How to See Rome in 36 Hours: Step by Step
Oh, Rome (or “Roma” as the Italians say). What can I say about you. First, let me start off with the fact that I took a bus (Megabus) from Torino to Rome. Quick jaunt? Not quite. 11 hours there, 12 hours back. I know what you’re thinking, because I was thinking it too; 11 Hours? Isn’t that how long it takes to fly from San Francisco to Frankfurt, Germany (the flight I took earlier this year)? Yes, yes it is. And let me tell you, it wasn’t fun. 11 hours crammed on a bus, with friends nonetheless, but 11 hours on a bus is hell regardless who you spend the time with. The reason why we did it? It costed about 12 euro round trip. 6 buckaroonies each way. Others I was traveling with got their tickets for 4 euro round trip, but I was late to the game, so the prices went up a bit.
When we arrived, the first thing we all wanted to do was go to our hostel and sleep. But knowing we had only a total of 36 hours in Rome, this was not going to happen. Instead, we decided we would begin exploring the city. The metro was packed with locals and tourists, and me being a tourist was very offended when a family looked at me and instantly grabbed their belongings. Like do I look like a pick-pocketer? I didn’t think so.
DAY ONE-FIRST STOP: COLOSSEUM
Being the tourist I am, the main thing I wanted to see was the Colosseum, and boy it did not disappoint. We got off the claustrophobic metro and first thing we saw upon walking up the stairs was the way-bigger-than-I-imagined Colosseum. Instantly, everything I knew about the Colosseum seemed to hit me all at once as I realized the history behind this magnificent amphitheater. Pay attention in History, kids. This stuff really comes in handy when you’re exploring a foreign country. We paid the 12 euro for entrance into the amphitheater and because it was around 09:30, the lines were short and the crowds were minimal.
This place was crazy. Huge. Beautiful. Historic. It was hard to take it in. Pictures do not do it justice. Though I snapped a million, just to make sure.
TOTAL: 12.00 (Colosseum ticket) + 1.50 (metro ticket) = 13.50 euro
SECOND STOP: ROMAN FORUM
If you are ever in Rome (which I hope you are), and you have time to kill (which I hope you do), I have two words for you: Roman Forum. If you paid the 12 euro to get into the Colosseum, you get into here for free. This place is filled with various Roman ruins, from aqueducts, to churches, to government buildings. Right at the center of Rome, this place is somewhere you need a few hours to cover completely, if not a whole day. I have heard that this place is one of the most important archaeologist sites in the world. Back in the Roman days, it was the hub of social events and activities. Not much has changed, since this place was poppin’ with tourists from all over the world. Normally I don’t like to associate myself with tourists (because I live in Italy now, duh), but I was a proud one here, taking pictures throughout the entire time being here.
Again, pictures do not do this place justice. And much to my enjoyment, it was hot. In the winter, it’s hard to find warm weather in Northern Italy, so this was a special treat. Good company, good sites, good weather. Can’t get much better than this.
TOTAL: 0.00 euro (with admission to Colosseum)
STOP THREE: TREVI FOUNTAIN
I know what you are all thinking Lizzie McGuire! Ever since I saw that movie way back in 2003 I have been dying to go to Rome. I already have my Paulo, but there was still a chance that I would be meeting my doppelganger and becoming an Italian pop-star right? A girl can dream.
If there was ever a time I was going to get pick-pocketed, it was here. Every 5 seconds someone would come up trying to sell me a selfie stick among the hundreds of people swarming the fountain and making their wishes. Like do I really look that touristy that I need a selfie stick… Like yes I have one already sitting in my backpack at this very moment, but that’s not the point. The energy of this place was pretty cool though. Everyone throwing their coins in the fountain over their shoulders, making wishes (probably the most common wish being for the picture they were currently having someone take of them to turn out well). As for me, I don’t think I could wish up a better life than the life I am so lucky to be living this very moment.
TOTAL: 0.10 euro (10 cent coin tossed into the fountain)
STOP FOUR: FOOD
Not much to say about this one except for the waiter was hella aggressive, the food was delicious, and I was damn happy I ordered a pizza (and yes I am the only one who ordered a Coke, sorry mom).
Naturally, after a healthy lunch of pasta and pizza (and coke), we had to get some gelato. *Tip for getting the best gelato: don’t go to the places that have the gelato on display in heaping mounds with a dozen flavors to choose from. This isn’t the good stuff. Instead go for the places that have circular silver tins in a counter. The gelato is way better here.
My boyfriend, Cameron, being the gelato ordering pro he is, spit out an order in Italian that I couldn’t keep up with. I was impressed and followed his order with “anch’io, per favore” which is Italian for “same here, please”.
