How I Spent 3 Days in Rome – Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Stomach Flu, Colosseum, & Trevi Fountain

Rome, Italy – July 2017


Rome, Italy…this was the first stop on my first trip abroad. We spent three days there before heading to other parts of Italy. I was traveling with my mom and meeting my brother once his flight got in. My mom and brother had never been to Europe, either, so it was an…experience. We took a flight from Miami, FL to Rome with a couple hour layover in Lisbon. Overall, easy trip. We upgraded to TAP Portugal’s business/first class and had an amazing flight. Going back to peasant life in coach was a tough one. Once in Rome, we rented a driver to take us from the airport to our AirBNB. Overall, it was about a 45 minute trip and about 50 euros (we also had NO idea how to (or not to) tip yet). My advice for the next time: TAKE THE TRAIN.

TAP Portugal, Travel Europe, Flying Overseas
Any other overseas flying experience is going to be so below my new standards.

Side note: aside from my first day – I had an awful stomach bug for the other 2 days. When I say awful, picture carrying around a plastic bag through a Vatican tour and running through the Sistine Chapel so I don’t get sick in a place of worship… 

 

LONG STORY PUT INTO TOP TIPS:

  1. Bring your reusable water bottle (which you should be doing anyway…save the earth and all that). Almost all of the fountains around Rome are safe to drink from. It’s amazing. I think this was my favorite part of Rome. If you cannot drink from one, it will have  a sign with a picture clearly telling you that it’s not drinkable. It’s also not gross like water fountains here…these are gorgeous fountains that you can fill up at. Embrace Rome and do it – it’s so cold and tastes so good!
  2. Shoes! Even if they’re ugly, you won’t care after 5 miles on cobblestone streets. Wear. Comfortable. Shoes. I rocked Keds and tourist sandals the entire trip and I don’t even care that the sandals yelled, “Hey! Look at me! All I’m missing is my fanny pack!” I also integrated a pair of Tieks, but the other shoes were better because of the leather in my Tieks.
  3. You will have to pay to sit down for coffee. Just wanting to quickly refuel and down a glorious espresso shot? Just join the locals at the literal coffee bar, drink your coffee, and be on your way. Also, if you’re used to drinking five cups of coffee a day, start training before. While the espresso is amazing, the American way of cups of coffee all day is not a thing. I almost died, no joke.
  4. If you are touring churches, Basilicas, or any type of religious sites, make sure you have the proper attire. Have your shoulders covered, no knees showing, and keep your cleavage hidden. It doesn’t matter how hot it is, it’s out of respect and a lot of the places won’t let you in otherwise.
  5. Check out Viator. Look at other blog reviews if you don’t trust mine, I won’t take offense. Especially for the Vatican and Colosseum, the skip-the-line passes are 10000% worth the price (and absolutely if you’re there during peak travel season).
  6. Eat all of the gelato and all of the pizza. By the end of the trip, you won’t want to see pizza or pasta for at least a month, but eat all of it while you’re there. I missed out on a good chunk because of my stomach flu, but the rest of the trip was not wasted in the food department. I promise, though, you will never get tired of the gelato.
  7. Use the public transportation system. Everything I read said that it was very easy to take, but out of conveniencyoue we just took Ubers. The only Ubers available in Rome are black cars, so heads up if you’re not used to that. We never had any problems and go to where we needed to go without any hassle. To save money, though, use that public transit!  I absolutely will the next time that I’m in Rome.
  8. Go to the restaurants far away from direct tourist locations. These are not the best food you’ll get and you’ll pay too much money for a meal. Head away from the crowds and if you find a spot without an English menu, even better! It’s these spots that you’ll get a more genuine Italian experience.
  9. Let go of your expectations. I think this is what made it somewhat of a bummer for me. I had such high expectations because it was my number one spot I wanted to visit my whole life. I think that ruined the magic a little bit.
  10. I asked my mom and brother what their top Rome tip was. My brother said to make sure the place you stay has A/C. If you’re used to hopping around Europe, then you’re likely used to the sub-par air conditioning that doesn’t match how we use it in the States. Even if you are used to it, make sure you’re not stuck in an A/C-less flat in the middle of a heat advisory.

