What if I travel to… Tivoli, Italy? ($10- $20/day)


Getting out of Rome can be not only refreshing, but imperative to leaving Italy with a positive outlook. Just a short tube and one hour bus away (3.5 euro), this town offers historic villas, expansive views of the Roman Campagna, and great food on a backpackers dime. Depending on what you want to see, this town can eat up half a day or take sun up to sun down, it is all about your speed and pocket.

  • Villa Adriana and Villa d’Este are UNESCO World Heritage sites from Roman times. Each cost about 8 euro respectively and though we had seen enough Roman history by this point, I have heard good things from those who did make it through the ruins


  • Rocca Pia is a 16th century castle, perfectly preserved and set in the center of the city. Open hours fluctuate based on time of year and from the top are said to be incredible panoramic views
  • IMG-2102The winding streets and street art provide a wonderful atmosphere for a walk, with winding path full of window plants, Italian hellos, and various photo opportunities
  • Few of the locals speak English, but they are friendly and even attempts at Latin are met with smiles
  • Beer is incredibly cheap, around 1.3 euro at a restaurant
  • Buses pass through the city constantly, and can be caught at several points throughout the day
  • Great food can be had at the Pizzeria near the overlook, the staff is friendly and I spent 12 euro to feed two people, with two beers and leftovers for dinner/breakfast


What if I travel to… Rome, Italy ($30/day)

Despite being home to one of the existing 7 Wonders of the World, Rome is by far one of the most unpleasant experiences I have ever had as a backpacker. Around every corner is someone trying to swindle the weary traveler, using cheap tricks such as baby pictures and sob stories or flat out grabbing the passerby and refusing to let go until they pay up. Combine this with the bursting flow of tourists and the Italians in Rome that refuse to answer questions in English, the end result is a city I will never return to. But if you insist on seeing the gorgeous ruins of the Colosseum and the multitude of art, there are a few details to keep in mind:

  • If grabbed by someone on the street make a scene and pull away as viciously as needed, the police will stand idly by just a few meters away no matter what. NEVER open your wallet or stop walking when approached. Additionally, beware of friendly African gentlemen handing out “free” trinkets or tossing items towards you, the second it is in your possession they begin to demand money and will follow you (three men from my hostel had their wallets physically emptied in this manner)


  • Go to the southern gate of Palatine early for the shortest line for Colosseum tickets (which include Palatine and Forum)
  • Everywhere in the city can be reached in a short walk, just avoid the major tourist crowds and empty streets for anti-theft
  • Head across the River Tiber for cheaper beer, friendlier locals, and better food. San Calisto was my personal favorite in Trastevere, full of locals of all ages and a great beer selection
  • The Vatican is the smallest country on earth and only takes a few hours to stroll through, it’s roughly a 30 minute walk from the Colosseum
  • If you know Spanish or another Latin language, use it over English when speaking to locals, they tend to be more receptive in my experience
  • Stay at Yellow Hostel and use the code Yellowforever to get additional discounts. If you are a performer or artist, you can trade skills for accommodation by contacting the hostel directly. The hostel comes with free pasta every night from 1800-1900. Hostel is a 5 minute walk from the central station
  • Book a round trip bus from the airport to save money and get there early, having a ticket does not guarantee a spot as much as being in the front of the line
  • Pizza is sold by weight in many local shops, tell them you only want to spend so many euro and that is how much they will serve you
  • Tap water is safe here, carry a water bottle and fountains are everywhere
  • Tired of the city? Tivoli is only 3.5 euros away, with villas, castle, cheap eats, and great streets in the countryside
  • Very few places take Visa so be sure to carry euro, but carry small amounts and in multiple locations