Thoughts of Italy conjure up images of good food and beautiful cities. Pizza, pasta, gelato…need I go on? Over the years I have been lucky enough to visit this beautiful country a few times. When I was younger we took family holidays to Lake Garda and Orvietto, we visited Rome and Venice, we experienced the Opera in Verona and its safe to say I fell in love. I still associate Italy with hot summer days, sitting by the pool, exploring the lakes and strolling around the cities eating gelato.
During my Erasmus I was so close to Italy, Aix en Provence is only about a three hour drive from the border and flights from Marseille were cheap, about €40 return. I had travelled a few times during my first semester and as my boyfriend would be returning to Brazil in February we decided to take one last trip together. Using, of course, Google flights we entered dates and prices and chose Rome. Although I had visited the city before it has so much to discover and is so beautiful I can imagine I’ll be back for a third visit in the future.
How to get there?
Ryanair has direct flights from Marseille to Rome and the journey couldn’t have been easier. Marseille airport is a 30 minute bus from Toulouse, its a tiny airport and the flight was short and not crowded.
Rome is a popular destination and so is easily accessible from most European airports. Ryanair flys twice a day from Dublin, flying time is around 3 hours and prices start as low as €70 return (off season). Summer prices at the moment look to be between €100 – €200 return.
Where to stay?
As the flight got in late we decided we would stay close to the airport for the first night and make our way into the city centre in the morning. I would however recommend just going straight into Rome, even if you arrive late. The hotel in Fiumcino was lovely but getting to Rome in the morning (a Sunday) turned out to be a bit difficult. Every shop was closed, we missed the first train and we were starving!
After our first night we spent the rest of our stay in 939 Hotel in the city centre. It was honestly perfect for us, the location was great within walking distance of all the attractions, cafes, restaurants,we couldn’t have chosen a better base. We got a pretty good deal on the price I think it worked out at something like €66 a night including breakfast. There’s a continental breakfast and even today I still remember how good their chocolate croissants and coffee were. If you are looking for a central location and a beautiful hotel try the 939 Hotel. Its only a two star hotel so its not complete luxury but suited us. Our room was actually a triple which would be a bit of a squeeze for three people but if you’re on a budget and want a great location the small things aren’t so bad.
What to visit?
This one is obvious, unlike other cities where you have to search out the attractions, and the ‘must sees’ Rome is famous for its sights. The pantheon, Colosseum, the Roman forum, the Vatican and the Trevi fountain are just some of its major attractions. All are located within the city centre and within walking distance of each other. We were surprised at how easy they all were to find, we ended up just stumbling across the Pantheon. For me a perfect city is accessible by foot and Rome definitely achieves this. Whether you’re a history buff or just love a good Instagram opportunity Romes attractions will fascinate you. If you are European and under the age of 26 you can available of cheaper and sometimes even free admission into these attractions. Just make sure to bring a passport or driving licence to prove you are European.
What to eat/ drink?
In between visiting the Colosseum and the Pantheon make sure to stop for some gelato, no not ice cream,Italy is famous for its gelato. Gelato is denser than ice cream and actually has less fat, my all time favourite gelataria is actually located in Aix en Provence but of course Rome has some good ones too.
Coffee lovers will not be disappointed in the land of cappuccinos, lattes etc.The price of coffee is also a lot cheaper than its neighbour, France.
Italy doesn’t just do good sweets, its pizzas and pastas are renowned worldwide. The quality is amazing and while I’m sure the more upmarket, more expensive restaurants are fabulous there really is no need to splash the cash. A night out in Rome doesn’t need to be expensive, pizza and pasta are relatively cheap as is wine.
When to go?
As per usual we went off season at the end of January, the weather was pleasant and we avoided the big crowds. This city is open for business year round so again its all about preference. Winter is cheaper but if you prefer the heat visit during Summer. Personally I find there are better deals available in the winter but as a student I have a bit more freedom in choosing when to go!
Have you been to Rome? Did you love it as much as I did? Let me know yur thoughts!
Until next time, happy travelling!