We took a bus from Florence and arrived in Rome in the evening. The bus was almost two hours late so the only thing we really had time for was dinner.
My first meal in Rome was probably my favourite meal in Italy. It was this lightly sauced, perfectly salty pasta with pork and cheese. Our Airbnb was in a bit of a residential area so the restaurant we went to seemed local which explains why it was so good.
The next day was Good Friday so we visited Vatican City. Partly because it was around Easter time and partly because Vatican City is always packed, we woke up at 6am to avoid crowds. We also purchased combined audio guide and skip-the-line tickets for St. Peter’s Basilica. Otherwise, St. Peter’s Basilica is normally free and the Vatican Museum, which includes the Sistine Chapel, is the attraction with admission.
We spent almost four hours touring both the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica and the dome area. Normally, I can’t spend more than an hour in a church, but this basilica was different. Aside from being the largest basilica in the world, it is also very beautiful on the inside. The detailing and paintings on the walls and ceilings, as well as the many sculptures on the sides were awe-inspiring. It was all incredibly grand. Close to the altar, I saw parents bringing their babies for baptisms – imagine getting baptised in the Basilica, absolutely unreal. The church was also quite crowded, but surprisingly it is not the most visited church in the world. In fact, churches such as Notre Dame in Paris and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City beat out St. Peter’s Basilica.
We paid admission to visit the dome of the cathedral, which provided us with a bird’s-eye view of the front of the church.
The dome of the basilica consisted of images composed of tiny mosaics. The image designs were intricate and very impressive.
Stepping out of the dome, there was a rooftop for visitors to explore. The rooftop had many domes, as well as a small gift shop and restaurant.
It was awesome to visit a country inside a city inside a country – Vatican City. Our visit was timed really well because that Friday was actually the last day before the basilica and musems would close for Easter.
For our second day in Rome, we checked out all of the iconic sites of Rome. Of course, our first stop was the Trevi Fountain where we each threw in several coins:
- 1 coin = you will return to Rome
- 2 coins = you will find a new romance
- 3 coins = you will get married
I threw in five coins so I’m not sure what that means, but I’m hoping I can at least go back to Rome in the near future.
While my friends visited the Colosseum and Roman Forum, I checked out the Villa Borghese gardens. For five euros, I rented a bike for an hour and explored the public property. It was actually my first time on a bike in almost three years so I was a little anxious. Anytime a road went downhill, I would walk with the bike…people probably thought I was weird, but hey, at least I tried riding.
I ate my lunch in the gardens as well, purchasing a cheap panini and eating it in the grass. The panini was delicious and the park was so peaceful. It was a great way to escape from the overcrowded, tourist-packed chaos of the city. The garden was my favourite place in Rome.
The entrance of the Villa Borghese Gardens provided a panoramic view of Rome. I could see everything from Vatican City to the Altar of the Fatherland.
I also walked towards the Colosseum and explored its exterior. While I appreciate the many attractions in Rome, it felt like the city was one giant amusement parks and I was constantly running to the different rides (attractions).
I checked out the Roman Forum from the outside as well. Its truly incredible how much Rome has been able to preserve. Because of the many ruin sites, Rome’s public transportation system consists of a combination of subways and trams because a lot of the land cannot be dug out to create underground tunnels. I had no idea how to use the tram system so I ended up walking everywhere which turned out to be the best way to explore the city.
We also explored the Spanish steps during the day. The steps themselves are very pretty looking with an interesting shape and flowers running along the middle of the staircase. Unfortunately, the steps were very crowded so it was hard to get a good picture. I noticed a lot of European football teams taking their team photos at the steps.
For my final morning in Rome, we headed to a café by our Airbnb for breakfast. In Spain, I normally order a café con leche (coffee with milk), but in Italy, it’s harder to order a coffee with milk. You must either get a latte or an espresso shot. The pastries from the café were delicious…I especially liked the bun with the yellow topping. It tasted a lot of like a pineapple bun from a Chinese bakery.
I had a great time in Rome and was happy to take it a little easier than I would had it been my first time in the city. My favourite thing to do was bike and walk around the Villa Borghese Gardens. I also really liked the Trevi Fountain, which despite being extremely crowded was still fun and exciting. There is so much to see in Rome and it’s easy to spend a week in the city exploring the many ruins, monuments, memorials, and neighbourhoods. I hope I can visit Rome again soon.