A Roman Holiday
Duration: 5 nights, 4½ days
A few hours later, I managed to find my way to the apartment (that I rented via Airbnb) in Tor Pignattara (South Yarra to Melbourne, distance). From this, I learnt that it is probably best to book accommodation near the city centre or at least, near the central train station.
After settling down, and showering off the day's sweat, I grabbed Atticus and headed out. I hopped onto a bus which took about 20–30 minutes to get back to Roma Termini and spent the evening wandering the streets (without a map, well Google Maps wasn't working properly) until I came across the Trevi Fountain. When I eventually found it, the fountain was blocked off, completely drained, covered with scaffolding and surrounded by confused and upset tourists. To cheer myself up, I bought a lemon gelato and attempted toss a coin over my shoulder, the distance was too far and it didn't make it... so I headed off to the Spanish Steps shortly afterwards, the fountain in front of the steps was blocked off as well. Turns out, everything in Europe was under restorations this summer.
For my first full day in Roma, I explored the Colosseum, The Roman Forum and The Palatine Hill. (I had bought a 3 day Roma Pass the day before and fast tracked my way in.) It was a bit overwhelming to be honest, I can't exactly explain how I felt walking around the Colosseum. That evening, I tried to find La Bocca della Vertià — the Mouth of Truth, known for it's appearance in the 1953 film Roman Holiday — it took a while to find, there are so many churches called Santa Maria in Roma! An old man, who spoke no English, offered to help me find the church but ended up giving me the wrong directions, I ended up asking a nun and made it in time before they closed the church for the day.
The next day I explored Castel Sant'Angelo, ate more gelati and had my first sit down meal (in Roma). I always had a sandwich or fruit on the go, and didn't eat until the sun went down, as I felt like I was pretty much wasting good time since most attractions closed around 5pm. I had another gelato afterwards and did some people watching in the Piazza Navona, around the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (The Fountain of the Four Rivers). According to a quick Google search, there are over 2000 fountains in Roma, which is more than any city in the world. When you think about it, it's pretty darn amazing — not only were they operated by gravity, they also provided drinking for the people.
I somehow ended up at the Fondazione Roma Museo, they had an Andy Warhol exhibition on and to be honest, it was very refreshing to be in a Pop Art exhibition.
I stumbled across the Pantheon on my way back. As I entered, I felt so tiny — this is what you're supposed to feel according to the guidebooks. What's interesting about the Pantheon, is that there's no windows, only the oculus which allows the light in. If it rains outside, it'll be raining inside the Pantheon as well.
Unable to book a tour to Pompeii, I found Ostia Antica to be a very lovely alternative. I spent the day exploring the ruins, being guided by the local cats and trying to imagine what it would've been like to live here millennia ago. Toga wine party anyone?
On my last full day in Roma, I went to the Vatican City. I made a friend whilst waiting inline for the museum. She's 18, just finished high school and was traveling on her own, which I thought was pretty amazing, and also the fact that she could speak fluent Italian! The museum was so huge that we couldn't see everything, and very, very crowded that you couldn't really appreciate the artwork, as everyone is just shoving and pushing and taking photos of everything! But dayum, standing in St. Peter's Square felt like I was in a scene from Angels and Demon.
I enjoyed my time in Roma, the weather was lovely and the locals were quite nice.