A Few Days in Roma!
We are back and sharing the next installment of our two week Italian vacation! Oh how I wish all of the international boarders were open, and it was safe to travel wherever we wanted to again… until that time, let’s reminisce on old trips, shall we? If you missed Part one of our Italian trip, where we headed to Venice, you can see that here! Before I jump in, a little disclaimer that this post is long! If that’s up your alley, then pour yourself a glass of Cab and settle in! If you’re looking for a shorter list of Rome “must do’s” , I’m planning to write that post and I’ll link it here 🙂
On this day, we were up bright and early in Venice to grab the Fresca Rosa, a high speed train from Venice-Rome! This was seriously the coolest way to travel! The seats were super comfy, there was food on board the train, and you didn’t have to worry about navigating your way through an airport! We boarded the train, sat down and chilled for a few hours, and ended up in Rome!
We were staying in the JW Marriott Grande in Rome… the location of this hotel was absolutely phenomenal! We could walk everywhere, it was clean and beautiful with incredible rooftop views… I highly recommend!
I mentioned this in my post on Venice, but our favorite thing to do on this trip was to wonder through the streets and find little hole-in-the-wall places to eat! This was one of those places! I’ll say that we didn’t have dinner reservations for any of our nights in Rome, preferring instead to dine in restaurants that we stumbled upon. If you’re looking for authentic Italian cuisine, this is the way to do it! We would come across a restaurant, pull up the yelp reviews, and make a decision based on what we read and whether they could seat us! This night, we dined on some yummy, authentic Italian food before heading to the Trevi Fountain! I also didn’t know that it is made from the same material as the Colosseum! How cool is that?!
After we visited the Trevi fountain we headed home because we had a super early rise the next morning for The Vatican! The last time we were in Rome, several years ago, we had done The Vatican and Vatican city in the afternoon… it was hot and it was PACKED. This time, we hired a VIP tour guide for the morning! Our pick up time was 7:30 am! The tour guide picked us up from the hotel and drove us to the Vatican! We were able to head straight in and start seeing the sights – and avoid all of the lines. For the money it costs, and the time saved, not to mention the insider information and history lesson included, I would definitely recommend doing the VIP Vatican tour.
***Remember that for the Vatican, as with any of the Cathedrals that you’re likely to walk into while wandering Rome, it is customary for ladies to cover their shoulders – this is more likely to be an issue in the Hot Roman summers when we ladies are wearing dresses and thin straps – it’s a good idea to keep a shawl in your purse to pull out and wrap around you. If not, they always have little scarves that you can borrow.
After The Vatican, we headed to lunch at another little restaurant that we stumbled upon! Up until this point in the trip, we had not had a Bellini! We thought our first full day in Rome was the perfect time to indulge in one of these Italian Specialties!
Of course, we had to indulge some more after lunch and have some gelato for desert! After lunch, we headed to Castel Sant’Angelo, which is also known as Hadrian’s Tomb. This was a really cool piece of architecture which was originally commissioned by Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family. Later, the building was used by Popes as a fortress, now it’s a Museum! At one point, this was the tallest building in Rome! Also, if you look on top of the building, you can see Michael, the archangel who looks over the tomb! A little word to the wise here, there is a lot of walking in this building! It is hundreds of stairs to get to the top and then you have to go back down the same stairs to get out!
After Hadrian’s tomb, we walked across the bridge to catch a big red bus to do a hop-on-hop-off bus tour… or so we thought. This turned out to be the worst planned most hectic thing in the world!!! Basically, the tour company sold way too many tickets than they had seats for! Which resulted in a giant herd of people trying to push their way onto the bus, when the tour company people would only let 3 or 4 people on at a time! It was a palava!! When we finally got onto the bus, we had done tons of walking and decided we would just view Rome from our seats and get off at the Colosseum for dinner!
After dinner we jumped in cabs that took us to The Pantheon! Oh my gosh… the Pantheon is in the most gorgeous little square! It is so cute and WAY less touristy than the other side of Rome near the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum!
The next day, Brian and I (read…. just “I”) had an Agenda… and that was to make a big girl purchase at the Gucci store! The Spanish Steps are a beautiful site in themselves and there are always musicians and artists hanging out around this area. It is also home to all of the luxe designer shops in Rome! We walked here from our hotel and it took about 30 minutes! The rest of our day was chilled and spent wandering the streets of Rome before heading back for Rooftop cocktails at our hotel. That night, we had tickets to do the “Dark Rome” tour. This is a walking tour that starts at the Mussolini monument and ends at the Colosseum!
The Dark Rome tour was a lot of walking! I would highly recommend it if everyone in your party is capable! It was amazing! We learned so much history and got to walk around Rome by sunset! The best part though, was that we got to go into the Colosseum after hours, so it was just our group of 11 people and our guide inside! We got to go down to wear the gladiators and the animals were held before they went up into the arena to fight! We also got to see all of the architectural aspects of the Colosseum which are hard to see during the day when it is packed with tourists!
Rome was a dream, I love city living and seeing all of the touristy spots in the city, so this was definitely a favorite destination of mine on this vacation!
Happy Travels! – Abi