Rome, Italy and Vatican City Travel Blog

I was so excited to arrive in Rome! I was visiting my cousin who was studying abroad there for the summer. Well, my initial excitement only lasted about 40 minutes after arriving at the airport. How would you like to lose your passport on the first day of a week-long trip? That’s right, it happened to me. We took a taxi from the airport to my cousin’s apartment when we found out that the bus wasn’t running anymore that night. I had a suitcase, a small black back that contained all of my documents (passport, visa, IDs, etc) as well as my cosmetics/toiletries, and my purse. We were focused on paying the driver and getting out in the busy traffic that we totally forgot the little black bag that was sitting between us. It was only 5 minutes later that I realized what just happened. I panicked and started to cry. All that was going through my head at the moment was me thinking I would be stuck in Italy for a long time. There was no way I would be getting my bag back. There are a million taxi cabs in Rome. They all look alike and there is no lost-and-found for the companies. After many phone calls and filing a police report, I was told that there was a slim chance of me ever seeing my passport again, especially that week. This was not the way I wanted to start off my week! After calming myself down, I just wanted to think about something else and deal with the situation later. So, my cousin introduced me to her roommates and we went out to eat and have drinks. Walking around the city definitely calmed me down. There is so much history and beauty that it was easy to start focusing on having a good time.
My advice to everyone: Always check and triple check that you have EVERYTHING before you get off of any mode of transportation. Count how many bags you have to keep track of. Every place I have gone after this, I am continually asking everyone I am with if they have everything. It gets extremely repetitive but I’d rather everyone be annoyed with me than them having to go through what I did. Luckily, there was a U.S. Embassy in Rome and they were able to get me an emergency passport. It wasn’t ideal taking a day out of our trip to deal with this, but I felt so much better knowing that it was taken care of and that I could enjoy the rest of my time in Rome. When I got back to England, I had to take care of the Visa process again.

Okay, finally now onto my trip! It is hard to put this blog into a play-by-play since we spent a lot of our time relaxing and doing things with her friends. After all, they were taking college classes so had to spend some time every day studying. So, I am just going to tell you my favorite places in Rome.

1. Colosseum– I don’t think anyone should go to Rome without visiting the oval amphitheater located in the center of the city. Completed in 80AD, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built, holding between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators. The Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas. Although partially destroyed due to damage caused by earthquakes and stone-robbers, the Colosseum is still an iconic symbol of Imperial Rome.

The Colosseum is situated just east of the Roman Forum. You can get there by the metro stop Colosseo on the B line. Even in the middle of a summer day, I didn’t think that the line was too long to purchase tickets. My cousin visited numerous times during the summer and she said that the guided tour wasn’t all that great. Even when I was walking around without a tour, I could still hear what the tour guides were telling their tours. However, if you are really wanting to know detailed information or aren’t too familiar with the history of the Colosseum, go for the guided tour! I would suggest buying tickets in advance though if you know exactly what day you would like to visit. If you are a last-minute type of person, this is definitely a visit that I would want to save for a sunny day. Visiting the Colosseum is also something I would recommend doing in the day and at night if you have time to get the pretty view of it all lit up. Be sure to go up the stairs across from the entrance to get a great view.

Adult Ticket €12 Child Ticket €7.50 (includes Roman Forum and Palatine Hill)
Audioguide €5.50  
Tour €5
Hours: 8:30 AM-1 hour before sunset

Additional Tips:

  • Buy your ticket from the Palatine entrance or the Roman Forum to beat the queues
  • Get the Roma Pass, which is valid for three days at a bunch of sites for €30 (free admission to two museums or sites (choose from a list of 45), as well as reduced entry to extra cites, unlimited city transport and discounted entry to other exhibitions and events)
  • Book your ticket online

2.  Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

 Holy ruins! This was crazy to look at. The Roman Forum is a rectangular forum surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of the city of Rome. Many of the oldest and most important structures of the ancient city were located on or near the Forum. I was fascinated by the remaining structures. The site fell into ruin by the Romans after the Roman Empire. Palatine Hill offers a stunning view of the Forum. When I visited, no ticket was necessary to get into the forum although if you are going to the Colosseum it is included in the ticket. There wasn’t any information displayed so I was lucky enough to have my cousin with me who had already done a 
tour. Without a tour, it is hard to know the significance of what you are looking at.

