Oh Rome! You showed me all your sides. Beautiful sunshine over Colosseum – pouring rain and flooding streets. Lovely Italians and amazing food – the shady streets near Termini station and cuisine that tries to be Italian. But still I fell in love with you!
Rome gave me controversial vibes since there were so many touristic things such as street artists and souvenir stalls that I thought it would be impossible to find the true local Rome. I was very focused on my trip around the main sights so that might be part of the reason. But nevertheless the beauty of Rome was captured and I want to share my tips with you!
The different areas of Rome
Choose your accommodation according to what you want to see and do in Rome. I had my base near Termini station since I thought it is a good location to get around the main sights. I found out though that many of the lovely restaurants were in Trastevere which was a long way from where I stayed. (But a good restaurant tip will come later. 😉 )
A Roman told me a good area to go find restaurants is Monti area. I don’t know if I just hit the wrong streets there but I didn’t find any good ones. One restaurant I visited had overpriced food that I guess was warmed up just before serving. But do try and let me know if you find any good ones there!
Rome center, meaning the area close to Pantheon is the best area for shopping to my mind. Basically the Spanish stairs will lead you to the shopping street. From there you can walk to also Via Nazionale for some more shops if a shopping bug bites you.
Must sees – oldies but goldies
👣 Colosseum is a must-see number one! I think a look outside and the must-take pics with Colosseum were enough for me but take a closer look inside if you want to. Combine Colosseum with the Forum Romanum if you want to take a closer look of some historical ruins. I was happy to walk outside Forum Romanum since you can also get a good view of the ruins from above.
👣 Fontana di Trevi was absolutely beautiful! I loved it so much that I had to see it twice, haha. It was close to where I stayed so it was easy to get there. I think Fontana di Trevi is as beautiful as it is in the pictures and movies.
👣 Pantheon did surprise me with how magnificient it actually was. There was also a small crowd but it was manageable! 👣 The Spanish steps on the other hand were nice but nothing too overwhelmingly amazing. Could be because of the rain but it was a nice place to see.
👣 Complesso del Vittoriano‘s halfway viewpoint next to Piazza Venezia is a well kept secret and free of charge. There weren’t that many people so I was able to take photos of the sunset in peace. If you want, by paying a bit more than 10 euros you can get all the way to the roof of the museum. Surely cool views too! 👣 Church Basilica Dell’Ara Coeli next to Complesso del Vittoriano was actually the most beautiful church I saw during my trip. Highly recommend to walk all of the hundredish stairs up. The view from top of the stairs is beautiful!
👣 What impressed me the most was the Dome of St. Peter’s Basilica! You can skip any other sight but not this one, believe me. The view from the dome is absolutely stunning. It was so worth the one hour wait and the 1000 stairs. Go to the Vatican City early and prepare to wait! If you want to see the museum side as well, reserve one day for it.
Extra warning/good-to-know: There are a lot of people trying to sell you selfie sticks and all sort of small things that you can or can’t even imagine. I hate when they start pushing the sticks to my face and I got irritated few times. The warning is that especially at the Colosseum there are people giving away wristbands for free. As you know nothing in this world is free so as far as I understood, you will get the wristband first for free but then later some guy comes and asks you for money for having it.
👣 I found an awesome local market behind Forum Romanum (the opposite side of the walking street). It’s an indoor market that takes place on weekends. They sell all sort of food items in this market. The products vary from wines to bread and cheese and proper food plates. I think they have a very lovely idea there: go and grab a bottle of wine, maybe some cheese, ham and bread and take them to the courtyard to enjoy them there. It was such a cute terrace with tables and Italians enjoying the first days of spring. If you are in Rome on Sunday, I highly recommend taking a break at this market!
👣 I usually don’t have the best ever restaurant tips to give but now I do! The restaurant you should visit in Rome is Rifugio Romano near Termini. Reserve a table or be ready to queue. This vegan restaurant (also other types of food and meat available) is busy and with a good reason. The food is traditional Italian and so delicious! The price is very reasonable, a pizza for under 10 euros. The service was super friendly even if there was a bit of language barrier with one of the waiters. The restaurant is a family business which made the atmosphere authentic and warm. Loved it!
In Rome all in all the food quality varies a lot. Just try to hit the sidestreets and walk away from the main sights in order to look for proper Italian dishes!
Gelato! Gelato! Gelato!
👣 The gelateria for ice cream lovers is called Giolitti. Within a short walking distance from Pantheon this lovely café-gelateria is a perfect choice for any ice cream lover. They make their own ice cream in the kitchen the flavours are really pure and authentic. Chocolate actually tastes like chocolate there! Yum yum! Rome if full of gelaterias and every ice cream I had were delicious. What I like about Giolitti is that it’s authentic, the ice cream is well flavoured and hand-made.
In Rome in general take comfy shoes, I know you girls crave for beautiful high-heels but since the roads are rocky and hard and you will walk A LOT and to do that you need a proper pair of shoes.
And please do go wandering! When you have seen the must-sees, take a sidepath to somewhere. It is lovely to find beautiful side streets and cool buildings. Remember always to take a look on the around the corners and behind you. It was unbelievable how many beautiful buildings there are in Rome. I would have missed a couple of ones if I hadn’t spin my head.
Be prepared for some queuing if you want to see the main sights and especially the Vatican city. If you haven’t seen all the must-sees I do recommend to check them out! Otherwise beauty is everywhere in Rome and I was really amazed how they can have such beautiful architecture in almost every building. I didn’t have that much time to explore outside the central area but I always courage to venture a bit off the beaten path and find some real local vibes.
With love from Rome!