I was blown away by the beauty of Rome right from the start of my trip. Open fields, forests, flowers, and the train ride from the airport to my bed and breakfast was a sign of good things to come. My countryside retreat for three days was located 10km from the center of Rome. I decided to stay out of Rome for many reasons, the main ones being that I wanted to experience how the locals live, go where they go, eat where they eat and essentially enjoy the prices that come along with all of the above. I wanted to breathe some fresh air and not be surrounded by tourists but at the same time have the option of accessing touristy spots at short notice. Of course as I discovered, sometimes trying to fit in with the locals can be a bit challenging, as you will soon read.
I knew I was going to get lost on this trip, I wanted to. I left the train station and found my first bus without much effort. While waiting at the bus stop, I met a Peruvian guy and we started chatting about life in Italy. The Italians are a laid back bunch, which was evident as soon as I got on the bus. I approached the bus driver and confidently asked for “un biglietto grazie” (a ticket please). He looked at me as if I stepped on the wrong bus and replied ‘I don’t sell ticket,’ very well I said to myself as I looked for a seat, meanwhile acting like I knew exactly what just happened. Five stops later and I realized I had to get off on the fourth stop. Of course if you don’t indicate that you need to get off at a certain stop then the driver will not stop and will actually increase his speed. Again I pretended that I knew exactly where my stop was while trying not to break my neck while looking at the name of the stop as the driver flew by. Anyways, I got off at the next stop. I decided to walk to the previous stop because just next to it was where I would catch the second bus that would finally take me to my destination. Now this stop was not a happening stop. Meaning that I waited 30 minutes without even a hint of a bus coming in my general direction. It was getting a little dark and so I decided to walk, guided only by a photo of a google map that I took. It was a 40 minute walk and I was moving. Luckily for me, 15 minutes into my walk, a little bus zoomed past me and stopped about 20 meters ahead to let someone off. I ran up to the bus and this time, a little desperate, showed the driver where I needed to go. A friendly Italian chap overheard me and said that he was headed in the same direction and would show me how to get there. Uh a sigh of relief.
I finally arrived at my hotel and was greeted by Romina, who made me feel very welcome. She explained where I need to go to experience local cooking. She said go to this restaurant called La Treggia, ask for Fabrizio and tell him I sent you. This right here guys was one of the highlights of my trip. Fabrizio hooked me up and I got to taste some of the best food I have ever tasted. He is the owner and head chef and he comes to every table and takes the order himself. He recommends the special of the day and really puts love into what he does.
Day 2 started off with a 45 minute walk/wait for the bus followed by getting off at the wrong stop again. I finally made it to the train and took a 20 minute train ride into town. I asked for a train ticket at the station and was sold a bus ticket. I asked if I can use it for the train and was told yes. It appears that no one buys train tickets. Anyways, once I made it to Rome center, it was just beautiful sights after beautiful sights. Fountains, monuments, museums, the Coliseum, the cobbled streets. It was just amazing. I found a hidden pizza place, which just opened for lunch and not too long after I arrived, the place was full. The third best pizza I have ever tasted. After Milan and after Fabrizio from the night before.
The most awe inspiring thing for me in Rome was the Trevi fountain. It was on my list of sights to see and I had more or less an idea of where it was, but it caught me by surprise as I turned the corner. I was really impressed and was left in awe of its majestic beauty. When in Rome definitely go to the Trevi Fountain.
I did some really amazing meditation in the center of Rome. I plugged in my headphones, blasted Ave Maria, and took in deep breathes while getting lost wandering the cobbled streets, each piece of architecture more impressive than the next. I highly recommend doing this.
The Vatican is epic. St. Peters Basilica and The Sistine Chapel was all just so beautiful. I’m not a fan of museums, but I decided to pay the 16 euros to see the Vatican museum. It was well worth it. You need at least one full day in the Vatican. St. Peters Basilica is one of the most awe inspiring pieces of Architecture I have ever seen. After half the day in the Vatican, I then took the train back to the country side. Day two ended of with a top dinner at Fabrizios followed by an even better sleep.
On day 3 I decided to explore some of the street art in Rome. Rome is known for having some of the most amazing street art in the world. It is kind of strange to see a door without graffiti, a painting, or an arrangement of stickers. Seeing a mixture of the old with the new is very refreshing. After my street art tour, I decided to have a drink in one of the pubs. I found the owner to be very friendly and the afternoon was spent making new friends while enjoying some locally brewed Italian beer. It was great.
Word of advice! Don’t assume that your departing flight is going to be from the same airport where you landed. Man did I screw this one up. Monday morning, 04h30am, I’m up and getting ready to leave in order to catch my 06h30 flight back to Paris. I get to the train station around 05h15 where I patiently wait for my train that will take me to the airport just 10 minutes away, life is good. While waiting, I just decided to actually look at my boarding pass for the first time and I noticed that the airport code was different. Quick side note, another reason why I chose to stay out of Rome is that I would be close to the airport to catch my early flight on Monday. Whoa was I smart. Anyways after swearing under my breath and calling myself an idiot over and over again, I went to a small gas station just next door and I requested a taxi to take me to the other airport in Rome, which is located on the exact opposite side of where I was. After 30 minutes of waiting and two calls to the taxi company later, I accepted the fact that 1. The taxi was not going to show up and 2. I was going to miss my flight. I took the train into Rome, caught a taxi to the other airport, which was about a 30 minute drive, and then I was told that the next flight back to Paris is in 12 hours, pay 100 euros and it’s yours. Oh how we learn. In many ways this was a great lesson. I was so preoccupied in living like the locals and being close to catch my flight that I forgot to notice a rather important detail. In travelling these things happen, they must happen in order for us to not only learn, but to also find the positive in everything. Rome was amazing. I highly recommend that you go and visit or live there if you can. Walk as much as possible, learn some Italian before you arrive and remember to live like the locals. Visit Trevi Fountain, download Ave Maria and don’t forget to double check your departing flight. Until next time Cheers and safe travels.