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Backpacking in Rome

Roman Culture on a Budget

Italy is home to some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, and its capital city of Rome houses the majority of them. The Italian metropolis is filled with monuments, statues and cathedrals which date back many centuries, never failing to astound travellers with its classical cityscape.

Rome – like much of Italy and Western Europe – can be an expensive city for travellers, but a wealth of free sights around every corner, along with a good selection of hostels in Rome scattered across the city centre, makes Rome a more budget-friendly destination that it might at first appear.

Trevi Fountain

An amazing Italian structure, this stunning Baroque fountain was built in 1762, but the original fountain site has been around for many centuries. Located in the second region of Rome, the fountain is set against the grand backdrop of the Palazzo Poli, home to an important collection of historic copper engraving plates.

After going into slight decline a decade ago, the fountain was renovated, culminating in the stonework being cleaned and the old water pumps being replaced. The Trevi is free to visit, although travellers may feel obliged to splash out a little and toss a coin in the fountain, as tradition has it that this act will ensure a happy return to the city or a new romance.

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

Aside from its grand piazzas and famous fountains, Rome is packed with beautiful ancient churches, from the famous St Peter’s Cathedral to the dramatic Pantheon. One of the best ways to experience the changing history of the city is through these buildings, all of which are free to enter and open to the public during the week.

Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore – one of the largest churches in the city – is not only a place of worship, but also the home of a number of significant works of art from as early as the 5th century. Notable pieces include the Borghese Chapel, Salus Populi Romani and an early Christian mosaic that depicts the events of the Old Testament.

Street Markets

In addition to its wealth of classical culture and architecture, Rome is well known for its celebration of chic style and fashion. Although the swish boutiques may be beyond the means of budget travellers, there’s scope to pick up a designer bargain or two on the weekends at the Porta Portese market.

Held every Sunday morning on the main road of Via Portuense, it’s filled with clothing and accessories, both second-hand and new, and all with low prices.

For fresh produce and Italian delicacies, head to the Campo de' Fiori market. Dating back 140 years, it is the oldest market in Rome and can be found in the piazza of the same name.

The central location proves popular with both travellers browsing for traditional Italian foods and those looking to pick up a bottle of wine and some excellent ingredients for a picnic lunch or cheap dinner in a city where eating out can easily dent your budget.

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