I have so much love for this Country. I will never tire of visiting it. We spent a week In Italy - mainly Rome and surrounding areas. We checked into a wonderful four star hotel in the heart of the city near Piazza del Popolo and Piazza di Spagna - Hotel Piranesi. We were in walking distance of lot of the monument and short 10 minute walk to the train station. It was the perfect location - . Here is everything about our trip - where we stayed ; ate ; explored and all the things we got to see including the day trips on our itinerary.
DAY TRIPS FROM ROME: One week in Rome seemed like a lot of time to spend in one city (or so we thought); we added some day trips to the itinerary. Our first trip was on our second day in Italy - we took the train from Rome to Pisa via Florence. After spending the morning in Pisa, we returned to Florence for an incredible leisure afternoon. I will not recommend doing what we did because I think we did ourselves a disservice by rushing through it. If we had to do it over again - we may have picked one or the other (not both). You can catch up on our time at Pisa and Florence, here and here. We intended to go to Amalfi coast and Pompei for our second day trip but considering the weather and how much there was to see and do in Rome - it was unrealistic to try to make the trip. Instead, on the recommendation of locals - we visited Ostia and Tivoli in the same day. Due to the proximity of these cities to Rome -it was easy and hassle free to pull off in a day; Unlike our Pisa/Florence excursion a few days before. Ostia is an ancient city with building dating back to the period before Christ (mind blowing). We visited Tivoli mainly to visit Villa d’este and left wishing we spent a full day here. That is the thing with Italy - it leaves you wanting more - Always ! If you are interested in our time in Ostia and Tivoli - you can read the post here and here.
GETTING AROUND: We arrived from different parts of europe about 8 p.m. hour. It was cheaper for us to split the fare for a taxi from the airport to our hotel. I don’t remember having any issues paying with a credit card, but I always recommend having cash on hand just in case. Once we arrived at our hotel, we mainly explored on foot and if transport was needed we opted for the trains. Because we lucked out with accomodations, we were within walking distance of most of the sights. For the few occassions we needed the trains, we found it easy to navigate and the ticketing system is similar to other European cities. Leaving Rome, we had enough time so we took the train to the airport instead - it was significantly cheaper than the taxi.
WHERE WE ATE: On our first night we found a Pizza spot just around the corner from our hotel and we ate at least one meal there daily. The Pizza capricciosa from Brillo Restaurant at Hotel Valadier was delicious. The meal at Santa lucia is one of the best ever had and why this is one of my favorite restaurants in the world - get anything on the menu and owe me one forever. For coffee - Italians know their coffee and anywhere you find locals, you can bet your money it has decent coffee. I quite enjoyed the offering at our hotel. I also throughly enjoyed the coffee at Brassai cocktail bar. On our last night, we wanted something formal and fancy - our conceirge recommended Ristorante da Edy - the lamb dish was incredible. Gelato is a must in Rome and the offerings at Gelateria del Teatro was the best we had during our time in Rome.
WHERE TO EXPLORE. Rome is a collection of the coolest neighborhoods and my best advise is to explore as much of it as possible. If I had to recommend neighborhoods to explore - I will recommend Monti ; Trastevere; Prati ; Pariola or Tridente. We stayed in the Tridente area. From our hotel, we were close to Spanish steps; Trevi fountain and one of the major shopping street - Via Condotti. There was an abundance of accomodation and restaurants.
WHAT TO DO. It is hard to see everything in one visit and why should you. You always need an excuse to return to the city. Because our day trips required (very) early mornings and (very) late nights; the days we were in Rome - we took our time exploring. It was out first visit and we decided to visit the usual suspects - the spots that make you think Rome ! And unless it was more than thrirty minutes on foot, we walked everywhere.
We spent a day at the Vatican city including St peter’s square ; St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine chapel. You can read more about our time at the Vatican here. If you pace yourself, a visit to the Vatican can be a day trip in itsself.
Other days we walked around the city without a set path. One of the days, we started from our hotel to Trevi fountain and the Spanish steps. From the Spanish steps we decided to throw out the itinerary and just walk around the city and that was the best destination - we stumbled on some real Rome gems that were not on the itinerary like Galleria Borghese with its gorgeous classic antique art and baroque sculpture. We also found one of my favorite cathedrals to date - Basilica Di Sain Ambrogio E Carlo (on Via Del Corso). I mean just look at the ceiling work….
Via De Corso is Rome’s main historic street and it cuts the length of the city from Piazza del Popolo to Piazza Venezia. The street has got a lot to see - all the (window) shopping and dining you want and need. We stayed in the Tridente area which is known as a high fashion and haute couture destination in the city - we had our fill of (window) shopping. The area stretches from Piazza di Spagna , Via Condotti till Piazza del Popolo.
Piazzas - Rome has got a lot of those and everyone has got something fancinating to see - in addition to Popolo ; Venezia and Spagna, we also visited Piazza Barberini and Piazza Navona.
During one of our wanderings around the city, we stumbled on Galleria Nazionale D’Arte Antica. The gallery is excellent but it was the architecture structure that got me. We could not leave Rome without visiting the Pantheon and the Colleseum. We arrived at the Collesum late afternoon and did not want to deal with the crowds. We walked around; took our pictures and headed to lunch before going in search of the wedding cake building. If you have been around these parts of a while - you know how I feel about architecture and I heard the wedding cake building was one to see in Rome. The building is actually called Altare della Patria or Monumento Nazionale and it was worth the trek to get to it.
On our last day, we visited the Roman forum and palatine hill - The Roman forum ruins gives a glimpse into the past and was one of the most memorable sights we saw during our time in Rome. We also explored the area of Pont San Angelo which has incredible views of Tiber river and Castel San Angelo.