Of all our travels through Europe over the years and even through our Europe Trip in 2017 we never got to Rome. We wanted to, it was on the list of places we wanted to go, and it was in the plan, but it just never happened.
Then back in December, we were booking an impromptu trip and whenever we do this I just plug in our local airport into Skyscanner and choose “Anywhere” and just see what the cheapest flights are. Then I compare the flight prices with accommodation prices and away we go to whichever costs the least all together. This is how we ended up in Brussels and Alicante back when we lived in England in 2016/17, and now Rome just this December.
This is why we decided to move back to England and make it our permanent base (for the time being). It is SOOOOOO easy and cheap to get around.
Anyway, we ended up in Rome. And we were totally ok with it! Italy is one of our favourite countries and easy one of our top 5 types of food. I mean, pizza and pasta? Who doesn’t love Italian food! If ‘well I don’t looooove it‘ just crossed your mind then I’m sorry, but we can’t be friends.
I’m just kidding.
We flew into Rome on a Tuesday and then had 4 full days to see the city. And yes, you best believe we ate allllll the good food and did allllll the touristy things. It’s Rome, how could we not.
We started our first full day with an early morning self-guided audio tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. If I could make one and only one recommendation to someone who was going to Rome, it would be to do the early morning tour of the Sistine Chapel. I think the option is called ‘Breakfast at the Vatican‘ although you don’t actually get any breakfast there so I’m not sure why it’s called that. We chose the self-guided option because we wanted to be able to go at our own pace and be able to stop for photos if we wanted, and I am so glad we did! Because other then the security guards, Will and I were the first people to step foot in the Chapel that day and we even had it all to ourselves for a good 5 minutes. It was amazing.
We ended up skipping St. Peter’s Basilica that day because it was closed until the afternoon because of the pope giving mass (I think he does this on Wednesdays?)
We finished the tour around 10am (the tour started at 7am), and we decided to just walk around and explore. We ended up at the Spanish Steps, Piazza del Popolo, and had lunch at a place called Ristorante Da Edy. This place was hands down one of our favourite restaurants in Rome. It was really small, and you’d miss it if you didn’t know it was there. It had a very ‘locals only’ kinda vibe and other than us and one other couple, we were the only foreigners in there. And the food was amazing!
After lunch, we just kept wandering and ended up at the Trevi Fountain. It was SOO busy! The great thing about the Trevi Fountain is that because of where it’s located you don’t really get any warning that you’re about to see it. You just come around the corner of the narrow streets and BAM, there it is, in all its glory.
The fountain you see today isn’t actually as old as you’d think it would be. If I remember correctly it was built sometime in the 1700s but there has been a water source/fountain there since 19 B.C.!
We hung around and people watched, threw our coins into the fountain, and then eventually carried on.
After the Trevi Fountain, we headed for the Pantheon. The Pantheon is actually one of the oldest still-used buildings in Rome and is completely free to enter.
It was once a Roman temple but was turned into a Christian church in 607 AD. It’s still unknown exactly how old the Pantheon is but some say there has been a structure on the same spot since 27 AD. It then suffered damage over time from two fires and the way we see it today is said to have been built in 120 AD. So the building we see today is almost 2000 years old. That’s OLD! Like, really old!
After the Pantheon, we headed back to the hotel. We usually do this when we travel; spend the morning and early afternoon exploring and wandering around and then head back to our accommodation late afternoon to relax (usually nap), change and then head out for dinner in the evening.
That evening we had dinner at Dar Poeta, a pizzeria tucked down a little alley in Trastevere. This place came highly recommended everywhere I searched and did NOT disappoint. The place is filled with locals and foreigners alike with shared tables adorned with red checkered table cloths. So don’t be surprised if you get seated at a table with people you don’t know. It’s all part of the vibe.
We spent the evening enjoying the atmosphere, getting drunk on their cheap house wine, and stuffing our faces with pizza.
The next day we visited the Colosseum. Friends of ours visited Rome on their honeymoon and strongly recommended the Colosseum tour they did. It gave us access to the Underground as well as the upper levels, and also took us to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
It was a small group tour which meant there were only 6 of us. It was more expensive but 100% worth it! We passed many of the other large group tours that had 15 or more people and they were all listening to their guide through headsets, it looked awful!
Fun Fact about the Colosseum: The wood floor that covered the underground area of the arena was added sometime after the Colosseum was oringally built. Some historians believe they used to flood the arena (prior to the undergroung being added) and put on navel battles. Although others don’t belief this theory.
