So since the age of 7, I have always dreamed of entering the Colosseum. To see its amazing structure and hear the sounds in my head of 50,000 Romans roaring and cheering. Well this year that dream came true.
I decided to go visit my daughter who is studying abroad in Rome with the School of Visual Arts. She had no clue we were going and the surprise was set up like a motion picture moment.
We arrived on a Thursday and immediately dropped our luggage; we decided to surprise my daughter while she was having a picnic at Circus Maximus, out of all places. She was shocked.
That day we discovered our very first roman treat. GELATOS, from the Gelateria Miami.
We got addicted to these, and you will too. For €2 you can get 2 scoops of gelato dipped in chocolate. For €4 you get the works lol. The hotel we stayed at was the Villa Maria in Trastevere, and it was really good for the price; a continental breakfast was included and the rooms were pretty decent.
Sunday – Roman Flee Market and The Pantheon
We decided to go to a roman flee market by my daughters apartment and I immediately fell in love with how different Rome is. The people, the structure, the atmosphere, and even better yet, the joy. Antique items of history and even music records and posters shining some light on American heritage.
We had time so we decided to head over to go see The Pantheon. I have to admit this was the first historical structure we were going to see. As we approached the Pantheon it seemed unreal…how well it was maintained.
We went with the intention to admire its beauty from outside and shortly realized that we got into the line fairly quickly and its FREE!
After we got back to the apartment we rented, it was time for some relaxation as the next day it was time to really explore Rome for what it is: a historical Majesty.
Our schedule consisted of the following:
Monday – Roman Botanical Gardens, Catacomb of Callixtus & Aqueducts Park – Spent 48 Euro (group of 4 people)
Note: to everyone, don’t go to Rome on Easter weekend, unless its to see the Pope. They close everything, EVERYTHING. They actually have an EASTER MONDAY and they close certain areas and pretty much most of the authentic roman restaurants on that day.
We ran into this issue with the Roman Gardens as they were closed. Immediately we jumped on the tram and took the 118 Bus to the catacombs. We decided to go to the Catacomb of Callixtus as it is the biggest and has the most history. If the tombs themselves don’t make you question everything you thought you knew about history, the marvelous views outside of the catacombs will leave you breathless.
We proceeded to jump on that same 118 bus to the aqueducts, we were running out of time so we stayed on the outer edge and admired their awesomeness from a few feet away.
Tuesday – The Colosseum, Palatine Hill and The Roman Forum, Piazza Venezia, – Spent 36 Euro (group of 4 people)
(Some tips: 1. Wear sneakers on this day you will be walking A LOT of hills and stairs. 2. When buying tickets for the Colosseum, head over to it and buy tickets at the third line that is closest to the building. Unless you bought a guided tour of course, we spent less time on the line than folks that pre-purchased their tickets. Maybe we got lucky but you might too.)
Tuesday was the day I have always been waiting for. I was a child that was getting ready to go to Disney. As I approached this massive man-made structure, I had a few tears in my eyes; I felt a sense of accomplishment like never before. I was finally standing inside one of the most amazing buildings ever built by mankind. It was beautiful. You can still see the marble seats where spectators watched with delight and horror.
We then proceeded to Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. The fact that any of these areas are still standing til this day is phenomenal. On our way back from the ancient areas we walked through Piazza Venezia, which according to my daughter is also known as the ‘Wedding Cake’.
Wednesday – WE WENT SHOPPING, in Piazza Navona, bought amazing souvenirs and t-shirts, saw artwork, as well as the beautiful “Trevi Fountain”, spent time in Trastevere – Spent 150 Euro (group of 4 people)
I won’t lie, this day was scheduled for museums and we said the heck with that since we planned on going to the Vatican the day after.
So we went shopping in the amazing Trevestere. Wine, chocolates, handmade toys, clothes, and more. And in that process the amazing Trevi Fountain. I will let the picture speak for itself. Of course you can’t enjoy a fountain without? GELATOS.
It was incredibly fun, and Trastevere comes alive at night, with magnificent musicians and restaurants.
Thursday: The Vatican, Primarily the Sistine Chapels, Roman Theater and – 120 Euro (group of 4 people)
(Advise: if your not buying a “skip the line” pass €30 euro per person, you better get here extremely early, as you will be standing in line for roughly 2 hours. We paid €17 euro for adults and €8 for college student and a person 18 and under)
We didn’t follow that advice and upon arriving at almost 11 am, found ourselves waiting in line for the Vatican Museums until roughly 2:00 pm.
However the long wait did not disappoint; all I can say is wow to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapels. Roman statues, amazing artwork, historical stories painted on walls.
All so you can get to the most amazing site you have ever seen, Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. When you walk in you believe you’re looking at actual curtains, and at second glimpse realize it’s a magnificent work of art. Then the moment you have been waiting for; you look up and you will never be the same. “Creation of Man” and much more. I am privileged to have witnessed such a marvelous experience.
We hurried afterwards because we bought tickets to see a performance at Teatro Argentina. It was a beautiful, old style theatre with booth style seats and another display of amazing artwork.
I will tell you this. DON’T GO TO THE THEATER unless you go to see a singing opera or a visual type of presentation, we went to a dialog play and were completely lost, but hey “When in Rome”.
We capped off the night with a visit to a restaurant my daughter wanted to try out: Da Otello in Trastevere. We had already experienced roman pizza, a few pasta dishes, now it was time for the test with my favorite dish: LASAGNA.
After a magificent meal we decided to end our trip in rome walking through the nightlife of Trastevere . Musicians, people eating at tables outside and of course; GELATOS, because you just cant have enough Gelato.
If you are contemplating if you should go the answer is simple. Stop Contemplating. Just Go.
It was sad packing that night and getting ready to go home. I wanted more. But of course every good story must come to an end. OR DID IT…Did I mention we ended up staying one day in Portugal?…Stay tuned.
Flight Cost: $350-$600 USD Round Trip (The earlier the better, Sometimes you can even find really cheap rates if you do one ways.)
Hotel: as low as 60 Euro Per Day (There is no need to stay in a fancy hotel as you will probably never be there. (They do have a person tax, roughly 3.50 euro per day)
Food Range: 8-15 Euro can get you a decent meal (normally served with sparkling or carbonated water)
Attractions: 8 – 17 Euro for Adults (the average is 12)
Exchange rate: TBH try to do it with your bank. You will need roughly 400 – 600 Euro for spending if your conservative like I am