First time trip to Rome, Italy. Short but intense citytrip
In the winter of 2014 I had some spare vacation days left and I wanted to go somewhere I haven’t been before and preferably cheap. Seeing how it was winter, I wanted to go somewhere to escape the cold and soak up some sun but sadly I’m a cheap bastard and I didn’t have enough days to go somewhere far so I decided to go visit Rome and my friend Melissa. I only had about 4 days for this weekend get-away and about 2 full days to explore Rome and let me tell you, it was exhausting trying to go all over the place to visit the major sights. At one point I could really feel my feet dying and I considered chopping them off from walking so much. Well, it probably didn’t help that I wasn’t really wearing the most fitting shoes to walk around. Anyways, I left on friday straight from work and arrived late at night at my AirBnb place. It was about 11pm at the time and I didn’t feel like I wanted to go to bed immediately so I decided to take a quick stroll around the area. Eventually I walked for about 2-3 hours all the way to the colosseum and back. It was close to Christmas, so there was a huge X-mas tree set up right in front of it. Eventhough it was late and cold, there were quite some people on the street. The next day I started my race against time to view some of the major sights. I started with Vatican city and St. Peter’s Basilica. The queue was pretty long, but I think it wasn’t too bad for something this amazing. It was well worth the wait though when you see the inside of the basilica. Worlds largest basilica isn’t just a name. You feel so small when you’re lookup to the ceiling and admiring the paintings and sculptures inside, even if you’re there with about 200-300 people. Oh and tons of Chinese tourists of course, rather annoying and loud! Anyway, I eventually made it up to the top to enjoy the magnificent view over Vatican City. By the time I got down I still wanted to visit the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum, but it was nearing closing time already so I just sat back and got some food and gelato instead. Not a bad alternative. At night I walked back towards Piazza Navona while passing by Castel Sant’Angelo and St. Angelo Bridge. The night views here were pretty cool as well, nice place to just sit back and relax and do some people watching. Afterwards I met up with Melissa for dinner and walked around some more Piazza Venezia and even visited the infamous Trevi fountain. But just as it happens, the whole fountain was closed for renovation and just a small pond of water was left with a picture of the fountain itself. Talk about an anti-climax… I still threw some money in the pond and made a wish though. Melissa took me to a typical small pictoresque restaurant in the center and it was pretty cozy and seeing the people out till late. Felt nice to be surrounded by real Italians and soak in the vibe. The next day I tried my best to check some more things off my list and decided to start with the Colosseo. The queue here was definately much worse than the one at Vatican city. I couldn’t even see the beginning of the queue and I wasn’t even inside the building yet. After queuing for about 20 mins I started looking up some info on my phone to see if there was a quicker way. And THERE WAS! Pro-tip! You can buy a combi-ticket for the Colosseo and Foro Romano and Palatine at the entrance of Palatine. The queue here is much shorter than the one at the Colosseo and you can get a pretty nice view from the Colosseo from the park itself. I spent about 20-30 minutes here before heading to the main attraction. I took the quick road and walked past all the people standing in line and DAMN that line was long as hell. It made a few twists and turns and I think I would’ve had to queue for about 2 hours before I got in. So glad I went prepared. The Colosseum itself was pretty decent. Nothing new or major, was impressive to see how big the arena was, but other than that, it’ wouldn’t be worth the 2hour wait. Next up was the Pantheon! On my way there I walked past the Piazza Venezia again and I had to go check out the Altar of the Fatherland building. It looked so impressive from the outside. The inside was ok, I guess, but it was just more… wow from the outside. The Pantheon was supercrowded with tourists and people talking in a small space. It’s supposed to be a church/tomb but it was way too noisy to be a church. The people there had to tell the crowd to shut up so many times. People just kept talking and being totally oblivious. At night I met up with Melissa again and she took me to a view point near Circus Maximus. There was a church up there where you could look through a keyhole and you could see a row of bushes on either side with a splended view at the end. Called: Knights of Malta Keyhole. We visited some more churches at the top of the hill and made our way to another view point which I don’t remember the name of anymore. All in all it was an intens short trip and I got to see a lot of the touristic sights. Next time I visit I’m gonna take more time to explore the less visited areas and soak in more of the Italian culture and lifestyle. Some of the tourist sights are a must but there’s a lot you can skip as well. If you do plan to visit I think you should take about 5 days to explore the city at your own pace. There’s a lot of things I would’ve wanted to explore some more and at a slower pace. Definately recommend it!