Ciao! Our next stop is Rome, Italy! Dustin and I flew in after our trip to London. We spent four days here in Rome, but really did the most in three days. Unfortunately, I hurt my knee and Dustin got a bad cold while we were here. Our fourth day consisted of us resting in the hotel room for the majority of the day. We ended up going out at night, but that’s all we did that day.
We left London at 9AM and arrived in Rome at 1:30PM. Remember, they are one hour ahead of London so it was 12:30PM London time. It gave us a good half day there, but we had to hurry because the sun sets early around 6PM. Getting from the airport into the city was fairly easy. There is a bus that runs every 30 minutes from the airport to the Rome Termini, Rome’s main strain station. The ride is only €6.00 per person and lasts about 45 minutes.
Luckily our hotel was the Hotel Diocleziano, located about 10 minutes, walking distance, from the Termini. The outside of the hotel was nice, but it was the inside that we really liked. It felt like a very authentic Italian hotel and we were very cozy in there. Along with that it included a delicious, complimentary breakfast and mini bar! However, we did not like the area. It was far from all of the sights and the neighborhood around us wasn’t the safest. We absolutely loved our hotel, but could not stand the area we were in. It got to the point where we didn’t feel safe walking around there at night. If you’re looking to save money, the hotel was incredible, just be advised that it isn’t the best area to be in.
After checking-in and making ourselves comfortable, we headed out to Roma! Our first day consisted of visiting the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, an incredible dinner at Cantina Dei Papi, topping it off with mouth-watering gelato at Giolitti.
Everything we did one the first day was walking distance from each other. We only had to take the train from Termini to Spagna, that’s where everything was. Most things in Rome are fairly close to each other, which means you won’t be running around too much. In regards to train tickets, it was usually €1.50 one-way. Instead of buying a pass, we decided to purchase tickets as we went because it actually came out cheaper.
The Spanish Steps are nice to see, it’s definitely more a picture spot than anything else. They’re usually crowded with people and obnoxious hustlers trying to get money out of you. PRO TIP: If you are approached ANYWHERE by someone trying to sell you something, keep walking. Don’t even acknowledge them because there’s a possibility they’ll become aggressive if you do.
Trevi Fountain was gorgeous, yes packed with people, but gorgeous. You can spend an hour here just analyzing different aspects of the fountain. This is a definite must-do, just try not to let the crowds ruin the facade. My suggestion is to fight your way to the front, throw your coin in, get your picture, and go back up. Admire it from the top, away from the hoards of people. Remember, do not forget to throw that coin in!
Sandwiches, meat, and cheese, oh my! Best sandwich I have ever had was right there in Cantina Dei Papi. It’s a small sandwich shop about 10 minutes from Trevi Fountain. You definitely shouldn’t miss this if you’re in Rome. Everything in there is made fresh, including the bread. It is a quick-service restaurant, so you order at the register and you go pick up your meal when it’s ready. Even thought it was quick-service, the service was still great. You could tell it was an authentic restaurant instead of a tourist trap.
For dessert we ventured to Giolitti and oh my goodness, thank God we did. The store is very famous for it’s bakery and it’s gelato. This place was incredible. The had so many different gelato flavors to choose from. To make matters worse, they had an assortment of sweets to choose from. We felt like kids in a candy store looking at all our different prospects.
Everything we had was AMAZING. We loved it so much we agreed to come back one last time before we had to leave. If you don’t come to Giolitti, you’re not doing Rome right.
We had a small breakfast to start the day. We were recommended to do that so we could save room for lunch. Our plans for the day consisted of Basilica of Saint Clement, the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine, lunch at Panne & Vinno, the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill, and a delicious dinner at Al Forno della Soffitta.
Basilica of Saint Clement is definitely a must-do. We took the train from Termini to S. Gregorio. The church, Colosseum, our lunch, and the Forum were all in this area. Basilica of Saint Clement has been standing since the year 1100. It’s unique architecture and old walls have attracted a number os visitors. There are no photos allowed inside of the church. The outside may not look like much, but once you step inside, you’re views will change completely. It’s incredible how this buildings is still standing today after all those years. It is free to enter so don’t even worry about tickets.
Rick Steves accompanied us again at the Colosseum. He has another audio tour on his app, Rick Steves Audio Europe. Tickets to the Colosseum actually included the entrance to the Forum and Palantine Hill, costing €23. PRO TIP: Do NOT buy tickets from ANYONE selling them outside. These could be fake tickets or tickets sold at a higher price. Do not listen to what they are saying because it’s mostly lies. Just purchase your tickets online or inside the Colosseum. Please avoid anyone outside.
With the Rick Steves audio tour we saved money, again. There was no need for a tour guide or an audio tour. We had Rick Steves guiding us through ancient Rome.
The Colosseum was a sight to see. Learning about the history of what happened here was actually more interesting than the monument itself. I loved the Colosseum, but something about it was anti-climactic. Either way, you should still visit. Be sure to go early though, you want to secure that you have time for the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill.
