Ahh, Rome. The Eternal City. I had a feeling that I’d be blown away by the beauty of Rome, and it sure didn’t disappoint. Rome was the next stop of our European backpacking trip after leaving London.
Brianna and I spent three nights in Rome and although we were able to see and do a lot, it wasn’t enough. There is so much in Rome, between the plazas, architecture and fountains. It seemed that there was something new to explore around every corner.
Where We Stayed
We checked into our hostel, The Yellow, where we stayed in a 6-person female dorm. I loved its vibe and it even had a fun party scene. Brianna and I were focused on seeing the city of Rome since we only had a few nights there, so we didn’t end up going to the club and thankfully, the room we were staying in was very quiet. Here are some quick notes about my experience there:
- AC (that’s all that matters, am I right?)
- Free pasta dinner every night
- Bar/restaurant/club across the street
- Activities and tours you could book through the hostel
- Makeup area outside our room
- Option of female dorm rooms
- Only 3 bathrooms for 12+ girls
What We Did
Colosseum and Roman Forum/Palatine Hill
When we arrived to the Colosseum around 9:30am, it was packed. We were approached by someone about a tour and although we were extremely skeptical, we could see the group tour starting off to the side. It looked legit, so we paid the money and joined it!
The tour was through Fun Tour. It allowed us to skip the line and not only have a guided tour of the Colosseum, but also the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. With it being 105, we saved ourselves well over an hour of standing in the August heat.
Brianna and I had a great experience with this tour and I’d highly recommend it. The tour went into so much detail of the history behind these three ruins and much of what I had forgotten from high school history class. It seemed that there were tours every hour and because of that, we were able to stay behind to take photos at the Colosseum and take our time walking through it all before waiting for the other tour to start (one guide covers the Colosseum and the other will cover Roman Forum and Palatine Hill).
St. Peter’s Basilica
Brianna and I anticipated the long lines at St. Peter’s Basilica. Even when we got there around 9:30am to try to beat the rush, the line almost wrapped all the way around. Thankfully, it moved fairly quickly, but I can’t imagine standing in that line for hours of the afternoon in the sun.
The inside of St. Peter’s was unlike anything I’d imagined. It was much larger than I expected and I was taken aback by its grandeur. Not that I figured that it wouldn’t be impressive on the inside, but rather it felt like the most decorated place on earth. I decided not to take photos of the inside because I wanted to just be present.
If you’re planning to go, remember to wear clothing that covers your knees and bare shoulders. You will be turned away if you don’t meet these dress requirements. We puchased our tickets when we got there and it was an easy process.
The Vatican and Sistine Chapel
It’s sad to admit that because I’m writing this blog post 10 months after my trip, I barely remember anything I saw I at the Vatican besides the Sistine Chapel. Even so, by this point in the backpacking trip, it felt like we had been through countless museums. Not to mention that the Louvre had such an amazing collection of Roman artifacts that by the time I got to the Vatican, I felt like I’d already seen the best of it.
However, the one thing that I do remember was the lack of AC. It was August and 105 degrees when I was there, so keep that in mind if and when you go. Brianna and I weren’t planning on spending money for lunch there, but I was so fatigued and straight up hangry that we had no choice.
The Sistine Chapel was unlike anything I’d seen and you really need some time to take it all in. I’m not a very religious person, but it was extraordinary. The security strongly monitors cell phones and you can get in trouble for taking photos. Even so, you’ll notice people sneaking a photo or two within the crowd. It’s fairly entertaining to people watch here.
Our second and third night in Rome, we did a lot of exploring at night and it was amazing. Exhausting, but amazing. We walked to the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain (cue the scene from The Lizzie McGuire Movie), Pantheon, Altare della Patria, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps (it’s worth a walk to the top).
On our second night at our hostel, we met a solo traveler from Brazil, Juliana, and we adventured around Rome together! That was one of my favorite things about staying in hostels – meeting people from all over the world.
We met a couple nice guys from Florida on our third day and adventured around with them that night only using a hand-help map from our hostel. It was fun to take a break from technology and do things the old fashioned way…until we got lost trying to get back, haha.
Where We Ate
Free pasta dinner from The Yellow
Since we were on a budget, this was a great added bonus to our hostel. The pasta dish was simple, but nonetheless it filled me up. Anddd it was free, so I can’t complain.
Gelateria La Romana
Just a short walk from our hostel, we found the most amazing gelato place, Gelateria La Romana. Brianna and I tried a few other gelato places in Rome, but this was by far the best. Not only did they have a great selection of flavors to choose from, but they also had sauce and whipped cream toppings you could add for no extra cost. It was amazinggg.
The inside was super cute as well. The women who were working were very friendly and helped us with our order.
We went back a second time, and on my next visit to Rome, I will go out of my way to go here.
Pizzeria Imperiale was the perfect place to go to after the Roman Forum tour. We were starving and the pizza did not disappoint. Brianna and I both devoured full sized pizzas and then we were back to normal.
I wish that we had the chance to see everything during the day that we only saw at night, but hey, I guess that means I need to go back. Next time, I’ll give myself at least five days.
Have you been to Rome? What was your favorite aspect of the city?
Author: Lauren Taylar
Lauren Taylar is a digital marketer and blogger. She is a graduate of the State University of New York at Oswego, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations. When she’s not volunteering her time with Make-A-Wish, you can find her reading a travel magazine and sipping a glass of hard cider or wine.