Travelling and Where to Stay
Will and I are just back from our third trip to Rome and I wanted to share with you some of our favourite spots you shouldn't miss if you ever visit! In addition, I've posted direct links to where you can shop most of the pieces I wore and featured on my Instagram.
We flew from Dublin to Rome Ciampino Airport, about 35 minutes outside of Rome centre. When you land you can either grab a taxi for in and around 60 euro, or hop on one of two airport bus services that bring you directly to Rome Termini Station, both cost under 5euro one way. I strongly advise you prebook your place on the bus as they fill up rapidly; http://www.romeairportbus.com or http://www.terravision.eu. Once you get to Termini Station you can either hop on the metro, taxi or walk to your hotel.
When we visit Rome we stay in a beautiful old hotel on the Via Veneto, Hotel Majestic. If you've been to Italy before you may be familar with their hotel standards, while the Majestic is 5star, it is Italian 5star. It's quirky and beautiful but not quite the Ritz. It is however in an incredible location, less than a ten minute walk to both the Spanish Steps or the Trevi Fountain and is located right next to Bernini Palace and metro station. It also benefits from a stunning roof terrace where their bar and restaurants are located. Highly reccomend!
Sites Not to Miss
If you type "sight seeing Rome" into google you are immediately bombarded with thousands of tour options each telling you they include "skip the line" tickets for most of the big sites, Viator.com is the main website you can browse them on. I personally have never booked through them and have always booked directly with either the Vatican or the Colosseum when requiring tickets.
Even if you are not particularly religious I really don't think you can leave Rome without a trip to Vatican city, easily accessible via metro or a walk along the river. Within Vatican city you'll find the Vatican Museums, the Vatican Gardens and St Peter's Basilica. I highly recommend pre-booking your enternace ticket for the Vatican so you won't have to queue, in high season especially the line can be extremely long and hot to stand in. I buy our tickets with the Vatican's official online ticket office, you can do so by clicking here. That will get you into the museum and Sistine Chapel. Entrance to St Peters Basilica is free but again the line is also extremely long, the backlog is caused by the security screening. To get around this queue you can go straight into the Basilica through the Vatican Museum at the end of your tour or you can enter it following a tour of the Necropolis as we did this time.
Special visits to the necropolis underneath the Basilica, where the tomb of St. Peter is located, are only possible following special permission granted from time to time by the “Fabbrica di San Pietro”. Visits are organized according to the schedule set by the Excavations Office. The can only be booked with the Vatican directly so don't be tricked into buying anything through tour operators. You need to apply for places by email, details can be found here. This was my favourite tour I've ever been on in Rome, we were in a small group of 6 and I found it fascinating to see all of the recently excavated tombs 2 layers beneath street level. If you are in any way claustrophobic I suggest you give this one a miss as the corridors underground are narrow and cramped along with extremely humid. You must be aged 15 plus to take the tour too so no kids I'm afraid.
Following the tour you can go up into the Basilica and climb the cupola if you're up to it. The cupola is the dome you see in photos of the Basilica and offers the most incredible views of the city. You can take an elevator to bypass the first portion of about 300 steps but the second leg must be done on foot, about another 500 steps, not for the faint hearted. If you're in Rome on a Wednesday Pope Francis offers mass in St Peter's square at 10am. Tickets are free but must be collected before, information can be found here. We stood under umbrellas in the lashing rain last year listening to the mass, really interesting to see before you do a day in the Vatican.
Another tour I highly recommend is the underground and third ring tour of the Colosseum, again this can be booked with them directly by clicking here. This sells out incredibly fast so do book in advance. Your ticket for the Colosseum also gains you entrance to the next door Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, a must see.
Other monuments not to be missed include the beautiful Borghese Gardens and Borghese Villa Museum, entrance to the park is free and a lovely stroll after your morning coffee. The Spanish Steps have a special place in my heart as it's where Will proposed to me, gorgeous to walk up in the evening when it's quiet. The Trevi Fountain is not to be skipped under any circumstances, one of the most incredible sites in Rome, same goes for the Pantheon. Grab a gelato and sit there in the sun, you'll thank me later.
Some of my Favourite Spots to Eat
Rome is a culinary haven with every street lined with beautiful Trattorias and Gelaterias. My favourite spots to eat lunch and people watch are Piazza Navona (under ten minute walk from the Vatican), Piazza Del Popolo (close to the Spanish Steps) and Campo De Fiori where they hold food and flower markets. There are several restaurants to choose from in each spot, I've eaten in many of them and have yet to have a bad meal so take your pick.
In the evening I highly recommend Trastevere, a neighbourhood south of the Vatican. It has a laid back cool and bohemian vibe and is always bustling with people. My favourite restaurant there is called Taverna Trulissa, book a table in the outdoor terrace and you won't be sorry. Da Enzo is another famous spot in Trastevere, you can't book so you need to wait on a table but God is it worth it. Go for a drink afterwards in one of the many bars in the area and soak up the atmosphere.
Another beautiful restaurant we loved is Vinery Il Chianti right next to the Trevi Fountain, again book a spot outside. The food here is incredible, order the mixed sharing board for two (it would really feed four) as your starter, heaven! There is a really cool bar pretty much directly opposite this restaurant too, I can't remember the name of it but you'll hear it before you see it, buzzing!
Le Lanterne is another fabulous spot if you're hungry after doing the Colosseum and are around that neighbourhood. Also close is La Carbonara, both authentic trattorias full of Italian families so you know you're in the right place.
If you're looking for somewhere to get dressed up and make a night of it, go to Hotel De Russie for a drink or dinner. They have the most amazing outdoor garden and courtyard in the centre of the hotel that has to be seen to believe you're still packed in the centre of rome. It is expensive but worth every penny. Don't go here in shorts and trainers straight from a days sightseeing, dress to impress.
For authentic gellato look no further than Venchi, the wait in line is worth it to cool you down after a spot of shopping on the Via Del Corso. They also do amazing crepes!
Rome is truly my favourite city I have ever visited and I can't recommend it enough for a short break. I hope you find some of my tips useful if you're off soon. Do let me know if I've inspired you to go!
As always I love to chat to you guys on Instagram and Snapchat @jodielawsonwood. Ciao for now! X