A Student’s Guide to Rome, One of the World’s Greatest Wonders, In 1500 Words

Rome has been one of the most influential building blocks known to all-of Western Society, and it is with the greatest displeasure that I only get to share my whirlwind of an experience with you in what will amount to one short blog post and a few snapshots of our time there. I could talk for hours of our short stop in Rome because we managed to see so much of the historical city, but these days I know we are all pressed for time, and so I will only share the most pertinent details and “must-see” adventures so you can build your own perfect itinerary once you realize it’s about time I make it to Rome.


As a student studying abroad in France for the semester, I had an easier trip to Italy than most. I took the hop from Marseille to Rome by plane after a short delay on a beautiful October evening and touched down at the Leonardo da Vinci airport just outside of Rome as the sun was dipping beneath the horizon. I recall the excitement building as I watched the blood red reflection of the star fade away and saw my surroundings plunged into darkness. The adventure had begun. After taxing to the Bailey’s Hotel (highly recommended to have a taxi service set up beforehand through a travel company as with any big city, there will undoubtedly be scammers lying in wait – Thanks Mom and Dad for making it easy!), I met up with my parents, who had already taken in a few adventures of their own. The hotel itself was a fantastic display of elegance, but unfortunately (fortunately?) we were in Rome for bigger and better reasons, and for a limited time.

But Now Gelato

Before turning in for the night, we wanted to have some dessert and see the city. What better way to do that than with Italian Gelato?!

Enter Come il Latte, arguably the best gelateria in all of Rome if not all the world. The place came highly recommended by our French turned Italian concierge. We arrived in the tiny shop with a line beginning to build up behind us, and we were all overwhelmed by the options. In the end, I chose the beautiful masterpiece pictured below, and after finishing it and going through the ensuing sugar high, I was more than ready to sleep like a rock. I

Come il Latte Gelateria Rome Italy
Come il Latte Gelateria Rome Italy

Vatican City

The alarm the next morning woke us at 4:30am, because someone (not naming names, but it was most definitely not me) set themselves an alarm intending to wake up from a nap at 4:30pm the day prior (oops!). After a few more hours of sleep, we were ready to take in the fantastic breakfast offered by the hotel, and then take on the city.

First stop? Vatican City. We taxied to just outside the city-state, which allowed my Dad to get some incredible pictures of Saint Peter’s Basilica before it came to life for the day with the crowds of tourists.

Plan Your Dream Trip to Italy and France - Sistine Chapel Vatican City Rome
Saint Peter’s Basilica Vatican City Rome

Arrive Early

In typical Moran fashion, we arrived 45 minutes prior to our scheduled tour; panicking the entire time leading up to finding our meet up point. Luckily for us, it gave us time to grab an espresso and take a few more snapshots to remember.

Mom and I in Rome Italy!
Mom and I in Rome Italy!

Finally, it was time for the tour of the glorious and mysterious Vatican, which involved a bit of pushing and stress, and the realization that our tour was not really a tour, but rather a self-guided adventure which we got to take at our own pace.

Rick Steves’ Audio Tour

This is where the incredible recommendation from the amazing Anne Moran comes in. Get the Rick Steves’ audio tour for not just Rome, but for all of your European travel tours! It can be a bit cheesy at times, but it is so much more informative than many tour guides and bonus: It’s FREE on the app store! It takes you to the important must-sees while leaving out the less memorable stops.

Gallery of Maps - 7 Days in Italy - The Perfect 1 Week Italy Itinerary
Gallery of Maps Vatican Museum

Sistine Chapel Tour

After seeing some of the unexpectedly awesome sculpture work and the gallery of maps it was time to make our way through to the last stop of the Vatican City tour: The Sistine Chapel. Don’t be surprised when you’re yelled at for taking pictures in this breathtakingly beautiful space, because the official policy of the Vatican is that there are no pictures allowed in the space. However, if you’re lucky, you might still be able to snag a picture or two (if you are sneaky and if you are willing to risk it)!

sistine chapel ceiling vatican museum
Sistine Chapel Ceiling Vatican Museum

Saint Peter’s Basilica Tour

The Vatican tour has ended, but wait, I haven’t mentioned Saint Peter’s Basilica! That’s because it is not officially a part of the Vatican tour, and technically, you are supposed to exit the tour to the right and queue in a separate line for the basilica unless you are a part of the organized tour group (which undoubtedly cost more time and money) which will turn left to get in through a secret entrance.

