This visit was my first one to Rome. Everyone knows that Rome is a big deal! After all, all paths leads to Rome!
Italy has been on my list since forever, I mean who doesn't have Italy on their list? I kept pushing the idea of going until my Italian friend announced her Italian wedding, which meant by default that Italy is finally happening! My other friend, S, who is also invited to the wedding have not been to Italy either. Therefore, we decided it's time for a girls Italian adventure. We decided to go for two weeks before the wedding to visit the main cities: Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan. The only problem was that all of this was happening in July! One of their hottest months and apparently the summer we went was the hottest in 40 years according to a lady who was walking on the street.
This post is all about Rome and the sights we managed to see. To be honest, the whole city is a big museum. Just walking around aimlessly gives you sights to see. We were spoiled for choice really. You could spend days from one museum to the other and from a church to the other. All that choice made Rome very hard. We couldn't fit everything in in three days, but we wanted to at least see the main sights. We took it at leisurely pace and the level of July heat is insane that you would DIE if you try to cram everything in! Thank God for gelato and water fountains.
Getting Around and Public Transportations:
I used google maps for getting around including all buses. The bus times are estimation. Some were on time and others were over half an hour late. For some reason, google thought buses were better to take than the metro so I just followed! The bus get extremely busy and hot, but they are cheap. It's actually almost free since it's impossible to get to the little validating machine inside the bus.
3G and Data in Italy: If you have a UK sim card with a contract or a prepaid package then the internet then you have access to the internet in the rest of Europe. That was the most helpful thing ever!
Things to see on your first visit to Rome:
Villa Borghese + Borghese Gallery
I arrived to Rome at midnight, so I just hurried to the last train from the airport to the city's main train station then got a taxi from there. I wanted to take a bus, but I couldn't figure it out and thought a taxi was the best option. I was staying a little far from the main city centre, so the taxi was 20 euros. I wanted to take it easy on my first day, so I only went to one park and one gallery. I headed to Villa Borghese, which is a lovely park away from the busy city centre. I packed a picnic and stayed there for a couple of hours. The park houses the Borghese Gallery, which consists of a few rooms with impressive ceiling paintings and sculptures. It's a modest size, but full of impressive artwork there. As you leave the park you can continue walking to Pincio Promenade Passeggiata del Pincio to see statues in the open air and head to Piazza del Popolo. That walk was scenic and gives beautiful views of the city of Rome like the photos below! The Piazza has plenty of restaurants.
Ps. architecture students get a free entry to Borghese Gallery
Obviously! We booked our tickets online from the official website. There were so many options! So, we settled for an individual Museum + Chapel guided tour. It was slightly more expensive to be on a tour with a guide, but it was worth it! We learnt so much and we were glad that we opted for that option. That way we weren't walking aimlessly.
Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel Fast-Track Entry £25.45 (without the tour)
Fun fact: The Vatican used to be its own country. They even have their own Vatican city passports *still is*!
Colosseum + Roman Forum
Another expected one! But, I cannot go to Rome and not visit right?! We went after lunch, but man oh man the sun was on FULL BLAST! It was so hot, which made it extremely hard to enjoy the place! Thankfully, we reserved and paid for our tickets online. That saved us from waiting in the endless queues. It was still hard to fully appreciate it with the heat. It was 27 degrees at 8am, so even going earlier would not have made huge difference. Just don't go in July! I think it will be a good winter activity though!
Buy your tickt: Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill Package £18.18
Muslims in Rome:
I was wearing the turban and everyone was nice to me and I wasn't picked on or stared at. I haven't seen Italian Muslims, but I was only in touristy areas. I saw a few Muslim tourists though. If I had enough time, I would have loved to visit Mosque of Rome (Centro Islamico Culturale d'Italia - Grande Moschea di Roma). I read about the architecture of it and how the design relates to the ritual of prayer and it sounds fascinating. They also hold events in that mosque, so it might be worth checking their Facebook page to check what's on at the time of your visit.
Halal Food in Rome:
I did not find Halal Italian places sadly. I mainly had vegetarian pastas and pizzas. The places I ate in were average. It was actually difficult finding an amazing pasta place in Rome. It is a big city, so finding authentic, delicious places was a little bit of a challenge.