Come to think of it, the only wonders of Rome we had to pay for to fully enjoy were the Colosseum and Palatine Hill (£23), which offers the biggest collection of antique ruins in central Rome. And that on its own wasn’t an outrageous amount either as both attractions that also included an audio guide. Anyway, now onto the real freebies of Rome.
One of the must-see wonders of Rome that no one forgets to take a picture near is the beautiful Fontana di Trevi. It is of course free to visit, and you can take however long to get the perfect picture. However, I must warn you, it will be crawling with people no matter the time you choose to visit. We opted for the midnight picture with the notorious Fontana and there were still crowds to avoid getting into your picture.
If you feel as if some chill time is needed in your busy days discovering the Roman streets, then you might consider stopping by Circo Massimo. What was once a chariot-racing stadium is now a park with a preserved tower that was part of a medieval fort. The park is a place for locals to do some exercise or just to sit and relish in the view in front of you. As the park sits next to Palatine Hill, you will have the chance to see some of the ancient ruins that are part of the Foro Romano. We were lucky enough to have sunny weather, so we enjoyed some gelato while relishing in the beauty before our eyes.
If you are in Rome, you should also visit the Vatican and cross another country off your list. The only attraction that is free in the Vatican is the Basilica di San Pietro. One major problem, though, is the queue outside which can last up to two hours before you even get a peek inside. So, my advice to you is to get up early and be outside the door at 7am sharp, which is when the basilica opens. We set our alarms early enough that we made it to the queue around 7.10 am and had to wait for only around 5 minutes before we got to enjoy all the basilica has to offer for ourselves.
Some of the squares that should end up on your bucket list are Piazza Venezia and Piazza del Popolo. The first one is a stone’s throw away from the Colosseum and features a monument for Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of a unified Italy. And Piazza del Popolo, which was historically a place for public executions is now a great place for some sightseeing. In the middle of the square, you will be able to see an obelisk from ancient Egypt, one of thirteen ancient obelisks you can find in Rome. And the square is not too far from the Piazza di Spagna, where tourists gather to snatch a picture of the Villa Borghese and its gardens. As you climb the steps from Piazza del Popolo to the gardens that sit on top of the square, you will be offered a view of the whole of Rome, which is surely worth the annoying steps you must conquer to get there.
If you are something of a history enthusiast, then you shouldn’t miss the Via Appia Antica – the longest preserved ancient road that was used by merchants traveling to Rome. The road isn’t in central Rome sadly, but nonetheless is easily visited by metro. If you take the metro line A from the centre of Rome and get off at the stop Colli Albani, you will be around three minute walk away from Parco dell Appia Antica, through which you can get to the Via Appia Antica. The road is a few kilometres long and there is no need to walk it all as you will encounter some great ancient architecture along most of the way.
And lastly, one of my personal favourites was Trastevere, which is a neighbourhood in Rome that still has the old-Italian look of narrow streets. The vibe that we felt in that part of the city was unmatched. Filled with local restaurants, cafes, cute shops, and even some street vendors, this neighbourhood felt the friendliest and most chilled in a city filled with tourists. It is definitely the place to go if you need some time away from huge crowds and are looking for the best vibe. And it’s not too far away from Isola Tibera, which is a lovely little island in the Tiber River. That was a place of pure serenity filled with the river swishing and Italians strumming the guitar.
If you didn't ’t have Rome in your travel bucket list before, then I hope you do now as the city definitely deserves a place there. And since you will be saving money from sightseeing, you can go a little extra in dining and vining yourself in a place where the food is just scrumptious.