Rome, the capital city of Italy is also the largest and most populous city in the country, with a population of over 2.8 million people. Rome is located in the central-western part of Italy, on the banks of the Tiber River, and is the political, cultural, and economic center of the country. As the capital of Italy, Rome is home to many government institutions, including the Italian Parliament, the Presidency of the Republic, and the Council of Ministers. It is famous for its rich history, culture, art, architecture, and landmarks that have attracted millions of visitors from around the world. Rome is city that has it all, from its rich history and culture to its beautiful art, architecture, and cuisine and I believe it’s a city that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.
Here’s what makes Rome famous:
Ancient Rome: Rome is home to some of the world’s most iconic ancient landmarks, such as the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, and the ruins of the Roman Empire. These landmarks are a testament to Rome’s rich history and cultural heritage.
The Vatican City: The Vatican City is an independent city-state within Rome and the spiritual center of the Catholic Church. It’s home to some of the most famous landmarks, such as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums.
Art and Architecture: Rome is famous for its art and architecture, from the Renaissance masterpieces of Michelangelo and Raphael to the Baroque fountains and sculptures of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Some of the most famous works of art in Rome include the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and the Piazza Navona.
Food: Italian cuisine is famous all over the world, and Rome is no exception. It’s home to many delicious dishes, such as pizza, pasta, gelato, and the famous Roman dish, cacio e pepe.
Fashion: Rome is known for its fashion and is home to some of the most famous Italian fashion houses, such as Gucci, Prada, and Valentino.
How to get to Rome
As one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, Rome is well-connected to major cities in Europe and beyond. Here are some ways to get to Rome:
By plane: Rome has two international airports: Fiumicino (FCO) and Ciampino (CIA). Fiumicino is the larger airport and is located about 35 km from the city center, while Ciampino is smaller and is located about 15 km from the city center. Both airports are served by several international and domestic airlines, with direct flights to and from major cities in Europe, North America, and Asia.
By train: Rome is well-connected to other cities in Italy and Europe by train. There are two main train stations in Rome: Roma Termini and Roma Tiburtina. These stations offer high-speed and regional train services to major Italian and European cities.
By car: If you prefer to drive, you can rent a car and drive to Rome via the Italian highway system. However, driving in Rome can be challenging due to heavy traffic and limited parking.
By bus: Rome is also served by several bus companies, with direct services to and from other Italian and European cities.
There are 3 ways to get from Fiumicino Airport to Termini Train Station
1. Leonardo Express Train. this train travels to Termini station in 32 minutes. The train runs every 15 minutes and costs 17.50 EUR
2. Shuttle Bus. The primary shuttle service for Rome is the Terravision Shuttle bus. This bus is relatively inexpensive at 9 EUR (Children under 12 yo free) and makes 5 stops between the airport and the downtown terminal. The entire trip takes seventy minutes and the company does seven runs every day.
3. Taxi. Cost around 48 EUR
We landed in Rome on time at 06.50 am and to my surprise Italian immigration was very efficient and very family friendly. When the officer saw Alyssa in her stroller he gave me a fast track lane and we were second in line. Wow… the whole immigration clearance took only 15 minutes. (I remembered last year in Berlin, the immigration clearance took almost 2 hours!). I didn’t expect we would be cleared so fast and there was no traffic from airport to Termini. We took the airport shuttle to Termini Train Station because we needed to store our suitcases until our airbnb is ready for check-in. We didn’t use the train because we landed in the morning and there is no traffic to the city center at this hour and bus is cheaper.
We tried to travel light in this trip because there would be days where Hubby was not with us (I needed to make sure Fabio and I could handle the 2 suitcases) and we were going to stay in Cinque Terre which require us to lift our suitcases through the stairs and elevated road. We brought 2 medium suitcases, a yoyo stroller (perfect and most favorite travel stroller which can be stored in airlines cabin) and plane pal. Each of us carried our personal backpack (sling back for me).
Where to store luggage at Termini Train Station
Arriving in Termini Station, we dropped our suitcases in Left Luggage store managed by KiPoint inside the train station. For each piece of baggage service fees are € 6,00 for the first 5 hours, € 1/hour from the 6th to the 12th hour, and € 0,50 for every additional hour. Other alternative for left luggage near Termini is Stow your bag.
How to get around in Rome
Walking: Rome is a city best explored on foot, especially in the historic city center. Walking allows you to experience the city’s vibrant atmosphere and discover its many hidden gems, such as small piazzas and narrow streets.
Public transportation: Rome has an extensive public transportation network, including buses, trams, and metro lines. The public transportation system is operated by ATAC, and you can purchase tickets at metro stations, newsstands, and tobacco shops.
Taxis: Taxis are widely available in Rome, and you can hail them on the street or use a taxi app. However, be aware that taxis can be expensive and traffic in Rome can be heavy.
Bike rental: Rome has several bike rental companies that offer hourly, daily, and weekly rentals. Biking is a great way to explore the city, especially in the parks and along the Tiber River.
