Travel Diary: Conquering Rome, Italy as a Solo Female Traveler
written by myrra kate
Rome will always have a special place in my heart.
It was years ago when I officially put it on my list of the top cities I most wanted to visit as soon as possible. As I have said in this blog post, I even drafted itineraries to the cities I hoped to go to because that’s how much I believed I will be able to do so.
It’s honestly hard to keep on believing in your dreams when you come from a town where people settled for what they have, thinking what they have is already enough. The word contentment is probably an understatement. They know they have potential in them; they just weren’t willing to go beyond their limits.
Lucky for me, I had my Mom and my Dad. My Mom was the reason I didn’t mind being different than the rest of the people I know. When people doubted me and even called me ambitious, my Mom had rather called me a dreamer. And, really, when someone believes in you, isn’t that more than enough?
I have my Dad as an inspiration, too. He came from a small town as well but when I was a kid, he went to study abroad and travel to some countries he only once dreamed of visiting. Knowing my Dad can, I knew I can, too.
And so maybe you’re thinking, what the heck Myrra, just go straight to the point and tell us about your experience as a solo female traveler in Rome!!!
But I want this travel diary to be something I won’t be writing for myself to relive what happened during my solo travel there as a female and as a student. I’m writing this so I can take you with me in the most exciting days of my life as I conquer Rome for 4 days as a solo student female traveler.
If I can do it, you can, too. So what’s stopping you?
Places I Visited in Rome
I spent four days in Rome. I’ll tell you though that when I was planning for my trip there, I only considered planning for the three days because the other day is reserved for when I was going to the UK embassy in Italy to apply for my UK Visa.
Luckily, the application process was pretty fast so I basically had three and a half days to make my solo female travel in Rome as worthwhile as possible.
Listed below are the places I’ve planned to visit, which I had put in my itinerary, but I must tell you that 40% of my stay in Rome was spent getting lost either intentionally or unintentionally. And those moments I got lost and saw the Roman streets that weren’t particularly crowded by tourists? They ended up being among the most thrilling moments of my life.
I arrived in Rome at 5 in the morning and after settling in my hostel, I figured it’s best to go to the Colosseum already since it was still pretty early and the lines were supposedly shorter than when I go there late. Besides, the Colosseum is pretty much the starting point of tours because you can go to other must-visit spots from there.
I didn’t book a tour though. Besides being a solo female traveler in Rome, I was also a student who only has a certain budget on hand.
Thankfully, since I booked my accommodation through Booking.com, I had a discount for my Colosseum ticket which also already included entry passes to the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum. (If you’re going to Rome soon and want discounts on some tourist spots, I suggest you book here and also sign up here to get cash backs every time you shop and spend!)
The Colosseum was grand – I mean, the jaw-dropping belittling grand. It’s amazing how huge it is and how little it makes everyone seem. The fact that its construction started in 70 AD and it has been constructed and reconstructed ever since its devastation during the Great Fire of Rome was also just downright amazing for me.
Palatine Hill and Roman Forum
This is somewhere I actually wished I had a tour group to go with. Unfortunately, since I wasn’t listening to someone explain about its history, my last choice was to roam around the Roman ruins (with my exchange student friend who I coincidentally bumped into in the Colosseum) and read the historical details in the signages/stands that are scattered in the place.
Just FYI, whenever I travel, I try to learn more about the history of the place/country as much as possible. It always amazes me to know how and what made a certain place become what it is in the present.Somehow, it’s interesting to know that everything has to go through something to end up where it’s supposed to be.Click To Tweet
If we’re talking about tourists, this is one of the most touristy places I’ve ever been to. Since I was there at about 2 in the afternoon, the crowd was just insane. You could see coins being thrown to the fountain from every direction.
Well, because legend has it that you must throw a coin to the fountain at your back if you want to go back to Rome, I didn’t miss it for the world of course. So here’s to hoping I will go back soon to one of my favorite cities ever.
Tourists were also flocking here. Of course, they would. It’s the perfect place to just sit and people-watch or probably rest after walking so much in the Roman city.
This is where my exchange student friend (not the one I coincidentally met in the Colosseum but the one I really planned to meet with; sidenote: as ironic as it is, it’s nice to know I know someone in the city even if I’m actually a solo female traveler in Rome) and I sat and talked about random things. But after a few minutes, we got tired of people excusing their way up to the stairs so we decided to leave.
