I spent some time in Rome last Spring. It was my first time to Italy and truthfully it rocked my world; So much so that we made it a point to spend the first couple days of this Eastern European trip in the Eternal City again.
Rome is one of the world's most sought after cities with 7-10 million travelers cycling through year after year, and rightfully so. There are endless activities to fill up any week-long schedule. Below, I am going to share a few of my favorite memories and let you in on Roma's most precious secret; Trastevere.
Even if there weren't endless things to do in this amazing city, you could spend your entire allotment simply roaming its picturesque streets and stopping off for the most delicious food on every corner. To get the most out of our experience last year, we went ahead and purchased the ROMA Pass. With a one time payment of € 39 you have access to a slue of Roman sites, museums and landmarks over a 72 hour period. With visits to the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Circus Maximus, and Palatine Hill we put our pass to use right away - Not to mention, the ROMA Pass gives you unlimited/free access to public transportation all around Rome! Definitely something I would recommend for a first timer!
This time around there was less on the agenda leaving more room for flexible site seeing and absolutely more room in the agenda for pasta. Lots and lots of pasta. To get our appetites up we needed to set out on the town and get our walking feet moving. We had our eyes set on two main sites: The Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel and The Trevi Fountain. Last year, the Trevi Fountain was under construction so we were unable to see it in all of its glory. As for the Vatican, there is MUCH to cover, so a-lotting a full morning to its expansive grounds in necessary.
June in Rome is no joke, but we were excited about being back in our favorite country and ready to roll with the heat and hectic-ness.
The Vatican City is an entire country in and of itself surrounded by Roman lines. Think about that, the Vatican is its own country! Crazy! If you are to ever visit Rome, visiting the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica and the grounds many museums and gardens is a MUST. Michelangelo outdid himself on this one!
Any given day can be a busy one. Book your tickets in advance for a morning visit! I suggest the morning because depending on the day of the week, sites like the Sistine Chapel and the Basilica close early to prepare for Pope audiences or other occasions hosted in the Holy City. Sometimes the most effective way to ensure that you even get into the exhibits in a timely manor is through a tour agency. Now, typically, we are travelers who have little interest in tour groups and like to do the exploring and investigating on our own but with the Vatican, tour groups are almost necessary. We did an English speaking tour through Maya Tours Roma . Our tour guide Deborah with a zesty Italian woman with so much to share and was a seasoned guide, totally kicking butt through the large crowds all while giving an informative experience.
After the Vatican, it was mid day and time to eat! You can find food everywhere in Rome, just do your homework. Try to avoid places that look designed for tourists. Yelp and Trip Advisor are your friends! If the menu is in more than 2 languages, and mostly pictures: avoid it. If the patio is filled with Aperol Spritz drinking, Italian Speakers, you know you have found the right place! Take a few extra moments to get the Italian food of your dreams! Below I will list a few of my favorites! Read on!
If you prepare for it, Rome is quite the walkable city. If you are there in the Summer just know that a water bottle, comfortable shoes and some patience through the crowds will be necessary. Also, the city of Rome has flowing water fountains almost on every corner. Clean and safe to drink, this makes for filling-up on the go a breeze! We were in the mood for a bit more water so next, we head over to the Trevi Fountain to make a wish and see what the year prior had not allowed us.
The Trevi Fountain:
When in Rome, you do as the Roman's do - but only after you have finished all the touristy stuff. It's impossible to avoid. You go to Rome for the food and the zest and the wine and the joy but truthfully you must see many of the works created by the artists, politicians and clergymen before you. They are truly spectacular and that is why visiting the Trevi Fountain is something to do while finding your way through Roma.
The fountain is situated in central Rome nestled between the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps. It is something you could stumble upon if you weren't being intentional. 30 years in its construction, the fountain is a prize of the Eternal City paying homage to Baroque style and the story of Rome and its iconic aqueducts.
Take a few moments to marvel at its size & beauty. It is customary to throw a coin into the fountain using your right hand over your left shoulder. Make a wish !
Revel the city you are in because it is truly a Crown Jewel of the world. To me, Rome (and all of Italy for that matter) is a region of wonder. I come to LIFE when I visit and I hope you do to. There is a particular neighborhood in Rome where I feel truly at peace and that is in Trastevere. Just over the Tiber river, this quaint and often unnoticed treasure stirs with its buzzing night life, picture perfect piazzas and food that will rock your world. We have stayed in this neighborhood both times during our Roma stays and I feel genuinely at home there.
When we first decided to visit Rome early last year, I didnt know where to start. A close friend pointed me in the direction of dreamy Trastevere and since then, we were hooked. This is a very special part of the city. Out of the way of the central bustle, this little nook below the Vatican comforts you with all the joy's of Rome. The vines grow wild, wine is shared at all hours, and the pop-up cinema's make Summer even more magical.
Santa Maria Basilica and its Piazza is a perfect place to share a meal and a gelato on the fountain at dusk. The metro runs straight through the middle of town in case walking over the river in the hot sun seems too much. The smell of pizza dough fills the air and the twinkling lights over head illuminate it. It is my perfect neighborhood. Artisanal shops, the finest bakeries, and crafty merchants line the streets. Oh, and Gelato; did I mention endless amounts of Gelato?!
I am in love with this place. We feel most in love in this place. It is good for our souls.
We always make it a point to share at least one fancy meal in each city we travel before we leave. Vacation is about "treating yo-self" after all! On our last night in Rome we chose Taverna Trilussa to dine and BOY OH BOY did it leave a mark on us! Starting with a local Lazio bottle of Vino we surveyed the menu with wide eyes and hungry guts. Shawn went in blindly ordering the Ravioli Mimosa alla suggestion of our waiter, Adriano. I was set on the Bucatini all' Amatriciana.
Everything was perfect. The ambiance, both on the ivy covered patio and indoors with hanging racks of cured meats, was perfect. I felt like I was in the heartbeat of Italy; Fluttering with each new bite of my delicious food. It didnt matter that I had slept 45 mins the night before (Thanks Jet-Lag!) I was wide awake, filled up to my puffy eyeballs with pasta, wine and true, uncontrollable, so-happy-I-could-die, love.
The Where To's:
Have Dinner: Taverna Trilussa, ai Spaghetteri, il Ciak, Galeassi (All in the Trastevere Area)
Have Gelato: Fonte Della Salute, Don Nino
Be sure to also explore: The Pantheon (my favorite monument in Rome), The Colosseum, and attend mass at Chiesa di Santa Maria Maddalena
Designer - Via del Corso, Via del Babuino, Via Ripetta, Via Condotti, Via Frattina, Via Borgognona. These are all grid-like shopping streets crossing over one another around the Spanish Steps. Via del Babuino is the mother-load leading straight to the opening of the Spanish Steps draped with designer labels.
For the standard shopper - There is some pretty great shopping between Piazza Di Barberini and the Trevi Fountain. Get lost a while and window shop. You will hit a slue of shops past the fountain near Piazza Colonna like Zara and Calvin Klein. There is even an AS Roma store for your boyfriend to peruse while you finish your spending.
Catch a Breath-Taking View - Minerva Roof Garden or Canonne del Gianicolo
There is so much more to say about this magical city. Italy is the one place I have visited thus far that has felt "like home" to me. Whether it be in the heart of the hustle in Rome, finding peace in Vatican City, sitting above the bell towers at Canonne del Gianicolo or sipping in the shade in gorgeous Trastevere - I feel whole here. And I hope you will too.