TOTAL: 10.00 (lunch) + 3.00 (gelato) = 13.00 euro
STOP FIVE: PANTHEON
The pantheon is the Roman monument with the greatest number of records: the best preserved, with the biggest brick dome in the history of architecture and is considered the forerunner of all modern places of worship. It is the most copied and imitated of all ancient works. It was breathtaking. Essentially, this beautiful holy building has been taken over by tourists, but in the midst of these tourists are a few people who are kneeling in the pews praying. Here I am taking panorama pictures, being a tourist amongst hundreds of other tourists, forgetting what this building is and why it is important in the first place. Now, I am not a religious person, but I really do appreciate the significance of these places of worship to Catholics. I think the main thing we HAVE TO remember as we are being tourists and seeing the world, is that these monuments are precious pieces of history, which is why you are drawn to them in the first place. These places need to be respected.
TOTAL: 0.00 euro
STOP SIX: a million different souvenir shops… then THE YELLOW HOSTEL
AKA, where we would be spending our one night, not on a bus, in Rome. This. Place. Was. Dope. The vibes in The Yellow Hostel were so cool. The staff was young. The walls were chalkboard and filled with events they were putting on, and it was only 19 euro a night (so around $21). Hostels tend to get a bad rep, but if you find the right ones, they make your experience.
Once we checked in and laid down for about 10 minutes we were up and going again, to sign up for a party bus one of the employees told us about. We signed up, ate some food at the bar (a bacon burger I split with someone), and prepared for the night. As much as my feet ached and my head hurt from dehydration and lack of sleep, I figured “When in Rome” and spent the too-expensive 25 euro on a night on the Rollin Bar. Basically the jist of the Rollin Bar was that you paid 25 euro for 2 hours on a party bus (a stripper pole being the most highly advertised part of the bus), 4 free drinks, unlimited vodka, and a no-nonsense young woman in charge who called people out for being Debbie-downers, and poured vodka in the mouths of the innocent and confused tourists trying to yolo it out in Rome.
TOTAL: 19.00 (1 night stay at The Yellow) + 25.00 (The Rollin Bar) + 3.00 (dinner) + 2.00 (shot glass from random souvenir store) = 49.00 euro
DAY TWO-VATICAN CITY. STOP ONE: THE VATICAN MUSEUM
After a hearty breakfast of pancakes and bacon (praise) and orange juice that tasted like the shots from the night before (nope, gave that to a friend) we made our way to the Vatican City (which is its own country for those of you who were unaware like myself).
When we got there the first thing we saw was St. Peter’s Basilica, home to the Pope and all of the Saints and Popes that ever were. This place was unreal. I didn’t actually get to go inside at the end of the day for fear that my feet would permanently bruise and I would never walk again (ok this is dramatic but damn people, wear comfortable shoes in Rome, no joke). Then we made our way to the Vatican Museum, home to the Cappella Sistina (The Sistine Chapel).
The Museum was HUGE. Again, another place you can spend an entire day in, if you have the time.
We wandered through a huge hall of sculptures and busts. It is hard to comprehend how much time the Romans must have spent on their art and architecture. I felt this way especially when we walked through the dozens and dozens of rooms covered in murals and tapestries, hand painted and woven in an extremely intricate way. We spent a couple of hours just wandering around and looking at the art, taking the long way to get to the Sistine Chapel.
When we finally got to the chapel we were met by about a million people (exaggeration again) and loud yells from guards telling us “NO PICTURES!” and “KEEP MOVING!” and my favorite, “BE QUIET!” Like damn this is a holy place calm down. Naturally, I took a picture. I got yelled at, but pics or it didn’t happen right?
Ever wonder what the reason behind the ban on pictures is? After asking around, I discovered the reason isn’t to preserve the beautiful artwork or the holy atmosphere. The rule was put in place because the company that preserved the art a few years ago put it in their contract that for 3 years after they were done, they were the only people who had the rights to photograph their work. Obviously, it has been more than 3 years now, but the rule is still in place. I assume this is to control crowds and maintain order in the small chapel.
TOTAL: 8.00 euro (student discounted price)
After leaving the Sistine Chapel, we were starving and exhausted, so we got some 5 euro pasta and went on our merry way. We decided to brave the line in to the Basilica, but one hour and about 15 feet in line later, Cameron and I decided to give up and go explore something different. *Travel tip: If you want to get into once-in-a-lifetime places, wear comfortable shoes so you can wait in the 3 hour lines, instead of wearing not so comfortable shoes and missing out on the opportunity. (Getting into the Basilica is free!)
Instead, Cameron and I wandered across bridges, people watched, and waited for the right time to head to the bus station to catch our 11 hour bus ride back.
One wrong metro stop and one bad pizza kabap meal later, we were on our way home with souvenirs, aching feet, and hearts filled with adventure.
TOTAL: 3.00 ( 2 metro tickets) + 5.00 (pizza kabap) = 8.00 euro
Grazie mille Roma.
TOTAL TRIP FEES: 103.6 euro