Ticket Price and Times is same as the Colosseum

3. The Vatican– 20 minutes from the center of Rome is the Vatican, the world’s smallest sovereign state. You could probably spend an entire day here visiting St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Peter’s Square, Vatican Museums, and Castle Sant’Angelo. Since my cousin had already been in most of these places and the lines were forever long, we decided just to visit St. Peter’s Square and Sant’Angelo Castle (she had not been yet). Even though I didn’t go in everything, I will still give a little bit of information passed along by my cousin:
St. Peter’s Square– This is the Vatican’s central space which from above resembles a keyhole.
Closest Metro: Ottaviano-San Pietro  

St. Peter’s Basilica– This is Italy’s biggest, richest, and most spectacular church. I was bummed that I didn’t get to go inside but I was already planning on coming back to Rome with my husband so I was trying to save some things to see and do with him. You can climb the dome up to the basilica’s atrium. If you are going during a peak period, expect long lines!

Hours: 7 AM to 7 PM April-Sept, 7AM-6:30 PM Oct-March
Admission is Free!
At 11 AM on Wednesday, the Pope addresses his flock at the Vatican. Apply for free tickets here.
The Pope also blesses the crowd in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday at noon – no tickets required.

Vatican Museums– To see one of the world’s greatest art collections, visit the Vatican Museums which are located in the Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano. If you are only there for the day, you will have to pick and choose what to see since there are about 7km of exhibits. Here you can see the Sistine Chapel, home to two of the world’s most celebrated works of art – Michaelangelo’s ceiling and his Last Judgment piece.

Hours: 9AM-6PM Mon-Sat, 9AM-2PM last Sunday of month
Price: Adult €16 Child Free & Free to all on the last Sunday of the month
Book tickets in advance here
Tips: Afternoon is less crowded than the morning. Avoid Mondays, when many other museums are shut.

Castle Sant’Angelo– If you have time, visit this cylindrical tower that was converted by the popes in the 14th century from a mausoleum to a castle and fortress. 

Hours: April-September 9AM-7PM Tuesday-Sunday Closed on Mondays & Public Holidays
October-March 9AM-2PM Tuesday-Sunday Closed on Mondays & Public Holidays
Price: Adults- €8

4. Trevi Fountain- This is Rome’s largest and most famous fountain. Go there and throw a coin into the fountain which resembles that you will return to Rome someday.
Closest Metro: Barberini 

 5. Pantheon– This is another FREE attraction, although you can purchase an audio-guide for €5 if you wish. The Pantheon is a striking 2,000-year-old temple that is now a church. It is the best preserved of ancient Rome’s great monuments. The dome is considered the Romans’ greatest architectural achievement and was the largest until the 15th century.
Hours: 8:30AM-7:30PM Mon-Sat, 9AM-6PM Sun

6. Spanish Steps– I don’t really understand why, but the Spanish Steps have been a tourist attraction since the 18th century. The steps rise above Piazza di Spagna and were named after the Spanish embassy to the Holy See, although they lead to a French church. At the foot of the steps is the fountain of a sinking boat.
Closest Metro: Spagna 

7. Trastevere– This is the neighborhood in Rome where my cousin was living for the summer. It is a great location with so much to see, eat, and experience. Walk the streets and you will find ruins all over the place.

Italy, of course, is known for its food! There are GREAT Italian restaurants everywhere. Be sure to get some gelato for dessert! One of our favorite restaurants was Tony’s Hostaria del Moro in Trastevere. So many people were recommending us to this restaurant. Tony is an amazing and friendly Italian who loves taking care of his customers. This restaurant serves BIG portions too. 

What I’m about to recommend next might sound a little weird but I wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t AMAZING! Not many people think of going into an Irish Pub in Italy but we were also recommended to go to Abbey Theatre. Now, what’s going to sound weirder is that we went there for their €1 tacos (offered Tuesdays and Thursdays). Yes. Tacos. They were DELICIOUS! Living in England, I was missing some good Mexican food so this satisfied my craving. Not just once, but twice…I went there on Tuesday and Thursday. They also play live Irish music weekly. Go there if you want a break from the Italian food.

Besides getting gelato every night, stop by the  Fries shop to get delicious homemade french fries with a HUGE variety of sauces. The fries are served hot. It is only €3 for the small size and it is a big enough portion for two people (unless you’re greedy like me and can eat them all). This is also a perfect mid-day snack!

I could literally go on for hours about things to do in Rome but these were my top highlights. Knowing that I would be going back with my husband, I didn’t want to see everything on this trip. Comment below with any recommendations for my next visit!

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