Rome – the eternal city

Hello there! Today I want to share with you guys moments and photos from my latest trip. Husband and I visited Rome in November, 2016 and I knew we would love this city even before going there.

I am really fascinated about the Roman Empire which was the most extensive political and social structure in western civilization.

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But why is Rome being called the ETERNAL CITY?  Well, ancient Romans believed that no matter what happened to the world or how many empires came and collapsed, Rome would go on forever. And guess what? They were right!

Oh and another thing… did you know the saying “all roads lead to Rome” is actually true? The Romans were extremely skilled road makers and the first to establish such a system of roads. They were also the first to use mile-markers and they designed their roads purposefully so that they all really led to Rome.

So are you ready for this? Let’s Rome!

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We did not want to go alone on our trip this time either, therefore some good friends of ours came with us and we enjoyed this amazing ancient city together.

First of all, plane tickets. We booked our flights with Ryanair again, the price being 110 Euros in total for both of us, round-trip tickets of course. I believe Ryanair is doing a great job as a low-cost company, this is why we always choose to fly with them. You are allowed to have 2 bags on-board for free, one of 55x40x20 cm and a handbag of 35x20x20 cm, which I really think is more than enough for a city break.

We had our 3 nights stay at the Vatican Rooms Accommodation (rated as “Good 7.7” on Booking) which was not very fancy but was exactly what we needed. We have chosen this accommodation because it was very close to the Cipro Metro station (3 minutes) and also very close to the Vatican itself (10 minutes walk), so it was more than perfect. The price was also very good, 69 Euros for all 3 nights but we paid an extra fee of 15 Euros to add Wifi and towels. Wait WHAT? Towels were not included? Weird right? That’s what I thought!

Also, you have to know that in Rome you need to pay a city tax which is 3.5 Euros per night per person. So another extra fee of 21 Euros was added to our stay.

Ryanair lands on Ciampino Airport and to get to the accommodation we just needed to take a bus until the nearest metro station. For example, there is Atral which provides fast and convenient connections from Ciampino Airport to Anagnina Metro station, in about 15 minutes. And then, take the metro from Anagnina to Cipro. Pretty easy isn’t it?

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BUT… you knew a BUT was about to come didn’t you? The metro was on strike that day. AWESOME! Husband and I weren’t ready for this and did not have a back-up plan. However, we took another bus from the airport to Ciampino Railroad Station and bought train tickets until Termini Central Station in Rome. The tickets weren’t expensive at all, a few euros as I recall, both bus and train.

So we managed to get to Rome, eventually. Now let’s get to the accommodation. From Termini we bought 2 bus tickets and asked for directions further. The lady who sold us the tickets explained where we should hop off the bus but did not mention this following minor fact: the buses and trams were also delayed that day because of the strike. REALLY?

Besides the strikes, public transportation in Rome is pretty simple. One ticket costs 1.5 Euros and you can use it on buses, trams or metro as well. Tickets must be purchased in advance from newsstands or vending machines (exact change only). More information about the transportation here.

Lastly, we gave up and took a taxi. We paid 25 Euros or something like that but we were finally at the accommodation. What a day! And it was only noon haha.

So basically, here starts our DAY 1. After we checked in, we changed our clothes and went outside to see the surroundings . Being so close to the Vatican, we went straight to St. Peter’s Basilica.

We continued our walk until the Castel Sant’Angelo and then we wandered that area until we reached Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. You can actually enjoy a lot of Rome simply by walking around neighborhoods.

Below is the Pantheon. It is one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, in large part because it has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a church dedicated to “St. Mary and the Martyrs” but informally known as “Santa Maria Rotonda”.

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In the meantime, the sun was already gone and it was getting a little chilly. However, the weather had been great that late November. The temperature reached even 14-15°C during the day. Awesome right?

After all this walking around, we started being hungry. So what to eat in Rome? Well PIZZA, PASTA and GELATO of course^^

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Nearby Piazza Della Rotonda are lots of nice restaurants where you can sit and enjoy great meals. However, there are also many good to-go restaurants that sell slices of pizza if you just want to grab one and then easily move on. We had 2 slices of pizza each and… some beer. Speaking about beer, discovered there “Ceres” which is a fine strong beer that we were totally in love with. Beer costs around 3-4 Euros. I think we paid a total of 15 Euros for the pizza and the beers.