After getting some gelato and walking around, my friend and I decided that it was time for aperitivi. It may seem like the American Happy Hour for Italians but this article explains more about why it’s actually not. It’s a pre-dinner drink that’s already an Italian tradition that’s supposed to prepare your palate for the dinner and also to reconnect with your family and/or friends after a long day.
My friend and I decided to sit down in one of the cafes in Piazza Navona and ordered an aperitivo drink (that cost double the price than the one I regularly had in Trento, Italy) – mine was Spritz Aperol – and some chips. I guess it’s most probably because that was located in the tourist spots. I still recommend going out of your way to discovering cafes or restos that are a block or two away from touristy places so you will avoid tourist traps.
Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
I reserved my entire second day to be spent in the Vatican. It is, after all, a country within a country. Cool, right?
I went here super early but the line was already so long. It was the last Sunday of the month which means the ticket going inside is free. Yes, free!
If you schedule your trips wisely, I can tell you how much you’re going to save as a solo female traveler in Rome. You just need the perfect timing. *wink wink*
The Sistine Chapel was breathtaking. I honestly lack words on how to describe the paintings on the ceilings. They were just… wow.
And seeing Michelangelo’s painting was an entirely different experience.
St. Peter’s Basilica and Piazza San Pietro
After exiting the Vatican Museums, my friends (who I met in my hostel) and I waited for the Angelus to be given by the Pope himself. I already saw the Pope when he went to Manila, Philippines but still, I didn’t want to miss the chance of seeing and, this time, hearing him as well.
(Pro-tip: If you want to see the Pope, check Vatican schedule here and time your trip to when he’s there.)
I also had to go back to Vatican after my UK visa application just to go inside the St. Peter’s Basilica. I was in line for about an hour to get inside but honestly, what’s one hour when you can actually see Michelangelo’s Pieta (not the real one though), the Catacomb of the Popes, and St. Peter’s tomb. Totally worth the wait!
I know I’m supposed to be a solo female traveler in Rome but 50% of my time there was spent with old and new friends. When you’re solo traveling, you’d be surprised at the number of people – really good ones – you would actually meet.
My American friends, who I met at the hostel who were also exchange students in London, and I went to Castel Sant’Angelo after roaming around and getting our Roman lunch in the Vatican. After all, I was also touring them around because I know more about Italian tradition as I have been an exchange student in Italy for about two months at that time.
However, the queue to the castle was so long so we just decided to pass. Still, its exterior looked amazing.
We lined up for the Pantheon for about a couple of minutes (seriously, the number of tourists can’t be underestimated). When we got inside, the dome was what hooked me immediately. I probably would’ve appreciated the place more if I had been listening to the history of the Pantheon but since my friends and I were already so hungry and exhausted by that time (walking for miles really isn’t inevitable in Rome and other Italian cities but thankfully, I survived with my favorite sneakers that I got here), we just opted to look around Pantheon for a few minutes and then leave.
What better place to rest and eat than Trastevere? It was a medieval neighborhood that’s popular for its nightlife. I loved how carefree the place was despite some tourists here and there. The restaurant that we ate at served such delicious Italian delicacies that we were actually left speechless we first tasted each pasta that we ordered.
Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs
Since my friends from the hostel had already left for Florence on my third day in Rome, I thought that I will spend my last day in the city as a legit solo female traveler in Rome. But nope, I was wrong. (If you were intrigued by my IG post below then read on ? – also, you can follow me here!)
On my last night in the hostel, I met this guy from Hongkong, who was my roommate (yes, our hostel room was co-ed so both men and women are allowed) and he turned out to be an exchange student in Denmark. We talked just for a little bit of time because I was too tired that I had to sleep right after.
In the morning after, as much as I expected to go around the Roman streets alone for one last time, the guy actually asked if he could go with me. He seemed pretty nice, so it didn’t take long for me to decide and let him tag along.
After getting our breakfast in one of the many Mcdonalds branches in Rome, we went straight to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs. We both took pictures because as it turns out, he was studying journalism and he knew photography.
So when I told him I was a blogger, his reaction was so adorable and funny. He kept telling me how honored he was that he was with me and that I shouldn’t forget him when I become popular. I told him I don’t really care about fame but I appreciate that he was one of the few guys who actually believed in my potential as a blogger.
