DOLCE VITA: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR A FIRST TRIP TO ROME
First, let me tell you that I looove Italy. I’ve already travelled in a few cities in this beautiful country the past years and between its history, its culture, its architecture, and most of all, its delicious food, the next logical stop was always going to be Rome. I wanted to explore this romantic city for a long time, but for many reason it didn’t happen… until now!
Obviously, hearing this and that from different people around me that had already been there, having good travel tips from locals, watching so many movies or reading travel guide after travel guide in one go, I had a clear picture on how the city would be, how the atmosphere would feel… Or at least that’s what I thought.
EXPECTATIONS VS REALITY
The fact that I lived in Paris, the city of Love, for a little less than 10 years, probably set my expectations a bit high. Don’t get me wrong, if you are an architecture and history addict just like me, you will find Rome fascinating and truly beautiful. The second I landed in this city and left the train station near Termini, I had to literally stop because I didn’t know where to look anymore. I wanted to get every corner on camera. Rome is like an open-air museum.
What’s the problem then? Hum… You will be surrounded by crowds of tourists from all over the world. Understandable of course, like many other capitals, Rome attracts more and more people around the globe. Yes BUT (there is always a “but”) I must admit that even if most of the places I visited are super touristic, I actually noticed that I was ONLY surrounded by tourists.
Well, it didn’t change anything about the beautiful sites I explored, (except the Trevi Fountain where you won’t be able to move much or will have to struggle to get closer), but let me ask this simple question: where are the locals per favore? Let’s find out.
TOP SPOTS TO SEE IN ROME
Colosseo & Roman Forum
Impressive ruins from another time. You will truly travel back in time so make sure not to miss one bit of those amazing monuments.
The Colosseo is the largest amphitheatre ever built and was used for public spectacles such as animal hunts, gladiator fights and executions.
A few metres away, you will find the Roman Forum, once the centre of day-to-day life in Rome for centuries. It will give you a glimpse on how people lived at the time. It took me more than 2 hours to explore the forum but totally worth it.
Little tips: you will walk a LOT so don’t forget to wear your comfiest sneakers and carry a bottle of water, keep it because you’ll find drinkable water everywhere in the city for free.
Whether you’re religious or not, it’s definitely a must-see in Rome. The level of art amazed me, all these stunning details, the statues, tapestries… each room feels almost as if it had been decorated and painted the day before. The Vatican is surely well preserved (money, money, money).
Not to mention the Sistine Chapel obviously! But one of the things that impressed me the most, was the quality of the bright colours everywhere and the shapes of the roofs. You really have to see this for yourself!
St Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Basilica is one of the Papal Basilicas located in Vatican City. It is the largest church in the world. The visit of the church will take you quite a while itself, but make sure not to miss the visit to the Dome where you’ll be able to have a beautiful view of the city.
Little tip: women have to cover their shoulders to be allowed to enter the church so don’t forget to take a cardigan or shirt in your bag, even if it’s 40 degrees outside.
First built as a temple to all Gods, this circular building is magical. It’s the world’s largest unreinforced dome open to the sky, which makes it even more impressive. It is now used as a Catholic church. I was amazed by the architecture and all the well preserved details. In fact, the Pantheon is the only structure of its age that is still intact and survived time!
This famously instagrammed fountain is certainly a must-see if you explore Rome but be warned: this place will feel much more like a crowded music festival. Be ready to fight (ok maybe I am a bit dramatic) your way through the tourists to try to get a closer look and take THAT picture… Oh and don’t forget to make a wish of course while eating your delicious gelato! Fingers crossed.
One of the world’s most beautiful squares (yes my friend), where you’ll be able to get a glimpse of what Baroque Roman architecture truly looks like.
Little advice: if you’re thirsty or hungry, don’t eat around this square or you’ll end up paying a lot (and the quality of your meal might be questionable). Wait 5 minutes instead, perfect time to wander through the little streets around and find one of the very nice hidden terraces.
Piazza di Spagna
What would a visit to Rome be without a detour to Piazza di Spagna to climb the 135 Spanish Steps! I actually really wanted to have a look and climb those steps because my previous flatmate’s boyfriend (now husband) proposed to her at the very top of these steps (cliché yes, but still!!).
If you are looking for an authentic Roman experience, wander through Trastevere, the old town, where you’ll find tons of cool coffee shops and cute restaurants to try the famous roman pizza or have a drink at a beautiful terrace.
I tried Marmi (https://www.facebook.com/aimarmi/), full of Romans (usually a good sign), where you can order a thin-crust Roman pizza (the home made croquettes are delicious too). If you’re looking for a more traditional and romantic place, head to Ai Bozzi. Pastas and pizzas are just delicious. Buon appetito!
Forget your diet (you’re in Rome). This is where you NEED to go to try real carbonara pasta! It’s a little hidden, super small and meals can be eaten on the go. It looks super simple on the outside but trust me, you won’t be disappointed when you eat these homemade pastas. Delicious!
Personally, I’m addicted to sugar. So I couldn’t visit Rome without having at least one good gelato (or two). You’ll find gelaterias literally in every corner in the city. Try to be adventurous and go for other flavours… I really liked Champagne, watermelon, mojito, and white chocolate… The choice is endless.
Calling all coffee lovers, Italy (and Rome) is a good place to start your journey. You will find coffee shops everywhere (Illy I love you), but I must say that on my first day in Rome, I felt in love with la Casetta a Monti (https://www.facebook.com/lacasettadeimonti/). It’s super tiny so you better wake-up extra early to make sure to get the best spot! And impossible to miss it, it’s that cute little green house at the end of the street. What better way to start your day?!
I didn’t have time to properly try the Roman nightlife yet, except a few bars and restaurants, because I woke up super early each morning and spent the day exploring the city. And let me tell you that for a first visit in Rome your schedule will be pretty tight!
You won’t be able to see everything, but plan ahead to make the most of it… Don’t try to rush things and get of taste of the Dolce Vita. And I’ll have a very good reason to come back and tell you all about it!
By Dorothée Gomez from @dorotheegmz