St. Peter's Square

St. Peter’s Square, Rome, Italy, September 2015

I loved Italy; there are so many things to see, the food is great, and people are friendly (most of them). I have so many things I wish to share with you that I’ve decided to write a book about them, but for now here is a list of 10 Things I Learned In Italy:

1. Gelato can be supplemented for every meal. It can and should be consumed in vast quantities, but it tastes even better when you share it with someone you love.

2. Italians are awesome! (There was an exception in Venice and during a busy day at Giolitti, Rome). Even though my sister and I spoke no language at all, they never made us feel stupid. (Unlike the citizens of a certain European country that shall remain nameless.) My impression is of warm, passionate, and friendly people I would not mind knowing better.

View from the Terravision Bus

View from the Terravision Bus as we are about to leave Fiumicino Airport.

3. Cheaper can be better! Terravision bus is a great commuting option to and from the Fiumicino airport and it only costs €4/person one way!—just make sure you find a bathroom before your bus is about to depart. Then you can spend the money you saved on travelling gorging on gelato.

4. You CAN take your luggage onto a busy subway train, just make sure you go to the front of the train where a space for handicapped persons is usually located.

5. Termini Station in Rome is HUGE! You can go anywhere and anyway from there. If travelling by a speed train, make sure you are on the right platform. Even if you are in a rush, do not board a train until you are 100% sure it is the right one. Wait for the conductor, one will eventually appear. To speak to the right person when you wish to purchase national train tickets, you will have to get a ticket with a number from a tiny booth near the lineup, then wait for your number to come up.

Mili Fay in the Vatican Museum.

At the Vatican City make sure you wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. This is a view from the Vatican Museum.

6. Vatican City is the most popular destination in Rome. Make sure you book your tours online in advance and have your tickets printed. Go as early as you possible can, because it gets suffocatingly hot in there. You cannot take water or food with you through the entrance scanners (though we managed to get pretzels through). However, bring empty bottles with you and fill them up in the bathroom. Make sure you use the bathroom before the tour, because they usually last 3h+!

7. It’s safe to drink water in Rome. Purchase a 1-2 litre water bottle and then fill it up at drinking fountains sprouting throughout the city, especially in parks. Trust me, you will need lots of water.

Zeus at 4 Fountain Square, Rome, Italy.

Fountain of Zeus at the Four-Fountain Square. One of the most beautiful surprises I’ve encountered in Rome.

8. Rome is packed with things to see. Get a map at your hotel and don’t bother purchasing transit tickets or passes in advance. Instead have the correct change ready if you get tired. Walking around, you will stumble on amazing sites—like the four fountain intersection, or even the Spanish Steps.

9. Italian food is great! Order a single plate, there is plenty for two people (also you do not want to overeat and then not be able to move). If you need more food order another plate of something else then split that, too.

Venice, Italy, September 2015

Venice, Italy, September 2015

10. Venice streets are tiny! Most of them are not written on a map. Bring several highlighters with you and trace routes to your destinations, then visually try to guess which is the right street. If you want to take a gondola ride, you need to prebook a tour—they take 4-6 people only (price is usually €30-40/person for ½ an hour). The romantic two-people only gondola can cost from €80-100 for ½ an hour!

Roman Forum, September 2015

Entrance is at the North-East side, across from the Colosseum. You will have to pay an entrance fee. Our guide from Atlas Tours was amazing! He’s from Baltimore, but I cannot recall his name for the life of me.