Lone Traveler in Rome: The Eternal City

Vera Mirzoyan
12 min readOct 28, 2023

After experiencing my Venetian Dream and enjoying the sunsets of Florence, all roads lead me to Rome. And here I am…

Yet, it seemed Rome wasn’t so happy to see me. I went to the hotel and found out this wasn’t my hotel. Seems like there are 4 hotels with the same names or similar, and my map showed me the most-rated one. So I booked a hotel just by checking its name on the map without double checking the address and… My hotel is somewhere else… OK, not funny, but first, let’s find it.

It wasn’t super easy, but I like challenges. I found the hotel, and checked in, and I didn’t have the energy to go on. Usually, I book a hotel near the sites I want to visit. This helps me not to waste time and energy on transportation. Now my hotel isn’t in the place I thought and… In one word—stressful.

Okay! I just had a little rest and went out very hungry. I decided to eat carbonara and went to the nearest restaurant to my hotel. The pasta was very salty. Okay, Rome doesn’t like me.

When I First Met Colosseum

Still tired and stressed, disappointed with Rome, I started walking, and in about 15 minutes I appeared near the Colosseum. Seems like my hotel wasn’t so far away. Maybe everything isn’t so bad, haha…

Colosseum — the first World Wonder my eyes saw!

It’s huge and impressive. I was walking around and going back through history. This is the largest amphitheater ever built, and it is still standing, despite its age. This is a great achievement in ancient architecture. Really significant… but I’ll speak more later, as this was just the first meeting and I was going to see this wonder every day.

Fountains in Rome: Trevi Fountains

Rome is rich with fountains. You can see these water sources in every square. For instance, another beautiful fountain is located in the Piazza Navona—the Fiumi Fountains. Yet, the pearl of the Roman fountains remains Trevi Fountains. I walked there and understood that this fountain was meant to become one of my favorite spots in Rome.

Trevi fountains are huge and significant. And, of course, overcrowded. I loved it a lot—the architecture and especially its symbolism.

It was built as a water source for the city and constructed in travertine stone—the same material as the Colosseum. The magnificent view and stone decorations we see today were done in the late 18th century, commissioned by Pope Clement XII, who wanted to showcase the power and influence of the Catholic Church in Rome.

You may know that people throw coins into the water. The first and most well-known reason is based on local lore: it will bring you back to Rome again someday. Yet, some people do it hoping to find love or romance while in Rome and to marry there happily. And they say that each wish requires its own coin. As for me, I just enjoyed the magnificence of the fountains.

Around Rome: Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps, Quirinal Palace, Piazza del Popolo

Rome is Rome, and there’s anything to see, whatever corner you step into. I was just walking around and appearing in another beautiful and historical place to enjoy. Piazza Navona was one of them—a nice square where you may just have a break, sit on a bench, and enjoy the weather, and how Roman people live their daily lives, how tourists react, and so on—lots of emotions and feelings.

The Spanish Steps is another favorite site in Rome. The view from the top is very beautiful, and walking up is another way to discover the lifestyle in Rome. It all began when the French wanted to create a symbolic connection between France and Spain in Rome. Spanish Steps was given to the world to connect Trinità dei Monti church, owned by the French, to the Piazza di Spagna, named for the Bourbon Spanish Embassy that stood alongside it.

Quirinal Palace is another square and another historical building in Rome. This is the home of the president of Italy. They say that it is possible to have a guided tour of this building in Italian language. So, if you’re interested in where the Italian president lives and you’re okay with the Italian language, book a tour.

The next square you may easily appear in is the Piazza del Popolo. Here you will see the Twin Churches and fountains. I loved the idea of having such churches.

And if you walk up, you’ll appear at a viewpoint from which you can see the square and a beautiful view of the city as well. It is worth waiting for a sunset there.

Armenian Church in Rome: San Biagio degli Armeni

Of course, I couldn’t be in Rome and not find an Armenian site. This time it was San Biagio degli Armeni—the national church of the Armenian community in Rome. The church is frequently recorded in medieval catalogs. It originated before the 10th century but was first recorded in a 1072 inscription preserved inside it.

I read that there’s Armenian liturgy on some days of the week. Unfortunately, when I went, there was a nun who was praying, and I didn’t want to disturb her. I would like to talk to somebody and try to learn more about this Armenian piece, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Exploring Ancient Rome: Roman Forum

I met the Colosseum every morning and evening, but of course, I couldn’t miss my chance to enter this masterpiece and see the ancient history, architecture, and culture. I had booked a tour in advance, and it was one of the best things I did. First of all, let me tell you, the guides are very enthusiastic and funny, and they help you understand everything better. My tour started with the Roman Forum.

I learned a lot about Roman history when I visited the Roman Forum, surrounded by the ruins of several important ancient government buildings at the center of Rome. Here you may see even a few columns of an early building, and it’s so lovely how Italians preserve their history and ancient heritage.

These days, the Forum is part of the Parco Archeologico del Colosseo.

Colosseum — The First World Wonder I Saw

After exploring the Forum, my group was guided to the Colosseum. This amphitheater has three levels of arches around the outside. In height, the Colosseum was as tall as a modern 12-story building; it held 50,000 spectators.

When I entered, I saw that the walls were darker from the inside. They say that in ancient times, when there weren’t lights, people had to use torches when going inside, even during the day. This ancient giant is even greater from the inside. It was a very interesting experience to see the arena floor and imagine gladiators fighting.

When looking closer at the walls, you can see that the building has many holes that resemble Swiss cheese. The guide explained that the massive travertine blocks that make up the outer wall were not stuck together with mortar or cement, as you might expect. Instead, they used iron clamps. And after successive Barbarian invasions, iron had become very valuable. The Romans gouged out the plaster covering the iron, pulled it out, and used it for various purposes (mostly weaponry). I read somewhere that it is estimated that over 300 tons of iron were removed from the building, leaving it pockmarked as it is today.

