Rome, Italy

A friend of mine asked if I’d take her to Italy to grab a pizza, and as I’m always game for one-night trips around Europe, and I love a good pizza, I said yes.

I found the flights quite cheaply with Ryanair to Rome Ciampino, which is about 35-40 minutes away from the centre of Rome. I rarely research transport from the airport, and I never buy transfers online, as most airports these days have cheap bus services right outside, who schedule their trips based on Ryanair flights, and I was right this time too, as it was 4 euros each way.

We had no plans at all apart from wandering to The Vatican to tick this tiny little country off my list.

As soon as we arrived in Rome, we just set our map to direct us to The Vatican, and headed towards it, popping into little shops along the way, taking photos of the amazing architecture that Rome has to offer. The buildings are amazing as you can see in the images I’ve uploaded. There are a lot of tiny artisan shops that sell handmade woodwork, chocolate, toys and other stereotypical Italian craftsmanship.

We stumbled across Trevi Fountain, which was rammed with tourists, but you can see why, as it’s just a great sight to see. The only problem I had was with the wannabe models taking photos of each other in the cringiest, most awkward and self-centred way possible. It was so tempting to push them into the fountain, but as there were armed police and soldiers scattered around, I didn’t quite fancy it.

As we continued to walk towards The Vatican, we found so many amazing gelaterias and pizzerias. We Googled the best pizza in Rome, and one stood out from the rest, with nearly 2000 reviews on Trip Advisor, so we walked for about an hour to find it, just to find out that it was a takeaway! We wanted a sit down meal, so just walked across the road to another pizzeria and chilled there for a bit. The pizza was amazing – I had the four cheese, she had a margherita… Pizza is actually pretty cheap in Rome, probably because there are hundreds of pizzerias. I saw that the prices ranged from about 5 euros to 15 euros, depending on the topping, but they’re probably all as good as each other.

We spotted thousands of people queueing up to get into The Vatican, and there were dodgy looking lads scattered around grabbing people to sell them tours, but as one stopped me, as I normally do, I check the person out, and spot things. As he was chatting on with his sales pitch, I noticed that his flyer had been opened and closed that much that the folds had lost colour and started to curl, why not use a new one? Also, he was pointing at parts of the flyer with a pencil, which had no lead in it… Use a pen? Get a new pencil? I looked at his lanyard and ID card inside, which pretty much had his name and a few flags on it, no company name, nothing else, and he wanted over 100 euros from me – absolutely not mate.

He may have been legit, but I’m not giving cash to a company that won’t give their salespeople new flyers or won’t replace their pencil, doesn’t seem right to me.

We walked away and just walked around The Vatican to see if it was easier to get in somewhere else, and as I pulled my phone out to check the map, it turns out I was stood right in the middle of The Vatican, so the cost must have been to get on a tour to see the Sistine Chapel and so on, which I wasn’t really too bothered about.

We headed out, down a wide road that seems to be where all of the embassies are based as each building had a different flag on it. Flags, European history and geography are topics that I’m interested in, so I took a liking to this road.

We had been walking for hours now, and we woke up at 4am for the flight, and with our phones both dying, we decided to head to the hotel to charge them, take a rest, then go back out later that night.

The hotel’s photos looked great on Booking.com. so I was expecting it to be a nice hotel, and it was. We stayed at the Hotel Villa San Lorenzo Maria, in the San Lorenzo district. After walking for hours through the graffiti’d streets of Rome, it was nice to see a building that wasn’t ruined with some idiot’s tag. Why people graffiti (except actual graffiti art), is beyond me – it’s a moronic thing to do that benefits nobody.

Arriving at the reception, we were met by a guy who was informative and so helpful. It turned out that we had breakfast included, which I didn’t know about – bonus.

This hotel had something that I’d never seen before. There was an Android phone charging in the room, on a stand with a guide next to it. It turns out to be a phone you can take with you, that has free calls and data, allowing you to use it as a map, to use the internet, to call people, for the time you’re at the hotel. What a great idea! I do wonder how many get stolen though, which would be a shame, but I assume they would somehow charge you for it.

I had a quick shower, and then we asked the staff where to get the best pizza, and he recommended a local pizzeria, a 5 minute walk away from the hotel, but he said “It is not at all fancy, but the pizza is great.” That sounds great to me, I’m not bothered about the decor, more the product.

We found the pizzeria, and it was exactly as described, and very busy. The waiter came up to me and said something in Italian, but I had no idea what he said so I had to say “I don’t speak Italian, sorry”, which I really dislike to do, and he replied with “I don’t speak English.” We’re at an impasse… or so I thought, until he asked me “Hablas Español?” – great, we’re able to communicate. I’m by no means fluent, but definitely good enough to communicate with the waiter in a restaurant. It turns out he said to me that we’re really busy, so it’ll be a 15 minute wait if that’s ok. I said yeah that’s fine, and we were seated within 5 anyway.

I ordered a meat pizza, which wasn’t really meaty, and she ordered a margherita with a few onions on. The pizzas were good, but not amazing – I’ve been to northern Italy before, and the pizza I had there is unbeatable in my opinion – the sort of pizza you think of when you think about real Italian pizzas.

We didn’t have enough time to see the Colosseum, or really any other big landmarks as we really only went to get a pizza, but saw a few things on the way. I’d go back to Rome, maybe in a few years, with a partner as it’s a romantic place. It’s a huge shame that Italy seems to be full of idiots who love spray paint – it does ruin the buildings and it’s literally everywhere, every street, every wall, except the Roman structures, they seem to have respect for these, or, they get cleaned when those morons have ruined them with the legibility of a toddler.

Booking.com