My time in Rome during the holiday season was extremely magical. My boyfriend and I traveled from Ireland to Rome for a week during my time studying abroad and the city could not have been more exciting to explore. Although our time in Italy was in the end of December, the weather was sunny and mild, making for a beautiful time to walk around the city streets and enjoy the lack of most tourists. During our time, we stayed in a small private hostel that was up three flights of stairs in a small apartment complex right in the heart of the city. Our hosts greeted us with purple wine and blue teeth and we immediately fell in love with our little home stay. Every morning they would deliver us croissants and coffee and we would begin exploring the city on our own- attempting to read maps and talk to locals.
One of our first days in Rome we rented a moped and did the typical Hillary Duff in Lizzie McGuire movie scene. On the back of Michael’s moped we toured together through the city, stopping at the coliseum and eating lunch in a small cafe right outside the city ruins. Of course- most of what we did in Italy included trying all the bread, pasta, and wine imaginable. I think I ate carbs for every single meal (not including gelato). We decided to tour the coliseum by ourselves- although many people could buy public or private tour of the historic ruins. The day we explored the coliseum we accidentally got lost around the city on our moped. We were clueless without our google maps involved in directions. We mistakenly got onto the Italian highway and got honked at a million times before we found our way back into the city with pure luck. This small detour led us right up to the capital building, where we got to explore more ruins and beautiful architecture of the city at sunset.
The best part of traveling with your best friend is that no matter where we went in Rome or unexpected detours we took, we had smiles on our faces and the trip was still a romantic adventure. A memorable day in Italy for us was when we visited Vatican City. The public transportation in Rome was so easily accessible. Our hostel was in a great spot for the train, so we got to hop onto the transport and head about 15 minutes down the road to Vatican City. When we got off the train in Vatican City- it was pure chaos. There were crowds of tourists everywhere and lots of scammers attempting to take money from unsuspecting tourists. Tons of people were claiming they could give us a private tour and they were reputable, but I am a skeptic and did not believe any of them. I suggested we just wait in the long line to get into Vatican City but Michael thought it would be quicker to get a private tour and followed a man into a small private shop. Thankfully he came back claiming he had bought us tickets to a private tour, but I was still very skeptical. In the end, we did get a reputable tour with a “cut the line” pass so this story has a happy ending- but be aware of scammers in this area and if you are unsure it’s best to just wait in line.
Vatican City was an indescribable experience. If you ever go to Rome- you have to take the time to come here, even if you are not religious. A city within itself- Vatican City had so much beautiful art, history, and so much to learn. The art museum was filled with amazing renaissance works of art and if you’re lucky like we were- you may even see the pope. Being able to pray and meditate in St. Peter’s Basilica was a life altering experience and although you pay to pay more to get in or wait in a longer line, it is every bit worth the experience. After we left the Vatican, we ventured back for some more pasta and wine, followed by gelato. The gelato shops in Italy have the most tasty and beautiful ice cream I’ve ever seen. If you do not like gelato (not sure why anyone wouldn’t) at least take a look inside a shop and see how they beautifully decorate each flavor.
Our last day in Rome was my absolute favorite memory to date. Michael and I stopped by a coffee shop with no agenda for the day. To add to our “happy accidents” on this trip, we mistakenly ordered alcohol in our coffee at a small Italian coffee shop and got a kick-start to our day quite early. We wandered around the city and ran into all the tourist spots we had yet to see that I really wanted to visit. We got to eat gelato sitting by the Trevi Fountain and threw some coins in while we made wishes, we ate lunch outside the Pantheon while a cellist played the cello, and got to walk through the Piazza Navona to look at the beautiful old architecture. Rome was every bit as beautiful, historic, and romantic as I had always imagined. My Roman holiday was spent with my loved one; exploring the city, food, and sharing many great first experiences. If you go to Rome with friends, family, or even chose to explore alone, you will find adventure and magic within this city. Italy in general is an amazing country filled with exquisite food, locals, and history but Rome is a whole other unique story all in itself.