Ok. Here we go – all three days in Rome day-by-day.

We stayed in a cute little AirBNB here:

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Red point – where we stayed.

Unfortunately, this flat is no longer available as a listing – but this is a very convenient location far enough away from a mass of tourists, but close enough to what you want to see. If you need an AirBNB referral code, go to www.airbnb.com/c/karliet or click here. You will receive $40 toward your first trip. Disclaimer: I receive a perk from AirBNB as part of their referral program. I am in no way affiliated with them. 

Day 1:

Woah – talk about overwhelming. I’ll be honest in saying that Rome and most of Italy was not done the way I should have done it. It was the first trip to Europe and things were overstimulating to say the least. Regardless it was still amazing and an eye opening experience.

My mom and I set out to find a currency exchange via Yelp and Google Maps. If you’ve never been out of the US, here’s a tip: a lot of the buildings have the street names on them; stop looking for street sign posts. We should have walked about 10-15 minutes one direction and been there super quick (the Pantheon being the reference point). However, we walked about 45-60 minutes in the wrong direction and took a super long scenic route in 100+ degree heat and finally made it. Thank goodness that little currency exchange that screwed us on an exchange rate had amazing air conditioning.

We ate dinner in this cute little alley restaurant. We sat outside and drank lots of wine and ate lots of pizza.  Need I say more?

Emma Pizzeria – the link will lead you to the website if you want to check it out.

I had the prosciutto pizza, my brother had some sort of calzone (on the left), and I believe my mom had pasta. She was super bummed she didn’t get the pizza. I’m not a huge prosciutto fan, but I could eat this for days. The fact that this was really my only meal in Rome still makes me sad. The waiter was incredibly helpful and the patio looked out on a “square” type area where people were gathering. We got to people watch in the most interesting way, eat delicious food, and drink fabulous wine. I don’t think I need to add anymore to that.

Emma Pizzeria, Rome, Pizza in Rome, Good pizza in rome
Ugh – YES

We were exhausted, so we called it a night early and got sleep for the rest of the trip.


Day 2:

My day started by puking in a bidet, but I wasn’t going to let it ruin my trip. I sucked it up, threw a plastic grocery bag in my back pack, and set out on our tours.

We used www.viator.com to book a tour that included entry to the Vatican (Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican Museums, Vatacombs), the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. The ticket included a guided tour through the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, Vatacombs, and St Peter’s Basilica, as well as a “skip the line” pass to gain entrance. The Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum were self-led, but included a “skip the line” pass to the Colosseum. The tour cost was $100 USD per person, but I 100% recommend this, even if just for the skip the line passes.  Those lines get LONG.

Remember: you need to wear clothes that cover your shoulders and knees out of respect while visiting the Vatican. They  have scarves for sale outside of the museums, but they aren’t cheap. Save yourself some money and just bring a cover up. 

This day was a blur due to my sickness and I wish I could re-experience it. Despite the miserable state I was in, everything I witnessed and learned was amazing. I can’t wait to go back and do it properly. Shout out to our tour guide for being the best and not getting mad when I held up the group because I was dying in the bathroom. *virtual high five*\

The guided tour included an English speaking guide that was very knowledgeable of events, facts, and stories to go along with the tour. He taught us all about the art, architecture, and history that was behind every crevice of the museums. We were given headsets to amplify the sound, so hearing him while we stood in the back was not a problem. He was also very tall, so he didn’t need a flag and we could just follow his hand through the mobs of people. I was amused by that.

By the time we made it to St. Peter’s Basilica, I was feeling a little bit better and the coolness of the stone interior felt amazing. This part was the most memorable of the tour for me. The entire architecture is outstanding and unbelievable. It really is a grand structure in every sense of the term. Learning about the paintings, the sculptures, and the history was incredibly intriguing. I’m not sure the steps, but you can attend mass at the Basilica. For not being someone that identifies as religious, this part of the tour was incredible to learn about. Through the Basilica, you also get the chance to explore the Vatacombs.

