We took the 3.5 hour “air conditioned” train from Venice to Roma. Once we got to the train station we did the thing that every guide book tells you not to.
As we left the station to find the cab stand there were men yelling ‘taxi!’ Turns out they were not actual licensed taxi drivers, which we realized as our driver led us to a van parked across the street and partially in an alley. Sarrah and I noticed the sketchiness of the situation, but the other 2 proceeded without care (don’t worry! Sarrah tracked our progress via GPS the whole way). In the end, we arrived at our place with no incidents, didn’t get over charged, and actually had nice chat with the driver. Later that night we heard a man in a parking lot in a similar situation laughing and saying “that’s not a legal cab!” Through this, I’m learning to be more assertive be it with taxi drivers, pigeon feeders, or others.
That night, we had dinner at a restaurant near our apartment and walked down to the Colosseo to see it lit up.
Hot chocolate has been my morning/break drink for this trip as I don’t like coffee. I discovered that night around the Colosseo that Italian hot chocolate is very different from Ireland and the UK. In Italy, the chocolate is very thick and tastes as Sarrah described “the brownie batter from an old easy bake oven.”
When we bought our train tickets, we were offered a discount for “skip the line” guided tours of the Colosseo and Vatican city. We were excited for these as we were told that there is no “off season” in Roma. What neither we nor many people in our group knew was that “skip the line” really means that you are going to be in a “skip the line” line. It’s shorter than the regular line, but can take a while as the Colosseo only allows 3000 people inside at a time. You can only get into this line via a guided tour, so if you’re going solo, prepare for longer lines.
Our tour guide was great and very knowledgeable, often telling us how wrong Hollywood was about gladiators. The one thing we didn’t like was that we were given a very limited time in the Colosseo and were outside before we realized we were leaving.
When you get tickets to the Colosseo you’ll also be able to enter the Roman Forum, a site of temples and meeting and market places. Here, you can get a great view of the city from the terraces and walk the ancient Roman roads.
The next day, we visited Vatican City using the rest of our guided tour plan. We tried to get an earlier start to make the first Vatican tour. Again, our tour guide was great, but we wished there was more time to explore the gardens or visit tombs (for me at least). You do get free time to explore on your own, however, by that point it is difficult to get back to the gardens or the only restaurant on site. Going into the tombs would make us walk through the entire area again, but due to hunger and tiredness we moved on to find a place to eat.
After lunch, we went to the Pantheon and took pictures, then split into groups. My sister and I roamed the streets shopping, found the Trevi Fountain, and then ate at a restaurant with a wine special for dinner. Finally, we walked back to the apartment to pack for our flight the next day.
-As Sarrah said “we couldn’t get any closer to the ruins unless we were in them.” It was a great location, though at times Google Maps was confused as to why we couldn’t just walk through the forum…
-We learned a lot from our guided tours, but they are always more rushed. Some will let you join the tour for the “skip the line” line, then you can do your own thing. Do your research for what you’re hoping to do.