A Backpacker’s Guide to Rome Rome Guide

A Backpacker’s Guide to Rome

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A Backpacker’s Guide to Rome

Rome is one of the most exciting and historically fascinating cities in the world, and a hugely popular location for gap year backpackers, especially those on InterRailing trips through Europe. The Italian capital does have a reputation for being a bit pricey, and as such many travellers shyaway. But with a little research you’ll quickly see that the Eternal City can easily be experienced on a budget – at least one relative to other cities in Western Europe.pexels-photo-219041

Check in

Affordable and centrally based hostels in Rome are abundant, and you’ll typically be looking at around €25 per night. Although there are loads to choose from, one which comes particularly recommended is Alessandro Palace. This friendly hostel opened in 1990 andwas quickly establishedas one of the most popular places in Rome for travellers on a budget.

entrance

The Bramble Bar & Kitchen – right next to the Alessandro Palace – offers good drinks (beers, cocktails, a list of fine Italian wines and a variety of spirts etc.) and authentic Italian cuisine. Also offers adiscount voucher (a 5% on food at dinner) to the Alessandro Palace hostel guests.

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Get around Rome

Rome is blissfully easy and cheap to get around in. Although many of the main sites are clustered together, the city has understandably grown a bit during its2700 year history, so you’ll probably end up hopping on the Metro at some point to avoid a long walk. There are just the two lines – A (red) and B (blue) – which together straddle an X shape across the city. In the unlikely event that none of the stops are anywhere near where you need to be, there is a good bus system.

Prices at the time of writing:

Daily ticket, valid for unlimited Metro, bus and train travel within Rome – €6

3-day ticket, validity same as above – €16.50

Weekly ticket, validity same as above – €24

Explore Rome

Keep in mind that in a city like Rome – and this goes for most large cities throughout the world – it can be all too easy to become bogged down in ticking off sights. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just discard the map and walk. Explore at your own pace, escape the crowds, soak up the atmosphere and find your own path rather than the one you’ve been told to tread.

On the other hand, it would be something approaching criminal to ignore Rome’s big hitters.person-taking-photo-photographer-tourist

Go on a Free Walking Tour

The best way to explore a city is getting into a free walking tour. Rome is full of hidden gems and what the best way to expore it than with a local guide? You will get around the city and hear about all the stories of the Roman Empire and Julius Caesar. Every inch of the city is covered in history. Believe us – it’s worth the walk!

Visiting Ancient Rome

Okay, so most of Rome is ancient, but this refers specifically to the area which contains Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. This is the ancient and mythical heart of the city and full of mind-blowing ruins, many of which have retained extraordinary levels of preservation. You can see the crumbling skeletonsof magnificenttemples and palaces on the hill and in the Forum, and seeing the Colosseum for the first time in real life may well have the effect of unhinging your jaw. Open 8:30 am to one hour before sunset

Prices at the time of writing:

Combined ticket for all three, valid for two days (one entry) – €12

ancient-rome

Vatican City

Vatican City, the home of the Pope and an independent state in its own right, can easily fill at least half a day. This is where you’ll find St Peter’s Basilica, a ridiculously impressive feat of architecture and one of the grandest churches in the world; the Sistine Chapel, which sports probably the most famous ceiling known to mankind, courtesy of Michelangelo; and the Vatican Museums, home to one of the most comprehensive and important collections of art on the planet.

Prices at the time of writing:

For all the above – €16

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One for love – One to return to Rome

You know what we are talking about, right? Trevi Fountain, of course. The most famous fountain in the world designed by the Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci in 1762. If you want to visit this Rome’s treasure and be able to take pictures without a crowded audience, our suggestion is to see it in the early morning or right before lunch. The rules are simple: two coins thrown over your left shoulder. One coin is to find true love; the other one is to return to Rome.

trevi-fountain

Other sights

By following the advice at the top and just allowing yourself to wander you’ll see hundreds of sights, but particular ones to look out for are the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.

Eat and drink in Rome

Restaurants in Rome

Italy’s reputation precedes itself when it comes to food, and for good reason, but the country is by no means immune to a rubbish dish, especially in Rome. Be especially wary of pizzas in the numerous fast-food-type eateries – they are not good. Naturally there are thousands of restaurants to choose from  in the capital, but it’s important to do your research before making that order. Some of the quaintest and prettiest little places serve up truly vile grub, while conversely some of the most modest and unassuming venues will treat your tongue to the flavoursome equivalent of a massage – and for half the price.

When eating in Rome avoid the touristy restaurants that usually are expensive and not that good. Try eating pizza al taglio which means by the slice!

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Bars

Rome has its fair share of Irish bars (like everywhere else in the world, except Ireland, where they’re just called bars), but for a more authentic venue you’ll have to be prepared to splash out, which is hardly ideal if you’re on a backpacker budget. Fortunately there is a solution: you’ll find shops and kiosks everywhere that serve delicious and cheap Italian wine and beer, which will come with plastic cups if you request. Drinking in public isn’t illegal – it’s not even frowned upon as long as you’re not an idiot about it – which means you can park your rear end pretty much anywhere you choose and people-watch the night away. A particularly good spot is the atmospheric square just outside the Pantheon and another is Piazza Navona. An even better one is on the enormous stone cobbles outside the Colosseum, which, like most ancient buildings, looks even more impressive at night than it does in the day.

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