So you are thinking of going to Italy? Well, welcome to the stunning capital of Rome!
Where we stayed: We spent a few days here at the start of September 2018 and stayed on a side street along Via Cipro which is near Vatican city. We chose an Airbnb for this as it is cheaper than the hotels in the main city and the area is on the outskirts which kept the cost down. Rome is also quite large and public transport is not the best. Train stations are around the outskirts of the city, and quite far away from the centre, and buses are not always on time. This area is very close to Cipro station which allows much easier access to the big tourist spots.
Via Cipro is also near a great place called Bonci Pizzarium which is very popular for some of the best Pizza in Rome.
Weather: Around September the weather was still high from the summer. Highs reaching 30°C with lows around 23°C. This can feel hotter than this due to the lack of shade in the city centre due to the wide streets and plazas. This weather lasts from end of May to end of September. Outside of these months the temperature doesn’t get very cold aside from December / January.
We started with the closest spot to where we stayed which was Vatican city. Since we were within walking distance we were able to go very early morning. There was no one here early morning which makes it a great time to get some good shots or just admire the city without the tourists. The plaza gets busy around 11am onwards so try to get here early. This will also work in your favour if you plan on going up Saint Peters Basilica (which I recommend!) as the path near the top of the dome gets very narrow and the ceiling slopes over. Not the best place to be in a crowd! As a benefit to the long climb you’ll get some amazing views of Rome including the classic pictures above. You’ll also be able to see the great Castel Sant’Angelo at the end of St Peters Square up here. We visited the Castel however didn’t go in as museums are not so much our thing. The building alone from the outside is very impressive and as it was used as a fortress it certainly makes you feel small!
A great place to eat near here is RIONE XIV Bistro which is close to the Castel and is a very small restaurant but all the pasta here is made fresh each morning so really makes a great place to taste some great Italian pasta.
From the Castel Sant’Angelo we walked over to the Spanish Steps. This is quite a walk however there are no really good transport links from this area. You will find you will walk a lot in Rome so be prepared shoe wise and check the weather before you leave. Heatstroke here can come very quick if you aren’t prepared. Something we enjoyed more than the Spanish steps was the Villa Borghese which is nearby. Still home to the Borghese family, the total grounds actually encompasses an area larger than Vatican City. This is a very beautiful place and actually based around an English garden. It is also very historic to Rome as the Borghese family were once one of the most powerful families in Rome and the Villa was once the home of the upper classes with many parties being held here.
For those who are on a Hard Rock café exploration this is also located near the Spanish Steps.
Next day we made the trip to the world famous Colosseum and Palatine Hill. A good tip is to pre-book tickets for both of these as you can get good bundles online on places like Viator. I would recommend you spend a day here as there is a lot to see especially if you do a tour of the Colosseum. We chose to see only the general Colosseum as you have to book a tour in order to see the below stage and upper most area. Palatine Hill can take a full afternoon as the place is quite large and there is a lot of information packed in here for those who are interested in history. If it is a sunny hot day bring a hat / umbrella (good tip from Asia) and a lot of water as it is an open area with very little shade.
To follow from this day we decided to explore and see the remaining part of Rome right in the city centre. This is popular for the location of Fontana di Trevi and the Pantheon. For the fountain I definitely recommend coming twice; once in the day and once at night as the fountain changes massively when it gets lit up at night. It gets very busy here almost 24/7 so expect a very big crowd. You can’t come to Rome without making a wish at the fountain! The Pantheon is about 5-10 minutes walk from the fountain. One of the best preserved ancient buildings in Rome but is actually not the original. Originally designed around 30BC but burnt down, this version is still almost 2000 years old. Since it has been in almost constant use since then it has remained in excellent condition and stepping inside is truly a marvel. We also stopped by Gianicolo which is the highest point and Rome and a good place to stop by to see the highest viewpoint of this amazing city.
Nearby to the Pantheon is Antigua Tazzadoro La Casa del Caffè which is a great coffee shop to stop by and grab a pastry.
If you are now on your way to Rome have a great adventure! Most importantly… TRY THE GELATO!!
Other thing you can do while in Rome:
- Visit the Musei Vaticani and Cappella Sistina below the Vatican City but remember to book in advance!
- Domus Aurea. Emperor Nero’s impressive house. Currently under construction but you can take a weekend tour.
- See an opera or dance show at Teatro dell’Opera
- Grab food at the Testaccio Market.
- Galleria Colonna. A private palace turned art gallery. Frankly the building artwork alone is worth a visit!