When In Rome: Things To Do

Thursday, December 08, 2016

As I was living for a few months in Italy, I obviously had to visit Rome. I had already been a few times before with my parents so I was Tamara's designated tour guide for the day and we got to live out our Lizzie McGuire dreams. Getting to Rome from Florence is very easy and we had originally booked a BlaBlaCar there and La Freccia (the fast train) back. Our car was supposed to leave from Florence at 7am from the main station and at around 1.30am the night before (we were up way too late drinking vino) I got a text saying that our car had been cancelled. Just like that. 10 minutes of tipsy panicking later we booked a (very) expensive train to Rome and 8 hours later we were on our way...

We finally got there and it was a glorious day! We had a couple of stops on our itinerary to be able to see as much of Rome as possible in one day. The Italians that we were drinking with the night before thought that we were crazy and should stay a little bit longer but we were determined that we could do it.

1) Visit Il Colosseo (the Colosseum)

Built roughly between 70 and 80 AD (crazy!) it is the largest amphitheatre to ever have been built and could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators (again, crazy!) The thing that most people know it was used for is gladiator fights, however they also had venatio (animal fights) which involved hunting & killing wild animals (thousands were butchered in one day), as well as re-enactments of famous battles and classical mythology dramas. They also had capital punishment (damnatio ad bestias, damnation to beasts) on display for spectators to watch which involved the criminal being mauled alive by a wild animal.

I feel like we always think of the Romans as having been super advanced for their time, which of course they were regarding philosophy, technology, engineering, the military (the list goes on), however their morals were clearly not very developed back then if you read into what went on in those times.

L'arco di Costatino (The Arch of Constantine)

Regarding tickets: buy one online before here. You'll get to skip the line and will get in and out much faster than waiting in the regular queues. When we got there they told us that it would be around an hour and it was really slow. There's a small booking fee but honestly it is worth it and the ticket includes both Il Colosseo and the Forum Romanum (Roman Forum) which are ruins of the ancient government buildings. We originally wanted to go there too but we got there and the line was absolutely massive so we went onto our next stop: food.

2) Eat Italian Food

We were starving from our early wake up and so searched for a little trattoria in one of Rome's less busy side streets, away from all of the tourists. As you can imagine, this was pretty difficult and after a while the hunger overcame us and we settled on something which at least didn't have a massive menu with pictures outside of the restaurant.

We both chose this beautiful yet simple penne pasta with a concoction of garlic and tomatoes which could have only been created by the gods themselves. Seriously, the ingredients sound quite boring but all of the flavours were on point. Also, a little "fun" fact (in quotation marks because it won't be all that fun for some): in Italian there is an expression that you say when someone is everywhere and it is "essere come il prezzemolo" (to be like parsley) because they always use it in their cooking! After a yummy carb-packed lunch we felt fully satisfied and ready to move onto our next sightseeing stop, which happened to be very close to the restaurant: The Trevi Fountain.

3) Visit the Fontana di Trevi and make a wish

The Trevi Fountain, or the Fontana di Trevi is one of the most beautiful, and undoubtedly famous, fountains in the world. It was built in 1762 and has appeared in many films including Fellini's La Dolce Vita. Remember the iconic scene with Anita Ekberg & Marcello Mastroianni? If not click here. I also remember that Fendi had a fashion show on the water for their 90th anniversary which looked phenomenal!

If you have ever visited the fountain then you will have noticed all of the coins in the water. Tamara told me that the money is used to fund food for the homeless in Rome and that around 3,000 is raised every day so if you go there be generous! Knowing that all of the money went to charity, we made a good few wishes each...

After all the wishing it was onto stop #4

4) Stroll around La Piazza Navona 

Us with la Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
The square is absolutely beautiful and full of baroque Roman architecture. It is built on the site of a stadium from the 1st century AD where the Romans used to watch games and competitions but now it is a pretty place to go in Rome with plenty of photo opportunities!

