This September I had the privilege of visiting Italy for the first time ever! We went to Rome for 4 days, and oh I feel in love with the city! I thought I would share my experience, recommendations and more, in case you ever end up in Rome.
The city is very graphic, and there are so many beautiful places to explore. I enjoyed taking lots (and lots) of pictures, because the city is truly photogenic! The people are kind, unlike the stereotypes I had heard before I had visited, and welcoming.
We were really lucky that the weather was warm, but sometimes it was too hot to bear, especially because we were walking so much. We visited on the 14-17th of September, and even though there were lots of tourists, it was manageable and the city didn’t feel hectic at any point. September and October would be the perfect months to visit in order to enjoy the weather, and the calmness of the city (compared to the peak tourist months of June - August).
Rome has a rich history, and they have preserved their cultural heritage very well! No matter where you go, you will find a big Basilica (church), and they’re all incredibly beautiful on the inside and outside.
Apart from the churches, you should definitely visit the Pantheon, Colosseum, and Vatican. There are the three “must-sees” and they are worth the visit.
The Pantheon has a free entrance, and even though the lines will seem long, they move very fast.
Even though we didn’t go in the Colosseum (because tickets were expensive, and the lines were huge), we still walked outside of it, took beautiful pictures and learned a bit more about its history.
The Vatican covers a large area (as it is a city-state), so we decided to only visit St. Peter’s Basilica as it was free. The church is huge, filled with gold, beautiful statues and impressive architecture. We also took the elevator to the top (which was 10 EUR), and then we walked another 600+ steps in order to reach the top of the dome (where you can see the inside of the church from the top, and the outside of the Vatican). Even though the way up was tiring (humidity and heat), it was so worth it. At the first stop you are standing at the top of the inside of the church, and it is mesmerizing to see all the rest of the tourists and workers seem so small from such a height! Once you walk another 300 or so step, you will reach the very top of the church, but this time you get to enjoy the outside view. Not only can you see the rest of the Vatican. But basically the whole city! It is definitely worth the money, time, and exhaustion.
We also took a walk in Trastevere, a small town which is on the other side of the river. It’s a more cosy, and alternative area with a ton of street artists and musicians that lighten up the mood. There are a ton of small cafes and restaurants where you can sit at but we only went into a couple of Basilicas and walked a lot.
We also took the Hop-on Hop-off bus we gave us a tour of the city while enjoying the fresh air and the nice breeze, and we could consider it an eco-friendly alternative, as the buses are always packed, so multiple people are being transported by one vehicle, rather than 50+. When you first get on, they will offer you single-use earphones so that you can hear the tour guide explain the history behind all the buildings and monuments you pass by, but you’re more than welcome to pass on that in order to not create waste (or bring your own earphones). What would’ve been a great initiative is an earbud recycle box so that they can be recycled properly at the end of their use and the company to take responsibility for their waste.
Because we were 3 people, we decided to rent out an Airbnb which also ended up coming out cheaper than a hotel would. Our apartment was right next to Fontana di Trevi so we were basically walking distance from all the sights. The location of your accommodation is key, so remember that if you find a cheaper options in the outskirts of Rome, you might end up spending the difference on your transportation mode. Better safe than sorry, but I would suggest looking at a centrally located hotel/Airbnb.
My favorite part about Rome is how walkable it is. On average, we would walk 15 km every day which gave us the chance to exercise while seeing ALL of the city. However, if you’re not too excited about walking that much, you can use the metro, buses and if you’re a lot of people, you can carpool in an Uber. I haven’t heard great things about the public transportation in Rome, so I cannot attest to its quality/reliability/safety.
I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy it is to be vegan in Rome. Almost every restaurant had a vegan section on the menu, and even if they didn’t, the staff knew what vegan meant and they were accommodating to my dietary preferences. Some tips are to make sure to ask whether or not the pasta has eggs in it (usually the home-made ones did), when in doubt, go for a pizza marinara and use the Happy Cow app to find vegan food wherever you are. Here are my top vegan-friendly recommendations.
This was the best meal I had in Rome, and they had 4 pages of vegan pizzas, pastas, salads, calzones, etc. Even on the “normal” menu, the vegan options were clearly labeled and the staff was understanding and kind. I wish I could’ve gone more times, and I could’ve tried more dishes, but the food coma was totally worth it in the end. It is not located very centrally, but it was definitely worth the walk. Here are the dishes we tried:
The Pasta Carbonara (with vegan bacon, and a vegan cream sauce), was absolutely delicious, and it was so nostalgic to taste a childhood favorite dish of mine!
The Pizza Diavola (with vegan cheese and vegan pepperoni), wasn’t as spicy as I thought it would be, but definitely delicious
The Nutella Pizza (with vegan nutella), was the perfect end to our meal and I can’t explain how fast I devoured it….
Grezzo is a raw-vegan shop with many traditional Italian desserts (tiramisu, panna cotta, etc) and ice-creams, located very centrally. The prices are not as affordable as other shops nearby, but everything we tried was delicious and filling.
This is the perfect place to stop for a quick bite, as they offer delicious pizzas by the slice, and they have a huge selection of vegan-friendly ones. As we were the first customers, many of the pizzas weren’t ready yet so we ended up getting some focaccia and marinara slices which were heavenly.
This small restaurant/cafe was located very close to our apartment, so we visited multiple times for a quick snack and coffee. The vegetarian options were plenty, so most of the time all you had to do was ask for no cheese. Every time we went, I ordered the pesto sandwich ( no cheese) , and I also ordered the soy-latte a couple of times.
This chain has multiple locations across Rome, the staff is well-informed and they had so many vegan ice-creams and chocolate bars. The cones aren’t vegan, but the staff were kind enough to inform me when I told them I want vegan ice-cream.
Apartment from the waste of our transportation, Rome is a very low-waste friendly city. There were water fountains everywhere with clean, potable water so I refilled my reusable bottle often, all the restaurants had proper silverware and plates, and those that were more “fast-food” style offered sustainable and compostable packaging! Across the city I saw many bins that were clearly labeled for compost, glass, metal and plastic recycling, so any waste that you created could be disposed of responsibly at every corner.