Rome is a city I’ve wanted to visit since I was 17. I studied Ancient History in Year 11 at school (senior high school), Rome and Pompeii were 2 places that have stuck with me since.
My flight from Zurich into Rome landed around 10pm. I missed the shuttle bus by seconds so I had a 30 minute wait for the next and final shuttle into the city. By the time I arrived at Rome main train station it was close to midnight, dark and mostly deserted. I had to walk past a group of men at a taxi rank who whistled and said a few inappropriate things as I walked past. I didn’t respond or make eye contact, hoping this was not going to escalate. This is one of the challenges of being a solo female traveller. In hindsight I wouldn’t travel this late again or I’d book a direct shuttle to my accommodation. I noticed a group of African American guys walking in the direction of my hostel so I crossed the road and stuck close by them. A sense of security I suppose.
I arrived at the address on my confirmation and found the buzzer for my hostel. It took about 20 minutes to check in and be shown to my room. I had booked a private room in the hostel and was glad to see the double bed and ensuite. I cranked the fan on and enjoyed a cold shower. Both were welcome in the hot and humid Italian weather. I opened the shutter windows and fell asleep with the fan blowing right on me.
I woke up to shouting coming from the street below. When I looked out there was an Italian lady hanging her washing out her window a few floors down. This hostel didn’t come with free breakfast so I made my way back to the main train station and got myself a muffin and coffee, all the while using the free wifi to plan my day.
Most things were within walking distance from my hostel but it did mean I was going to spend most of my day on my feet. With this I set out to the Colosseum. As big as it is, it appeared out of nowhere. I had been walking through Parco Del Colle Oppio park and came round a corner to this massive historical sight. I circled the arena before moving on when one of the souvenir sellers started haggling me. Eventually I offered him €1 for the beaded bracelet he had forced on my wrist and with that he left me alone. I hated that this was the second unpleasant experience within 24 hours in this city I had for so long wanted to see.
Shaking it off I moved on up the hill past the Arch of Constantine to the Roman Forum. It was such a pleasure to see these ancient sights. From text book to reality to imaging scenes from the Gladiator.
I followed the steep climb to what felt like the top of Rome, the Piazza Venezia. The white marble on this building is brilliant. The statues have so much detail engraved into them. The architecture absolutely amazing. There is a reason for that saying “all roads lead to Rome”.
The humidity had got to me by now and needed a sugar fix. I ducked into a cafe and grabbed an ice cold coca-cola, just in time it would seem as it started to rain. Thankfully it didn’t last long. I moved on along to the temple Pantheon. The entry line was too long so I admired this building from the outside. Unbeknownst to me at the time, had I continued left for a mere 15 minutes I would’ve been in the Vatican. I wasn’t too heart sore about this as I do have my quarrels with the Catholic church.
From the Pantheon I moved back towards the city stopping at the Trevi Fountain. This is an absolutely gorgeous piece of art. The fountain was crowded and there were cops constantly blowing whistles encouraging people to not obstruct the fountain area for too long, to allow everyone the opportunity to make their way to the front of the fountain. I didn’t make it to the front and get to throw a coin and make a wish, but I was ok with that.
It was mid afternoon by now and my feet ached. Wrong shoes. I was also hangry so I stopped at a traditional restaurant. I ordered bruschetta, bolognese and a glass of aperol spritz. I inhaled the food, not realising how hungry I actually was. The spritz was so refreshing. It was now that I chose to check how far I was from the Vatican City and how close I’d been when I was at the Pantheon. It would be a 45 minute walk back there. My feet groaned, it wasn’t worth it. Instead I stumbled back to the hostel, grabbing snacks for later.
I spent the remainder of the afternoon hand washing my clothes and in true Italian style, hung them out to dry outside my window. The clothing was dry in a matter of hours. I enjoyed a long shower before putting up my feet and looking up last minute tours to Pompeii for the following day. I managed to find a self guided tour on board the Flex bus at an affordable cost. It was going to be an early start so I drifted off with a lovely breeze coming in through the window. I had 2 hiccups in Rome but I had otherwise enjoyed a city high on my bucketlist.