Rome Diaries: First Impressions

November 7, 2016
visit rome

Friday, October 28th 2016

I’m sitting at my desk after lunch, finishing up some work, and suddenly it hits me: I’m going to be in Rome tomorrow. And I’m only coming back next Wednesday.

Wait, why is this only hitting me now?

My head is a funny thing sometimes. I’ve known about this trip since August – and yet it’s taken me this long to come to terms with the fact that I will be on a plane tomorrow morning, arriving in Rome.

But I have so much work to finish up. And I need to pack!

Adventure awaits.

Saturday, October 29th 2016

what to expect visiting rome

After getting up at 5am, we’ve arrived and started exploring right away. I am sleep-deprived, confused and lost in the midst of so many monuments and churches (so many churches).

I didn’t research anything about Rome before coming, so I have no idea what to expect. The city just seems like a big, chaotic metropolis right now. It’s amazing and confusing at the same time to think about how this modern city has developed around so many ruins that seem scattered through the streets.

Amidst all the stops along our walk through Rome, today has become a blur. I’ve learned that I am definitely a slow traveler and need some time to find my footing before exploring a new place.

I’ve grabbed my camera practically every 5 seconds today in an effort to keep myself from forgetting all the beautiful places we’ve discovered.

10 hours, 200 something photos and 13km later, we’re finally back at the hotel.

Sunday, October 30th 2016

what to expect visiting rome

Today we get up a little earlier to stand in line to visit the Vatican Museum. The museum is free every last Sunday of the month, but today Pope Francis I will be leading a Mass at lunch time so the museum will close earlier. We need to make it in time.

We’ve stood in line for hours. It’s chaotic. Everyone is eager to get in. People push each other; they push us. My sister has a claustrophobia attack and suddenly the compassion in people comes out.

10 minutes before the entry to the museum closes, we’re allowed inside.

Thank. God.


The museum is a bit of a blur – hundreds of people are inside and we’re all trying to get the best snapshots and views of the incredible artwork that are the walls and ceilings of this maze of corridors. In the Sistine Chapel, we’re not allowed to take photos – but some people still do.

I don’t. I stand in awe, but I’m not able to take it all in. There are so many people; everyone is in such a rush. I catch myself wishing I could stay the rest of the day here.

We’re hungry, though, so we move on.

We leave the Vatican Museum and have lunch only to rush to Piazza San Pietro to stand in another line. We want to see the Basilica.

The Basilica is the most super-human structure I have ever seen. 20 people could stand up on top of each other inside it and they still wouldn’t reach the ceiling. Who was this made for?

I know the answer. And still I am amazed.

I barely speak while we’re inside. My mind is too busy trying to take in every sculpture, painting, every marble detail.

For the rest of the day, we hang out at the Piazza and do a little souvenir shopping nearby.

10km and two pizzas later, it’s time for bed.

Monday, October 31st 2016

what to expect visiting rome

Today is a slower day. The plan is to walk around and discover the streets of Rome.

The pizza/pasta routine is starting to get to all of us – I mean, yes it’s delicious, but where’s the steak? The fresh salads? The tasty fish? The anything-without-tomato-sauce-on-it?

We leave our hotel at around 10:30am and take a bus to Camp di Fiori. There are lots of people around, but at least we don’t have to wait in line for anything. We peruse the busy market and end up getting lost discovering some side streets.

In the afternoon, we decide to do some shopping at Via del Corso and visit some other city highlights like Piazza di Spagna and Piazza de Popolo.

There are so many people everywhere.

And everywhere is so beautiful. It’s still astounding to me how all of this beauty exists in just one city.

Tuesday, November 1st 2016

what to expect visiting rome

It’s our last full-day in Rome so we want to make it count.

We head to Castel Sant’Angelo for one last view of the city in all its magnificence. The castle looks so ugly from the outside (kind of like a weird-shaped lock set on the floor) but, inside, it doesn’t disappoint. The view is a stunner too.

There are still a lot of people around, moving quickly about.

We head to Trastevere for lunch at one of my sister’s favorite restaurants (it seats +200 people!) and spend the rest of the afternoon wandering through the neighborhood’s picturesque streets. In the evening, we cross the bridge to Isola Tiberina and grab ice cream and play with Snapchat filters.

We have time to fit Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore into our itinerary as dusk settles in. Everything is golden inside. I’m in awe.


Wednesday, November 2nd 2016

what to expect visiting rome

There’s only a few hours before our flight back home. We have some time in the morning so we visit one last church: Basilica Giovanni Laterano.

Again, I know nothing about it. Why it’s important; who built it; when. But it’s huge, and beautiful and opulent so it must have been important.

As we’re heading back to the airport, I look through my photos.

It’s been an amazing week.


I’ll be sharing some more posts on Rome throughout the next weeks, but let me know if there’s anything you’re particularly interested in reading about in the comments below!

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 what to expect visiting rome

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  • Reply How to Spend 4 Days in Rome - The Wanderlust Factory November 10, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    […] might have read my first impressions of Rome and kind of gotten the sense that I was left completely overwhelmed by the […]

  • Reply Mariana Lucas November 11, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    Love the Post Ines!! Which camera do you use to take your photos?

    • Reply Inês November 12, 2016 at 11:52 am

      Thanks Mariana! I’m so glad you liked it 😊 I use my iPhone 5S to take photos, and sometimes my Canon 500D – all the ones on this post were taken with my iPhone!

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