So it’s been 3 weeks since I came back from Rome, one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited. It left me a huge surprise the first time I went there about 7 years ago, but this time I saw it from a bit different perspective and tried to immerse myself into Italian culture to feel the real vibe of this magnificent city.
REPRESENTATION OF CITIES: LECTURE THAT CHANGED MY MINDSET
I remember all of my trips being planned so perfectly that there was almost no space to chill out. I couldn’t go to any place without visiting all of the tourist attractions, museums and the most famous objects. This is how I understood travelling. Last year I had this lecture that changed my viewpoint to some extent.
One person named Guy Debord once developed this ‘strategy’ in a way called ”Theory of the Dérive”, which could be explained as a spontaneous or unplanned journey through an urban landscape. ‘Drifting’ and wandering around the city, going to random chocolate shops, cafés or streets is a bit different than following the rules or the pathways in which capitalism shapes and represents the city. I don’t know why, but this idea haven’t left my head ever since and made me think a bit differently.
So, I decided to leave all those ‘Top 10 things to see in Rome’ during this trip and just see this city the way I want to. I explored many different places, fulfilled one of my dreams, and now would love to share some ideas, food places I accidentally discovered and perhaps some advice with all of you.
I couldn’t skip this part, because it was my first time renting a flat with other people while travelling. Location is the most important thing for me, especially in such big cities as Rome, and flats in the city center are usually quite expensive. That’s why this time I decided to try Airbnb and was so happy about this choice at the end of the day.
The flat we rented was in an amazing location, about 30 minute walking distance to Colosseum, which is not that much really when you try to explore as much of the city as possible in 3 days. Also, the flat was very close to Re di Roma metro station in case you want to go somewhere a bit further, for instance, the Vatican City. The area we lived in also had a lot of cute shops and cafés around as well as the best dessert place, which I’ll talk about more further in this post.
We got lucky to share the flat with very friendly and calm people, so there were no problems with that, although I know it may not always be the case. Anyways, for those of you who love calm environment, cute shops and good location, this area is a perfect choice!
We went out to have brunch two times by choosing random places on the spot, and they both turned out to be absolutely amazing. Fratelli de Luca is a salad and juice bar, so their food is all healthy and fresh with a wide assortment of salad and fresh coffee. The atmosphere was super cosy and the staff was so friendly and helpful there that we ended up drinking coffee and reading books for 2 hours.
Another place we went to was Santa Croce – a heaven of freshly made buns, panini and other sandwiches. Coffee in this place was also very good and they offered soy, oat and almond milk as well. They also have this cute street area where you literally sit on the street surrounded by trees when the weather is nice, which looks so Italian to me. Apparently I don’t have any pictures of this place, so let’s just leave it to your imagination!
QUICK LUNCH SPOT
I always like to find street food places or just places where you can get good, healthy and quick lunch. As I like to spend the whole day wandering around the city, such spots are a win for me! I remember some of the locals suggested one pasta place called Pastasciutta, so we went there straight after the Vatican Museums, as it is in the same part of the city. They had a wide range of different pasta options: from vegan and vegetarian to meat choices. I loved how simple it was, nothing really special, but so good for quick and Italian lunch!
THE BEST DESSERT PLACE
During our first day in Rome, our host told us that there is the best tiramisu place just 5 minutes away from our home, so we went there straight away. It looked quite fancy and was super crowded, but it didn’t take much time to realise why it’s so popular amongst the locals.
They offered many different tiramisu flavors, from banana to strawberry ones, which is quite unique, as I hadn’t noticed that in any of the places before. Even though they had a range of other desserts and pastries as well, I went for tiramisu instantly, and hands down it was the best one I tried in my life!
I’m not a fan of ice cream at all, but it all changes the exact same second I go to Italy, and it becomes something I can eat all day long. We visited probably 15 different gelato places and I’ve picked out two of my favourite ones.
Gelateria – you can find it just near the Colosseum, a small place with a friendly staff, people who never bother to ask if your day went well.
Gelateria del Teatro – super cosy and cute place in Via dei Coronari offering probably the widest selection of flavours (lemon one was out of this world though).
TWO MAJOR MUSEUMS
The Colosseum and the Vatican City were the two places to which we had planned the visit before our trip even started. I remember having this dilemma of whether to buy a ticket online in advance, which could let us avoid huge queues, or just buy it in the place, because you cannot really foresee such things as weather or mood. However, I eventually decided to get them beforehand and leave the rest of my time unplanned.
