On July 12th I travelled to Rome with my family for 5 days to explore the city and all the history behind it. It’s a beautiful city with many eye-opening wonders that really take you back to Ancient Roman time and enable you to see what it was really like for the Romans and how they lived. Not only that but it is the capital city of Italy and the food there is pretty incredible.
Rome isn’t a particularly expensive city however we found that it is easy to get tricked into spending more money than you may want to so I have written some handy tips on how to avoid that. I also wanted to mention some of my absolute favourite places in Rome that anyone visiting just has to go to.
When to go
We went to Rome in the middle of July therefore we expected it to be pretty hot but we were in for a huge shock when we got there. This summer was the hottest summer Rome has had for 50 years, which meant a lot of walking and a lot of sightseeing in 38 degree heat could at times get pretty unbearable.
This meant we had to go back to the hotel to freshen up between the hours of 2pm and 4pm as it was seriously baking hot.
However I do think it is important to visit Rome when it is quite hot as I felt that the heat added to the ambience whilst walking around the ruins because that’s how the Romans lived.
I’d advise visiting Rome in the late spring time or early autumn to avoid the insufferable weather but still get a real feel for the place.
Where to go
- Colosseum – Don’t pre book online. We arrived at the Colosseum to an enormous queue which we then found out was actually the queue to get in for people who had pre-booked online. Turns out everyone books online so if you’re actually buying a ticket on the day you can walk straight in. Also I’d definitely advise getting a guide. It’s only a couple euros extra and you learn so much on a 45 minute tour. Also entry to the Colosseum is valid for 48 hours and includes the Roman Forum and Palatine.
- Spanish Steps- An essential site to see in Rome, I’d suggest going at night or early evening as their is a beautiful ambience as musicians and singers surround the steps providing free entertainment whilst you sit on the steps.
- Roman Forum and Palatine– This place gives you
a real feel for ancient Rome and the regular day to day life of the Romans. Top tip: if it’s hot don’t go in the middle of the day as there isn’t much shade & it can get pretty boiling.
- Castel D’angelo– We stumbled across this ancient castle by accident but it was really interesting to walk around and the views from the top of the castle over the whole of Rome are breathtaking.
- Open bus tour– The best way to explore the whole city and learn about the history and architecture. Great to do on the first day so you can see everything an decide what you really want to have a wander around.
- Vatican– Everyone says that you can’t go to Rome and not visit the Vatican. Despite the large queues it is a magnificent building but remember to cover your shoulders and knees or you will be denied entry!
Money saving tip- If you are aged 16-22 you can get discounted tickets to most sites so remember to carry ID around!
Where to eat
- Giolitti– Oh my goodness. Italian gelato is delicious but if you want the best of the best then the place to go is Giolitti. It’s a historic ice cream parlour that opened in the 1900’s, decorated in true liberty style it has a real old fashioned feel to it. There are an abundance of flavours to choose from and I tried many of them, I am struggling to put int
o words how incredible it is so just GO and experience it for yourselves.
- Piazza Navona– This is a square in Rome which is lined with many many restaurants, we ate in two whilst we were in Rome and both were sensational. In the middle of the square there are street artists, dancers, musicians and even a Michael Jackson impersonator. It’s a fantastic place for dinner or just a glass of wine whilst soaking up the Italian surroundings.
How to avoid rip off Rome
- Check your change, there were a few times in restaurants the Italians thought because we were tourists we weren’t smart (stupid eh) so they would short change us on the bill, make sure you count your change so you aren’t tricked into losing out.
- Don’t have the specials, the Italians will describe to you the special dishes of the day which aren’t actually on the menu. If you plan to order a special don’t assume it will be similar price to the rest of the menu, always ask and check the price before you order.
- Say no to their “little brushetta before your meal” the waiters will ask if you want a little something to start before you meal and then bring out plates and plates of antipasti that will later be put on the bill.
- Don’t accept help at the train station, there are tonnes of people wondering round Termini station with an “Italia” lanyard on that isn’t actually attached to anything. This makes them look “official” but actually they are just bombarding you offering to help in return of money. They even sit on the platform and offer to carry your bags onto the train. They get really angry if you don’t pay them or only pay them little so it’s best to just ignore them.