Long Live the ‘Eternal City’: Rome in two weeks

Once the seat of a powerful and legendary empire, Rome has become a popular destination for most travelers, especially history lovers. Each year, tourists flock to the Eternal City to “live as the Romans do.” Italy’s capital is truly remarkable due to its historical and cultural importance to Italy. With over 2,000 years of history, travelers can venture around Rome, and never get tired of this city. At one point in time, Rome was the center of the Roman Empire. Like Florence, Rome’s turbulent political history is plagued with invasions, assassinations and social unrest. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Rome had fallen under the religious rule, naming the Pope ruler over Italy. Today, Rome is dubbed a city revered for its globalization. People from around the world come to Italy every year to witness Rome’s historical wonders. Rome is city that continues to live on throughout history. No wonder it is dubbed the Eternal City!

Where to Stay

Grand Hotel Palatino

The Grand Hotel Palatino was one of the best hotels I stayed in during my trip. When you decide on a hotel, you want to be able to have easy access to the amenities and attractions within the city you are staying. My favorite part about the hotel was the rooms I stayed in. During my first week in room, I stayed in a room that had the best view, in my opinion. The large, spacious rooms give the hotel stay a homey feel. Best of all, the historical ruins, such as The Colosseum, were walking distance from the hotel. Prices may vary; I’ve seen rooms priced at 160 euros per night but others may have better luck with finding lower prices. I found my stay here enjoyable and would recommend anyone to stay here!

Via Cavour, 213M, 00184 Roma, Italy

Trastevere

While in Rome, I had the opportunity to visit Trastevere, a small, beautiful community popular amongst college students, and I LOVED it! The small community has its own rich history and culture that sets it apart from other parts of Rome. You will have the opportunity to see a different side of Rome, which is a little less touristy. For those looking to live like a local, Trastevere is the place to stay!

Where to Eat

Cajo e Gajo

Cajo e Gajo is a ristorante for travelers looking to have a good time while eating great food. I was a few days late to my trip, so my friends decided to take me to Cajo e Gajo when we got back to Rome after a few days in Florence. I loved the atmosphere and the people. The staff was friendly, and I ate the best lasagna I have ever had, in my ENTIRE LIFE! Well, that may be a slight exaggeration but I really loved the ristorante. Prices aren’t too bad; I paid 8 euros for a good portion of food. The menu isn’t too pricey, so its affordable. If you’re in Trastevere, you should stop by and have a bite to eat!

Piazza San Callisto, 10, 00153 Roma, Italy

Scholars Irish Pub

Personally, I had a great time at Scholars, even though I am not a drinker. I liked how friendly the bartenders were, and they were familiar with American college students, especially UD students! Every Wednesday night, like around midnight, there is a karaoke night, which is a lot of fun. However, it does get crowded so be mindful, and keep a close eye on your belongings. If you are into the pub scene, Scholars is the best place to grab a drink and meet new friends! Prices aren’t too bad; I spent about 15 euros, which included drinks and a meal!

Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma, Italy

What to Do

The Pantheon

As a former Roman temple, the Pantheon is used as church today, with thousands of visitors visiting each year. The earliest temple, commissioned by Marcus Agrippa, was built during the reign of Augustus. However, the current temple was completed by Hadrian, between 118-128 AD. My friends and I had been looking for a place to eat when we came across the Pantheon. We decided to walk through this remarkable well-persevered ancient structure to glimpse Rome’s historic past. I loved seeing the Pantheon in person, which made me appreciate learning about it in history throughout high school and college. Please…go check it out! Also, this attraction is free!

Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma, Italy

The Colosseum

The Colosseum, or Flavian Amphitheatre, is one of the largest amphitheaters ever built. It is in the center of Rome, and it is a couple of minutes from the hotel I stayed at during study abroad. Beginning during the reign of Vespasian, emperor of Rome at the time, in 72 AD, the Colosseum was completed during the reign of Vespasian’s successor, Titus. This ancient Amphitheatre was used for gladiator contests and public spectacles, such as theatrical dramas. Seeing the Colosseum made me think about the movie, The Gladiator, which starred Russell Crowe. It was surreal to see it in person. Prior to my visit to Rome, I had only seen the Colosseum in movies and tv shows. So, this was an exciting visit for me. I would highly recommend taking the time to explore the Colosseum. It is a truly remarkable historical structure that I’m glad I had the opportunity to see in person. The cost of admissions for adult tickets is 12.50 euros; this price includes entrance to the Roman Forum. There is also a reduced admission cost of 7.50 euros.

Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma, Italy

The Roman Forum

Surrounded by the ruins of ancient government buildings, the Roman Forum is a sight to see. It is positioned in the center of the city, and served multiple purposes in the Roman Empire. Romans used the Forum as a marketplace at one point before it was converted for public and political use. Again, I couldn’t say how much the history books don’t do this magnificent place justice! The Roman Forum is worth a visit for those interested in learning the roots of public and political life in the Roman Empire. See above for ticket prices!

Via della Salara Vecchia, 5/6, 00186 Roma, Italy

Vatican City

Fans of the Da Vinci Code will appreciate Vatican City more after a visit to the small city-state. Surrounded by the city of Rome, the walled enclave functions on its own, separate from the Italian government. It is home to the Roman Catholic Church, and the Pope. During my visit, I saw the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica, religious and cultural sites painted and/or designed by Michelangelo. St. Peter’s Basilica was my favorite part of Vatican City because of its magnificent and regal beauty. The Sistine Chapel was beautiful, especially Michelangelo’s fresco. Cost of admissions varies; if you go without a tour guide, prices range between 12 and 15 euros. But, if you go with a tour guide or company, prices can range between 40 and 100 euros, depending on the guide or company. But, I would recommend a visit to Vatican City!

San Sebastian Catacombs

San Sebastian Catacombs was one of those excursions I didn’t think I would enjoy. But, I ended up really liking the visit, though I was a bit nervous about in the beginning. An underground cemetery dating back to Late Antiquity, San Sebastian Catacombs is one of a few Christian burial places that have been accessible throughout history. The Romans weren’t allowed to bury their dead within the city limits, unless you were the emperor or Pope. So, they built catacombs on the outskirts of Rome, and began burying their dead there. Interestingly, Christians weren’t the only people to bury their dead underground. A section of the catacombs had been reserved for Jewish burials.  There is a tour lasting about 30 minutes, and the cost of admissions is 8 euros. This isn’t an attraction for everyone; however, I would recommend the catacombs to people interested in the history of burial practices in Rome.

Via Appia Antica, 136, 00179 Roma, Italy

Trevi Fountain

Designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi, Trevi Fountain is in the Trevi district of Rome. It is one of the most famous fountains in the world, and I can see why. Its Baroque style leaves visitors amazed, and continues to be visited by thousands every year. I fell in love with Italy after seeing Trevi Fountain in The Lizzie McGuire Movie, one of the best movies of my childhood. There is a saying that if you throw a coin into the fountain, you will come back to the city (or, something to that effect.)! This is also a free attraction so there is no excuse not to go and throw a coin in the fountain. A visit to Trevi Fountain will be the highlight of your Roman adventure!

Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma, Italy

Transportation

Airport

Rome has two airports: Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino and Ciampino-G.B. Pastine International. Each airport has both domestic and international flights. Both are about 30 minutes away from Termini Station in Rome’s city center. Check airline websites for flights in/out of the two airports.

Shuttle Bus

For shuttle buses to Termini Station, ticket prices range between 4 to 6 euros, depending on one-way or round-trip. If traveling from the airport, travelers can purchase tickets at the ticket booths near the bus station. If traveling from Termini, travelers purchase their tickets directly on the bus.

Taxi/Uber

Personally, I did not use any taxi/Uber services while in Rome. I took a shuttle bus to and from the airport because it was way cheaper than a taxi or Uber. My friends spent 48 euros to the hotel, and that is the flat fee. Uber is priced at 60 euros, which is more expensive than a taxi. But, taxi and Uber services are much faster than taking the train or shuttle bus. Personal discretion is advised.

Trains

If you are not interested in taking a 45-minute bus ride to Rome Termini, although it is cheaper, or an Uber/Taxi, which is more expensive and gets a little sketchy, you have the option of taking the train, and its faster than the shuttle bus. Train tickets usually cost between 12 to 14 euros, but it varies depending on the company you decide to use.

Walk

Walking in Rome is the best because everything is accessible. Whether you are staying at the Grand Hotel Palatino, a hotel at the center of everything, or at a small apartment in Trastevere, you will be able to access any of the major historical and cultural sites from anywhere just by walking. Best part is that this is free!

Photos Courtesy of Kayla Baptiste

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