Day 1 in Rome, Italy : Repubblica, Trevi Fountain and Trastevere
Always wanted to see Trevi fountain and dine in Trastevere – let’s blame all the “euro trip”-esque movie binging! A day out covering few places to visit in Rome.
It was late March (2015) when i arrived in Rome on a rainy day, part of a 14 day Italy-Spain trip. Not the perfect weather for sight-seeing, but the drizzle was just right to set the cobbled-stone paths and roads gleaming in faint lights through the evening! Though hubby and i missed seeing Villa Borghese because it was raining, and we got lazy.
Places to Visit in Rome : The Accommodation near Roma Termini
The pre-booked TerraVision bus brought us to Via Marsala (Roma Termini) from Fiumicino airport. In 2015, the one way ticket for 2 cost us 8 Euros. Quite economical, and it is still the same price. On some days it goes up to 10 Euros.
We chose to stay near Roma Termini as it would be easier to take a bus or metro or a train to another town, or even walk wherever we liked to! The supermarkets in the area were open until late (like 11 pm) so we could easily buy food. Since the pizza debacle (we got anchovies served on a veg pizza!) we thought of sticking to ‘fresh’ supermarket breads, yoghurts, jams, the works! 🙂
The hostel (Freedom Traveler in Via Gaeta) was quite economical. Being on a ‘budget’ and subject to availability, we got a mixed dorm. The complimentary breakfast had doughnut/croissant/marble cake and a cup of coffee. Since i’d used HostelWorld.com for most of my solo travels across Europe, we stuck with this booking portal. I’d got some $10 in credits too. Why not use those?
Coming back to the hostel, the ride up to the 4th floor was through a locked elevator improvised within the stairwell. The entrance doors were grand and the hostel itself was quite tidy. One of our dorm occupants was an Iranian guy studying in Denmark. He gave us quite useful tips going around, and insisted we must see Forum, just next to the Colosseum. The best part – he had kept the room quite tidy before we arrived. The toilets were common, but clean and modern (well, some bathrooms in Italy are not modern, but this one was).
The guy at the hostel desk was jovial and handed us detailed maps. Told us shortcuts and walking routes. He also suggested to eat dinner at Trastevere instead of any fancy restaurants in Via Marsala or Via Solferino. Fair enough.
Places to Visit in Rome : Repubblica
Or Piazza Della Repubblica. This was just 8 minutes walking (750 m) from where we stayed. And the traffic was a rush, so i took a quick photo while crossing the road.
The Fountain (originally called Aqua Pia) was commissioned in 1870 by Pope Pius IX. The fountain was completed in 18 years, and in 1901, sculptures of Naiads (Greek mythology : spirits residing over water bodies) were made by Mario Rutelli.
Via Nazionale, the long road that originates from Repubblica, is home to several high-end hotels and stores.
Places to Visit in Rome : Walk through Via Nazionale
Via Nazionale is a major road in Rome with its own brief history. We walked all the way down till Burger King, took a right turn towards Palazzo del Quirinale. The narrower made-for-the-Vespa lanes finally greeted us! We could see a lot of people walking towards Trevi, so it was easy to find.
Note : We used the printed maps only. You will slowly discover i rarely use phone maps while navigating through streets in foreign places. I kind of like taking directions from, and interacting with, locals if i lose my way!
Places to Visit in Rome : Trevi Fountain
Finally, made it to the much glamorized fountain, and rightly so. Except that at the time of my visit, it was undergoing restoration. Only scaffolds and metal walkways. And no water, just the static marble figures. And loads of tourists taking selfies, including me. Even threw a coin into the would-be/was water body.
Built in 1762 in the Baroque style, the fountain is as tall as an 8-storey building. Fendi, the Italian fashion company, was spending close to 2.2 million Euros on the restoration project. Made from the famed Travertine stone, the fountain has been previously restored in 1988 due to smog.
There were plenty of pizzerias and souvenir shops. With the ongoing restoration arrangements, it was rather messy. So we just walked over to the ‘fashion district’ (Via Vincenzo and nearby streets). We made the not-so-short journey on foot towards Trastevere and reached Ponte Garibaldi, a bridge over Tiber River near Islo Tiberina. Seeing the water stream break into two was spectacular. And the sound of gushing streams, soothing.
Places to visit in Rome : Trastevere
Seriously, this place was not on our ‘itinerary’ when we planned our days and hours and minutes in Rome. But one thing i learnt in the due course of travel – if a local recommends something, go for it! And if you are into authentic local food, there couldn’t be a better district in Rome to match the prices and the old world charm of Trastevere. Lanes lined up with dining tables, dim lighting, friendly touristy atmosphere. You get that.
Had we visited during the day, we could also see some plazas and churches like Basilica of Santa Maria (hey, this is Rome after all!). But late evening, and with all the walking, we roamed through the winding, organic lanes and zeroed in on La Botticella to have some pasta Al Dente!
I don’t have own pictures to share, but it was a charming restaurant with low ceiling, lots of friendly chatter inside and delicious pasta with house wine and wholesome quantities. And very delicious Parmesan cheese sprinkled generously. Not too costly, less than 20 Euros if i recall, for a meal for 2 with drinks. If i got a second chance to be in Rome, i’d take a full day only for Trastevere and see all of this. Probably you should too!
Back then i was quite seriously into walking long distances, especially after i read that Italians stay healthy because they take long walks after dinner. We walked too. Back to our hostel in Via Gaeta, all the way from La Botticella.
The next day we had to get up early, and take the train to Naples. Though we couldn’t see any of the fun attractions like Bioparco or Hydromania, we had quite a long day covering all good places to visit in Rome – on foot. 3 more occupants had settled into the dorm when we reached the hostel – and the lights were out. I felt glad i hadn’t messed up my luggage too much because, well, leaving early takes effort, and careful planning+packing. More on that later, Buona Notte for now!
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