I wrote recently about my trip to the Vatican City which is nestled in the giant historical site that is Rome. Millions of visitors flock every year to Italy’s iconic capital. With sites that span millennia, it’s impossible to see everything in the few short days. Here’s a short guide on how to maintain your sanity while dealing with huge crowds and lines.
Much like the Vatican, Rome is crawling with tourists. If you think that it will make a romantic getaway in the modern sense, prepare for disappointment. If you want to go just to check off some arbitrary bucket list of yours based on pictures you’ve seen on Pintrest, by all means, go, you’ll be in the company of thousands of others like you. It can be exhausting trying to visit all the biggest spots. Don’t let that get you down. If you have an open itinerary and mind, you can prevent misanthropy. If you’re a checklister, here’s the reality of your dream:
Arguably Rome’s most iconic landmark. If it’s not enough to marvel this colossus from the outside, go inside and pretend that you’re a gladiator. But first, wait in the two hour line.
The magnificent Trevi Fountain, one of the most famous fountains in the world. Toss in a coin and promise the city to return. After elbowing your way to the front, watch out for rogue coins. Not all of them make it into the water.
If you really MUST go to these places, by all means, go. But if you want to make the most out of a short visit, skip the crowds and explore some of Rome’s less-crowded options:
Foro Romano (The Roman Forum)
If you find the line for the Colosseum impassably long even early on a Tuesday morning, try the Foro Romano or Roman Forum. If you go right around opening (8:30am), you can have the whole place pretty much to yourself for an hour or two. It does fill up fast, but if you’re quick, you can walk through the ruins of the Temple of the Vestial Virgins unhindered.
The best part is that from the top of the hill where the Temple of Venus lies, you get great views of the Colosseum. You can mock all the plebs in line then turn around and be the only person in the temple.
Another great spot is the Torre Argentina. This place is a bit crowded, but fortunately not with humans. The site is near Caesar’s famous demise and now serves are a sanctuary for cats. Visitors are not allowed in the subterranean ruins themselves, but are allowed to view them from above. They also have a chance to play with the kitties in the visitor center that operates on donations and has a great English-speaking staff.
Of course, even these less-populated options are still fairly touristy. Hopefully on my next visit I can get a chance to explore Rome’s truly hidden gems.