Rome, Italy

When I Went: May 2012

Was That the Best Time of Year to Go? Yes, because the weather was still pleasant, although it being the later part of May, tourists are starting to flock in.

Why I Went There: I have never been to Italy. It was the part of Europe that was due to be explored.

Who Went With Me? This was a solo excursion.

I Stayed Here: During my visit, I stayed at a place called Dreaming Rome and must say that I was genuinely pleased with my experience here, especially after comparing it to my other hostel experiences in other Italian cities. The positives include dormitory rates, which were around $40 a night, but the price included breakfast and linens. Its location was also a plus for me because it was just around 15 minutes from the Termini rail station. It is also in a residential area, so it was safe and quiet come nightfall. If you wake up early enough, you also get a glimpse of how the locals live and go about their morning routines.

You Won’t Want to Miss: For a first-time traveler, it is best to divvy your sightseeing into two parts: Ancient Rome and The Vatican. Ancient Rome includes the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Pantheon, while the Vatican itinerary includes St. Peter’s Square, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Vatican Museums. Other mentionable stops include the Vittorio Emanuele monument (one of the grandest in Rome and has a great view), Piazza Navona (an old track that when flooded used to be a huge public bath), Capitoline Hill (a Michelangelo-designed piazza), Trastevere (Rome’s Left Bank), Campo de’ Fiori (home to a daily market), Spanish Steps (iconic stairway leading to Rome’s most famous shopping street), Villa Borghese (a Cardinal’s villa turned museum) and the Trevi Fountain (elaborate fountain immortalized in Hollywood films).

Eat Here: I do not have specific restaurants, however, when in Italy one must consume the Italian trifecta: pizza, pasta, and gelato. It is highly unlikely that you will come across a bad meal in Rome, but to enhance your culinary experience, choose wisely. In my opinion, restaurants nearby extremely popular tourist spots and those that often recruit you to come dine may not be your best options, so forego the easier spots and turn a corner or two away from the sights. Getting lost is part of your Roman adventure, and some of the best eats I have found were results of happenstance.

Play Here: Rome’s many piazzas are great places to watch people pass by and meet up with friends. Piazza del Popolo and Piazza Navona are a couple of the more popular locations.

If I Went Again: First on the list will be to visit the Vatican museums. Surprisingly enough, I did not get the opportunity to pay them a visit despite spending several days in Rome. Second will be to spend more time in the Trastevere area. Third will be to experience the Saturday market at Campo di Fiore.

How Did You Get There From Dallas? I flew from Dallas to New York and from New York to Rome Fuimicino airport. To get to Rome from Fuimicino, take a bus or an express shuttle to Termini station, followed by a metro connection, if applicable, or a cab. The bus cost is 4 euros, and the express shuttle is around 14 euros. A cab ride will cost you 40-50 euros from the airport to any part of Rome within the Aurelian Walls.

Other Tips For Fellow Travelers: If time permits, head outside of Rome into Ostia Antica or Pompeii to gain a deeper understanding of life in Ancient Rome. Learn about the coffee culture, and wear comfortable shoes. Rome is best explored on foot, and I kid you not, you will be walking a lot.

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