On the list of things that I never thought I would get to do is definitely spend a week long “honeymoon” in Rome with my husband at 20 years old. Having never planned a big trip like this, I was very, very nervous that I was going to make mistakes flying by myself, or booking the right transportation from the airport.
But, we did it!
When you spend your first two months of being married apart, plane tickets are pretty cheap, you just got a new passport and UF spring break is just right around the corner?
You go the first chance you get! And I left the first day of spring break.
With the threat of Coronavirus still relatively low in Rome (all of the cases at the time were in the Veneto and Lombardy regions, coincidentally very close to where Micah is stationed), I hopped on a plane with just my backpack and a carry on.
While I flew through New York, Dublin and finally to Rome, Micah took a train from the town he is living in to meet me at the airport.
And, as always, I was nervous that things would somehow be different when I saw him again. But, also as always, it felt like no time had passed!
In this post, I want to take you through the places we visited (most of the must-see, classics of Rome), and I also want to share some advice that I picked up along the way!
Now, we were both 20, never traveled together before, never planned a trip by ourselves and we were learning everything as we went. Almost as if we truly were just way too young to be doing this, we had no precedent for what we thought it needed to be.
So I am by no means saying that my advice is fool-proof – but we did have a lot of fun!
Let’s get started!
Where We Went
- The Vatican
Luckily, the bed and breakfast that we booked was on the same street as the front entrance to the Vatican.
It was more incredible than we could have imagined, as it was also situated on a street with many coffee shops, gelaterías, cafés and corner stores.
After a quick cappuccino and fluffy pastry on the second day, Micah and I waltzed into St. Peter’s Square.
Because of a multitude of events all acting together, including the rainy day, the cold and lack of tourists due to Coronavirus fears, the line to get into the Basilica was very short.
There, in the grand entrance to the church, we got to see what we had only heard stories about in the past. We took our time, letting our eyes take in all that they could, as we went from chapel to chapel to pray, to watch and to observe.
We event got to walk through the Catacombs!
The next day, we went back to the Vatican to have an official guided tour through the museums and into the Sistine chapel.
The Sistine Chapel!
We didn’t have near enough time to truly take in the beauty and majesty of this historic and sacred place.
While we were there, a priest began speaking, in three different languages, to remind us of the holiness of where we stood. He said that it was not only a tourist destination… it was a place where people prayed and offered their heart’s concerns.
Of that day, that is what I remember the most.
2. The Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain
By nature of these two famous attractions being so close to each other, Micah and I visited both of them in the same day.
And let me tell you, they were much bigger than we anticipated!
At the Pantheon, which we did not know had been converted into a Catholic basilica, we did a self-guided audio tour. This was the perfect option for us because it was cheaper, about 7 euro per person for us to each have a smart phone loaded with the tracks, and we could walk from chapel to chapel, holding hands and learning at our own speed.
Again, usually very packed, there was no line to get in, and there were plenty of spots open at the cafés in the square, which is where we got to sit and pay way too much for two cappuccinos!
The pictures were worth it, though!
After our coffee date, shopping and a walk, we made it to the famous Trevi fountain of which my only prior experience was the Lizzie Maguire movie on Disney channel.
When we first rounded the corner from a small, cobble-stoned side street into the plaza where the Trevi Fountain stands, we were silent for almost a minute.
Built as a tribute to the God of the ocean, Oceanus, the fountain is grandiose, immaculate and depicts Oceanus offering humanity horses above running water and loose change which has fallen to the bottom of the pool.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, can replace visiting this place yourself, in person!
3. The Colosseum and the Roman Forum
In the place where the Roman government, to this day, stands is the Roman forum. Directly in front of it, where the arches in the forum all lead, is the colosseum.
With all the power and history that I could sense in this place by just seeing the ruins, I can only imagine how powerful Rome must have seemed when it was at its height.
Micah and I went on a guided tour of both places so that we could get a more complete comprehension of where we were standing.
Little did we know the colosseum had tunnels leading under it for the gladiators to be transported from training facilities to the arena without being seen, and the Roman Forum’s ruins were once covered by the Earth until archeologists excavated the site.
The most striking part of the day, for me, was how they just left all the fallen columns and expensive, rare stone from Egypt strewn across the grounds. It was like there was beauty in what had fallen, just as much as what had stood.
This remains one of my favorite days of the trip.
Although there was a lot more left to see, we decided that since we are going to live in Italy for a few years, there was no point in rushing anything.
So, we took our time, explored every part of the forum and the city that we could, and sat long, laughed a lot and ate well at every meal.
Now, what did we learn from this trip, and what advice do I have to offer?
My Tips as a Travel Newbie
- Bring rain gear.
If you are traveling around March or April, do not leave the rain boots and jacket at home!
Luckily, I brought rain boots, but my rain jacket was still sitting in the drawer in my bedside table because I wanted to save room in my luggage.
Do not do that!
For about 3 of the 5 days we stayed in Rome, it rained and was very, very cold.
But, for the days that you spend huddled up under a hard outer layer you will be rewarded with beautiful days for strolling along the streets and window shopping.
2. Wear comfortable shoes.
This might be obvious, but I always forget to keep comfort a consideration. While in Italy you will be doing a lot of walking.
Almost everything is accessible via train, bus, metro or by foot, and there will be very few times where you want to sit down to rest if you are not at a café.
With this in mind, pack comfy shoes! Even if you want to wear heels for a big night out, I would recommend taking advantage of the block heel trend that is happening right now.
They offer the fashion of heels, but the stability of not wearing stilettos.
Just be aware of blisters!
3. Always get espresso.
In Italy, no matter the kind of restaurant it is, there will be an espresso machine.
It is a fact.
Whether you are in a fancy dinner place or a pizza place on the corner, like Micah and I’s favorite, each kitchen is outfitted with a fully functional espresso machine from which people order shots of espresso after every meal.
While on our trip this was one of my favorite parts of the dining experience because it just made me feel like the meal was complete.
I highly recommend it!
4. Order the house wine.
What is “house wine?” you may ask.
Well, it is a brand of wine that a restaurant or café purchases in bulk which can then be bought by customers for a cheaper price than if they were to order a specific brand of wine.
Instead of 12 euro for a each glass, Micah and I were able to order the house wine at every restaurant for only 6 euro for a liter!
There is no other way to go, trust me!
5. Don’t cheap out on tour guides!
For our tour of the Roman Forum and the Colosseum, Micah and I went the cheaper route, and could tell the difference.
When traveling on a budget it can be very hard to decide when it is time to splurge and when it is time to save, but I am here to tell you that you will not regret spending more on tour guides!
A good guide offers a new perspective that one might not have if they were just exploring on their own; many times you will only get to see a place once, and you don’t want to feel as if you missed out on the experience.
So go with the 5 star, well-experienced tour company! They know their stuff and have high ratings for a reason.
Well, that is it for me! I told you about our trip to Rome, our recommendations and my favorite parts of being there.
I would love to hear from you if you have similar or different experiences in this ancient city!
Thank you for reading!
Until next time,