Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

The history behind the city of Rome is fascinating, and layers upon layers make up its story.  Everything was so walk-able, and there were so many free things for travelers to do and see.  The food was delicious.  I was taken aback when I saw just how much wealth was centered in the Vatican City, but it was definitely impressive to see firsthand.  Seeing the sprawling wealth gave me a deeper understanding of our world’s financial inequality.

These are experiences you won’t get by sitting in a hotel or resort all day.  These experiences are real, tangible, life changing, and worth every penny.

Expenses (just for Rome, excluding the flight)

Date Cost Description
7/19/2017 $212.65 Hotel – Rome – 2 nights
9/17/2017 $33.57 Rome train from the airport to the city
9/19/2017 $33.62 Rome train from the city to the airport
$279.84 Lodging and Transportation
9/17/2017 $49.15 Dinner in Rome – Lasagna and Tortellini
9/17/2017 $11.51 Gelato near the Trevi Fountain
9/18/2017 $37.82 Dinner in Rome – Pizza!
9/18/2017 $11.51 Gelato near the Trevi Fountain
9/19/2017 $41.43 Lunch in Rome – Spaghetti and Linguini
9/19/2017 $14.41 Gelato near the Colosseum
$165.83 Total Food Cost
9/18/2017 $62.85 Cash that covered the Dome tickets (6 euros per person), three magnets, a mini Colosseum statue, and entry to the Mies van der Roh house in Barcelona (5 euros per person)
9/18/2017 $38.31 Tickets to the Vatican Museum
9/19/2017 $28.82 Tickets to the Colosseum and Forum
$129.98 Total Extra Cost
$575.65 Total Spent minus flight
  $287.39 per person


See the details in the Oslo post.


Location was key for our trip to Rome.  In order to see and do everything we wanted to, we had to be in the middle of the city.  The money and time we saved on public transportation more than made up for lodging that was a bit more expensive. Our hotel was located on Via del Corso, a couple blocks from the Pantheon and equidistant from the Vatican and the Colosseum (we could walk to both).

We ended up staying in a hotel because it was the most cost effective way to get a private room in our desired location.  (Hostels were only $20 a night…)  I found the room using a website search.  The actual hotel was older, so the rooms were small.  However, it felt very authentic, and we basically only slept in the room.  We had a window overlooking an alley and opened it up to listen to the city life.

The one thing to note was that there was an extra hotel tax upon arrival of about $5 per person, bringing our total from $193 to $212.


The airport was outside the main city, so we took the train in and out.  It was very cost effective.  We were taken to central station.  It was about 1.5 miles to walk to the hotel, about 1.5 miles to walk to the Vatican, and about 1 mile to walk to the Colosseum.  Everything else we wanted to see was within this walk-able range.  We really did have a hotel in the middle of everything, which made walking (the most cost effective mode of transportation) easy and comfortable.  It’s especially easy with only one bag.

This is definitely a city that I would never consider driving in.  Everything is walk-able, so there’s no point in having a car to begin with.  The actual drivers on the roads were more aggressive than I’m used to, and the alleys and one way streets were hard enough to navigate on foot without worrying about hitting pedestrians.


We brought along a bag of groceries in addition to our backpacks.  This included breakfast for each of the days and snacks.

We had a large breakfast in Norway before flying down, and then we had a lunch time flight.

For our first day, we grabbed dinner after sightseeing.  We stopped in a small café in one of the alleys around the hotel.  We started with bruschetta as an appetizer.  I ordered lasagna, the Wanderer ordered a four-cheese tortellini, and we shared.  We also had a bottle of frescati.  We took with the leftover pita bread.  Other than that, the plates were left clean.  We got gelato for dessert.

Dinner in Rome

For the second day, we had the food we brought with for breakfast, and tucked some in our backpack for lunch.  We ate some of our snacks for lunch while we were in line for the Vatican.  We had dinner at a different café.  This time, we had a caprese appetizer with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. Then we had a ham flatbread pizza.  It was soft like pizza with thick crust, but still so thin, and it was so delicious.  Another bottle of frescati and gelato for dessert, of course.

On the last day, we had the rest of our groceries for breakfast.  Then we had the leftover pita bread as a snack in front of the Colosseum.  We got lunch while walking back to the train station.  This time, a glass of sparking blush, spaghetti with marinara and meatballs and linguini Alfredo.  After we finished, we continued the walk back, stopping for more gelato on the way.

For only $166, we were able to enjoy a wide variety of foods that Italy is known for. I’d like to point out that the three meals were only about $130, and that the other $35 was spent on gelato.  Only getting gelato once would have been a cost (and health) savings, but it was so so good.  We were walking 10 miles per day, so we definitely burned it off.


We arrived in the early afternoon.  We walked to the hotel, passing by the baths, gardens, the Santa Maria church, a couple fountains, and the Altar of the Fatherland.  After checking in, we went to see the Pantheon’s exterior (we had just missed opening times), the Trevi fountain, and the Spanish steps.  Then we got dinner and gelato.  We walked back to the hotel after.

The inside of the dome in St. Peter’s Basilica

We started the morning walking past the Pantheon, heading north through the neighborhood.  We passed the Supreme Court building and the Saint Angelo castle.  It was about a mile and a half from the hotel to the Vatican City.  We were there promptly when they opened, and made it through the security into the basilica in about 10 minutes.  Then we climbed up to the top of the Dome after purchasing tickets for 6 euros each.  The view of the city was spectacular, although the actual climb through the tiny walls was mildly terrifying.  We walked down and ended up in the Basilica.  Visiting the basilica is free, and it has all sorts of grand displays and fascinating architecture.  (The tour guides try to sell you tickets.  Ignore them.)  I have never seen that level of wealth before. When we wrapped up and saw the line waiting, we were glad we had come early.

From the roof of St. Peter’s Basilica

We got in line right after for the Vatican Museums, and it was unfortunately almost two hours waiting.  There was security to get through, and then we had to purchase the tickets.  We made it in around lunch time, and were able to walk the entire museum, including seeing the Sistine Chapel.  During our wait in the line, we kept getting asked by tour guides to join them for their tours and immediate entrance.  However, they were charging triple the entrance fee for the shortcut in line. We ignored them and waited patiently.  If we were to do it again, I would have started in the Vatican museum’s line first thing in the morning, since the process to enter was much more complex and therefore takes longer.  However, both lines were long by mid-morning.  We walked back to the Pantheon after, which was free to enter as long as it was open.  We were so tired after that we went back to the hotel for a shower and a nap.  We woke up just in time for a pizza dinner, and then we walked back to the Trevi fountain just to see it at night before circling back to the hotel.

Inside the Colosseum

Our last day, we woke up early, checked out, and walked toward the Colosseum.  We stopped by some fountains and some of the areas with ancient ruins on the way.  The line at the Colosseum wasn’t bad at all, and we were through security in about 10 minutes.  The Colosseum was huge, and we walked through the entire first and second floors.  If you were part of a tour group, you could walk down to the basement and up to the third floor, but we felt satisfied with only the two floors, part of which had been converted into a museum.  The Forum and Palatine Hill were included in the ticket price, so we crossed the street and walked through those areas after.  We stopped for lunch and gelato once we had wrapped up, and then walked back to the train station to take the train to the airport.

Overlooking the Forum

More frugal travel…

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