Roma, Roma, Roma! Well, where do I start? What an incredible weekend in the capital of Italy. I must admit this was a little bit of an impromptu trip but also totally worth it. Rome has been on both mine and Jacks bucket list for some time, partly because we are both lovers on Italian cuisine but also because of the beauty of the city.
We arrived in Rome just after 10 am and after de-boarding and making our way through customs, which was surprisingly easy, we met our driver at arrivals to take us to our hotel. Prior to our trip we booked an airport pick up using Rome Chauffer and they were promptly waiting for us with our name on a sign at arrivals. We were really pleased with our driver; he was English-speaking driving a Mercedes and even gave us a little tour of the monuments as we entered the city centre. The drive was approximately 45 minutes from Fiumicino Airport to the centre of Rome where our hotel was based. The one way price of our taxi for 2-people was 50 Euros, but if you would prefer to save on transportation you can get a direct train to Roma Termini Station for around 12 Euros a person.
Our hotel was in the heart of Rome and only a few minutes’ walk to most of the main monuments. We only took a taxi twice on our trip, once over to The Orange Gardens and another back from the neighbourhood of Trastevere. As a reference, Uber is very expensive in Rome and on some occasions was coming up at over double the price of a local taxi. For example, we initially looked at grabbing an Uber back from Trastevere but the price was 18 Euros whereas the local taxi came in at 7.70 Euros. After arriving at our hotel we used to opportunity to freshen up before heading straight out to explore the city. Our first stop was the Colosseum!
Stop 1: Colosseum
Make sure you book your tickets in advance to avoid queuing; the Colosseum is one of the busiest places in Rome. We booked “Skip the Line” tickets though Expedia and picked them up at Colosseum, the tickets were £14 each. Although saying this, if we had our time again I think we would have opted for a tour. We found that once inside the Colosseum there weren’t many information stands that you could read to learn more about the history of the monument.
Something to watch out for whilst outside the Colosseum is the amount of unauthorized street vendors trying to sell hats, bracelets, roses and water bottles. They can also be quite pushy; the best thing to do is ignore them. There are water fountains scattered around and cafes near buy if you do need some water. P.S. If you are looking for a good photo opt spot without all the crowds I suggest heading to Via Nicola Salvi a nearby street up the hill. Really easy to find on Google maps!
Stop 2: Arch of Constantine
Before heading over to the Palatine Hill & Roman Forum we wondered over the Arch of Constantine. You can actually see the momentum whilst inside the Colosseum. Something to be aware of, the momentum is actually cordoned off which means you will be indulging in the beauty from a far.
Stop 3: Palatine Hill & Roman Forum
The Roman Forum is the home to some of Rome’s most important historic ruins and the beating heart of the Roman Empire. Make sure you see the Temple of Vesta and the Temple of Saturn. Tickets to enter the Roman Forum are included in the price when you buy tickets to the Colosseum.
Stop 4: Dinner Reservation at Hotel Russie
Before heading over to our dinner reservations we went for a little wonder around Piazza Del Puopolo, a very pretty little square, buzzing with people, restaurants and only a short wonder from our hotel. Continuing our evening, we headed towards Hotel Russie. The atmosphere was very tranquil and incredibly relaxing. We were a little early for our reservation so decided to have a drink in the hotel bar. We were promptly served and indulged ourselves in a few complimentary nibbles. The service was brilliant throughout our meal but I must say we found both the food and drinks very pricey. Neither of us could fault the service, but looking back over our trip I cannot say I felt the food was value for money.
Stop 1: Trevi Fountain
Getting up bright and early, we headed over to the Trevi Fountain. We arrived just before 7 am and were pleasantly surprised to find no more than about 30 people. The Trevi Fountain is known as one of the world’s most famous fountains. The fountain has also been recently restored by Fendi and is built up of tritons, winged horses and drinking snakes. The water glistens with thousands of coins that tourists have tossed in, estimated to rack up to 2000 Euros each week; the coins are collected to fund a supermarket for the poor.
Stop 2: Spanish Steps & Piazza Di Spagna Fountain
After indulging at the Trevi Fountain we decided to wonder over to the Spanish Steps, taking advantage of the quiet. At the base of the steps is a fountain called Piazza Di Spagna. It’s more than worth wondering right up to the top of the steps, the view is very pretty.
Stop 3: Vatican City
Getting up early allowed us to casually wonder over to the Vatican City, from the centre of Rome the walk was roughly 45 minutes. Saying this, it was a good way for us to explore a little more of the city. We actually opted for a slightly longer route. Wandering along the riverside we got to see the Piazza Del Tribunali, Castel Sant’ Angelo and Ponte San’t Angelo Bridge. We also found a lovely little cafe just outside of St. Peters which did some delicious pastries and fresh orange juice called, Caffe San Pietro.