In any case, Romans know how to preserve their history and historical heritage. There was even a few meters of the ancient floor outside the Colosseum that they enclosed so that people don’t walk on it.

Colosseum in My Eyes

I’ve always used to say that my eyes are blessed to see this world and its wonders. But in Rome, it became even more practical.

As the Colosseum was the nearest spot to my hotel, every morning I was passing by it. It was probably my second morning there when Viktor Hladchenko approached me and asked to take a photo of my eye reflecting the Colosseum. I leave it to your judgment.

Don’t you think I’m lucky? I do.

A Day in Vatican — The Smallest Country in The World

I forgot to tell you that wherever I was walking in Rome, the dome of Saint Peter Basilica was visible.

Saint Peter Basilica and the view from Spanish Steps

And finally, that day came when I visited the Vatican—the smallest country in the world. This isn’t a joke; imagine that this small territory is a separate country inside the city of Rome. It has everything: a passport system, license plates, a post office, a flag, a telephone system, and a radio station. The Pope himself heads the state, and every year, over 6 million tourists visit Vatican Museums.

This small country has great significance in the Christian world. And being an Armenian (the first nation that adopted Christianity as a state religion in 301), as well as being a museum lover, I was waiting for this day. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky enough to see the Pope… haha…

I spent 5 hours wandering in the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and Saint Peter’s Basilica. And I was impressed. However, the most significant for me was the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Here, I understood why it isn’t allowed to take photos there. No photo may express what my eyes saw, even a little similar to that. The ceiling is live, and all the figures and creatures are real, and sometimes it even seems they’re moving… This is a real masterpiece, and it is worth spending hours looking up at the ceilings, even if your neck already kills.

I also had a chance to see the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica from one of the best possible angles, where the windows and the dome are wholly visible. It’s not possible to see it from the front side.

The inside of the church is impressive as well. It’s really huge, especially for me, as I am used to small Armenian churches with humble church architecture without so many colors. Imagine how tired I would be after walking so long and getting so much information and emotion. And that wasn’t enough. I went out of the basilica and looked up instinctively (because you need to look up in order not to miss), and you guess what?

In front of me on the wall of Saint Peter’s Basilica, there was a statue of St. Gregory the Illuminator—the Armenian Saint, thanks to whom Armenians adopted Christianity.

I saw the Armenian letters and thought I was so tired I had an illusion. But no, it was real, and you can see it when you visit the basilica.

The Evening in Trastevere

After a tiring and informative day in Vatican City, I was very tired and tasty. So, I decided to walk to the Trastevere neighborhood to eat something. This part of Rome is well-known for its bars and restaurants. There is an interesting atmosphere and, of course, tasty dishes.

Trastevere is colorful, with many people sitting inside and outside restaurants, enjoying their Roman experience. I like this neighborhood and recommend going there even if you don’t want to eat; just enjoy the narrow streets, color, and atmosphere.

Roman Pasta: Carbonara, Cacio e Pepe

As I’ve already mentioned, I tried a salty Carbonara during my first day in Rome. But I never give up. I gave another chance to this pasta, which originated in Rome. I tried it once more in another restaurant (unfortunately, I don’t remember the name), and it was super delicious. I loved Romanian Carbonara.

In Trastevere, I tried another pasta originating in Rome—Cacio e Pepe (Spaghetti with Cheese and Pepper). This is a simple but very delicious pasta to try when you are in Rome. It was great.

To make the long story short, I loved Italian pasta.

Last Challenges of Rome

I spent 4 full days in Rome and I think that’s enough to explore the city for your first visit.

I went to the hotel in the evening (by the way, as my hotel wasn’t in a walking area from everywhere I was going, I used buses to go back to the hotel). Of course, after enjoying the best tiramisu in my life and with the best view. I couldn’t leave Rome without saying “See you soon” to the Trevi fountains. Btw, do not miss this spot at night as well.

OK! Let’s come back. My flight was early in the morning (about 6 AM), and I had to arrive at the airport at night. Somehow scary, isn’t it? Okay, it wasn’t until it became.

No buses, no trains; I only have one option—a taxi. A friend told me I could use Uber. I tried earlier, and it showed some cars nearby, but when the time came and I tried to request a ride, it didn’t work. Okay, it was about 2 AM; I needed to go to the airport, and I didn’t know how. Then it was scary.

I went out of the hotel, walked for about 10 minutes, and saw some people. At first, I was scared to approach them, but I realized I didn’t have another chance. So, I asked them for help. Fortunately, they were very kind and willing to help me. It wasn’t easy to find a taxi for them as well. They called some services, tried some applications, and managed to find one for me. I’m so thankful to these people. If you read me, guys, write to me. I’ll be happy to help you whenever you’re in Armenia.

Rome, Rome, Rome!

I love Rome!

I love people in Rome. I love the Italian way of enjoying life. And I love the idea of living in Rome for a few months. For me, Rome is a middle-aged man who is smart inside and who also cares about his look and appearance. He’s well-trained and wearing a classic outfit—a dark blue suit and white shirt with a tie, probably. And maybe he is riding a motorcycle.

Of the 3 Italian cities I lived in, I go for Rome. Okay, Venice is unique and special—a real dream of magic; Florence is cozy and cultural—with breathtaking views; but Rome is Rome—ancient but aesthetic, historical but fictional, architectural, sweet, and lovely. I loved the vibe in Rome. Rome is closer to my soul. It’s like me—romantic and real!

I love Italy 🖤



Vera Mirzoyan

The Sunflower Girl 🌻I never try to find more readers for my writings, but I try to write the best writing for my readers! ig: sunflo.wer___