Lloyd Parfait’s straight-talk guide to Rome on a budget

Guest blogger Lloyd Parfait is out to conquer Rome and willing to share the pillage. He’s got a lot of ground to cover and no time to spoon feed, so try to keep up!

Arrival in Rome

Upon arriving at Termini follow the signs for the PT… and pick up the Roma Pass you bought online before flying to Italy! The line to pick up your pass will probably be long, but it was completely worth the wait and the 25 eur. As the website will tell you, it’s free public trans in Rome and 2 tourist attractions free of charge.  After the first two, the rest are at a discounted price.
English: Rome, Italy. Roma Termini at night.

Image via Wikipedia

Accommodation

  • Rossetta Hotel: Small, quaint, extremely friendly staff and centrally located just down the street from Termini, a block from the Coliseum, and a short walk to two subway stations. They don’t have breakfast included, which I wouldn’t have eaten anyway.  My favorite part of the hotel was the sheer size of the towels.  HUGE!  Some things just make me happier than others. www.rosettahotel.com Via Cavour 295
  • Buonarotti Home: Small cool little place really close to the train station and Vittorio Emanuele Metro stop. The people are super friendly and the hotel is in a great location for getting around Rome. www.buonarrotihome.com/home-eng.html Via Carlo Alberto 43
English: Picture of an authentic Neapolitan Pi...

Mmm, pizza! Image via Wikipedia

Food

  • Pizzeria Baffetto: A local told me about this place and I wish I would have taken her warning a bit more seriously.  I went on a Friday night at 7:30.  The line was getting pretty long.  I stood outside for about 30 minutes, but I would have gotten in immediately if I wasn’t alone.  The pizza is easily the best I’ve ever had.  Very thin, delicious, pretty quick and not expensive at all.  The guys here clearly have a system that’s been running and working for years and they’re not slowing down anytime soon.  Its near the Piazza Navona at Via del Governo Vecchio, 114.  Get there at 6:30 and you won’t have to wait long and you might even get a seat outside.  Get there much later and the line will start to look like the one outside the Vatican.
  • Bir & Fud: Really cool restaurant.  Great food, pretty cheap, friendly atomosphere, and the best part is the micro-brews on tap.  I’ll get into them later!  Via Benedetta, 23
  • 433 Next Bar: Cool little pasta restaurant just down the street from Baffetto at Via Del Governo Vecchio 123.  Try the lasagna, or the 433 specialty pasta plate.  The steak dishes are ok, but you won’t be upset with the pasta…not at all.
  • Tre Scalini: If you like chocolate, fasten your seatbelt, return your seatbacks and traytables to fully upright and locked positions because this crash landing you’ll be involved in is going to thrust you into the throes of diabetes.  Try their special Tre Scalini Tartufo.  It looks like a little chocolate muffin, but it’s actually gelato, chocolate, and some type of liquor….AMAZING.  Their regular gelato is amazing too.  I had the coconut and it was divine.
  • Street Eats: best value and in most cases, the best food.  I stopped in numerous places to get a sandwich, gelato or a slice of pizza.  I can’t even begin to list them out.
  • Cooling off: Quite possibly my favorite part of Rome is the free, cold, delicious water available throughout the city.  If you walk around the city, you’re going to get thirsty.  Keep your eyes and ears open and you’ll find running water in almost every corner of the city.  Fill up a bottle or cup it in your hand.  The water is cold, clean and tastes amazing!  Again, its free.

Nightlife

Lots of clubs, bars, lounges…again, I’m a pub guy, and here were my favorites:
  • Bir & Fud: 15 italian micro-brews on tap, plenty more in the bottle.  The owner and his bar staff are extremely passionate about beer and they are all experts.  The menu changes with the seasons, what’s available, and how long the staff wants to let the beers sit…sometimes it seemed like they were conducting experiments.  My favorites that were there at the time were: Terzo Miglio, My Antonia, Extra Ale, H10op15, and Ipe.  If you read Italian, have fun… http://birefud.blogspot.com
  • Trastevere: TONS of bars and lounges in this area.  Lots of fun to bar hop here.  Specifically the streets of Via Benedetta, Viccolo del Cinque and Via del Scala.  All the bars are close together and the roads are all pedestrian ways.  Great time out at night!
  • Abbey Theatre:  Little English / Irish pub just down the street from Pizzeria Baffetto.  Cool crowd, mostly foreign students studying in Rome.
  • La Base: Just down the street from Cavour subway station on Via Cavour 290, this place is open late (4 AM) and serves food and drinks all night.  It is to Italian boozers what Denny’s is for American drunks.
English: Colosseum, Rome, August 2007

