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Rome on a Budget

By: Virginia Mutz

Rome’s most famous sites – the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Roman Forum, the Spanish Steps, and the Sistine Chapel – are essential to experience Italy’s capital history and culture. However, such historical landmarks are often expensive, especially for young individuals who can rely on many ways to visit and experience Rome’s culture without “breaking the bank.” 

Paying for tours and the journey between these places can increase the price of one’s travel. However, there are two ways to avoid these high fees. The first and best option is to take advantage of Rome’s free museum policy. 

On the first Sunday of every month, several of Rome’s most famous museums and historic sites are accessible to the public. Some more notable landmarks include the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Castel Sant’Angelo, the Baths of Caracalla, the Borghese Gallery, the Capitoline Museums, Palazzo Venezia, and the Mausoleum of Cecilia Metella. On the last Sunday of every month, the Vatican Museums also open their doors to the public for free. 

The second option, if one’s travel is limited to a specific timeframe, is to find other ways to enjoy these landmarks. For example, many websites do not tell young travelers that one does not need a ticket to get a tour to truly experience the marvel of sites such as the Colosseum or the Spanish Steps. If people are not interested in the costly tours of each site, there is information about each site’s history on Google and a complementary view. Visiting the Pantheon costs no money, and one can bask in the beauty of the Colosseum on the 360° path surrounding it. 

One of the most costly things about traveling to Rome is traveling between these different sites. Unlike Florence or Venice, it usually requires a long walk to get from place to place. While Uber and taxis provide quick travel, they are usually costly and sometimes hard to find. The cheapest and most accessible way to travel around is the metro and bus. Tickets cost €1.50, and almost every tobacco store around Rome sells them. With a simple Google Maps search, travelers can learn the quickest route to get from place to place. While intimidating, the metro and bus systems are simple. Another option is purchasing a hop-on hop-off bus pass. For €27, these buses drive to the hotspots of Rome with a view of the city. 

One must try Rome’s delicious food; luckily, websites such as Tripadvisor, Rome Wise, and Hostel World provide massive lists of restaurants with excellent reviews that provide great food without a high cost. Some popular restaurants include Bono Bottega Nostrana (San Pietro in Via di Porta Cavalleggeri 109) and Er Pizzicarolo (Vicolo del Cinque 39). These options and many others are just a Google search away. Another life-saving tip is never to spend more than 3 euros on gelato. If the smallest size is more than €3, it is overpriced.

Enjoying the nightlife in beautiful European cities is vital for most young people. Lucky for you, the nightlife in Rome is excellent. Trastevere, a neighborhood filled with restaurants, is a popular neighborhood to visit during the night. Countless Italian and international students flock to Trastevere to meet new people and enjoy a nice meal. Campo Dei Fiori is also a trendy nightlife spot. It is an open-air market during the day and transforms into a lively piazza surrounded by bars during the night. 

Rome’s more American bars include The Abbey Pub, The Bulldog Pub, and Trinity College. These spots are usually quite crowded during the weekend. If one is looking for a more “discoteca vibe,” where tourists and locals alike can dance the night away, the most popular places include Art Cafe, Gilda, and La Cabala. A personal favorite of the younger generation is Shari Vari, a bistro and dance club in Rome’s center. Just remember, at most discos, there is a cover fee of around €15.

Enjoying a trip to Rome does not mean young sightseers need to spend hundreds of dollars. Rome is a city with inexpensive sites, food, and nightlife. One just needs to know how to experience it.

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