate work together a charm!
- After waking up at 3pm and having our gelato, we headed out for a long walk. From the station we cruised through to central Roma, walking past the heaving coliseum, the Roman Forum and the Spanish steps.
- Having already done all of these sights properly I can honestly say it’s not worth the line, the price or the fuss! Instead spend that money on buying a nice espresso – or another gelato – and admire these places from a bench, or a viewpoint. You’ll get to see so much more of Rome (especially if you’re only there for a day!).
- What I did want to spend my time on was finding a fantastic viewpoint, and what better hill to view Roma than the Aventine Hill? We went there early evening, when the crowds had all left, and locals were gathered round the park on top playing the guitar and having a few beers.
- We were in for a treat! If you’re in for the romance, watching the view with live Italian music playing in the background , makes this scene perfect.
- Hidden in the hill top of the Aventine hill lies a door…. When I was little, my Dad had just returned from Rome, and he said that if I ever went there, I had to go to this door and look through the keyhole. He wouldn’t tell me what he saw, so I probably shouldn’t tell you either (hence why I’ve blurred the picture). Just do it. It will take your breath away.
- After this romantic evening, we headed down to the renown Trastevere. Rumour had it that this place is a tourist trap. Indeed, it is. But it is one of the most beautiful tourist traps to fall in!
- This place is full of charm, wonky and colourful apartment buildings lined up with vespas on the side, roses and creepers trickling down the walls, locals bashing past you as they run their errands, waiters from different restaurants fighting with each other as they call you into their tavern.
- If you’re in Rome for a day – treat yourself to this tourist trap. It’s well worth sitting outside on the cobbled streets, a stone throw from the River Tiber, eating a delicious pesto pasta (and no matter where you eat – Italians just get pasta right), drinking copious amounts of cheap red wine, and having a lovely romantic evening as you watch the city go by.
Rome Tips in a Nutshell
Speak it – Learn a few phrases. It goes a long way. Rome is used to its tourists, but they’ll be so much more charming if you also make an effort with them. It’s better for you to try, than them. They’ll appreciate it.
Be local – Chat to the locals, whether it be your host, or the group of friends in the park. Where do they eat and drink? It might not always be the glamorous of places, but the price and quality will beat your average tourist café, and the walk outside tourist-lane might surprise you!
Weather – Afternoon is hot – shorts and a t-shirt. But you will need a cardigan at night, as it can get chilly.
Beware – Gypsies can be scavengers. They tend to hang out in touristy areas (I got harassed at the station). They are harmless, but they do want money. Keep your purses close.
Be smart – If you’re travelling on a budget – go to the supermarket. There are many, and water is a third of the price. Don’t get tempted by vans on the street..
Feeling artsy – Ticked the museums off the list? Don’t want the typical Fontana de Trevi shot? Cats are abundant in Rome. You’ll spot them lazing about on a summer afternoon. They like to strike a pose!
That’s me for Rome – my next stop is Orvieto!
Want more? Follow me at @wildwayround