Colosseum image via Wikipedia

Sights

  • Vatican City Museum: Buy Reservations online before getting there.  The wait is usually about 2.5 hours for entrance without a reservation.  If you have a reservation you almost feel guilty walking by the mile long line of people waiting in the hot sun to get a glimpse of the Sistine Chapel, but once you get in you’re past the guilt because you realize how much smarter you are. mv.vatican.va Worth every minute and every penny.  Completely gorgeous.  Do your best to refrain from racing to see the Sistine Chapel…don’t get me wrong, it’s great, but it’s not exactly life changing…or religion changing for that matter either.  The biggest reason not to rush is that the museum itself is just as pretty if not prettier than the chapel.
  • Flavian Amphitheater (a.k.a. The Colosseum): Use the Roma Pass to get in and skip the long line.  I recommend taking some headphones with Rick Steve’s guide equipped, and then inconspicuously following a guided tour group around and hearing their spiel too.
  • The Forum: Don’t use the Roma Pass here…just use it for the discounted price, as the line isn’t ever long enough to justify using up another free entrance with the Roma Pass.  Again, I used Rick Steve’s guide through the Forum, which is a bit backwards…I think the entrance changed since the guide was recorded so there was a lot of back and forth to some of the sites.  Still very interesting and neat to see the ol’ town square.
  • Via Appia Antica: World’s first “highway” used by the Roman legions to get to and from their battles.  There are quite a few ruins along this old road.  I walked from the Re Di Roma subway stop.  Then walked the entire way down the street.  I don’t recommend it, unless you go on a Sunday when they close the street to vehicle traffic.  It looks like it could get quite dangerous as the street is narrow and there’s not much of a sidewalk on either side.  The 218 bus from the Ostiense Subway / Bus stop runs up the road.  I highly recommend that route if you have kids, or are not much for playing in traffic.
  • Saint Peter’s Basilica: This is the second largest catholic church in the world.  However, it has to be the grandest of all Christian venues.  I was completely blown back by this place.  Michelangelo Bounarotti himself decorated most of it, and even as a devout atheist, he almost converted me.  Don’t be intimidated by the line, it moves fast and the wait is worth the sights that await you inside.  I also recommend going to the top of the dome or the “cupola.”  There are some fantastic views of Rome.  Go around 5pm when the services there start and you’ll be treated to some music along the way up to the top of the dome.
  • Spanish Steps: Just a block from the Spagna metro stop, this place is packed with folks sitting on the steps.  The big attraction is surrounded by arguably the most expensive shopping in Europe.
  • Triton’s Fountain: Very close to Barberini metro station.
  • Trevi Fountain: Easy to get to, hard to find an unoccupied spot.  Just follow Via de Tritone southwest from Triton’s Fountain.  There will be hoards of tourists and signs leading you there.  Every single tourist map leads straight to this place…so it would seem.  Very worth seeing both during the day and at night.
  • Piazza Venezia: Gorgeous views of Alltare della Patria.  Absolutely beautiful, although many Italians hate it because a medieval site was destroyed in its development and it is glaringly white.
  • Pantheon: A temple of the ancient Roman Gods.  In the city that houses the headquarters of Christianity, this is one of many Pagan temples that has been converted into a Christian venue.
  • Basilica of San Clemente: In the shadow of the Coliseum,  San Clemente is another Pagan temple that was stamped out (quite literally) by Christianity.  The Basilica you can see from the street is a 12 century basilica built on top of a 4th century basilica, built on top of a 1st century Pagan temple!  Very intriguing place.  It is closed in the middle of the day from 12:00 to about 3:00.
  • Castel Sant’Angelo: It was Hadrian’s mausoleum and then a castle, then a fortress, now a museum.  One of the prettiest parts of this attraction is the bridge leading to it from the center of town.  The bridge has been decorated with statues of angels carrying elements of the Passion of Christ.
Rome

Rome (Photo credit: ryarwood)

 

About Lloyd

Lloyd Parfait currently lives the dream in Stuttgart, Germany, where he splits his
time between protecting the free world and conducting extensive and sometimes
dangerous personal research on the revelry habits of Germans and other European
fauna.

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