After the tour, you have the option to pay a couple of Euros to climb up to the top of a bell tower. It’s a lot of steps, but they say the view is spectacular. I couldn’t do it for fear of leaving body fluids as breadcrumbs to find my way back. My mom has a new hip and that many stairs just wasn’t going to do her legs any good. If I go back, I likely will make the climb. There were just too many factors for us this trip. They say it’s totally worth all of the steps, though!!

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Brother, mom, myself outside of St Peter’s Basilica. I had a cardigan that I threw over my tank top. I also had shorts under my maxi skirt for when we left. It was over 100 degrees and I had the stomach flu. Not comfortable, but I made it work.

We only did the Vatican tour on this day. Rome was experiencing a heat advisory and unseasonable warmth. Mix that with my stomach flu and it was not pleasant. My mom and brother went out to explore little shops and off-path restaurants, which they enjoyed. I suggest not eating directly near the Vatican due to the price increase because of tourists. If you want authentic Italian food, head into those little doors ducked in alleyways without an English menu. I also suggest only doing the Vatican tour on day one since the rest of the ticket is on the other side of the city. Unless you’re really feeling motivated or have one day.


 Day 3:

Luckily, I was keeping food down, but the heat was still so real. Over 100 degrees Fahrenheit was rough mixed with being weak from not eating/drinking for over 24 hours. Today, though, we set out to the Colosseum at about 9 in the morning. We took an Uber and were there relatively quickly. Once we got there and realized just how long that line is, we were INCREDIBLY glad we had a skip the line pass. We were in pretty quickly. We decided to rent an iPod with a walking tour, but honestly, it wasn’t worth it. I’m pretty sure you can download walking tours for free or cheap – I suggest that.

Colosseum, Travel Rome, Travel Italy, Europe Travel
Amazing structure + a chain linked fence.

The site of the Colosseum was as incredible and magnificent as I thought it would be. Walking up to the breathtaking, ancient architecture is a site I’ll always feel. Knowing the history of the grounds and all dark secrets held within the walls is eerie, amazing, and unsettling all at once while you’re standing within the crumbling walls. I was a little disappointed that you could see the construction taking place, but…I guess they have to do everything that they can to keep it standing. Makes complete sense, but my bucket list picture didn’t include machines, fences, and braces.

Colosseum, Rome, Travel Rome, Travel Italy, Travel Europe, Travel Aborad
Basic bitch picture taking in the sites
Travel Europe, Travel Italy, Travel Rome, Travel Inspiration, Colosseum
Inside the Colosseum

So we walked around the perimeter of the structure, but you need special passes/tickets to get to the lower levels.

Confession time? As magnificent as it was…there are only so many different views you can take in of the same circle before it becomes redundant. Sorry… I enjoy seeing historical sites, but once I’ve seen it – I’m good. And the crowds were starting to roll in even more than they were when we got there semi-early…so we dipped. We spent some time in the gift shops because they were air conditioned. We got lost trying to get out because we couldn’t find the exit, but we finally made it out to the grounds around it.

We walked from the Colosseum to the Roman Forum. Unfortunately, due to a multitude of reasons, we didn’t see much of the Forum, nor walk up Palatine Hill. We were all bummed, but at that time, it just wasn’t doable. Another trip, another time.

From the Colosseum, we got in an Uber and headed to the Trevi Fountain.

The Uber dropped us off as close as he could and we were able to hear our way to the fountain itself (and follow the MOBS of people – it was afternoon by this time already). My suggestion, take as you will: go early (like ass crack of dawn early) or go late – the middle of the day is a nightmare.