They have a range of different ticket options that you can choose from for the Colloseum online: arena area, panorama area, undergrounds, guided audio or video tours. They didn’t have any spaces left for the arena tour by the time I decided to book it, so I chose the panorama package and it was amazing. We went to the very top of the Colosseum where you could see a spectacular view from above.
History is how I call the Colosseum. It seems so unbelievable to me sometimes, and I just wish I could see it in its glory days. I read a lot about it beforehand and still realised that I barely know 1% of its history. The performances that happened there, the amount of people it welcomed, the architectural structures it had and the meaning it possessed is something you can only imagine while looking at its ruins and people dressed as gladiators at the entrance which welcomes over 7 million tourists every year.
The Vatican City is a special place with breathtaking Rafael’s, Michelangelo’s masterpieces, galleries, paintings, sculptures, botanical garden and chapels. It still makes you wonder how can someone create such art that makes you (or just me) almost tear up every time you lift your head up. There is actually so much to see there if you stop at every corner, follow every pathway and go through every corridor.
I know my thoughts about these places are quite short, but to be fair, I don’t believe I have enough competence or knowledge to talk about these museums and their history, as I know there are thousands of valuable sources for that. You may say I could leave the history then and continue to talk about how I felt there, but I truly believe everyone sees such places form their own perspective and that’s what I admire the most.
TIP: We didn’t go for guided tours, but discovered online audio guides by Rick Steves, who offers professional tours for a lot of European cities and places. We tried it for the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums and we absolutely loved it! There are even separate recordings for the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica, which are done in a very interesting, funny and informative way. You can download it at home as well, which makes it even more convenient.
PONTE SANT’ANGELO – MY FAVOURITE PLACE IN THE WHOLE CITY
I’ve always had these days which become somehow different from the rest. Days which I remember when many years pass and can still recall every single minute of it and feelings I experienced at that specific time. It’s the same with places in every single trip I go to. No matter where it is, I always find this one place where I can come back every single day because of the special feeling it gives me. Ponte Sant’Angelo was this place for me this time. I can’t put into words how peaceful I felt there. By standing in the middle of the bridge you can see St Peter’s basilica and Castel Sant’Angelo, with a line of colourful houses on each side of the river, which reminded me of Florence in a way. There was always a different music artist playing acoustic covers of Italian songs, and right on the other side of the bridge you could see a narrow street full of lights, cafés and shops. I don’t remember the first time we went there and why, but it became a place where I came to relax every evening. Something special.
RENTING A VESPA
It has always been one of my biggest dreams, and this time I decided that that’s it, we’re doing that! There are hundreds of different places to rent a scooter in Rome, however, some of them require huge deposits and others have problems with insurance, which is one of the most common problems tourists face.
The waiter in one of the restaurants we went to suggested to try Rent Scooter Roma. They didn’t require any deposit and didn’t even give us a lock to keep the scooter safe over night, which sounded a bit weird for us. It was the only time I went online to see what people talked about this place, because, well, it’s not just ordering pizza at some restaurant… and it was ranked as the best scooter rent point in the whole city! So, next day we rented a Vespa and it was one of the most memorable days of my life. Traffic in Rome is crazy, so being a part of it was funny and scary at the same time, but definitely the experience I’ll never forget.
3 more TIPS AND 3 MORE PLACES:
- Try to find free guides, tours are tips based only and the excursions are so interesting and informative.
- Don’t go to buy a full metro ticket instantly, as many people do, you can actually reach a lot of places on foot.
- Trust local people – they always know some hidden places.
- Vila Borghese – a beautiful park to get away from the hustle and bustle.
- Ponte Sant’Angelo/the playground behind it – we didn’t enter the Castle itself, but it seemed spectacular, and you can also climb to the very top of the hill to see the views. There is this small park right behind the Castle with a small playground, which we found completely accidentally and eventually spent more than an hour just chilling there.
- Via dei Coronari – one of the most beautiful streets we’ve discovered. It was never too crowded, and a laid-back atmosphere, small shops, and many lights created a feeling of being in a different world separated from the whole city.
I know I haven’t shared all of the trip or every single object I visited, especially such well-known places as the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps or Roman Forum, but I still hope this post was interesting and practical, just as how I wanted it to be! Have a good day x
Lots of love ❤