The Vatican Museum is much larger than I imagined, it actually spans across 12 kilometres! You could spend all day wandering around and taking in the incredible beauty. Something I didn’t know before heading to Rome is that the Vatican City is actually classed as its own country. The city has its own police and laws and only recently has Rome and The Vatican City agreed that the Roman police can help the general public if they ever find themselves in need.
Stop 4: Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is much smaller than I imagined and although the ceilings are very impressive the whole experience was a little like “herding sheep”, from the moment you enter you are asked to stay to the left and to keep moving. You do not get very much time to take in your surroundings and photography is forbidden. Something to be considerate of for both ladies and gentlemen is the requirement to also have both your knees and shoulders covered. This is actually required in most holy buildings in Rome.
Stop 5: St. Peter’s Basilica & St. Peters Square
Although St. Peter’s Basilica is free to enter we decided beforehand to organise a tour. We were so glad we did, our tour guide was so knowledgeable about all the different sculptures and architecture of the building which made the experience very enjoyable. Did you know, you can actually get married in St. Peters! According to our tour guide, this is a new introduction to Rome by the current Pope; allowing the general public to get married in St. Peter’s for free.
Stop 5: Lunch Spot, Lauro
We stumbled across this quaint little restaurant wandering back from the Vatican City just off of the travellers’ trail. Being in Rome we both ordered two big bowls of pasta for lunch. The dishes at this restaurant were scrumptious! I would recommend the Carbonara.
Stop 6: Piazza Novona
One of Rome’s prettiest piazzas, Piazza Novona is a magnificent square with Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi also known as, Fountain of the Four Rivers. The fountain was designed in 1651 by Bernini in honor of the Pope. Today the Piazza is a popular spot bustling with terraced cafes. Prices can be a little higher here, so we opted to grab a gelato instead.
Stop 7: Dinner at, Cantina Belsiana
After a long day’s sightseeing, Jack and I decided we wanted somewhere quite to indulge in some good food and wine. We did a little research before heading to Rome and also got a couple of recommendations from the concierge at our hotel when we arrived. We decided to head to Cantina Belgian, only a few minutes’ walk from our hotel; a hidden gem down one of the side streets in Rome. The restaurant is very small with only a dozen seats inside. We were lucky enough to get the last table and it was totally worth it!
Stop 1: Piazza Novona & Campero De Fiori
We started our morning off by heading back over to Piazza Novona before moving onto Campero De Fiori, a similar square in with a very similar layout to the Piazza Novona but, the square is host to a local market, filled with fresh produce, leather goods and cafes.
Stop 2: The Pantheon
The structure was originally a Roman temple, but now functions as a church. Head inside to see the incredible domed ceilings. Admission is free and we actually walked right inside with no waiting time!
Stop 3: Altare della Patria
Next we walked in the direction of the Colosseum; right next to the Roman Forum you will find the Altare della Patria. The building is architecturally striking and was built in the honour of Victor Emmanuel, the first kind of a unified Italy. Heading inside, the building is just as grand as the outside. You can get up the stairs to a certain point, but if you want to go to the top, you must pay a ticket which is 10 Euro.
Stop 4: Parco Savello: The Orange Garden & Aventine Hill
After wandering around the Altare della Patria we decided to head back to our hotel to freshen up a little before grabbing a taxi over to the Parco Savello also known as The Orange Gardens, located just on the outskirts of the city centre. The Orange Gardens has a spectacular view over Rome, a very peaceful spot if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the centre of Rome. We continued up the gardens to find the Knights of Malta Keyhole on Rome’s Aventine Hill. A peek-a-boo view of St. Peter’s dome!
Stop 5: Trastevere
After a day’s sightseeing, we headed across the river Tiber to the cobblestoned, ivy-twined neighbourhood of Trastevere. We really wanted to see an area of the city that wasn’t in the tourist centre, which is why we decided to head over to the charming neighbourhood of Trastevere, filled with tambourine players and violinists. It took us about 40 minutes in total to walk to Trastevere, stopping at The Orange Garden & Aventine Hill first.
Before heading to dinner, we decided to wander around the romantic cobblestone streets ourselves. We had pinpointed a few highly rated restaurants in Trastevere before our trip but the outdoor seating at Grazia & Graziella is what convinced us. The restaurant was poppin’ when we arrived and we actually got one of the two last tables left. Our food was really tasty and affordable! I would highly recommend.
Our last day in Rome was a very relaxed day, we decided that we would get up a little later and have a chilled out morning. Saying this, we were up and out of our hotel before 9 am. I am very much a morning person and sleeping in past about 9 am makes me feel pretty rubbish for the rest of the day. Gone are the days where I would happily sleep in past 11 am!
After we checked out, we decided to go for a wander. We walked back past The Trevi Fountain and The Spanish Steps and we were so pleased we made the decision to get up and visit them before 7 am! There must have been 1000+ people and it was only just past 10 am. We spent the rest of the morning eating pastries and gelato whilst doing a little bit of retail therapy before our taxi picked us up to take us airport.
We enjoyed Rome so much it has only encouraged us both that we want to explore more of Italy now we have to decide, where to next?