Piazza Venezia and Altare della Patria
So my newfound friend (who confessed that he liked me and invited me to go to Denmark and visit him – yall I was shookt) and I went to the National Monument in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of Italy since its unification. I have to thank him since I would’ve missed going to this place if it weren’t for his company.
Also, I enjoyed his company because he actually took really great photos of me. I actually spilled in one of my blog posts how I take amazing photos of myself when I travel solo and one of those is actually because I was lucky enough to be friends with people who have eyes for good photography. In return, I offered to take their photos as well.
(If you’re reading this, thanks for the company and good photos, A!)
[irp posts=”5460″ name=”How to Take Your Own Photos when Traveling Solo”]
Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore
When I travel, I usually go to a particular church in that certain place first. But since I wasn’t able to during my trip as a solo female traveler in Rome then what I did is to end it with going to one of the must-see churches in the city.
I stayed here for a good twenty minutes just sitting and looking at the altar and calm and amazing interior of the place. I was already alone by that time since my friend had a tour to catch up with. And I appreciate those times where I’m alone because I own my time. I could spend an hour in churches, praying, and not get concerned whether or not my company already wanted to leave.
After all, sitting still in that church made it sink into me that I was really in Rome and how I thankful I was to God for turning my dreams into reality.
Where I Stayed as a Solo Female Traveler in Rome
I booked my accommodation through Booking.com. It was my bad, however, that I picked the second to the last in the cheapest options; therefore, I guess I got what I paid (EUR42.75 ~ PHP2,753 for 4 days, 3 nights).
I stayed at M&J Place Hostel and it wasn’t honestly a decision that I am proud of. I must say that I loved the location of the hotel since it was just a 5-minute walk from the main station in Rome and I also liked the service of their staff. I’m also fine with their bedrooms as I got the room with eight bed bunks. (That’s why I became roommates with and met such amazing people who I eventually became friends with. Gotta give that to the hostel. Lol)
So what’s wrong then?
The guy who got to the hostel before me warned me that the nights before I was there, some person’s things got stolen. Thankfully, that person brought her wallet and valuables with her so the stolen things only consisted of her clothes.
Knowing that made me feel uncomfortable and unsafe in the hostel. I didn’t want the hassle of transferring to another hostel/hotel (also because I already paid) and leave the people who I made good friends with so I decided to just stay. In turn, I slept while practically hugging my wallet and valuables.
Thankfully, I still managed not to get a thing stolen from me, even as I walked through the streets of Rome where pickpockets were mostly targeting people like me – tourists, and most especially a solo female traveler in Rome.
Still, if you’re a solo female/student traveler in the budget, I still recommend booking your accommodation in Booking.com. (Click here for a 10% cashback) Just make sure to read the reviews and really know about the location you’re at.
Why Rome is Worth the Fear and/or Thrill as a Solo Female Traveler
It’s not scary as it seems actually. When you’re out there and you realize you only have to look out for yourself, you feel empowered to actually be independent of other people.
Rome is known for pickpockets so my tip is to always, always look out for your things. I usually have money in different places so in that way, whatever happens, I will always have extra survival money. I have one in different pockets in my bags and clothes. Also, I always put my backpack in front manila-style to make sure they can’t sneakily slash it without me knowing.
Besides looking out for your things, you have to obviously look out for yourself – meaning, you have to be responsible and accountable for your actions. You don’t want to go too late and go through streets you have no idea of. You have to have maps or at least know the directions of where you’re going. And even if I am always emphasizing how fun it is to go through some streets you don’t know of – kind of like detours from the normal routes tourists always go through – you must always be wary of your surroundings (Google Maps if life). Also, trust your instincts. Trust yourself.
Lastly, is my experience as a solo female traveler in Rome worth it?
It’s a big fat YES for me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I planned my Rome trip for a week – even longer than the trip itself. That’s because I was anxious. It was after all my first time to travel solo in a city I am a stranger at. So I know it’s normal to feel so nervous. I just had to handle myself.
I just knew that I have God everywhere I go so even if I’m alone, I didn’t feel alone at all. I felt safe with Him. I never – not once – felt like I can’t do something, in this case, solo travel, because I know I have Him.
That is more than enough.
All photos are taken using my Fujifilm XA10 camera. Click here to get yours.
Is Rome on your bucket list or have you been to Rome? Also, what’s stopping you from solo traveling? Share your stories and comment down below!
I'm Myrra Kate.
I help female entrepreneurs scale their income and impact by launching transformational online courses.
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