Right off the bat, I can tell you that four days in Rome is not enough. Though when I start to really think about it, I don’t believe any amount of time is enough in this completely captivating, romantic and beautiful historic city. Rome had always been on my bucket list. I love pizza. I love pasta and I am a sucker for playing the tourist and city sightseeing. Therefore, Rome with all its grand historical ruins, beautiful architecture and fantastic choice of carbohydrates, had always appealed to me.
I spent my four days in Rome with my best friend Charlotte. Like me, she is always up for almost anything. She is reliable in the sense that when you plan to do something or go somewhere, even if it is totally mad, she will follow through. It is why, amongst many other wonderful reasons, we have grown so close. That being said, drama tends to follow Charlotte and I, and our adventures always end up being ridiculously funny with small episodes of mild panic. To give you just a brief example of this, I will explain how the first 2 and a half hours of our trip developed into said episode of mild (more like severe) panic.
For reasons I will not go into as my best friend trusts me not to divulge her secrets to the huge and wonderful World Wide Web, we were already running late…
Hiccup No.1: After attempting on numerous occasions to get into her already packed but locked suitcase with a code she thought was correct, Char came to the conclusion that she had locked herself out. In response to this news, we spent the next 15 minutes attempting to break the lock with a hammer. When this surprisingly didn’t work (recognise the hint of sarcasm in my voice there), I asked her for the code to try one last time and lo and behold the lock springs open. We are that stupid folks.
Hiccup No 2: Being the techy millennials that we are, we thought having our boarding passes ready on our phone would guarantee a stress-free airport experience. We were wrong. Long story cut short, we found ourselves running around the airport like headless chickens trying to find EasyJet customer services because the app was going mental telling us our flight had already departed.
Hiccup No.3: With only 10 minutes or so until our gate closed for boarding, we hurled our cases onto the moving belt and separated our see-through plastic bags filled with liquids. When we finally made it through to the other side of the body scanner, I found, to my horror, that my case had been moved to an alternative section to be searched. It was also at the end of a queue 10 cases long. I remember thinking at that exact point, this is it, I am not going to make it. Charlotte had already gone to the gate to try and hold it for me, but I really couldn’t see that happening. The security woman , you see, was searching through the bags so terribly slow, taking every item out of the case one at a time before oh so carefully putting everything back in again.
I knew there was only one thing I could do, and I hated the thought of having to be THAT person but what could I have done? So I turned and said, ‘Excuse me everyone, I know you are all waiting to get your bags searched and I hate to be this person, but would you mind terribly if the lady searched my case next? I am just about to miss my flight” (I then gave them the saddest look I could muster).”My case is the blue one at the back over there” and I pointed out my lonely case at the end to the woman who was only just passing her first searched case back to its owner. Luckily for me, they all begrudgingly nodded the ok and I remember turning puce with embarrassment as the security woman shaked her head in disapproval and went to get my bag.
Do you know what the most ridiculous thing was though? My case was selected randomly for a liquids test. It didn’t even have anything they thought was suspicious inside! I nearly missed my once in a lifetime holiday to Rome because of a RANDOM LIQUIDS TEST! After they quickly tested my Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, I was away and running my little arse off to a gate which lo and behold was the other side of the fucking airport!
As you can probably assume, I did get to Rome okay despite everything and I apologise as I got a little side tracked there. Now, let’s talk about Rome…
Me and Charlotte stayed just outside the centre of Rome due to us grabbing a fantastic EasyJet sale deal (we got return flights from Bristol, four nights stay in a 4-star hotel and breakfast for just £180). We were based at the hotel Raganelli located on Via Aurelia which is a Roman road built in Italy 241 BC. The hotel itself was very pleasant with a chic bar and a rooftop terrace where you could sit with a glass of red and watch the sun go down. Our room was very comfortable with great air conditioning, a good bed that was somewhat firm but ok, and a powerful shower which for me is a make or breaker. The breakfast was magnificent. Who knew meat and cheese would go down so nicely first thing in the morning? Consisting of a range of meats, cheeses, yoghurts, granolas and sweet pastries, there was always something to fill every appetite. They also had San Pellegrino on tap which is, for me, a whole other level of awesome.