Once again, here is where watching James Bond movies may pay off. If you feel like skipping the line, blend in with a tour group and keep as low of a profile as possible. It will save you hours and get the adrenaline pumping.

Anyway, we made it in unscathed, and our jaws immediately dropped in awe of the beauty we were beholding. Saint Peter’s Basilica was unlike any man-made thing I had ever seen, and just looking back at the pictures is making me realize that I need to go back.

St Peters Basilica - 7 Days in Italy - The Perfect 1 Week Italy Itinerary
St Peters Basilica Interior

After leaving and snapping our last few pictures outside…

Saint Peter Basilica Vatican City Rome
Inspired by Saint Peter Basilica Vatican City Rome

it was time to take on the rest of our day.

There Is Always Time for Pizza

We grabbed some pizza for lunch (how could you blame us?) and soon found ourselves on the hop on hop off city bus tour, which is a great way to catch all of the important landmarks in a short period of time. We managed to catch the Vittoriano,

The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument
The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument

the Museo Nazionale di Castel Sant’Angelo, the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, and much more! It was a fun way to sit back and take in the history around us without getting too many blisters on our feet.

Don’t Forget to Find Some Amazing Food

Before long it was time for dinner, and we were all starving. We found a cozy little restaurant near our hotel and clearly made the right choice. I devoured a delicious gnocchi, and our waiter soon brought over shots of Limoncello for an after dinner digestion. After a few moments of debate with my parents, I had convinced them to down it like an American college student would, rather than sip it like one may or may not be supposed to. The French couple sitting next to us could hardly hide their snickers. I began to engage them in conversation in French, explaining that we had to do it “comes les américains” (like the Americans do). We shared a laugh and conversed for another 20 or 30 minutes, all the while having to translate so that both the couple and my parents could understand each other. It was the first time I felt truly confident about all of the French I had learned over my years as a student, and it had brought a smile to my face.

The Roman Colosseum

Our last full day in Rome was one adventure after another, we hit the Colosseum and I got my picture taken while rain poured from overhead. Leave a comment if you get the movie reference ? 

Emperor Mark at the Colosseum Rome
Emperor Mark at the Colosseum Rome

We got to take in the Trevi fountain.

Dad, Mom, and I  Trevi Fountain Rome
Dad, Mom, and I Trevi Fountain Rome

and perhaps one of my favorites – the pantheon. Another marvel of human creation which has been standing for over 2,000 years!

The Pantheon - 7 Days in Italy - The Perfect 1 Week Italy Itinerary
The Pantheon Rome Italy

Osteria 44 Amazing Food

Before leaving, it was time for one last incredible dinner. This time, it was Osteria 44, at which we had one of the best restaurant experiences of which I have ever taken part. As we were seated, the Italian owner, who unexpectedly had a British accent, came to greet us. Upon seating us, he engaged us in conversation about where we were from, what kind of foods we liked, and how our trip was treating us. He knew more about Minnesota than anyone outside of the states with whom I have ever interacted. After getting a sense of us and our palettes, we hardly had to order, because he crafted our meal choice for us. He came up with the perfect pairings of foods and wines and provided us with an unforgettable eating adventure.

First Plate Osteria 44 - 7 Days in Italy - The Perfect 1 Week Italy Itinerary
First Plate Osteria 44


Okay, so it ended up being more than 1500 words, but I really couldn’t contain myself! There were just too many great things about Rome, some of which didn’t even make the cut for this blog post as I tried to limit myself.

If you can take anything from this article, it’s that it’s hard to go wrong in Rome. My experience is one of many, but it’s my hope that at least one of the pictures or places mentioned above will get you to book your tickets soon, because Rome is a can’t miss on your European adventure!

f you have any questions about this adventure or Florence please Contact Us. And until next time, get out and capture the adventure!

Article written by Mark Moran – markmoranmn79@gmail.com


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