When in Rome

I just spent 5 days in Rome with my husband and I thought I’d give you a short post about our stay!

Grom

We booked our citytrip with Thomas Cook and decided to stay at Albergo Santa Chiara, a 3 star hotel just a minute away from the Pantheon (one of my favorite things to see in Rome!) .

The hotel offers free wifi (yay!), our room was very simple but nice and clean and the temperature was perfect even though it was quite hot outside.
When citytripping the most important things a hotel should offer are a good location (check!), clean rooms with good beds (check!) and a nice breakfast so you’re fueled up to go out and explore the city (check!). We were able to visit all the main sights on foot, which is a huge bonus to me: you see so much more of a city as a pedestrian, especially when the weather’s nice. I think the longest walk we did was 35 minutes to Vatican City. So the hotel gets the thumbs up, great start.

It was my husband’s first visit to Rome (my second), so we couldn’t ignore the big touristy places (no problem for me, I loved going back).
After arriving on Monday, we just strolled around our new, temporary neighbourhood. We visited the Pantheon, walked up to Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain which is being renovated right now, so there wasn’t much to see… Too bad.

Our first full day was dedicated to Vatican City, I had ordered tickets to visit the Musei Vaticani (including the Sistine Chapel of course) online, to avoid as much queueing as possible. I would advise everyone to buy tickets online, there is so much to do and see in Rome, it would be a shame to waste your time in a queue. You have to queue enough as it is in Rome (Saint Peter’s Basilica, I’ll talk about that later…).
Musei Vaticani is home to a huuuuuge art collection, but we all know what everybody is there for… The Sistine Chapel where you can marvel at Michelangelo’s famous frescoes.
You could easily spend half a day here, which we didn’t.

We made our way out onto Saint Peter’s Square to see what the queue was like to gain entrance to the Basilica. A visit to the Basilica is free of charge, which is great, but it also means you cannot avoid the queue. You will not have to look very far, it could go all around the square! Just join the end of the queue, it goes quite swiftly. (please don’t jump the queue, everybody has 24 hours in a day and your time is no more precious than anyone else’s… *gets off soap box*)
You can visit the dome of the Basilica for 5 or 7 euro. For 5 euro you get to conquer almost 500 steps, for the 2 euro extra you can take the lift and that will save you about 170 steps. You should be aware that a visit to the dome requires you to go up really narrow steps. Claustrophobic people should think twice about doing this…
You get to see the inside from the dome up close and after surviving the steps you get a great 360° view of Rome. I especially love the view of Saint Peter’s Square, what can I say, I love symmetry and that square is as symmetric as they get.
When you make your way down again you exit the elevator into the Basilica. Time to check out the inside. Once again, Michelangelo has left his mark, you must have a look at the Pietà, at the front of the Basilica, on the right side as you enter. There’s something about this statue, I can’t quite put my finger on it… It’s just full of emotion and a little bit eery to me, quite impressive.
We didn’t visit Castel Sant’ Angelo, we just made our way back to the historic centre and passed along this mausoleum/fortress/castle/museum as we crossed the Ponte Sant’ Angelo.

On Wednesday we went further back in time, to Ancient Rome. We started our day at Forum Romanum, the birthplace of Rome and the Roman Empire. Here you can buy tickets for Forum Romanum, Palatino and the Colosseum all in on. You can avoid the queue at the Colosseum by buying your combined ticket here, especially when you get here early and take one of the less crowded entrances.

After the Forum and the Palatine Hill, it was time for the Colosseum, another one of those (in)famous Roman places to visit. Let your imagination run wild here, think Gladiator, this place has been the scene of some awful entertainment.
We took a bit of a walk after these visits, we walked up to La Bocca della Verità, and when doing so you walk past the place where Circo Massimo used to be, it’s a public park now. The Colosseum could seat 50.000 people, Circo Massimo a whopping number of 250.000 people… Mind-boggling!

Our third, and last, full day took us to Piazza del Popolo, Villa Borghese (a beautiful park, lovely to get away from the busy city) and the Spanish Steps. The Spanish Steps are widely known and a must if you’re visiting Rome for the first time. That being said… it’s not my favorite place in Rome. Every single one of the places I just mentioned is crowded, full of tourists, but at the Spanish Steps it’s just too much for me. Too many selfies, too many people, too much!
The area around the Spanish Steps has 2 big shopping streets: Via Condotti and Via del Corso. To keep it short and simples: Condotti equals Gucci, Prada and their fancy friends while Corso offers Zara, Sephora, Nike,… (this isn’t too much for me *wink*)

I couldn’t resist some shopping (#feelingspendy, ladies), I’ll make a separate post about that but a little teaser: Benefit Brow Bar, Kiko and Muji.

On Friday our Roman getaway came to an end. We had to be at the airport at 1pm, so we had some time for a visit to Campo de’ Fiori and for a last stroll around Piazza Navona and the Pantheon.

That’s it, as far as the major sights go. But Rome is more than that… it’s also a great place for food! It’s hit and miss when it comes to good food at a reasonable price in Rome: we had some very mediocre meals for a looooot of money (50 euro for 2 pizzas and 2 cokes…) but also some scrumptious meals at great prices. Let’s not dwell on the negative and focus on the delicious meals, I highly recommend these places:

  • Taverna del Seminario: you would think all restaurants this close to a place like the Pantheon would be tourist traps, but this place is great. We paid 20 euro for a bottle of water (yes, we go legit cray on vacay), a divine plate of gnocchi and a plate of pasta “cacio e pepe”( a Roman specialty), which was ultimately proclaimed my husband’s favorite meal in Rome.

Taverna del Seminario

  • Da Tonino: I can ‘t remember what we paid here exactly, but it was also around 20 euro. I had an amazing ravioli dish and my husband had pasta (I think rigatoni) with pesto. It’s a very small restaurant, very simple, just like Taverna del Seminario, but for me Italian food should be simple and packed with flavor. These places give you just that!
  • Cantina e Cucina: this place it a bit more modern, maybe not as authentic, but I loved my lasagna and , although it wasn’t quite as good as Taverna del Seminaro’s version, my husband enjoyed their cacio e pepe (I wanna say it was fettucine this time, but it’s a guess). They treated us to some limoncello after our meal, so yeah, they’re cool in my book! Again, our bill was around 20 euro, I don’t have the exact amounts anymore, sorry!

Cantina e Cucina

We all love some pasta and pizza, but for me, it’s all about the gelato. Italians know their stuff when it comes to gelato, here are our favorites in Rome:

  • Grom: this is a chain of gelaterias, we had already visited their shop in Firenze before. In Rome, we went to their Piazza Navona location. I can’t choose a favorite flavor, don’t make me, it would be heartbreaking!

Grom

  • Venchi: close to the Pantheon and thus close to our hotel, tempting much? I think these guys are specialized in chocolate and gianduja (also sold in the gelateria). What more can I say?

Venchi

  • Old Bridge: this little gem is located in Vatican City. If you ignored my advice to buy your tickets online (naughty!) and are wasting away in the queue, do yourself a favor and send someone of your group (assuming you’re travelling in a group) to get some gelato here. They serve huge, delicious portions, that queue will be a delight while you’re enjoying your gelato. If you did follow my online tickets advice… just grab one after your visit, like we did!

Old Bridge

Wow, this ended up to be longer than I expected it to…

There is really not much left to say, I think Rome is a great place for a citytrip if you’re into culture, history and Italian food. If you’re looking for a shopping destination, look a little further…

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

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4 thoughts on “When in Rome

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