The only minor thing that was a bit of a nuisance was the journey from our hotel to the centre. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of buses and underground trains you can jump on; however, having to pencil in another 30 minutes travel time each way can become tiresome. In addition to this, the buses in Rome aren’t just busy, they are packed. So packed in fact, that on one occasion the doors couldn’t even open to let people on or off. You just have to hop on with a positive mental attitude and look to embrace Rome’s culture in all its forms.
The Historic Centre
If you can, try and stay in the Historic Centre or just outside. It will cost you a few extra pennies, but it will be worth it because it is just so beautiful. Me and Charlotte knew what we wanted to see and where we wished to go but take a few hours of your day to just walk wherever your feet decide to take you. Every single little cobbled lane, corner and square is rich in history and so enchanting it really does take your breath away.
It was on one of our random walks through the centre that Charlotte and I happened to come across some live music. We were compelled to stop as it was so lovely to take a minute and listen with the late afternoon sun beaming down on the square and people mulling around enjoying glasses of wine. The magic of the moment was personified by a couple spotted dancing on their balcony with the magnificent Pantheon just over to the right of them.
What to do and see in the Historical Centre:
Sit in the shade of the Pantheon’s columns with an Italian Gelato cone
Make a wish by throwing a coin into the Trevi Fountain
Join the locals by the Fontana della Barcaccia and fill up your water bottle
Climb the Spanish Steps found in the Piazza di Spagna
Visit the most internationally known symbol of Rome, the Colosseum
Take a stroll through the Roman Forum
Take a break for an aperitivo at one of the many restaurants in the oval Piazza Navona
Be mesmerized through art by Caravaggio in one of Rome’s many churches including San Luigi dei Francesi found in the Piazza Navona
Get spooked and visit the Capuchin Crypt
Marvel at the grand architecture of St. Peter’s Basilica
Without a doubt, I will be returning to Rome soon. Me and Charlotte just about made it to the Vatican City in the early morning of our last day. We climbed up what seemed to be over 1 million steps to get there; however, we couldn’t pay our respects at the Sistine Chapel due to long queues and a need to get back to the Airport for our flight home.
Food and Drink
When you go to Rome, be prepared to come back a few, if not more, pounds heavier. There is no point in going to Rome if you are on a diet as you will crumble at the sight and smell of freshly cooked pasta and pizza. The trick to not spending an absolute bomb in Rome’s centre is to avoid eating at the centre’s main attractions. Find yourself hungry while gazing at the beauty of the Trevi Fountain? Take a few minutes to walk away from its hustle and bustle. Find a non-descript cobbled lane slightly out of the way and hey presto! You have a beautiful meal that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
The only time me and Charlotte stopped and had a bite to eat regardless of the price was outside the Colosseum. After walking round the fantastic historical site in 35-degree heat, we were parched and gazed longingly at La Biga’s fan spraying its guests with a light film of cold water. I do not regret stopping here as the setting was just unbelievable. Though the prices were high, and the service was just average, being able to sit down with an ice cold Peroni and Rome’s famous Melon and Prosciutto with the Colosseum right in front of you, was just the perfect end to an incredible visit.
Another great spot to visit while in Rome, especially for food and drink, is Trastevere. In the late afternoon and evening this traditional Italian neighbourhood becomes alive with live music and lovely people. Trastevere is not very big so you can stroll its very small cobbled lanes in one evening, occasionally stopping to eat or drink at one of its many lovely bars and restaurants. This part of Rome just south of the Vatican City offers an environment that is slightly less touristy and more affordable, and is the perfect way to spend an evening in Rome.
Of course there are so many things to see and do in Rome and to be totally honest, I feel we barely touched the surface. In a way though, I am almost relieved that we didn’t as it gives me the perfect excuse to return and experience the magic of the place all over again. My holiday spending money came to a total of £300 which I believe to be a fair amount. Eating pizza and pasta is relatively cheap as long as you make the effort to take a walk away from the tourist traps. Drink wine- it is ridiculously good and often cheap if you’re going to the right place. There is one tip I have for you guys and that is not to go to Rome in July when it is as hot as 35-degrees. As much as I loved my weekend, the heat was often unbearable and walking around a city in such temperatures resulted in a hell of a lot of sweat. The only other tip I have is to remember to take a deep breath every once and a while. Find somewhere to just sit back and take in the amazing surroundings. People watch like there is no tomorrow and walk to wherever your feet fancy taking you because there really is no place quite like Rome.