Ah, Rome. One of my favorite places in the world. I studied there for three months during the fall semester of my sophomore year of college. Patrick and I were dating when I lived there, and he got up almost every day for 3 months at 6am to Skype me! Which is not early for him now, but back then it was. I finally got to show him all the places I would tell him about during those Skype sessions!
We went back to Italy (for the third time this year) in the second week of June. We spent ten days in Italy and started the trip in Rome. On this trip, we did Rome and the Amalfi Coast.
We arrived early on a Saturday morning, so we dropped our luggage off and headed out to explore. Of course the first place we went was my old neighborhood! I couldn’t wait to show Patrick all the places he had heard about a million times.
We stayed here. This was in a great location, it was walking distance to most of the major sights. It was like a three minute walk to Piazza Navona! Definitely not a luxury hotel, but we decided to save money on lodging in Rome because we planned to be out exploring the city the whole time. We splurged a little on the second part of our vacation in the Amalfi Coast.
The Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
Rome is filled with more history than arguably anywhere else in the world. The Colosseum is older than most things in the world. It’s where gladiatorial contests, public spectacles, animal hunts, and executions took place. I knew Patrick had to see the Colosseum on this trip, so we went on our second day. We spent almost an entire day exploring the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. We each downloaded Rick Steves’ audio guides for the both the Forum and Colosseum and listened to those instead of signing up for a tour.
When you buy a ticket for the Colosseum, it includes entry into the Roman Forum. So after we finished at the Colosseum, we walked over to the Roman Forum (it’s right across the street). You can reserve tickets in advance here. It opens at 8:30am, and I advise getting there as early as you can, as it gets crowded fast. We went in June so it was a full day in the sun. We were happy we remembered to pack sunscreen and water in our backpack!
Piazza Navona was very close to where we stayed on this trip, so we began and ended each day here. This piazza is dripping with gorgeous artwork, statues, and fountains. It’s also surrounded by lots of restaurants where you can sit and enjoy the beautiful atmosphere.
No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Trevi Fountain. A coin thrown over your shoulder into the Trevi Fountain is said to ensure a return to Rome, two coins thrown ensure romance with a Roman, and three coins thrown ensure the marriage. During main hours, this place is absolutely swarming with tourists and people trying to sell cheap crap to tourists. I recommend going as early or late in the day as possible to enjoy your time at the Trevi Fountain.
Spanish Steps and Villa Borghese
The Spanish Steps is another place that is usually super crowded, especially since it’s located in the most popular shopping area right by Via Condotti. The Borghese Gardens are nearby the top of the Spanish Steps. Strolling through the Borghese Gardens is a nice break from the bustling streets of Rome. And it’s my favorite place to watch the sunset in Rome!
The Pantheon is the best preserved Roman monument, and to this day seems to be in pristine condition. And it’s free to enter! We listened to another free Rick Steves audio guide as we walked around. This dome remains the largest unsupported dome in the world. The Pantheon is right around the corner from where I stayed and took classes, so we spent a lot of time in this area. I can never get sick of looking at it!
The Vatican is Rome’s most popular tourist destination, and for good reason. Saint Peter’s Basilica, Saint Peter’s Square and the Vatican Museums are all worth the time and effort. I recommend purchasing your tickets online in advance here. There’s also a strict dress code: Men: no shorts. Women: no bare shoulders and no shorts or skirt shorter than knee length. You can pay for professional guides, or you can download a free audio guide like a Rick Steves podcast.
Trastevere is the 13th rione (district) of Rome, situated on the west bank of the Tiber River. Trastevere comes from the Latin phrase trans Tiberim, meaning “beyond the Tiber”. It’s famous for its full of character, narrow cobbled streets lined with ancient houses. Trastevere is many people’s favorite neighborhood in Rome, and it’s easily walkable from the city center. It’s also home to some of the best (in my opinion) food in Rome. We spent a lot of time strolling through this area and had one of our best meals here.
Eating in Rome
My favorite part! 😀 Roman cuisine is defined by a unique set of ingredients and dishes that set it apart from the food of all other Italian cities. Continuing centuries of old-school traditions, dishes in Rome have their roots in ‘poor man’s food’ and are often prepared using few ingredients in creative ways. Roman specialties include cacio e pepe (pasta with pecorino Romano and black pepper), carbonara (pasta with egg, cured pork jowl or belly, pecorino, and black pepper), gricia(guanciale and pecorino), amatriciana (guanciale, pecorino, and tomato), lamb, roasted meats, and fried artichokes.
Here are some of our favorite meals we had in Rome:
Frullatti Pascucci’s: Very affordable, cappuccinos, smoothies, panini. Near the Pantheon, and also where I ate almost all my meals when I lived here. The smoothies here are the best!
San Eustachio: Probably one of the best cappucinos I’ve ever had. Get it “con zucchhero” meaning with sugar in the foam. Also near the Pantheon.
Lunch or Dinner :
Roscioli: I think they have the best cacio e pepe in Rome! Yes, it’s listed on every guide to Rome but for good reason. Even Romans swear this is the best cacio e pepe in the city. They have an amazing wine list, and the service is excellent. You must make a reservation at least a few days before.
Da Felice: Another place with really good cacio e pepe, but I prefer Roscioli’s.
Osteria da zi umberto: Our favorite meal we had in Rome was at Osteria da zi Umberto! It’s located in Trastevere and you must make reservation via phone. Their bucatini all’amatriciana was AMAZING. I am dying to go back here.
II Chiantia Vineria: cute, near Trevi fountain.
Checco er Chariaterre: Another great option in Trastevere.
Da Enzo: In Trastevere, order the cheese.
Maccheroni: Great pasta and house wine
Dar Poeta: Great pizza in Trastevere.
Giolitti’s: famous place for gelato. It’s usually crowded, but the gelato is pretty good. However, you need to do yourself a favor and try somewhere besides Giolitti’s.
Gelateria del Teatro: Our favorite gelato in Rome! They make their gelato fresh daily, and you can watch them make their fresh gelato through the shop window. Their coconut has actual chunks of coconut, their mango has chunks of mango, and so on. SO GOOD.
San Crispino: Good gelato for being in a touristy area.
After a few days in Rome, we took a train to Naples for the next part of our trip!