Our guide was amazing and super informative, and the small group meant we could ask all the questions we wanted and could take our time where it was possible. It was a lot of walking which was super nice and gave us time to get to know the guide and learn a lot we wouldn’t have if we had either done it our selves or went on a larger group tour.
Palatine Hill was where many emperors built their palaces, including Nero, Augustus, Domitian, and others. The Romans built mostly with bricks and then plasterd on top of the brick walls and has frescos painted. So anywhere that you can see brick walls would have been covered in frescos.
The Roman Forum was the epicenter of Roman day to day life and government. Some of the oldest and most important buildings are here in the Roman Forum. There were shrines and temples here, as well as government buildings and a bank. This is also where the Senate house was and apparently where Roman government started.
The tour ran about 3 hours so by the time we were finished it was late afternoon/early evening (we started at 1pm) so we hung around to watch the sunset over the Colosseum (something we highly recommend). We found a nice quiet spot away from the the hords of tourists and just sat and enjoyed the sunset.
Afterwards we headed for Trastevere in search of “the best carbonara in Rome”, which, according to our guide was a place called Eggs. They specialized in everything that had to do with eggs, so naturally, they did carbonara; they had like 7 different specialty carbonaras. The ones we had were great, although I’m not sure I’d say it was the best we’ve ever had.
We spent the rest of the evening wandering around the little streets in the area. Trastevere is a very hip and busy area full of shops, restaurants, and cafes. Where tourists and locals alike spend their evenings enjoying the company of friends or family and leisurely stroll the streets afterward.
Saturday morning we slept in and had a slow start. Eventually, we made our way out of the hotel and grabbed a quick breakfast Italian style — coffee and a pastry at a cafe. One of my favourite things about Italy is the way they do mornings. In a rush to get to wherever they’re going they stop for coffee and a pastry at a local cafe, where you order what you’d like on one end, hand your receipt to the barista, and then stand at the coffee bar, among every other person. I love it.
After (my) coffee and our pastries (we even found vegan cornettis!) we made our way over to St. Peter’s Square because we wanted to see St. Peter’s Basilica and see the view from the Cupola.
Now if you’ve ever been to Rome and the Vatican you’ll know that the line to get into St.Peter’s is hella long if you’re not there first thing in the morning. Because we slept in we didn’t get to St. Peters until early afternoon, so the line was very very long. We decided to wait in line anyway and to our surprise, the line actually moves really fast. We were through security and inside within 40 minutes. Getting into the church itself is completely free but you have to pay to go up to the cupola.
We spent a little while inside the church — I wanted to see Michelangelo’s The Pieta — and then headed up to the Cupola. There are two options when going up, you can either take the elevator halfway and then take the stairs or take the stairs the whole way. Taking the elevator halfway costs €10 and taking the stairs the whole way is €8.
NOTE: If you’re closter phobic you may want to reconsider going all the way up as the passageway to the very top gets really really tight, and once you’ve started you can’t change your mind and turn around because it’s a one-way system.
The view from the Cupola is worth the money and the climb. You can see the whole city from up there; a view you can’t get anywhere else.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around getting lost. We finished the day back at Dar Poeta with pizza and cheap wine.
Our fourth day in Rome was our last and we spent it relaxing with drinks in piazzas, wandering around, taking photos at the Colosseum, eating gelato, people watching at the Trevi Fountain, having pasta for lunch and pizza for dinner. In our opinion, it was the best way to end our time in Rome.
WHERE WE STAYED
Your Vatican Suite – booked through hotels.com
TOURS WE DID
I Love Italy ( I ❤️ Italy) – The Vatican and Museums
Livitaly – Colosseum Underground Tour with Arena, Palatine Hill & Roman Forum
WHERE WE ATE
Dar Poeta – Pizza and good cheao house wine.
TIP: add buffalo mozzarella to any pizza you order. You won’t regret it!
Restorante de Edy: Pasta all’Amatriciana, and Gnocchi Pomodoro e mozzarella
Eggs – Truffle Carbonara
Grazia & Graziella – Their pizzas are great
Mercato Centrale Roma (Food court) – get pizza from the Pizza place!
Pastasciotta – really good take away pasta. Actually the best Carbonara we had. Definitely try the Caceo de Pepe too
Dar Poeta, Restorante De Edy, and Pastaciotta — We hardly ever go back to one place when we’re travelling because we like to try as many as we can so that we can find the best. So that’s how you know it’s good, the fact that we go back again or multiple times.