Everyone told me Rome was too touristy, too hot, too dirty. These comments were a good reminder that I should not care what people think or say because they were wrong. Rome was amazing. Sure, there were tourists, there were some dirtier streets and there were days that were hot, but the good far outweighed any bad. I wouldn’t even say they were bad because those things are part of the place, a part of the experience. I absolutely loved the people, the sites, the history and the culture. I definitely want to go back, which is how I determine how much I liked a place. Based on my five days there, I came up with the 7 cool things to do in Rome. If you have a chance to go to Rome anytime soon, definitely don’t miss these tips.
1. Get a Tour Guide for the Vatican
When I got in my taxi the morning I was going to the Vatican, my driver did me a solid and suggested I get a tour guide. I quickly looked at the cost of admission without a guide and then compared it to the cost of a guide. Although it was about double the price, it was totally worth it. The biggest benefit of going with a tour guide was that I didn’t have to wait in any lines to get into the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel or St. Peter’s Basilica. Had I purchased tickets to the Vatican on it’s own, I would have also had to wait in line to get into St. Peter’s later. I saved myself a ton of time and got to see all of the Vatican city sites in less than half of a day.
2. Go to the Coliseum Right when it Opens
Yes, it is a major tourist attraction, but for good reason. The Coliseum is totally worth a visit. But here’s the catch – get there right when it opens. I was literally there the minute they opened the gates and I’m so glad I did that. I didn’t have to wait in lines at all, I was literally one of the first 10 people inside the building, and I had a lot of quiet time to enjoy the Coliseum, to take pictures, and stare in awe of the space before a lot of people showed up. By the time I was done walking around the Coliseum, it just started getting busy, and I was off to my next attraction.
3. Try Authentic Italian Food (Not Americanized Versions)
I know you’re going to say ‘duh, of course, I’m going to eat Italian food’. I felt compelled to add this point because I couldn’t believe how many Americans I witnessed eating burgers in Italy. Seriously, I heard an American tourist say, “finally, an American meal.” If you want to eat “American” food, why are you in Italy? I personally think you should try to embrace a culture when you visit another place and trying the food is such a big part of that.
4. Practice Your Italian
One of my biggest pet peeves is when foreign visitors make no effort to speak the local language. I’m not suggesting you try to be fluent before you get to Italy, but you should know the basic Italian phrases. You only need the basics so you can order meals, get direction, and (shocking) be polite!
5. Eat all of the Gelato
Just like my trip to Milan, I tried a lot of gelato in Rome. When in Rome…J But seriously, the gelato in Italy is just too good not to try. Don’t just stick to one flavor or shop either, try them all! My personal favorite is Nutella flavored gelato; I also love the chocolate flavors because they are so rich. You only need a small dish because it IS so rich. And don’t feel bad about the gelato you’re eating because you’ll burn it off with all the walking.
6. Go to the Spanish Steps at Sunset
On the last day of my trip, I realized I hadn’t been to the Spanish steps yet. Lucky for me, I timed it just perfectly to arrive right before dusk. At the top of the Spanish Steps, you will have an amazing view of the city. It was so gorgeous to watch the city turn from day to night.
7. Sit at a Café Across from Trevi Fountain
I was pretty surprised how much I loved Trevi Fountain. I didn’t love how busy it was, but there were several cute cafes right around the fountain where you can get a coffee, have a little bite to eat or grab a small cup of gelato to sit by the fountain. Although it’s super busy, Trevi Fountain is still worth a visit. I’m sad I didn’t get around to visiting at sunrise. I’m sure it would have been much quieter and I wish I had made the time to sit there in silence a bit longer – it will be at the top of my list for my next trip to Rome.
Although I only had 5 days in Rome, I was still able to see a lot of the gorgeous city. The history, the architecture – I loved it all. This was the first time, in a long time, that I felt a major sense of awe – awe for the beauty of it all, there is just something so special about the human experience when you sit amongst 2000-year-old ruins. If you have a chance, you must go. I hope you have a chance to check out these 7 cool things to do in Rome.