First 72 Hours: Rome
from the ponte sisto
trastevere is quiet in the day, and totally transformed by night.
the best summer time cool down treat, caffe granita con panna
a pretty roman gal
The first few (well, 72) hours I was in Italy this summer was a frenzy, hit-and-run, crash course tour of the Eternal City. Some of it new, some of it old to me. Three days felt like they were clumped together - and I saw the Campo di Fiori (mom's favorite), the Pantheon, the Piazza Navona, Trastevere in the first few hours. A theme I've noticed in the 3+ seperate times I've been in Rome is that I always find myself in Trastevere - the bohemian district beyond the Tiber. I love it there - the sleepy, bright orange-walled streets during the day and the booming social scene at night. My favorite restaurant in Rome, perhaps in Italy, is there.
But then again I have some reluctance about Rome - because my heart isn't in the impressive bustling regality of the city (more on that later). It's antiquities are truly stunning and a world wonder for a reason, but Rome always feels like business to me - either the beginning or end of the trip (it's where I always fly in...) or some sort of adjustment is attached. If I am in Rome, I like to wander around the quiet(er) piazzas in the sleepy morning, or explore the even less crowded streets of Trastevere in the late afternoon.
Ah, Roman summers.
- - - 2015 corollary - - -
I wanted to add on to my favorite must-sees for a quick stop in Rome. I am not a Rome expert, but I stayed there a few nights during my Bus2Alps tenure.
Transportation by Train
- Termini Station can be difficult to navigate during the busy parts of the day, but the process is the same as any Italian train station. Because I frequently traveled to Florence, I preferred the quicker, nicer Frecciarossa line (about 50 euro a pop) because it was a high-speed, non-stop train. If you prefer a more economical mode of transportation, the regular Trenitalia trains will do the trick (but they make stops and may be slower).The Frecciarossa trains were my favorite as a female solo traveler. I felt like I was traveling in a more golden age, a bit indulgent and more comfortable (with beautiful Italian scenery).
I highly recommend the Roma pass if you're planning to be in Rome for 2-3 days or less. It is a pass that allows you to use the metro system unlimited times, plus it grants you access to various sites such as the Colosseum for free!! (yes, freeeeee). You can purchase the Roma Pass in Termini Station! The direct link to their info page is here. Seriously, such a bargain at 30-40 euros.
Metro: The first time I was almost robbed was on the Metro - the Colosseo stop. A young pickpocket of 12 or so attempted to rummage through our bags - and he was literally inches from us, looking so innocent and young. Thank goodness there were locals on the metro, understanding what was happening, because we didn't catch it (we were naive ourselves). They literally wrangled this boy and threw him off at the next stop. I hope that isn't too real for you, but the metro is a place where you have to be really aware of your surroundings. However, it is a wonderful (and cheap) way to get around the city, especially if you buy a Roma Pass. It gives you easy, quick access to the Fontana di Trevi, Pantheon, Piazza Spagna (Spanish Steps), and Vatican.
Eating: This could be a blog series in itself, but I will digress - you (almost) can't go wrong with finding delicious meals in Rome. I prefer less crowded areas, especially Trastevere.
For pizza, I've been to Dar Poeta twice and have not been disappointed!! It is located in the heart of Trastevere, the boho district "beyond the Tiber." It is a quintessential Roman pizzeria, with an entrance that looks like it's from a postcard. It's fun with a group, sharing vino tavolo and lots of pizzas!
For pasta, I loooove
Tony's (Hosteria del Moro). Now, I'll be honest here - it is a bit of a discovered student hangout - but I don't care. For some reason I almost always score a free dessert, free wine, something. I love their penne alla vodka - I get it every time. It is also located in Trastevere, and close to other great bars and restaurants. The food is plentiful, and the price is surprisingly right.
For espresso, I was enamored with the caffe granita con panna (pictured above) from Tazza D'Oro footsteps away from the Pantheon. The name Tazza D'Oro means "cup of gold" and man, the name is so perfect for this place! It is a pretty famous cafe, seen in many movie scenes, and always buzzing with people. If you're near the Pantheon, it's so worth going.
Again, another category that can be a whole series. I have been to Rome several times, and the more I see it the more I want to explore the less-known places. You can read about the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Forum, Piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo all you want for hours in guidebooks or travel blogs. I prefer cheap, unique places that may be a little off the grid and hard to find (or a long walk).
One place that is free and offers a stunning vista of Rome from above is the walk up Gianicolo Hill. You can see the 7 Hills of Rome quite distinctly, including the Vatican (which is rather close). I remember people watching a lot, including watching a party of nuns have a picnic from a nearby hill. The 9th photo in this blog post offers a glimpse at the view from Gianicolo Hill.
Campo Di Fiori is the flower and produce market in Rome. Go in the early morning for that genuine feel, before the tourists wake up! It was always my mom's favorite and I think of her whenever I am there. Can't wait to be back there with her!
Piazza Navona at night is magical. I seem to have bad luck there always and joke about how I don't like it, but deep down it is beautiful! Nothing terrible happened to me - I lost my friends once and quickly found them again. There is a famous place Bar Tre Scalini for their truffle gelato.
One place I have never been but want to go to is the Capuchin Crypt in Rome. It looks really creepy, as the main crypt is filled with hundreds of skulls from capuchin monks of centuries past.
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