Rome was the last stop of my 3-week trip to Europe.
I chose a hostel just 10 minutes away by foot from Roma Termini, so finding it was not a problem. I was surprised though that the neighborhood is filled with Filipino-run establishments. There’s even a Pinoy restaurant beside the building of our hostel.
Anyway, the hostel’s reception was manned by a guy who’s a dead ringer for Liev Schreiber. 😀 After going through the usual check-in procedure, we squeezed ourselves into a tiny old school elevator just a bit wider than a refrigerator. I don’t know how we managed to fit ourselves in plus my luggage and backpack, but that was the first and last time I used the lift. Never mind if my dorm was on the fourth floor of the building.
I arrived early evening, so there was not much for me to do anymore. I just strolled the area, and booked my Colosseum and Vatican Museum tickets online, so I don’t have to waste my time falling in line for hours.
After grabbing a simple breakfast of cappuccino and sfogliatella from the hostel’s kitchen, I was ready to conquer Rome! LOL
First order of business: The Colosseum.
Getting to the Colosseum, or most of the popular tourist attractions in Rome, is pretty easy. The metro may not be the cleanest, most comfortable, and most efficient in Europe, but I appreciate they take out the guesswork of where to get off because the attractions’ names are written next to metro stops e.g. you can see Fontana di Trevi written next to the metro stop, Barberini.
Anyway, as expected, there’s already a throng of tourists outside the Colosseum even though it’s still early in the day. I’m glad I saved myself the hassle of lining up.
Next stop was the Roman Forum.
After a bit of historical tour, I went for a leisurely stroll later in the day.
You know what they say, when in Rome, one must visit the Trevi Fountain, throw a coin, and make a wish. Well, I had to wrestle my way through selfie stick-toting fellow tourists just so I could throw coins in the fountain. It was a struggle taking a selfie, so I volunteered to take a picture of a couple, so they could take mine. And they did…it’s just that I looked like a silhouette against the fountain. :/
I promised myself I won’t leave Italy without having truffle pasta, so when I stumbled upon a restaurant just a few steps from the Trevi Fountain serving it, I just had to go in. The serving could easily feed 2 people, but I finished the whole plate with gusto!
To expend the calories, I strolled to Piazza di Spagna which is only a 10-minute walk from Fontana di Trevi.
The piazza was packed that afternoon, but when I went early in the morning the next day after strolling in Piazza del Popolo, there were not that many people.
The next day was reserved for touring Vatican City. But first, I made a short trip at Piazza del Popolo.
I briefly went up Pincian Hill because I wanted to check out the gardens. But when I saw dark clouds looming over St. Peter’s Basilica, I decided to go there right away as I wanted to take pictures at St. Peter’s Square.
True enough, it was drizzling when I arrived at St. Peter’s Square, but the skies cleared up soon after.
The square was massive, and I didn’t know how I could capture it all on camera. Of course my panoramic shot didn’t do it justice, but at least I tried. :p
The line was too long to get inside the Basilica, and I didn’t want to risk missing the time slot on my Vatican Museum ticket.
By the way, if you’re planning on buying Vatican rosaries to give away as souvenirs, just buy them outside the square on the way to Vatican Museum. It’s just €1 versus the ones sold at the square starting at €5.
The Vatican Museum is about a 15-minute walk from St. Peter’s.
Just before I turned the corner to the museum, there’s was a ridiculously long line of people waiting to go in. If you already booked online, just head straight to the entrance and present your ticket. But if you don’t have a ticket yet, beware of guys trying to sell ‘skip the line’ tickets. They’re even dressed in suits similar to the employees of the museum. I don’t know how else to describe them without sounding racist, but most of them are of African or Indian descent.
I have tons of pictures from the Vatican Museum, and it’s impossible to choose a favorite. The photos above are just some of the ones I really liked. I’m actually surprised they allow photography inside (with the exception of the Sistine Chapel, of course).
I’m not really big on museums, but if there’s one museum you should see in your lifetime, it’s definitely the Vatican Museum.
Before I left, I also made sure to buy some postcards to send back home and to friends. Yes, they have their own post office. 😀
I spent the following day visiting the rest of Rome’s sights and did some last-minute shopping.
My first stop was the Pantheon.
But on my way there, I stumbled upon a pizzeria selling pizza al taglio which are rectangular slices of pizza sold by weight.
The first thing that’ll catch your attention when you step inside the Pantheon is the oculus – the round opening in the center of the dome. It allows natural light in, and similarly, rain. You can also find its replica in the Vatican Museum.
While it’s free to go inside and take pictures, do remember that it’s still a religious place. I was actually horrified when a girl, sitting on a pew, raised her feet up into the air to take a picture of her Chucks with the oculus in the background. For what? For Instagram?! She quickly snapped the photo and put her feet down before I could tell her off. Haaay.
Thankfully, there’s plenty of gelato shops at Piazza della Rotonda to cool me down. I got a cup, sat down at the steps of the fountain and obelisk facing Pantheon, and watched the world go by.
I passed by a Lindt shop on my way to Piazza Navona, and I went a liiittle crazy chocolate shopping. It felt like Christmas Day. 😀
My last stop in Rome was Piazza Navona.
Like any other Italian piazza, you’ll see the usual suspects – tourists, artists, vendors, buskers, and al fresco restaurants.
After buying some pasta, prosciutto, and cheese to take back home, I went back to the hostel to pack my bags for next day’s early flight.
As the sun sets in Rome that day, it marked the end of my Euro trip.
I was a bit sad to leave, but my heart was filled with gratitude and happiness to be able to fulfill a childhood dream.
See you again in 2018, Europe? 😉