Hop-on Hop-off Bus: Hop-on Hop-off Bus tours are a popular way to explore Rome’s landmarks and attractions. These tours offer a hop-on, hop-off service that allows you to visit various landmarks at your own pace.
We bought several bus tickets from the tobacco store (Eur 1.5). Children under 10 is free. There is a Roma Pass option for 48hr and 72hr but after doing some maths, buying bus tickets and museum tickets separately worked cheaper for us. Especially as we only planned to go to Colloseum (ticket include Roman Forum and Palatine Hills) and Vatican Museum (include Sistine Chapel). Children below 18yo are also free to enter all museums in Rome with the exception of Vatican museum. Age group 6 to 18yo pay reduced fee of 50%.
Our two days Itinerary
We find two days is a stretch for a city as big as Rome but if you travel in summer with long daylights and willing to put up with packed itinerary it is doable. Here we go:
After storing our suitcases at Termini Train Station we made our way to Piazza Navona, which was still empty in the morning. Piazza Navona is one of the most beautiful and famous squares in the centre of Rome. In 86 CE, emperor Domitian commissioned this square with its unique, elongated shape. This shape is the result of its original function as the stadium for athletics competitions (Circus Agonalis) with stands for 20,000 spectators. Pope Innocent even organized so-called ‘water games’ during the hot summer months, for which the whole square was put under water. After the fall of the Roman Empire, houses were built where the stands used to be, but the long athletics field remained free of buildings and would later become Piazza Navona.
If you visit in the evening you can enjoy sitting down and relaxing in Piazza Navona and listen to street musician playing.
From Piazza Navona we walked to Trevi Fountain and made a brief stop to see wooden Pinocchio store. I almost forget that the children story of Pinocchio originated from Italy.
We actually passed Pantheon on the way to Trevi fountain but Hubby insisted we saw the fountain first before the sun made it impossible for a good photo session.
La Fontana di Trevi was buzzing with people when we came and it took skill to find a good photo spot without too many people swarming around you.
Trevi Fountain is perhaps the most famous fountain in the world and definitely in Rome. The baroque fountain on the Piazza di Trevi square was initially designed by Bernini for Pope Clemens XII. However, it was not built until 50 years later after a (less expensive) redesign by the architect Nicola Salvi. Construction lasted from 1732 to 1762. The fountain’s fame is in part the result of the many films that featured the Trevi Fountain, including La Dolce Vita, Angels and Demons, The Lizzie McGuire Movie and Roman Holiday.
The almost 30 high Trevi Fountain was built against the back of the Palazzo Poli building. In the centre underneath the arch stands the statue of the nautical god Neptune, being pulled to the sea on his shell-shaped chariot pulled by two winged horses and tritons (young gods of the sea). One of the horses is calm and obedient, the other is boisterous. They symbolize the changing tides of the sea. The two statues in the niches (made by Filippo della Valle) next to Neptune represent Abundance to the left and Health to the right. The name ‘La Fontana di Trevi’ is derived from three roads. Three roads used to come together at the site of the fountain.
After securing a picture with the fountain we bought gelato and did people watching.
The sun was getting hotter so we decided to skip Pantheon today and went straight to the Spanish steps as it was closer walk before making our way back to the train station.
The ‘Spanish steps’ in Rome, built in Rococo style between 1723 and 1726, are the steps that lead from the Piazza di Spagna square to the French monastery church Trinita dei Monti (built between 1502–1587). There are 135 steps and three different terraces, referring to the Holy Trinity (the Trinità). The top of the stairs near the Egyptian obelisk offers a beautiful view, albeit one shared with throngs of other tourists. The name can be a bit confusing, as construction of the steps was actually commissioned by the French (Louis XII). In the 17th century, the Spanish embassy was located on the square – ‘Piazza di Spagna’ – at the base of the stairs, hence the name ‘Spanish Steps’. The official name is therefore not Spanish steps, but Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti.
Spanish Steps is also close to all the branded shops and I used all my willpower to restrain myself entering the shops lol.
We didn’t have much time for lunch so we had lunch at McDonald in front of the train station and picked up our suitcases. It took 30 minutes to retrieve our suitcases due to the long queue and we queue again for the Taxi. Lesson learned here do not take a Taxi from the Taxi stand at Termini. Better called Uber of ordered Taxi from apps. The staff who managed the queue requested a tip. Hubby gave him 5 EUR and then we found that the taxi was not metered and asked for 20 EUR for a less than 10 minutes drive.
We freshened up in our airbnb and took quick rest before headed to Colosseum. We have booked ticket for 16.20 entrance. Our airbnb is nicely located near the bus stop and not too far from the nearest metro stop. We took a metro to the Colosseum.
Of all the things to do in Rome, visiting the Colosseum should be at the top of your list. This is one of the symbols of the Eternal City, heritage of the Roman Empire. Known as the Flavian Amphitheater, its construction started under Emperor Vespasian in 72 AD. The site was completed under Titus in 82 AD. This is where the battles between gladiators and wild animals, as well as other shows of ancient Rome would take place – in front of a massive audience of up to 80,000 spectators. This is a place where you can learn about the incredible past of the Italian capital, and the legacy of the Roman Empire.