After the Colosseum we were getting hungry. Instead of rushing to the Forum, we had time for a small lunch break. Dustin and I bookmarked Panne & Vino on our Yelp lists and realized it was close by where we were. It’s another small shop, even smaller than the one from the night before, and it’s about a 15 minute walk from the Colosseum. This one is definitely another local place, nothing even close to a tourist trap. The menu is fairly small, but that is supposed to be a positive. We each had sandwiches again and loved every second of it. The meat was so fresh and the tomatoes were divine. Dustin wouldn’t stop raving about how great the tomatoes were.
After our delicious lunch, we headed to the Forum. The Roman Forum and Palantine Hill were actually one of my top favorite things from our entire Europe trip. Rick Steves is back again as he takes you through the history of the Roman Empire. You literally get to walk through Ancient Rome. Visitors have the opportunity to walk the same stones that Julius Caeser shuffled through. So many of the buildings are still in great condition which just blows my mind. How did the Romans build such sturdy buildings, when some of our modern ones can barely stand?
You’ve got to do this. If it’s between this and the Colosseum, please do this.
Our dinner that night was at Al Forno della Soffitta. We had gone back to the hotel to take a nap and went out later that night. This restaurant was fairly close to our hotel being about a 15 minute walk. It was a nice sit-down restaurant that luckily was not having a busy night. Dustin and I were starving so we were ready to dig into whatever they brought out.
The food was so good. The Gnocchi Dustin ordered was so fresh, you could tell that pasta was just made that day. My pizza dough was nice and chewy. The cheese on top paired wonderfully with that freshly sliced prosciutto. Our favorite thing had to be the Italian Rice Balls. My goodness, they were like a party in your mouth! It’s like a giant croquette filled with rice, cheese, and peppers. The meal wasn’t too bad for a restaurant we luckily found nearby.
Can you guess what we had for dessert? If you guessed gelato, then you were correct! Instead of going back to Giolitti, we tried a new place called Come Latte. They’re a smaller gelato shop, not too far from the restaurant. They didn’t have as many flavors as Giolitti, but still had a good assortment. Their flavors were lighter, but had such a delicate taste. Each cone came topped with a round waffle piece. If you’re in the area and want some tasty gelato, check this place out.
Another small breakfast at the hotel was perfect to get our day started. For day three, we dedicated an entire day to Vatican City. Being a Wednesday, we wanted to try to make it to mass to watch the Pope, but we slept in too late. If you’re there on a Wednesday and are dedicated to waking up at 5AM, you should definitely do so to go attend a mass held by the Pope.
Rick Steve’s was our guide again as we descended upon Vatican City. To really take in everything and complete the most in the Vatican City you have to leave an entire day for this. You will not regret it, I promise.
We first entered St. Peter’s Basilica and that alone took up a lot of our day. There is just so much to see in there, you won’t believe some of the artwork and displays you’ll be seeing in there. No matter your religion, you will truly appreciate the detail that goes on in this famous Basilica.
Once you’ve finished learning about the Basilica and it’s incredible history, head out to the Vatican Museums. The entrance to the Vatican Museums was €12 with a student ID. Make sure you bring that anywhere because you never know when they offer student discounts. You can spend a very long time in here so be cautious with your time. The most important thing is making sure you have time for the Sistine Chapel. Through the Rick Steves audio tour, he guides you through the entire museum before ending up at the most famous chapel in the world. It is the perfect way to finish your visit to Vatican City.
Day four was our rest day. Unfortunately the pain in my knee had gotten bad to the point where I couldn’t walk and Dustin felt too sick to go anywhere. We had a good breakfast in the morning, but quickly went back to bed. Most of our day was spent resting in the hotel room, but we had enough energy to venture out at night.
We ended up seeing the Pantheon (from the outside) and Piazza Navona. It was a shame we saw these at night, but we are still glad we saw them. The highlight of our slow say was our dinner. After being cooped in the hotel room all day, we were ready to feast.
We stumbled into this small Italian restaurant called Osteria Da Fortunata. Our eyes grew wide when we went inside. The restaurant may have looked small, but there were so many people inside.
The tables were very close together, like family style. All you heard through the room were conversations in Italian. We then sat down and glanced at our menu, nothing was translated to English. Don’t think this steered us away though, we were so happy we found a great place that locals love.
The pasta was…amazing? Incredible? Breathtaking? Marvelous? I just didn’t want it to end. I ate that pasta so slowly to make sure I really enjoyed every single bite. Dustin barely even spoke while eating his because of how much he was enjoying it. I had ordered a Merlot to pair with the paste and it also tasted great. It was a more dry wine and I really liked how it went with the pasta I ordered. Wherever you go in Rome, be sure to stop in here. It is definitely an experience.
Before we went back to the hotel…we went back to Giolitti.
That was Rome everyone! Thank you for reading and I’ll see you tomorrow when I explore Ireland!