5) Walk up the Spanish Steps 

It was then onto stop #5 which was la Scalinata di Trinità dei Monti, more famously known as the Spanish Steps. These became famous after Audrey Hepburn's famous movie Roman Holiday and interestingly, on the corner next to the steps you have John Keats' house where he lived and died - it's now a museum which we didn't go into but Keats was a very important Romantic generation poet who I had to studied for IB English Literature (cry). His works are beautiful (many odes) but when one has to study something everything seems so much less appealing, at least for me. Anyhow, when you are on the steps, and actually in Rome in general, many men will "offer" you roses that you then have to pay for: avoid.

6) Go Shopping

Once you climb up to the top (135 steps!) you have a better view of the square and of the shopping streets which house some of the world's most famous designer shops, including of course all of the Italian designers as well as Harry Winston which where all of the diamond engagement rings from Gossip Girl came from. We then continued on to have a little wander before heading to our last stop...
Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) aka il Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (The National Monument to Victor Emmanuel II), built in honour of the first king which is now a museum of Italian Unification which, as I mentioned in my Milan blog post, was not a simple process).

7) Visit the Pantheon 

Dating from 118-128 AD, the former Roman temple is now a church and is absolutely beautiful. It's one of the best preserved Roman monuments and definitely worth a visit.

After our last stop we were thoroughly exhausted from all of the walking and went off to hunt for some gelato. Clearly our eyes were bigger than our stomachs because we both ordered massive ones and after I had chosen three variations of hazelnut/chocolate mixes there was no way that I could finish the entire thing without being sick (cry because it was actually really good).

At around 5pm we made our way back to the train station, walking the whole way. We walked so much the whole day to make sure that we maximised how much we saw of Rome and it was definitely worth it. Everything that we saw was well within walking distance of each other (20-30 minutes max) but I guess you could take a taxi or a bus if you're lazy or can't walk that far.

Once we got to the station the train was delayed, surprise surprise! So we venture off to McDonalds to find this new "sweety" thing that everyone was raving about on the internet. It's basically a nutella burger so if you don't know what i'm talking about click here. It was nothing special, 2/10 would not recommend and by the time we actually got our order we were the ones who were late and were running like madwomen through the Roma Termini station. We hopped (flung ourselves) onto the train and a little over an hour and a half later were back in Florence and definitely ready for bed.

I would definitely recommend going to Rome if you're in Florence or anywhere nearby. You can do it in a day if you don't go into many museums etc. in order to maximise your time and you can do it cheaply too- the only money that we spent on the day was on food, our Trevi Fountain wishes & our ticket to the Colosseum. Not bad!

How to get to Rome from Florence? 

The options are: bus, BlaBlaCar & train. The bus we didn't even bother with because we figured that it would take way too long. BlaBlaCar we tried but failed... if you are not as unlucky as us then I would try it out. I haven't yet but a lot of my friends have and have recommended it to me. As far as trains go there are two companies: italo and Trenitalia. Both have some discounts and offers going on but I know that for Trenitalia you can take La Freccia (the fast train) on a Saturday and get a 2x1 offer, so that's definitely worth looking into if you would like to go anywhere in Italy on a Saturday with the fast train, however you obviously have to book in advance.

I hope that you enjoyed all of the photo spam & that you enjoy Rome if you're going any time soon, we certainly did!

Alexandra x

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  1. Rome is an absolute favourite of mine. I did the same and just walked from each "monument" without a map and managed to just stumble upon them all. The streets are just too beautiful not to stroll through!

    Denton & Lou 

    1. I love exploring cities this way! Getting a little lost & stumbling upon the little side streets! xx

  2. Beautiful pictures!! Rome has been on my budget list for so long! I need to go! kisses:D


    1. You have to go! I'm sure that with an Airbnb or a hostel it wouldn't be too expensive! Xx

  3. I loved this post! I've been to Rome years ago but would love to go again. The re-unification of Italy was one of my favourite topics in history lessons so I love exploring all that side of it, as well as the beautiful architecture and of course, the food! x

    Kate Louise Blogs

    1. You should definitely go again - I have been a few times and never get bored of it :) interesting isn't it! But difficult, food is much more appealing xx