Awful. Just… awful!
Rome. Most people ooh and aah when they hear this word, but I really didn’t. A couple of years ago we went there and it was absolutely horrible. The complete lowpoint of our Italy trip. We were robbed, there were storms, the metro didn’t work, we had to take 2 busses and a train to get to the “centrally located” B&B – and the bus stopped running at 7 p.m. Vile! We even vowed we would never come back.
Never say never
But then again… Never underestimate the power of your favourite movie, even the location can influence you immensely.
Guess what my favourite movie is! Go on, guess!
Of course it is. Roman Holiday, what else. Roman Holiday was the reason we risked going back there,
and we definetely did NOT regret it! Get ready to hear some oohs and aahs…
We bought the cheapest tickets possible (Ryanair). We didn’t have luggage – you don’t need it!!! 10 kg of hand luggage should suffice. Logging it around isn’t much fun, and you won’t wear most of the extra clothes you bring. And, if you are honest… aren’t you planning on buying something truly Italian to wear while you’re here?
No cabs or special buses for us, the train brings you to the centre as well and it’s very comfortable. No problems whatsoever. I could even take a little nap.
Instead of buying a public transport pass for a couple of days (either around 6.00, 16.50 or 24.00 euro for 1, 3 or 7 days) we bought 10 individual metro tickets (you only pay 9). We walked all around Rome and only took the metro when we absolutely had to . You see so much more when you walk! + need we say more: all those buttery treats can add as much as 5 pounds a trip (and they tend to go to the hips).
Btw, you only get to use one metro ticket one time . If you get out of the subway, you can’t use it anymore. However, you can use the same tickets on the bus (we think, well, we did, anyway), where you get an hour and a half no matter how many times you get off. You can also rent a city bike, just like in Paris. The Bikesharing program (tel. +39-06-57-003, http://www.bikesharing.roma.it) gives access to bikes all around the historic centre of Rome for the low price of €0.50 per half hour. Compare that to €4–€5 per hour from private rental firms. 24/7!
We wanted some sort of guide, because our last trip was so bad, but we could only get a decent guide book in Italian. I took Italian in college but this was something else! It was fun though
SLEEPING: SOCIAL NETWORK
Internet is a wonderful wonderful thing. Use your contacts to find a place to crash! Ask friends to ask friends to ask friends if they know anyone who lives in the place you want to visit. Otherwise; use sites such as www.couchsurfing.com or another faithful one: www.airbnb.com (although some cities are starting to ban airbnb because people are no longer wanting to stay in a hotel- I wonder why?)
We slept in a comfy sofa bed in an artistic small space for 15 euro a person a night. The place belonged to a lovely opera singer, and her personality was visible in every square inch of the apartment.
Some people might perceive that to be a problem and prefer the neutral environment of a hotel, but I definitely want to be in a space where you can actually feel people are living rather than just staying.
And most important of all: it had a coffee bar right in front of the building! The coffee was crazy strong (and I am used to very strong espresso), the decoration seemed to be more appropriate for a funky nightclub and the waiter was extremely weird, but we called it home that week!
We stayed in the San Giovanni part of Rome, which we really liked. I would avoid the Termini, although it is handy because of the train station, I really don’t like the neighbourhood.
WHEN IN ROMA ANTICA…
La Bocca della Verità (English: the Mouth of Truth) Served as a lie detector since the Middle Ages.
It was believed that if one told a lie with one’s hand in the mouth of the sculpture, it would be bitten off. (We didn’t even try 😀 )
The Colosseum was a bit too expensive to enter so we just read about it whilst sitting in front of it, enjoying the view without breaking the bank.
If you go up close to the Coloseum, you’ll find the Giardino degli Aranci (Garden of the oranges) – Free entrance. It ‘s a prime spot for anyone who’s in love or who likes a stunning view.
