Rome, Italy

September 2011

My super smart childhood friend who lives in Israel is coming to Italy. For us, its a perfect time to meet up half way across the world. Despite the fact that I lived in Italy for 5 years I never managed to visit Rome.

This is a great opportunity and requires a bit of planning so that we can experience Rome in 2 days before we head off to Sardenia.

Flights from UK to Rome (Leonardo da Vinci airport)

It’s easy to get an affordable flight to Rome from UK. One thing, none of the flights go from Luton which is a big minus for me as i live close by. However, you can get a flight with any of the budget airlines or Alitlaia or British Airways that actually have leg room for the same price.

Spent so far: Alitalia to Rome and back to the airport of my choice and time of my preference… and hopefully leg room  – £105. with all the taxes and fees. And 1 bag to check in included. And points on my Miles and More card come handy too.

Hotels. Places to stay.

As a seasoned traveler who is fluent in Italian I am not interested in an all-inclusive hotel. What I want is a typical Roman apartment somewhere central.

After hours of search, comparisons and decision making we finally decided on the Navona apartment –  https://secure.venere.com/cgi/reservation/index.php/
It seems to have really good reviews, nice pics(which are just pics of course) and a good location too.

Price for 4 nights for 2 of us is €600. This is usually more than i would like to pay but i really wanted to avoid the city travel costs, so we will see how this pans out. At the end the place was really worth it. It was smack in the historical centre of Rome – just off Piazza Navona. Easy to walk or cheap by taxi to all the places that we plan to see. The apartment has a suspended second level with a large bed as well as downstairs area with 2 couches. It has a kitchen and a fridge. Breakfast is also served. Wifi is included. I would definitely stay here again. There is also a lovely restaurant that is visible through the window on the picture below. Due to the fact that its slightly off the main tourist  routes the food is priced for locals and they serve typical Italian dishes.

Downstairs window

Stairs to the suspended second level

Here are some more pics of the apartment.

Transportation

If I were on my own I would have rented a scooter but my friend does not drive. Renting a car and driving in Rome is just madness. You are way better off to take taxis or some form of public transport. We opted out for taxis and walking.

From the Airport: make sure you don’t get fooled by the taxi drivers. It is important when traveling from any airport to inquire about the regular costs for the taxi before hand. Once you are in the airport you should ask the taxi driver for the cost estimate and see if it matches the quote you had in mind.

At Leonardo da Vinci I was planning to take a bus to Rome. It only costs about €6 one way. My flight was late and i landed well past midnight. This is why I decided to get a taxi. I got a quote of €50 from a taxi driver. After that I went to the window of one of the taxi agencies at the airport and they offered me a half price if I were to share it with another passenger. This was fine with me. They also provide you with a discount coupon for their taxi service if you chose it on your way back.

Places you must see

We wanted to see the Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel as our main goal. That is why we put it as the first destinations for our first day in Rome. Taxi to Vatican City from the apartment cost us €6. Don’t be alarmed when you see an enormous line of people waiting to get in. It took us less than 15 min to get to the entrance. You have to wear an outfit that is suitable for the Vatican City otherwise you will not be allowed in. My friend had a dress that was deemed too exposed since her arms were not covered. We had to leave the line and go to one of the tourist stands to buy her a shawl to cover up. Then we waited another 15 min in line.

Vatican City

Plan to spend several hours at the Vatican. It is worth it. A lot of things require a payment once you are inside. One tip – since Vatican City is an independent entity it has its own post office. Do get a few postcards and send it with Vatican post to your friends and yourself. It will carry a special stamp on it and would make a great memorabilia.

After we left Vatican City we did not have enough time to visit the Sistine Chapel. We have seen the longest lines of people to get in there. When we saw an offering from one of the travel agencies nearby that offered tickets to see Sistine Chapel and a “jump on – jump off” bus tour of Rome we decided it could be a good idea.

We paid about €25 each for a ticket that included priority entrance to the Vatican Museum (where among other amazing art the Sistine Chapel is located) and it also included an open roof bus that drives you around all the famous places in Rome.

Vatican Museum

Next day as we reached the Vatican Museum entrance it proved to be an excellent idea – getting a priority entrance. At 8 in the morning the line was so long that I would not have stayed in it. The Sistine Chapel is the last stop in the museum. It is breathtaking. It is required to be silent there. Photography is not allowed that is why there is no photos here. To tell you the truth you simply stand in awe and take it all in. No photo could replicate the experience. I pretty much abandoned the photography as we kept going through the Vatican Museum as it was overwhelming.

The Rainassanse Art

The Thinker – Rodin

Modern Art

The clock in the Vatican Museum garden

I could have spent an entire day at the Vatican Museum. It has so much history and art. Ranging from the Ancient Roman Art  to Rainassanse to Modern and even controvercial works I did not expect to see after all the boo haa about covering your naked shoulders at the Vatican City. We had an overpriced lunch at the Vatican Gardens and headed out to catch s tourist bus.

More must see

The bus departs from multiple locations every 15 minutes. This way you can get off the bus at the place of interest to explore it before you catch a next bus.

Here are the places we explored on our tour. We did not have the energy for all of them. Below are the must see ones.

The Colliseum

The Pantheon

The Trevi Fountain (don’t forget to throw a coin in!)

The Catacombs

Piazza della Republica

The Spanish Steps

Punto del St Angelo – The bridge of the Saint Angelo

Piazza Navona

 

 

Out and about on our own

You should never underestimate the beauty of the walks around Rome. When night comes and the light are on the heat finally becomes bearable enough for it.

Here are some things we saw and loved.

Another tip – look for restaurants that are off the main tourist routes. This is where you get the real quality at good prices.

There is at least a couple of places I wish I had time to go to. They are Pompeo and the coast line of Rome. I am sure there are more but we are out of time.

Next stop – Alghero in Sardenia.


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