THINGS TO DO ON A LAYOVER IN ROME
Ladies and gentlemen,
Rome's airport (Fiumicino Airport) is one of the busiest airports in the world. You probably visited there on your trip to Rome itself or had a layover there before flying to another destination. So if you have a few hours to spend in this marvelous city, keep on reading.
So I landed in Rome after an 8-hour flight from my trip to New York (post about that will be up soon) and I started thinking about what to do on my 9-hour layover in Rome that Alitalia so generously gave me.
Like everyone, I logged in to the Airport WiFi to check all the "important" notifications that were waiting for me on my iPhone. That's how I spent my first hour in Rome - going through all the texts, Instagram (obviously) and of course making sure the family knows I'm all right.
Tip - before you leave the airport, make a Google map route of all the places you wanna visit so you can use it even without WiFi available.
Arriving at the city
I know 9 hours sounds like a long time but if you had any experience with layovers you know it is not really that much. If you don't have any experience, I'm here to tell you that from the 9 hours I had between landing and taking off again, I had a net of maybe 4 hours of strolling through the streets of Rome.
When you are on such a tight schedule, you need to find the fastest way to your destination.
You have several ways of getting to Rome from the airport but from previous experience (Read about my first time in Rome) the fastest way is with the Leonardo Express.
The Leonardo Express is located right in front of terminal 3. Directions to the train are all over the airport and it's around 5-minute walk from the terminal to the train platform. The cost is 14 Euros each way. The train leaves every 15 minutes and it is nonstop to Termini station in Rome, which makes it a 32 minutes journey. The best thing about it that you are not affected by traffic at all. The only downside is the cost, which is double than the price of a local bus or regular train service but the comfort and speed are well worth it.
Drinking Coffee everywhere you can
After 32 minutes I arrived at Termini station in Rome, and the first thing to do is obviously enjoying an espresso to fuel up with some energy to see as much as possible during my stay here. We all know that Italians love coffee, and they make some good coffee. So do take the time and try it once you have the chance. My coffee was not in the most attractive place in Rome, but if you have the time you can really enjoy a nice cup of coffee while sitting in front of the Pantheon on in a nice restaurant at Piazza Navona.
Tip - As I mentioned before, this isn't my first time in Rome, and What I've learned is that you see Rome through your feet. You need to walk and walk a lot, so put on some comfortable shoes!
First stop, Piazza Venezia. After about 20 minutes of walking from Termini station, I arrived at one of my favorite spots in Rome. This spot seems to connect Rome right in the middle of it and for that reason, it is referred to as 'the heart of Rome'. On the southern side of the piazza, you will find the Vittorio Emanuele II monument in honor of the first king of Italy.
The second stop needs no introduction what so ever, The Colosseum. Just a 10-minute from our last stop lays one of the most iconic structures in the modern world and probably the most famous in Rome. The walk to the Colosseum is accompanied by ancient Roman findings, sculptures, green trees and yes, hundreds of tourists all day long.
Tip - The street leading to the Colosseum is beautiful but do pay extra attention to people over there trying to give you "free" stuff. It is never free. They will follow you around until to give them some money. Not the best experience to have, especially on your Rome layover's tight schedule.
On the more positive note, you can enjoy street performances like this group playing one of my favorite song, My Way by Frank Sinatra, on a beautiful sunny day with all the beautiful buildings and ruins in the background.
After finishing up at the Colosseum it was time to head over to the other side of the Tiber river to get closer to Vatican city. The walk towards Castel Sant'Angelo is around 35 minutes but you can't really stroll the streets without taking the time to admire the architecture, atmosphere, and capturing it all with your eyes and camera.
You can take a route that involves seeing the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and the Trevi fountain and catch a few of Rome's gems along the way. I saw all those places the last time I was in Rome so I decided to take a different route to see more of the less touristic places Rome has to offer. Don't be mistaken, everywhere you look you can find history at every corner. And if that's not enough, you can find dozens of restaurants, shops and most important, Gelato, along the way.
Once I arrived at Castel Sant'Angelo, the sun was starting to set and the view was amazing. The combination of the light blue sky and the shade of red just above the horizon added so much beauty to an already beautiful place. Due to lack of time, I didn't have time to go to the top of the Sant'Angelo Castel, but it is definitely on my bucket list.
Streets light started to light the way, the sun was coming down, and it was time to head back to Termini station for the ride back to the airport. The way back is between 45 minutes to an hour, depends on the route you take.
When I arrived at Termini station I simply bought a ticket to the Leonardo Express in one of the automated machines you have right in front of the main entrance.
Tip - Be careful of random people that come and offer you help in purchasing the tickets. they are not gonna do that for free if you know what I mean. The machines are pretty simple to use, so just tell them you don't need any help and do it yourself.
Gelato, Gelato, Gelato
Italian ice cream, or Gelato, requires no introduction or any endorsement. It is widely known as one of the best ice creams in the world, to say the least. I heard a lot about a specific name that came up regarding Gelato, Venchi.
I constantly heard about trying out Venchi to enjoy the best ice cream in Rome. And in my opinion, this really holds up to the good reviews it got. Venchi has several locations around Rome, two of them are at the Fiumicino Airport. I saw the sign as soon as I entered the airport after I landed in Rome, and I said to myself that this is a must.
The Venchi branch in the city itself is packed with people, I mean, people are actually standing in line, so I had to be patient. In one word, the ice cream was amazing. the melted chocolate on the cone is added on the spot and the ice cream itself has a smooth texture and tastes great. If you have the time to stand in line and see the chocolate fountain in the city itself, do it. If not, don't miss trying it out at the airport.
The Route I took
On the remaining time I had at the airport, I had a nice dinner at the airport in a restaurant called 'Wine & Food restaurant'. The prices were OK compared to already pricey airport food, and the food was pretty good. Do remember the fact that it is an airport restaurant so don't expect life-changing dishes.
Rome, this time I only saw you for a quick 9 hours, but you always keep me wanting another visit to enjoy more of you.