A First-Timers Guide To Rome

The Germans have a word, ‘Fernweh’ which means to be homesick for places you’ve never been. Which sums up perfectly the way I had always felt about Rome.

I have always had a fascination with Italy, to say the least. It was my favourite part of Eat, Pray, Love, (lol) it was my first Pinterest board, I told people I wanted to name my daughter Sienna and I stared at pictures of the country in travel magazines for years just yearning to go there. I believe Italy was the country that after discovering it’s pure existence, sparked my lust for travel.

It wasn’t until the summer of 2018 that I finally made it there, in the form of a weekend trip from London to Rome to meet some friends who were honeymooning through Italy.

Rome is enthralling, and impossible to do in two days, two weeks and arguably two months or years. Luckily though, there’s no risk of choosing lacklustre attractions or activities. Everything from sitting perched on your window sill with an espresso in hand, to the delicious cuisine, to venturing through the Colosseum will captivate and leave you wanting more.

That said, there are certainly some things that I think need to be experienced when first visiting Rome. Which is what I’ve compiled in this post. Enjoy.

Start the day at an Espresso Bar

Italians love coffee, and they make a pretty good one too. Traditionally, they serve espresso shots at a long bar and you can down it in one or two mouthfuls while standing. It’s a fun way to immediately get into the culture first thing in the morning.

Visit the Colosseum

If this is your first time in Rome, it goes without saying that you’ll need to visit the Colosseum. It is worth the hype. So deep in history and preserved so incredibly well, I highly recommend getting a tour guide to explain the many areas and stories.

Explore the Roman Forum

Right next to the Colosseum is the Roman Forum, a natural next step in your day. It was much larger than I imagined and every bit as interesting. We went on a 30-degree day and there aren’t many shady spots so be warned if you go in the summer!

Enjoy a long lunch

Rome is full of restaurants promising authentic Italian cuisine but a lot of the ones on the main streets can be a little lacklustre. My advice is to make your way into the alleyways and weave deep enough to get off the tourist trail, there you’ll find hidden gems that are 100% better quality food and easier on the wallet. My favourite dishes were Bruschetta, Fior de latte pizza, three-cheese gnocchi, but you literally cannot go wrong with anything.

Battle tourists at the Trevi fountain

The Trevi fountain is massive, I was not prepared for how unimaginably huge it is. So it is worth going, however, unless you go at the crack of dawn you will experience something similar to being at a football game. There is a consistent crowd of tourists covering every part of the fountain so getting a photo alone is a mission. But if you don’t care about getting an insta-worthy shot, I’d say aim to get a bit higher up to admire the marble work of the fountain.

Grab an Aperol (or two)

Because when in Rome.

Be amazed by Altare Della Patria

By now you’ll have realised that everything in Rome is impressive, this building no exception. Somehow in my obsessive research, this place had managed to elude me, so my first sight of this larger-than-life marble building was awe-inspiring. You can visit the first couple of floors for free but it costs to get to the top.

Gelato (duh)

You must not leave Rome without indulging in the creamy, sweet, delicious treat that is Italian Ice-cream. Pretty sure it’s like illegal or something.

Explore the Pantheon

Yes, I’m sorry, another super old but awesome Roman building. But this one is free to get in so a good option for those on a budget.

Jump over to Vatican City

So, we made the unforgivable mistake of going on a Sunday. Two reasons why this is not recommended, 1: The crowds were next level, it took us two hours to get into St Peters Basilica. 2: The Sistine Chapel is closed on a Sunday, I almost cried. This means I’ll need to plan another trip to see Michelangelo’s famous ceiling. Which I’m not too unhappy about.

People watch on the Spanish steps

If you have managed to achieve even half of what I’ve recommened above, you deserve a rest. The Spanish steps overlook a gorgeous square and provide ample people watching opportunities. If you have time, head up towards the park above and take in the views.

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