Budget and time constraints sometimes mean you can’t stay in a city quite as long as you might want. For me the prime example came when I visited Rome in October. With just a few hours in this amazing place I wanted to see as much as I could, spending as little money as possible and I’m pretty pleased with how well we achieved this!
Rome is breathtakingly beautiful and steeped in a history that I can barely even comprehend, so we were keen to see as much of the main city as possible. This began by heading for the Coliseum. If you’re planning on taking a taxi to your starting point, as we did, make sure you negotiate a price with the driver before you get in. We travelled from Piazza del Popolo down to the Coliseum by taxi and then zig zagged our way across the city to reach our starting point again. The taxi was €10 which seemed pretty reasonable! Alternatively you can take the Metro around Rome with tickets starting at €1.70 for one trip, or I believe €15 for a day pass.
If you’d like to go in the Coliseum and Palatine Hill then tickets can be bought online in advance to save queueing or, a top tip is to buy your ticket at the Palatine Hill ticket office and then simply ask if you can visit the Coliseum first. The ticket covers both sites so you’re perfectly fine to do this, and the queue at the Palatine Hill is much shorter! Alternatively, you can get a pretty good comprehension for the size and purpose of the Coliseum by walking around it, you’ll invariably overhear plenty of tour guides giving big speeches about the impressive building so feel free to grab some information through that!
If you don’t want to buy the ticket to get into the Palatine Hill then there’s a completely free way to get a great view of the ruins. As you walk up toward Palatine Hill ticket office there’s a path on the left, take this up the hill and you’ll walk through the ruins and see them from above. This view is no less breathtaking and beautifully quiet, unlike many places in Rome! We passed a busker on classical guitar on our way up the hill and finally entered a small church that was a vision of peace and space compared with the crowds that surround the Coliseum.
We then began heading towards the Via del Corso walking past the beautiful ruins of the Roman Forum. We passed the Altare della Patria, better known as the Wedding Cake, which is a hugely impressive structure that no photo can ever really do justice to.
We then ventured further up the Via del Corso and found the Trevi Fountain, which at the moment is being quite heavily restored so doesn’t quite look as magical as you may expect. However, you are able to get up close and personal with the beautiful structure by going along a walkway suspended over the fountain. Definitely worth a look and it’s completely free! Unless you throw your 1 cent coin in!
The back roads around the Trevi Fountain are where we found our lunch, a 9€ pizza did the job nicely and we were on our way again. It felt like something of a rule that we had to sample the pizza, coffee and gelato of Rome whilst we were there. If you’re on the main streets or up towards the Spanish Steps then food and drink can be pretty pricey, however venture a little off the beaten track and you’ll soon find a great value slice of pizza.
We then headed through the palaces and embassies toward the Pantheon, the oldest building in Europe. The sheer size of the Pantheon is enough to leave you speechless, let alone its age and how perfectly preserved some aspects of the building are. It’s free to enter this impressive church and as long as you respect the rule of silence and no flash photography you can easily spend hours in here, looking at each memorial, chapel and intricate piece of decoration.
Further from the Pantheon we spent time in the Piazza Navona, a bustling city square filled with artists, market stalls and some beautiful fountains. Be wary of street sellers thrusting anything from a “Prada” bag to a scarf in your face, this can get a little wearing after a while. However, the square itself is beautiful and full of gorgeous architecture that feels quintessentially Roman. Definitely worth a visit, and perhaps a brief sit down after all that walking!
Following the Piazza Navona we wandered through the back streets towards the Spanish Steps. Wandering through Rome you encounter more historic monuments, churches and ruins around every corner, so it’s definitely worth getting a little lost in the alleyways as long as you have a map to bring yourself back on course! The area around the Spanish Steps is very similar to Bond Street in London; full of high end shops that we tourists can barely afford to look in the window of, and the coffee shops around here are similarly pricey! The steps themselves are always rammed with people, however they’re definitely worth seeing and provide a great opportunity to sit down, take in the atmosphere of Rome and take some excellent selfies.
By the time we reached the People’s Square the sun was setting and left a gorgeous orange glow on the fountains and central obelisk. We didn’t manage to see the Vatican during this trip to Rome, which is a shame as it is a beautiful city, however we took in some of the biggest sights in our limited time there. Plus, we got some excellent gelato on the Via del Corso! Ciao Roma!