DAY 2. We woke up early in the morning and wanted to visit the Vatican Museums but we soon discovered that there was a loooong queue before the entrance and we did not have the necessary patience to wait that much. I am sad because I did not manage to photograph the Bramante Staircase inside the museum, this is one thing I regret I didn’t do on this trip. Also, be aware of all those dealers out there trying to sell you skip-the-line tickets and private tours. I suggest you don’t trust them and book online instead. Good thing to know: Vatican Museums are free on the last Sunday of each month from 8:30 AM to 2 PM!

Moving forward, we had our first stop at the great Colosseum! Entry price 12 Euros per adult, tickets include also the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. My opinion? The Colosseum looks more spectacular from the outside than it does from the inside. But that’s just my opinion. I’m not saying it’s not worth visiting it. It is indeed really great and gets you thrills imagining the gladiators fighting for their lives in there.

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After that, we visited the Roman Forum which was for centuries the center of Roman public life: the site of triumphal processions and elections; the venue for public speeches, criminal trials, and gladiatorial matches; and the nucleus of commercial affairs.

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There are many high spots if you walk the Palatine Hill so you’ll have beautiful views over the city. Like this one below from where you can see the St. Peter’s Basilica in the background. Isn’t Rome amazing or what?

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Our next stop – Trastevere. This is the place I loved the most in Rome. A stroll around Trastevere, a formerly working-class district with a heady nightlife, will take you away from the crowds to the hidden corners of Rome.

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We found a nice restaurant and stopped by for awhile to rest and eat something. They had a menu for tourists which included an appetizer, first course, main course and dessert. All these at 10 Euros each. Not bad at all!

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Next stop – the well known Fontana Di Trevi. During our stroll, we were able to see Piazza Venezia, Trajan’s Column and the Spanish Steps as well.

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Forgot to tell you that there was also a march taking place that evening, people were protesting violence against women through the streets of Rome.

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After another long walk, we finally got to the most famous fountain in the world, Fontana Di Trevi. This is also the most crowded fountain ever. You have to pay attention when a spot is cleared so you can literally run and take a picture there haha. The fountain’s water flows from an ancient Roman aqueduct, the Aqua Virgo, which is depicted in reliefs above the fountain.

Visiting the fountain is free but if you want to return you have to throw a coin into the water. Every day thousands of tourists turn their back on the fountain’s grandeur and throw a coin over their shoulder, making a wish and hoping as the legend goes, to one day return to Rome. Approximately 3,000 euros are thrown into the fountain each day. The City of Rome donates all the coins to charity.

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DAY 3. On this day, we had a day-trip to Sperlonga, a wonderful small town by the sea which deserves a separate blog-post so that I can show you how really beautiful and charming it is. So stay tuned! I will show you just ONE picture to keep you interested…

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DAY 4 was our last day in Rome. Our friends needed to leave one day earlier, therefore me and husband had this final day just for our own.

So what to do, what to do… I know! Let’s visit the St. Peter’s Basilica. We were a little discouraged at first because of another enormous queue but we just waited in line for 10 minutes to see how it goes and in no longer than 30 minutes we were inside. It is free to visit the main floor and contains some incredible art work. However, if you want to go up to the dome of the Basilica (which we did), you have 2 options:

1. Climb all the way by foot (551 steps) – 5 Euros
2. Take the lift and then climb the rest on foot (320 steps) – 7 Euros

We took the lift of course and climbed all those 320 steps, and I can tell you this, my knees were literally shaking on our way down from the cupola. The view up there though, it really makes you forget about all those stairs. Once at the top, you have 360 degree views of St Peter’s Square and the city of Rome. It was amazing!

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These are the Gardens of Vatican City which are private urban gardens and parks that cover more than half of the country (the Vatican City being a walled enclave within the city of Rome), owned by the Pope. The gardens cover approximately 23 hectares which is most of the Vatican Hill.

