From the moment Bello and I landed, we knew transportation ease and comfort would be sacrificed to save money. New Yorkers at heart, we opted for public transit.
Airport to City Centro (Centro) with the express train was easy. The sacrifice part kicked in when we hit the Metro. For us, Rome was the start of a 90 day trip and we were lugging… everything. After navigated two stops, we emerged above ground at the Policlinico station. A 15 minute walk from our hotel. I mentioned the luggage right? By the time we arrived, I was jet lagged from an overnight flight, hungry, sweaty and approaching grumpy.
The saving grace you ask? Bello, once a Roman himself, had a plan. He knew Rome. He knew his wife was stubborn and strong and he knew, the sacrifice of the morning commute would soon be rewarded.
Rome Budget Travel Diary Day 1
Transportation for 3 Days: 92€ Budget Details & Tips to Save even more
Lodging: Bello pulled a major budget win and snagged three nights at a three star hotel for $133. The only sacrifice here, was location. Staying in the Salario neighborhood means major sights require a 45 minute walk or a 15 Metro ride. After dropping our bags, the mood lightened with our load and we opted for a walk.
Exploring Freestyle: 15 minutes after leaving our hotel, we hit the start of Villa Borghese, the largest and arguably the most beautiful park in Rome. Every stride in the lush green space, strengthened our second wind. Making our way to Pincian Hill, my first true sense of Rome came into view.
Overlooking Piazza del Popolo and Rome’s Historical city center snapped me into the moment in a way I had not expected. I was here! Bello kept his word from years ago and brought me to Rome! Look ROME!
It was also here, I channeled my inner “Under the Tuscan Sun” Frances drinking from a fountain like a true Roman.
After the descending the steps into the Piazza below, my stomach started to growl. Bello, the man with a plan guided us to our big splurge for the day.
Lunch (Splurge) 48€: Lunch was to be big, it was to be Roman Food and no tourist trap would do. Bello was craving cucina povero and he had one place in mind Matricianella. Here we dined rubbing elbows with politicians on traditional Roman Food, fried sweetbreads and calf brain pasta.
Lunch was every bit as hearty and comforting as it looks. Thing is, we were now approaching 24 hours of being awake. For me, comfort food + wine – sleep = nap time!
During our Metro ride to the hotel, a storm rolled into Rome. The rain lulled us to sleep as we finally succumbed to jet lag.
A few hours later, we awoke… to sunset. It was already time to start thinking of food again.
Dinner: Planning to hit a wine bar close to our hotel, we struck out on foot. Not more than 10 minutes later, we stopped dead in our tracks at ReBasilico. We smelled Pizza. The good kind. The kind of pizza people travel to Italy for. In short, get pizza in Rome. It’s a great way to eat well and not break the bank with a typical pie running 8 – 12€. Our dinner total 20€
One would think, our day would be done! Yet as we stepped out, I turned to Bello and asked “where was that wine bar anyway?” Turns out, it was literally around the corner down a block. So naturally we had to go!
Nightcap: One of the many things I love, love, love about Italy is wine is priced fair. We split a bottle for 12€ at Trimani Wine Bar and spent the next hour musing over which wine region we should visit next.
Traveling west internationally makes for a very, very long first day. Returning to our hotel over the 15 minute walk, was enough to knock me out cold. Especially with a half bottle of wine in me. We crashed with a slideshow of memories from the day as our dreams.
Tomorrow I’ll post Day 2 in Rome and take you to the Vatican, show you where to explore Art for free and share where to find the best Roman food.