A guide to Rome and Vatican City on a budget

When we were planning our Italy trip, I didn’t really want to spend too much time in Rome. We decided to spend 2 days here nevertheless because we would be landing and taking off from Rome. We explored Rome towards the end of our Italy trip, right after Alberobello. I just wanted to scratch the surface – the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica and some good food. I really am not a fan of museums and long queues at sites.

a street in rome

Where to stay in Rome

If you want to stay in a true Italian home, stay at Stella’s house at Via Montebello. It is exactly what the name says – It’s the home of Stella, an Italian nona.

stella's house rome (2)

stella's house rome (3)

stella's house rome

The feel is truly authentic with her great moka pot coffees, scolding and talking like she were your own grandma and her cute home and kitchen.

How to move around Rome

We relied on the Roma ATAC bus system to move around Rome.

rome bus atac

Here’s a good guide to help you – http://www.venere.com/blog/rome-bus-system/. I also used the Roma bus route planner to get an idea of the buses to take – http://viaggiacon.atac.roma.it/index.html?language=eng. You can also download the Rome bus and train route maps here – http://www.atac.roma.it/page.asp?p=18


We stood in a really long queue to get inside the world’s largest amphitheater – the Colosseum. It was stupendous.


inside of colosseum (2)

inside of colosseum

We got lost in thoughts of gladiators atop the now ruined arena and wild animals making their way from the hypogeum underground. The long queue was certainly worth it!

Largo Di Torre Argentina – Assassination spot of Caesar

What we see now is just a part of the Theatre of Pompey where Caesar was assassinated. The rest of it is buried under the present city of Rome. It is clearly explained here – https://lmmslatin.wikispaces.com/The+Theater+of+Pompey

largo di torre argentina - theatre of pompey (2)

largo di torre argentina - theatre of pompey
A tree stands on the remains of the Curia where Caesar was assassinated

The feeling was over whelming. I could imagine the 23 stabs.

Vatican City

There are a few security personnale standing at the border of Italy and Vatican City. There’s no immigration – you just walk into the country 🙂

Italy - Vatican City border :)
Italy – Vatican City border 🙂

Why is Vatican City a separate country?

The Papal States (present day regions of Lazio, Marche etc.) were ruled by the Pope until the Italian peninsula was unified. Rome was chosen as the capital of the new country but the government couldn’t capture it because the pope was protected by a French garrison. Soon, the French empire collapsed & Rome was captured. To avoid a religious civil war, the government decided to give a land near the Tiber to the pope. This subjected the pope to a law that could be changed by the Italian government at any time. The pope wanted complete independence. This continued for almost 60 years after which the Lateran Treaty (under Mussolini) created the independent country of Vatican City.

St. Peter’s Basilica

st peter's basilica vatican city (3)

We had to stand in a long queue to get inside the Basilica.


st peter's basilica vatican city (2)

Once inside, there was another long queue to climb up the Basilica to get great views of the St. Peter’s square and Rome. You can take a lift for the 1st half and then climb around 500 steps to reach the top.

st peter's square vatican city

Some great eats at Rome

Other than some great pasta and gelato, the below are the yummiest eats we had in Rome. I don’t have words to express how delicious they were.

best tiramisu - bar pompi
The BEST Tiramisu – Bar Pompi
best cannoli -
The BEST cannoli at Ciuri Ciuri. Creamy ricotta filling patted with pistachio.
pizzarium bonci - best margherita pizza
The BEST margherita pizza at Bonci Pizzarium near Vatican City. You can chose tiny sized portions of any number of varieties
Italian snacks :)
Italian snacks 🙂

Rough expenses:

Stella’s house per night for a double room – 50 €

2 day bus pass for Roma ATAC – 12.5 €

Entry ticket to Colosseum – 12 € (same ticket can be used to enter the Roman Forum)

St. Peter’s Basilica dome entry with lift – 8 €


Here’s a general guide to visiting Italy on a budget (flights, visa etc.) + the other places I visited in Italy – Visiting Italy on a budget




One comment

  1. I just enjoyed this post. Impeccably written with the historical background. Visiting Colosseum is in my bucket list ! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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