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The architecture of Rome zoomed-in. Loving these colors, they just blend into each other. So beautiful and distinctive!

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Forgot to mention that we couldn’t leave our bags at the accommodation after the check out so we found a storage place near Termini. We paid 4 Euros per baggage for the entire day. More details here, if needed.

After visiting the Basilica, we just wanted to walk along the Tiber river and enjoy our last stroll through this beautiful city.

We passed by the Castel Sant’Angelo once more. Entry price is 10 Euros per adult, but we did not have enough time to visit it. We’ll keep this one for next time…

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We’ve been in Trastevere one more time because we liked it too much when we visited this neighborhood 2 days before. So we had our lunch there and then started our way back to Termini, to take our bags and head to the airport.

Couldn’t help photographing those pine trees. They’re so pretty and they’re everywhere in Rome.

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Ok, so we were at Termini, it was 4 PM and we already took our bags. Our return flight was at 6:20 PM. We had enough time, we thought…

We did not want to take the metro just because it was under the ground (obviously) and we couldn’t see anything through the windows. We wanted a journey with a view! We thought it would be best to take the train, like we did on the arrival, until the Ciampino Railway Station, and from there, the bus until the airport.

Things happened quickly and we were at the Ciampino Station at 5 PM, so we were on time. From there we were suppose to take the bus to the airport (10 minutes ride). BUT GUESS WHAT??? The bus was just leaving when we were in front of the railway station. We did not panicked then, saying we’ll just take the next bus. But when we looked on the station board, the next bus was arriving in 40 minutes. WHAT??? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Now we really panicked.

Remember our trip to Berlin? We just couldn’t believe we were missing our return flight AGAIN. I was already imagining ourselves sleeping into the airport that night when an italian guy approached us and asked if we want to take a shuttle until the airport. Well, yeah, of course! He asked for 20 Euros. The bus tickets would have been a little bit more than 1 SINGLE EURO EACH and he asked for 20. Meh. But that wasn’t the problem, because we would’ve paid even 50 Euros just to take us to the airport and not miss the flight… the real problem was that we had only 15 Euros left cash. We explained our situation but he just didn’t care. He advised us to ask other people if they want to share the shuttle and then we would pay less. Ok… we asked some guys who were waiting in the bus station, but they weren’t in a hurry so they politely refused our offer.

The clock was thicking and we did not have any choices left. After a little while, some Greeks came from the railroad station and went directly to the shuttle. We then started running towards the shuttle realizing that this is our last chance to catch the flight but then something even more stupid happened. You’ll just never guess what! Well, the italian driver told us that he doesn’t have any available seats in his shuttle, it was full. NO WAY… are you for real???

I was just about crying when the freaking bus arrived, then we knew for sure we would miss this return flight as well. We were doomed!

There was nothing left to do, so we took the bus. While we were finally heading to the airport, I was telling husband that we might still have one single tiny chance to get home that night… and that chance was that the flight to be delayed.

We arrived at the airport, passed through the gates when a security agent told us “something something late something”. I just said, “yes I know” and rolled my eyes. We were already aware of the fact that we were late. We have a watch too, you know?!

We were so mad on ourselves, you can’t even imagine. But then, something interesting happened. I recognised some people who were on the same plane with us on the arrival so I said to husband to stick with them because they surely missed their flight too. And while I was looking in my phone to search the next available flight, guess what happened? I’ve read a message… from Ryanair… our flight was having a delay of almost 2 hours because of the weather conditions. Wait! WHAT??? OMG!!! We were saved haha. So this is how we’ve reached our maximum level of happiness in just few seconds.

So, we DID manage to get home that night, eventually. But I think we just cannot have a fine trip without these… let’s call them… little adventures.

Until next time,

Andreea.

  • Our stay in Rome: 25.11.2016 – 28.11.2016
  • Bucharest – Rome and return flight: Ryanair 110 Euros
  • Accommodation: Vatican Rooms Accommodation 84 Euros
  • City tax: 21 Euros
  • Total: 215 Euros as a couple

 

7 thoughts on “Rome – the eternal city

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