Day three of our Roman Holiday brought a well rested couple plenty of possibilities. A forecast filled with nothing but sunshine overhead, sent us off for Coffee at La Portineria Bakery.
Repetitive? Maybe but those buttery layers of crisp pastry… for less that 7€… half a block away, just too hard to resist. As we nibbled and sipped, we plotted our final full day in Rome.
We’d seen a fender bender on Day one before strolling Villa Borghese park. Saw panoramic views of Piazza del Popolo from Pincian Hill. Relived a favorite Under the Tuscan Sun moment and rubbed elbows at lunch with Roman Politicians. We’d napped through jet leg, dined on Pizza and even hit a wine bar. That was just day one!
Day two we visited the Vatican and stumbled on William Kentridge’s “Triumphs and Laments” on the Tiber River. Then lunched and explored the Trastevere neighborhood. Finally, standing atop Rome’s layer-cake and jostling to see the Trevi Fountain.
What we had not yet seen, were Ruins. No trip to Rome would be complete without seeing the Colosseum! With our main sight for the day agreed on, Bello and I headed to the subway. 20 minutes later, there I stood, face to face with the Colosseum itself.
First thought, “It’s not as big as I thought it would be.” My second, “crap there are a LOT of people here.” Bello gave me the choice. Having lived in Rome, he had been inside the Colosseum before. He knew the most inspiring and iconic views were actually from the outside. He also knew his wife did not do well in crowds.
Taking one look at the hoard of tourist squeezing into the gates I quickly decided, “let’s just walk around outside.” In retrospect, this was the best decision we made while in Rome.
Tickets to get inside all of the major ruins are going to cost you. The Colosseum itself 14€, Vatican Museum 22€ and the Rome Pass for The Forum is 28€. For a couple to see the “important sites” in Rome, you’re looking at 128€ approximately $145.
We were there in the off-season and it was already chock full of people. I know myself. If I am crushed in a crowd, I can’t enjoy what I am seeing.
Turns out with a husband like mine, a bit of a history geek, or a good guide book, you can actually get a pretty good sense of the history held within, from the outside. You can walk right up to the gate around the Colosseum and look inside.
Between that and the rather stunning detail on the Arch of Constantine adjacent to the Colosseum, I was more than happy to skip the expensive selfie stick squish.
Besides, look closely at this picture. You know what I see, too many people standing all around each other, crowding for a cliff view. Nope, not my thing.
Next up, was another choice. Directly across the street from the Colosseum sat another gated entryway. Temple of Venus and Rome, Basilica di Santa Francesca, Arch of Titus all of it, sits behind gates, admission prices and a long line of tourists standing in the sun. I mentioned the sun right. It was already getting hot.
While we scoped out the area, we noticed you could walk along one of the fences to the left. Hmm… we thought. We followed our instincts and again, were rewarded for being oddballs. No, you can’t walk right up to the Arch of Titus or go inside the temples but you can get a free views of the Forum that are rather priceless.
The walk up Via Sacra is accompanied by elevated views. The further you walk up, the fewer tourist you’ll find. The walk itself is part of the Seven Stations of the Cross. At the end is a church with layers of paint that remind you just how old Roman life is. Without charging you 20€.
Besides, when we were done, we rounded back via dei Fori Imperiali and spent some uncrowded time checking out the other side of The Forum, again, for free.
After the long morning of freestyle exploring, it was time for lunch! It being our last day, I had to have Cacio e Pepe at La Salumeria Roscioli. I had so much raving to do about this hidden hotspot that I wrote an entirely different post. I mean, can you blame me, look at this!
The most expensive and decadent meal we indulged in while in Rome ran us 65€.
After lunch, which it should be said, was nearly two hours later, we strolled over to Piazza Navona a short walk away. It was the remaining walk that was not so short. I wanted to see the Spanish Steps and Bello had one last thing in mind in Villa Borghese.
So you guessed it, we walked all the way back. Even with the stop to see the steps, we made it to Piazza Bucarest an hour later. It was here that Bello charmed his wife with one last toast before we left.
Ok so it was Prosecco and not champagne! But the view, the day, the trip, I was one happy, exhausted traveler and I couldn’t care less. One final splurge 22€.
We ended our final evening with a long romantic stroll back through Villa Borghese to our hotel. To stick to under 100€ for meals for the day, we snacked on travel groceries under the stars at our hotel.
I realize our brand of travel might not be for everyone. But if you’re an Introvert a Foodie or a Budget Traveler, there would be no better way to see Rome. Besides, for us, there were nearly three months left to go in Europe and we had to pace ourselves a little!