Excellent plan in the pricey Roma Antica neighbourhood: buy your supplies at Alimentari Pannella Carmela (Don’t you just love the name?) at Via die Fienili 61, walk up until you reach the via di Monte Tarpeo. Then you see Piazza Santa Maria Nova . You will be absolutely gobsmacked : the view over the Roman Forum is amazing. When you’re done being amazed, keep on walking all the way up. You will see a little square with benches with one of the best views of Rome we could find. Have a lovely picnic there and soak up some sun!
WHEN IN ROME … TRASTEVERE
Trastevere is absolutely beautiful. But avoid at weekends!
If you walk out of Trastevere and start climbing the Giancolo, you’ll find a magnificent view at the top over large parts of Rome, but the view over Vatican city is especially lovely. And there is a coffee/booze cart present 😀
Wandering around this magnificent city might just be the very best thing you can do. Every time you think you’re just going to drop dead from the heat and the climbing, you discover views like this…
Spend an afternoon reading your favourite book overlooking the city
EATING & DRINKING
Don’t you dare miss breakfast!!!!! “Vorrei un espresso e due cornetti, per favore/ Vorrei un espresso e un brioche con gianduja” will get you in just the right mood to start your day in Rome. Just in case you were wondering, gianduja is the REAL nutella, although I personally think you can’t even compare the two. It’s just so delicious!(REMEMBER: if you sit at the bar, the price is about half of what you would pay for sitting on a terrace) .
Coromandel… We walked in because of the name (I love the Coromandel region in New Zealand). And boy that was a good call! If you want to have a scrumptious breakfast (especially if you are one of the poor lot who chose a hotel with breakfast and is sick of the stale croissants with some horrible sugary filling: this is the place for you! I celebrated my birthday by having too many espressos and too many cornetti with guianduja here, and I ❤ it. I can still taste it. I think I’ll try to make some guianduja myself, like, now. http://www.coromandel.it/
Chill out. Live the dolce vita. Walk in the sun. Have too much coffee. In Rome, you can find some decent coffee practically everywhere. I like to just discover new places (if you know the standards are good) Some of the treasures:
Chilling in a bar writing some postcards.. bliss!
We have an address on this one (close to the Pantheon):
Ice cream- gelati
Did I mention I love Audrey? Anyway, I figured out where the iconic ice cream came from, and of course I had to get some (even though that meant standing in a crowd of military men screaming at each other)
Try the sorbetto al cioccolato fondente [sorbetto al tschokolato]! Of course they will understand if you say it in English, or even if you point, but it just sounds so much better when you say it in Italian… Try it everywhere (but especially here. And in Trastevere. And …)
I saved the best for last: Fior Di Luna (Via della Lungaretta 96 , in the Trastevere neighbourhood) if like heaven in a bowl. You’ve got to try it!
Trastevere is one of the nicer areas in Rome, but at the weekends I think it turns into a big circus and you’ll do well to just stay away. But on weekdays… Mamma mia! Beautiful alleys, nice shops, bars and restaurants,..
You can go and have a slice of pizza anywhere, trastevere is a nice neighbourhood if you’re not there in the weekend. There is a bakery close to the Campo di Fiori that sells amazing pizza (Forno di Campo de’ Fiori). Don’t stay there but keep walking away from the Campo di Fiori , you’ll find a beautiful, peaceful piazza (no idea what it’s called) where you can just have a lovely lunch sitting by the fountain. Although, I must admit, we did see a sea-gull brutally attack a pigeon while we were sitting there…
Don’t overspend on dinner. Be creative! Buy some bread and cheese, some olives and a bottle of wine and have a picnic on a hill overlooking Rome. 5-star view for free.