When we reached Colosseum I felt so glad that we have bought the ticket online when I saw such an extreme long queue. Never ever attempt to buy the ticket for Colosseum on the spot, especially in summer.
We bought the ticket at the official website Coop Culture in advance. Basic ticket cost 16 EUR (+2 EUR Reservation Fee) and inclusive of Roman Forum and Palatine Hills. Children 18 years old and below are free but you need to order for the free ticket as well. We went straight to the security queue with our ticket on hand and then I went to the reservation counter to pick up our tickets and the free tickets for the children. There was an elevator which we could use to go up and it was strictly for stroller and wheelchair. UPDATED: This has changed with the pandemic. There is a quota to visit Colloseum and ticket have to be bought online or thru the call center +39 06 39967700. And no need to pick up the ticket at the reservation counter.
Even though the ticket come with entrance timed but once inside we were free to stay as long as we wanted. We had dinner in a place not too far from the Colosseum, which we thought a bit too touristy. But everybody was hungry and the food turned out to be okay. We took the bus back to the house and called it a day. What I like about traveling in the summer was the day is long as the sun only set at 9.30pm.
We started the day with coffee I badly needed as Achita woke up at 3am and refused to let me go back to sleep. Coffee in Italy was cheap and good. Drink at the bar standing was only EUR 1.2 and in a table EUR 1.5 It was even cheaper than my coffee shop back home.
After everybody’s tummy were happy we took a bus to Pantheon which we didn’t get to visit yesterday.
Pantheon is one of the most recognizable Roman buildings in Rome’s city centre. Construction of the Pantheon Rome started in 27 BCE on the order of Marcus Agrippa. It is one of the few buildings from ancient Rome that has stayed completely intact. The current temple and characteristic round dome were not built until the 2nd century, under emperor Hadrian, after Agrippa’s building was damaged by a large fire in 80 CE and again in 110 when it was struck by lightning. The façade shows the following text in bronze, ‘M.AGRIPPA.L.F.COS.TERTIUM.FECIT’. It means, ‘Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, third-time consul, has built this’. Interestingly, this text was added during the rule of emperor Hadrian.
From Pantheon we walked to Villa Borghese to have lunch there and let Achita had some playground time.
Villa Borghese is the most popular park in Rome and is considered its green lung.
The Villa Borghese Gardens are located on the Pincian Hill, close to Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo. The Gardens cover an area of 80 hectares and were developed in 1606 by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who wanted to turn his former vineyard into the most extensive gardens built in Rome.
In the same period, the Cardinal commissioned the building of the Villa Borghese Pinciana to the architect Flaminio Ponzio; today this elegant building houses the Galleria Borghese, The gardens were completely redesigned in the naturalistic English style in XIX century and became a public park in 1903.
We spent few hours there sitting in the shade while Achita playing and then we walked home as it was getting hotter with heatwave already started.
The Roman Forum, also known as the Forum Romanum in Latin, is an archaeological site located in the center of Rome, Italy. It was the center of political and social activity in ancient Rome, and it’s home to some of the most significant and well-preserved ancient structures in the world. The Forum was built in the 7th century BC and underwent numerous expansions and renovations over the centuries. It served as a marketplace, a site for public speeches, a place for religious and political ceremonies, and the location of many important government buildings.
You can explore the ruins of many of these buildings, including the Temple of Saturn, the Temple of Vesta, the Curia Julia (the Senate House), and the Basilica of Maxentius and Constantine. The most iconic structure in the Roman Forum is the Arch of Titus, which celebrates the military victories of Emperor Titus in the 1st century AD. You can also see the remains of the Rostra, a platform where public speeches were made, and the Comitium, where public assemblies were held. The Forum is also home to the remains of the Basilica Aemilia and the Temple of Julius Caesar.
Ticket to Roman Forum is bundled with Colloseum and you don’t have to do both on the same day.
The Palatine Hill is one of the seven hills of Rome and is located in the city center, just south of the Roman Forum. It’s one of the oldest parts of Rome and is said to be the site where Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome, established his first settlement.
In ancient times, the Palatine Hill was the location of the homes of Rome’s wealthy and powerful, including several emperors. Today, visitors can explore the ruins of many of these ancient palaces, as well as the impressive gardens and parks that cover the hill. One of the most famous landmarks on the Palatine Hill is the Palace of Domitian, which was built in the 1st century AD and is one of the largest and most well-preserved ancient buildings in Rome. Visitors can also see the remains of the Palace of Tiberius, the House of Augustus, and the Farnese Gardens, which offer breathtaking views of the city.
The Palatine Hill is also home to several museums, including the Palatine Museum, which houses an extensive collection of ancient artifacts, sculptures, and mosaics. The hill is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, and its beautiful gardens and parks provide a peaceful retreat from the bustling streets of Rome.
It was dinner time as we finish, and it was a very hot day and all of us were tired. We went straight to dinner and retreat to our apartment to rest.