Being surrounded by ancient architecture, my friends and I were inspired to go analog in the ancient city of Rome: No Google Map and No Public Transportation! We went from the Colosseum all the way to the Vatican in one day, while hitting all the iconic places like the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and found the best truffle pasta and best pistachio gelato along the way.
How is this possible you ask?
Read on & go footloose with me through Rome!
We arrived at Roma Termini Station and went to our hostel which was about 5 minutes away.
helped that our hostel was 5 minutes away from Roma Termini station (which was pretty much the center of Rome). Before we began our analog adventure in Rome, we stopped by Gelateria Fassi, a gelato shop known for their rice gelato. Not only did the flavor had us saying OMG (Oh My Gelato of course), but their prices too! It was only 1.60 euros for 3 flavors on a cone (with a good amount of whipped cream on top too!)
Our first stop was Piazza di Spagna, If you’re a big fan of Audrey Hepburn and the movie Roman Holiday, it was the first place Hepburn’s character, Princess Anna, went to during her escape from her royal duties. We then headed toward the Piazza di Spagna. Along the way, we passed by Piazza della Repubblica and also saw the Barberini Fontana di Trevi. Piazza di Spagna is well known for their shopping area and it is also where Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck stood in Roman Holiday. (Insert picture of postcard).
Our next and last stop of the day was the famous Trevi Fountain. Yes, Lizzie McGuire fans. It is THAT fountain where Lizzie makes her wish. We made our wishes and filmed our boomerangs for the Instagram and pushed our way out of the crowded tourist attraction.
Journeying on foot throughout the day left us hungry so we looked for a place to eat. We then found a small sandwich and charcuterie shop near the Trevi fountain called Pane e Salame.
We treated ourselves to a little bit of chardonnay and too much of bread and ham (just kidding there is no such thing as too much of bread).
After finishing our meal, we went to see the Trevi Fountain once more in the nighttime. View was worth (but the crowd was not). Despite the exhaustion, we felt the need to walk back to our hostel after our feast at Pane e Salame. Thus ended the day 1 of our analog adventure.
The day was a little gloomy but we were ready to start the day by 8:30am (thanks to our Korean hostel giving us breakfast at 8am). We headed toward the Colosseum with our umbrellas and our map. After looking at the long line (and the expensive price) to enter the Colosseum, we decided to continue on our journey without going inside. We passed by the Foro Romano (Roman Forum) where we saw the ruins of ancient government buildings.
We then walked our way to San Pietro in Vincoli, the church that holds the relic of Saint Peter’s chains and Michelangelo’s sculpture of Moses.
Our next stop was Piazza Venezia, with its magnificent building. After taking a couple of pictures we headed toward the Pantheon.
Before we arrived at the Pantheon, we stopped by Tazza D’oro, one of the best coffee shops in Rome near the Pantheon. Many tourists come for their 90 cent espresso and their coffee beans. If you like a clean and smooth espresso, definitely stop by (It was one of the best espressos I’ve ever had)!
After our coffee break, we went inside the Pantheon had a little bit of a look. After visiting the Pantheon, our stomachs were telling us it was time to get food.
After looking through Yelp and Foursquare, we found a restaurant called Maccheroni, where they were known for their black truffle pasta. It was a bit pricey but it was worth every Euro.
Taste was unforgettable and portion was massive too.
Post-stuffing our face with pasta, we headed toward the Vatican through the Ponte Sant’Angelo where we saw the Castel Sant’Angelo and…the VATICAN. As we were walking toward the Vatican, we saw a street performer who caught our attention.
He played with such passion and his music carried the passion to our eyes and ears. This was one of the reasons why I enjoyed walking instead of taking public transportation. You never know what kind of sight/performance you would run into since things like street performances aren’t designated on the map.
When we got to the Vatican, we were shocked by the amount of people at the Vatican. We were surrounded by tourists, locals, and scammers trying to sell you “cheap tickets” inside the Vatican. We gave up on trying to go inside the Sistine Chapel (where the ceilings were painted by Michelangelo) so we headed toward a gelateria recommended by our hostel owner. The gelateria was called Old Bridge Gelateria and there was also a crowd of people waiting (this we we were willing to wait). The servers took me off guard as they began to speak to me in Korean. It seemed that a lot of Korean tourists visit here.
I got the pistachio, bacio (hazelnut), and strawberry gelato (getting three scoops/flavors seems to be the bare minimum here…can the gelato shop be like this in NYC please???). The flavors by themselves were so good and they complemented each other too. I was able to enjoy the gelato despite being full from the pasta. THAT’S how good it was.
To decrease the size of our foodbaby, we decided to walk back to our hostel while visiting places that we missed such as Michelangelo’s staircase (Cordonata Capitolina) near the Piazza Venezia.
Afterwards, we explored the Foro Romano and the Colosseum once more before heading back to the hostel. Thus, concluding our footloose analog adventure.
Why going Footloose worked for me and my friends:
We didn’t have anything planned for the city except for our mode of transportation to Rome and our hostel. This was my first time exploring a city without any itinerary. The thought of going to a city without any plans stressed me out but leaving it to a map and spontaneity was actually stress-relieving and exciting. I liked being free from the stress of the “we HAVE to go there” mindset.
Why it may not be for you:
One of the things the hostel owner told us about Rome was that if you don’t know any information about the sights you see, it’s meaningless. He was absolutely right. We didn’t do any of the tours which did leave us clueless about the history and the significance behind the sights. Our trip inevitably became about literal sight-seeing rather than a cultural immersion. Since we focused on exploring the city, we had the time to walk all over the city. If you’re wanting more of a cultural immersion, going footloose may not be the best choice.
-Check the weather
-Wear comfortable shoes
-Bring a water bottle
-Double bag your belongings! (I put my small purse in my tote bag)
-Take a break! Treat yourself to some food, drink, gelato, or a “sit-down on a staircase” break
-Enjoy the scenery around you!