Another idea is to use the “l’aperitivo”. (basically happy hour) After work, Italians meet for a drink and some tapas before dinner. I always have wine but if you want to go full on you’ll have to have a spritz (Prosecco or Aperol and sparkling water)Most restaurants and bars offer a selection of tapas along with your wine. The thing is: after these tapas you don’t really need dinner anymore. Our favourite bar bar none (no pun intended) is one we stumbled on while we were getting lost in our hunt for our gazillionth ice cream. It’s called Caffè della Pace, (http://www.caffedellapace.it/ Via della Pace, 3/7 ) and it has a very cool, laid back atmosphere. It’s really worth it to go and have a look (it’s not difficult to find, we are just not very good at not getting lost)
Every Roman street has a piazza, every piazza has a fountain and every fountain has safe water- so even if you drink espressos all the live long day, you’ll never have to get thirsty.
Being the budget travellers we are, we always need some free Wi-Fi to plan our next visit or our next meal. Combine pleasure and planning by finding a free Wi-Fi bar, café or cinema. The trick for staying as long as possible on as tight a budget humanly possible is to order separately and thus gaining more free Wi-Fi time. Advantage: you get free snacks with each order placed. So the double amount of free snacks. Voila.
HOW TO MAKE RYANAIR FLIGHTS ENJOYABLE
Please, for the love of all that is holy, don’t expect to be alone on the plane. As is to be expected from a low-budget-travel-means, you will be faced with numerous annoying people with cringe worthy habits that will send you through the roof if you expect a quiet ride. DON’T-DO-IT!!!! It’s never gonna happen unless you book yourself a private jet plane (and what’s the fun in that?)
Bring cookies. (Need we say more?)
Bring lightweight books. Who are you kidding with your intelligent literature? You’ll never be able to concentrate amidst all the screaming, the noise, the take off and landing,… Anyway, bring your happy-go-lucky chicken soup for the soul and you’ll do yourself a huge favour.
Bring socks- the air-conditioning on full blast seems heaven the first few minutes, but you can get really chilly after that.
Italian on the go
Italians are a friendly lot, and they tend to get even more friendly if you attempt to speak their language. Some useful phrases and words:
- Parla Inglese? Do you speak English?
- Grazie [gradzie] Thank You
- Prego You’re welcome
- Per favore – Per Piacere [per piatchere] Please- with pleasure
- Ciao Hello / Goodbye
- Buon Giorno Good Morning – Good Afternoon
- Buona Sera Good Evening
- Buona notte Good Night
- Arrivederci Goodbye
- Scusi (informal) Scusa (formal) Excuse me
- Come sta? (singular) How are you?
- Quanto costa? How much does it cost?
- Dov’è ….? [doové] Where is …?
- Dove posso trovare un…/ Where can I find a…
- Vorrei qualcosa da mangiare [vorrei kwalkosa da mandzjare] I would like something to eat
- Vorrei qualcosa da bere [vorrei kwalkosa da bere] I would like something to drink
- Il conto, per favore. Check please. (This is the only phrase my boyfriend ever mastered. If you hear his name you’ll never believe it: Gino)
- Bagno Toilet
- Mangiare To eat (verb)
- ristorante restaurant
- Stazione Train station
- Polizia / Carabinieri Police
- Taxi Taxi
- Fermata dell’autobus Bus stop
- Aeroporto Airport
- Farmacia Pharmacy
- Medico Doctor
- Ostello Hostel
- Supermercato Food store
- Negozio Shop
- Ospedale Hospital
- Museo Museum
- Biglietteria Ticket desk
- Guida turistica Guidebook
- Visita guidata Guided tour
- Orario di apertura Opening time
- Spingere Push (a door) (this will come in handy if you read it on a door and don’t know if it means push or pull!)
- Tirare Pull (a door)
- Bar Cafeteria
- No grazie No thanks
- Sì grazie Yes thanks
- Vai via! Go away!
- Girls: this may come in handy:
- Assorbenti interni Tampons
- Assorbenti Pads
- Sono incinta I am pregnant
- Very important if you have any allergies (one tip: they tend to not really pay attention! Make sure they hear you)
- Sono allergico a… I am allergic to…
- Senza zucchero Sugarfree
- Senza glutine Gluten – free
- Sono celiaca I am celiac
- Senza soia Soy – free
- Senza lattosio Lactose – free
- Senza uova Egg – free