Trevi Fountain, Rome, Explore Rome, Travel Rome, Travel Europe, Travel Abroad, Travel Italy
Trevi Fountain mid-afternoon
Trevi Fountain, Explore Rome, Explore Italy, Travel Inspiration, Travel Europe
Or embrace the wonders of the 21st century and crop everyone out – whatever your style is.

I advise to go early before the Roman tourists wake up, but I’m awful at taking that advice. So…I like to use the 21st century tools I was born into and crop the hell out of my pictures.

We each took one of our million euro coins that were weighing down our pockets/bags (that as an American with a lot of bills is extremely difficulty to get accustomed to) and made our wish while throwing the coin over our shoulder. I got my boomerang and was all of the things I hate in life…but when in Rome, right? 

Also, pro tip: DON’T TRY TO WALK OVER/UNDER THE RAILINGS INSTEAD OF GOING THROUGH THE WALKWAY to get down to the fountain. The Italian officers with loud whistles and scary voices WILL yell at you. Also, don’t even try to sit on or lean on the ledge of the fountain. 

Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything…..

The rest of our time in Rome, we wandered around ducking in and out of streets/alleys to check out all of the shops, restaurants, and coffee bars. I definitely suggest doing this as it’s a great way to discover hidden little gems.

Speaking of coffee, I mentioned in my top 10 about coffee. I’m a coffee drinker and so are my brother and mom. We drink more coffee than is healthy and it gets us through manic days. We did break the Nespresso machine because all we wanted was a cup of coffee before we set out the door (x3). Now, Italian coffee is amazing. It’s bold, it’s rich, it’s unlike anything I’ve had at home. BUT! Taking in a short shot or two of espresso took some getting used to. I’ll admit that I started to enjoy it and miss it a little. You can order drinks like cappuccino and cafe au lait, but I’m not a big fan of anything with milk. The closest you’ll get is a Cafe Americano – which is espresso with water. Just a little bit of info if you like your caffeine through an IV.

Honest opinion time.

I wasn’t 100% satisfied with Rome. I had this grand picture in my mind of what it would be like because I looked forward to it for so long and it was the one place I wanted to go my whole life. I was disappointed with the masses of tourists. I’m not a big history buff, so in my mind, once I see a couple ancient buildings, they start to blend in my memory. It could have been a combination of my illness and the heat, but I think these thoughts still hold true to me. Maybe a different time might lend another experience, but this is just one person’s opinion. Would I go back? Of course. Would I recommend going? Absolutely, it should be on everyone’s list. I guess I was just bummed because it had such high standards in my mind…but I’ve learned that traveling. Don’t have expectations.

If you stayed with me this long, you rock! I hope this helped plan out your trip to Rome. Let me know if you have any questions or have anything to add in the comments below!

If you need an AirBNB referral code, go to www.airbnb.com/c/karliet or click here. You will receive $40 toward your first trip. I’ll be posting a home rental vs hotel soon! Keep a look out! Disclaimer: I receive a perk from AirBNB as part of their referral program. I am in no way affiliated with them. 

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15 Comments on “How I Spent 3 Days in Rome – Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Stomach Flu, Colosseum, & Trevi Fountain

  1. Very useful info!! I always follow the same rule with restaurants as well.

    Like

  2. Wow this has so much information! I love it. Sorry to hear that you had a stomach bug for a while, it’s always so frustrating when you’re ill on holiday! I love all of your photos, that pizza looks amazing 😍

    Like

    • Thanks! It was quite the curve ball to the trip! Hopefully all of the info helps someone! I know how much i like to read anything I can about others experiences. ☺☺

      Like

  3. Nice post. I was in Rome in July 2017. Great tip with the water bottle for all the fountains. I wholeheartedly agree with your tip about eating all the gelato you can. I could almost hear the whistles and yells of the guys at the Trevi Fountain.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice post. I was in Rome in July 2017. Great tip with the water bottle for all the fountains. I wholeheartedly agree with your tip about eating all the gelato you can. I could almost hear the whistles and yells of the guys at the Trevi Fountain.

    Liked by 1 person

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