Rome for free! (Or as close as you can.)
We have reached 400 views! Thank you for all of your support and I hope this blog has brought a smile to all of your faces.
My next adventure was in Rome, a city steeped in history, from its mythical foundation under Romulus and Remus, being raised by a wolf. An emblem that is still seen to this day at the football club AFC Roma. To the expansion of the Roman Empire, which lasted for 1500 years. Rome had the foundation of the Christian Catholic Church, the Renaissance, capital of the new Italy, Mussolini and some of the biggest football clubs in Italy and the world.
The first thing I would recommend is Google maps, a priceless and free app to help you get around on foot.
I arrived by train and had booked a flat near the train station, which turned out to be a great location. Three bedrooms, clean and tidy, friendly people to meet me at the flat. I met my friend Merri at the train station an hour later and planned and prepped a cheap day out in Rome.
The place was baking hot the next morning, so we set out as early as possible, with the aim of seeing as many of the major locations as possible. Moving from the train station, we went through some of the local parks, with the aim of reaching the Pantheon and grabbing a cappuccino and croissant nearby, starting an excellent day. Everywhere you looked and through each park, you had beautiful ruins and architectural ideas left over from the past.
We started off at Victoria Emmanuel 2nd park and from there it felt Rome was full of wide open spaces as we quickly moved onto “Parco Del Colle Oppio.” A huge park filled with pine trees. It was incredible to see how big some of the Roman structures had been, multi-storey red brick buildings. They were scattered and broken across the park. When we reached the end you were greeted by the Coliseum. A light beige colour, highlighted by the sun, basked this impressive stadium, which through the park seemed to spring from nowhere.
Tourists were scattered everywhere, photos being snapped at every angle and tour groups circled the gargantuan building.
We moved onto the main road leading into the centre. The “Via dei Fori Imperali”, a huge walkway into the centre of the city, scattered to the left and right with huge monuments and temples left over from Ancient Rome.
The road was built in 1935 under Mussolini’s orders, where it was forced through. Taking out several churches, ancient houses, famous archaeologists house full of antiquities and then building over-the-top of the Roman monuments that we see today. To cap that all off, the pieces have been lost and this was because no one had bothered to keep a register of all.yhe items that had been collected.
The end of the road brings you to the “Altare della Patria” a white marble building that stands high across the Roman scenery. It really looks like something that could have come out of Ancient Rome, which had survived intact for thousands of years. Alas, this is not true, it was built to celebrate the creation of modern Italy and the first King Victor Emmanuel II, who with the help of Garibaldi unified the country into its present state.
The furthest part of the journey was now at hand, which was to visit the Pantheon and aim to get a coffee and croissant. Food by this point is the priority. We moved through the back streets, all close and packed together, keeping off the now warm sun. The trick was to find breakfast/brunch, however, it proved to be tricky.
Most shops and cafes that had been recommended were packed. The only option seemed to be to look through the back streets. Eventually stumbling upon a cafe, with a small piazza packed with people, who were predominately Italian. Cold coffee and croissants were had, however at the end of an average at best coffee and stale croissants, a bill for €16 was produced. Shocked by the total, I queried the price, which was confirmed and offering to pay by card was refused, stating that there was no card machine…the best bet was to go to the cash machine across the way, which I agreed to. (I was tempted to say, ”io sono ingest, non stupido.” I’ve never tried this but have heard if said with a wry smile. It can get you a laugh and a reduced price.) Only to find that the machine only did an equal exchange rate for 1:1 Pound to euros it also charged £2.50. Making the price of two coffee and two croissants £22…So we proceeded to head to Piazza Navona, in search of a cash point and some more free culture and sites.
The piazza was stunning, a huge open space, filled with three beautiful fountains, the central being the most prominent and reminded me of the Eiffel Tower in its rough pyramid shape, with four supporting struts.
Our next stop was at the Pantheon, a huge domed Roman building, made of Roman concrete, with a piazza filled with entertainers. The Pantheon has an interesting history. It is one of the most preserved ancient Roman buildings, 125 AD, in Rome and therefore the world. In constant use for just under 1900 years. Kings and Raphael are buried there, including Raphael’s fiancée. (They never married as he was having an affair..) there is only one window opening in the whole building. The most awe-inspired piece is its domed roof. Built with a hole in the top, made of concrete, unsupported and the biggest unsupported dome in the World. It’s about 1.5 times the size of the dome in the US Congress/Parliament.
We started to make our way back from this point. Cutting through the piazza, and stopping at St Maria Sopra Minerva Basilica. Another point of free entry, and full of incredible art, stained glass and designed in a neo-gothic look.
To keep with the plan of a limited budget and authentic experience. We found a small supermarket and an excellent small pizzeria called: Pizza and Mozzarella. A tiny Pizzeria, with a very chatty chef, who is cooking your pizza in front of you, chatting and taking your money, all within a tiny space at little or no cost.
Next stop was the supermarket for fruit and drinks then making our way back to Via dei Fori Imperali feast on our food and listen to guides giving tours of the ruins.
After the midday sun had calmed down we ventured out into the evening once more to find more coffee and views. This city is so romantic, the stones, designs, history and lights combine beautifully to create a unique atmosphere. Almost everywhere you go something catches the eye and makes it feel unique, beautiful and somewhat romantic.
We headed to the river and walked along its huge banks, looking down into the river, noting another level of shops sitting by the river, with live music playing through the enclosed spaces and carrying across the stretch of river.
The final stop of the tour in Rome was a speakeasy cocktail bar. Jerry Thomas Speakeasy. For those that don’t know, this is a bar that is meant to be hidden. Leftover from the days of America banning alcohol. Access to the bar would require a code, and I’ve seen some in the U.K., which have been fun, you go through a mirror, or fridge, even through a side door in a toilet. This was slightly hidden, in so much as if you were walking past you wouldn’t notice it. However, we did see a doorman, and no password was required. It was still fun to get into. A nice, cosy bar, with great cocktails, and friendly staff who spoke good English.
That is it for this week. If you’re on a budget or not, I would still recommend this nearly free version of Rome. Money is not the important thing here, the place and the sites are and they cost nothing to enter and are priceless in value to visit. Even the food, being cheap, was some of the best I had. The pizza at Pizza and Mozzarella was some of the best I had at any point in Sicily.
In order to get to the airport, I would very much recommend getting a bus from the train station. It’s cheap at €6.50, you pay on the bus and they go pretty frequently. There is even some relatively cheap and tasty food to be found in the food court next to the bus stop inside the station.
I could not find a website for Pizza e Mozzarella so I have added a map instead, be warned the pizzeria is small and easy to miss.
If you enjoyed this weeks trip, maybe you should look at last weeks:
If you are feeling adventurous you could even start from the beginning. https://welcomeworldwalker.com/the-journey-begins/