Ahhh, Rome. Our first love. I would say that this will always stick out as our favorite place because it was the first Italy experience we had. The Colosseum, the Forum, the Vatican, St. Peter's, the Pantheon, narrow streets busy with fiats and vespas, drinking fountains and THE FOOD!
So one thing Ryan and I did was treat an afternoon like we were on a portrait photo session. I have this thing...probably because I love my grandma's photos so much, that I want my kids to have photos of me when I am old that they can look back at and say "hey, mom was almost kind of cute when she was young!" My parents don't have a lot of pictures from when they were our age and it makes me sad, so where better than the sweet streets of Rome to do some portraits of ourselves.
Colosseum & Forum
Note: all of our tips for easier traveling, it is all pretty much a big love fest for Rick Steves. Most of our easy access tips and restaurant tips come from him. So check out his website and definitely buy his travel books, and download his walking tours.
There are still wiild animals in Colosseum!
Vatican & St. Peter's
Since it was about a billion degrees while we were in Rome, we appreciated the aqueduct fed public fountains that are throughout the city. We bought a couple of water bottles and then filled them up the rest of the time.
Another one of our favorite experiences was that we went to a large local market called Mercato Trionfale near the Vatican and got some fresh meats, cheese, and fruit for lunch. It was wonderful, and fed us both for less than 12 Euro.
My favorite restaurant in Rome was a recommendation from a sweet client, it is called Trillusa. So good. SO GOOD. And presentation was amazing, too. They flipped the pasta with cheese at our table and served it in pans.
The best people experience we had in Rome was watching the Euro Cup semifinal match between England and Italy. We were actually sitting at a table with an English couple, so it was fun to experience the quiet hopes of the English surrounded by the excited waitstaff.
Okay, this wraps up our Rome trip! Here are some tips that we learned.
- We really loved all of it.
- One of the best things that we did was downloaded Rick Steves' free walking audio tours for the Forum, Colosseum, Vatican & St. Peter's Basilica. They were so good, and made the places more meaningful.
- BUY A ROMA PASS & MAKE RESERVATIONS FOR THE VATICAN. This was seriously the best advice we got (thanks Rick Steves). The lines for these places were out of control--but it was to purchase a ticket. With reservations for The Vatican and a Roma Pass for The Colloseum and The Forum (also a bus and tram pass for 3 days) you can bypass the lines and get right in. You can buy it at the airport or around town, good for 3 days.
- Market--especially Mercato Trionfale near the Vatican, a fun experience, cheap meal. Also a RS suggestion.
- Trastevere-- we stayed here and really loved the area.
- Missing our reservation for the Borghese Gallery--because we got lost and didn't know how the busses worked.
- Have I mentioned that it was really hot?
- Summer in Rome is toasty-- have I mentioned that yet?? Make sure to stay hydrated, plan outdoor activities like the colosseum & Forum in the morning or closer to evening if possible. Or go in the fall.
- Buy a Rick Steves' Book
- Buy a Roma pass
- Make reservations at the Vatican & Borghese Gallery
- If you aren't familiar with traveling via bus/train in a big city, we suggest that you get a city map with the bus routes and go to a little cafe and spend a good half hour (or longer) figuring out your routes from your hotel to where you need to go. The hardest thing for us was figuring the city transportation out. And being in the hot sun sweating & lost is the perfect recipe for getting irritated at each other. We had an early reservation for the Borghese Gallery that we missed because we didn't know how to get there. So Ryan ran into a tobacco shop (tabacchi) and bought a big city map with bus routes (this is also where you buy bus tickets if you need them) and we went back to our room for AC and to figure it all out.
- After you have figured out the transportation, make your first stop the view on top of the Victor Emmanuel Monument. It is an amazing view of the city, and if you are a visual person, like me, it really helped me to get my bearing and see how the city was laid out.
- We stayed 4 days, but you can definitely do Rome in a jam packed 3 days.
- Don't forget to validate your bus tickets. It seems like no one pays attention in Rome, but you can get a fine if you forget. No less than €20 but normally €50, or even up to the discretion of the conductor.
- Eat lots of gelato. A combo of pistachio and peach was a favorite. We did love every flavor we tried though.
Restaurants we liked (mostly suggestions from Rick Steves):
- Dar Poeta Pizzeria - awesome pizza, great prices. Try something with the Buffalo Mozzarella
- Mercato Trionfale - The market we got meats and cheeses for lunch. Cheap and delish.
- Ristorante il Gabriello - Very cozy & sweet. This was Ryan's favorite place, we had a sliced beef tenderloin, very rare, very delicious.
- McDonald's- just kidding we did not eat there, but seriously it was very impressive how fancy they were, especially the one near the Spanish Steps (also a nice bathroom if needed).