Our final week was spent in Rome. After being to London, Dublin and Paris, Rome was another exciting adventure.
DAY ONE – Rome
Once landed in Rome, we caught a train from the airport to Fiumicino. From here, we caught a bus to near our Rome apartment. We walked the last little bit on the old cobbled roads. Can’t believe how old this place is! I really felt like I was in the Bible.
We found our apartment which was old and charming and huge! Once settled in, we went out for a walk to discover that we were very close to the Piazza Navona. This piazza was buzzing with amazing buskers, three fountains and people out walking and eating in the restaurants around the edge. Pizza was definitely on the menu for us, so we found somewhere close by and tucked in to a whole pizza each!! (We were hungry!)
DAY TWO – Rome
This morning we walked to the Pantheon. The Pantheon is free to enter (bonus!) and it is so old and the dome roof is huge and spectacular to see. There is a big round hole in the roof which changes the lighting inside as the day progresses and the sun moves.
Once we had explored inside the Pantheon, we continued on to the Trevi Fountain. There were police blowing whistles at anyone who sat on the edge of the fountain. Throwing money in was allowed though!
The Spanish Steps were next on the list for today. This place was bustling with people everywhere. We walked up the steps for amazing views over Rome.
At the top of the Spanish Steps is the Chiesa di Trinita dei Monti, a church which actually had a French service in progress while we were there. A young lady seemed to be singing the Psalms and sounded very angelic. The atmosphere in here was very special.
A point to note about Rome
There are no public toilets in Rome, in the streets. Not even paying toilets like in Paris. If you eat out you can use the bathroom facilities in the restaurant, but otherwise, there are no toilets around. Thankfully our apartment was quite central to most places, so we could drop in during the day for planned toilet breaks.
After lunch, we walked across the River Tevere (Tiber) to Vatican City. We lined up for 30 minutes to enter St Peter’s Basilica (free entry – yippee!). This place was amazing. Well worth lining up for. Apparently St Peter is buried under the floor there. The gold on the ceiling in the Basilica was taken from the inside of the Pantheon many years ago.
DAY THREE – Rome
This morning we walked to Piazza Ponte Portese (over the river) for the Ponte Portese Flea Market. This market is apparently the largest in Rome…..and yes, it was!
The stalls went on and on! The prices were good and you could bargain with the stall-holders. Not many tourists came here and very few souvenir stalls, so it was good to see some of the local stuff for sale. There were lots of cheap clothes, shoes, handbags, coats, jewelry, makeup, hats, underwear, etc. We spent a couple of hours browsing and buying some treasures.
After a quick lunch of sandwiches with Pistachio spread (if you are in Rome, you’ve got to buy yourself a jar. We became addicted and had to take four of them home!), we found the second market for the day. This one was closer to “home”, the Camp di Fiori, which was much more touristy. You could buy fruit, juices, liqueurs, spices and pasta flavour mixes.
We decided to continue on to a third and final market for the day. This next one was a bit of a walk away, down towards the Colosseum. It was called Mercato Monti Urban Market. It was quite small and in the basement of a hotel building. The stallholders where quite classy and sold expensive handmade jewelry, clothes and other quirky things. It was quite the artisan gathering.
The gelati place we found on the way home from this market was so good. Quality ingredients and delicious flavours (“Al CoNosseo”, Via Cavour, 289-00184 – Roma). You must go there!
DAY FOUR – Rome
We went to the Vatican Museum this morning. Pre-purchased tickets once again saved us a massive queue. The line for tickets went down the street, around the corner and down the next street!
It was nice to be able to walk straight in, without waiting, but once we were in, the crowds where quite overwhelming. The place filled up very quickly. There were lots of tour groups. We had audio guides which were really good but we had to stand off to the side to pause and listen at various points or we would get swept away with the crowd. The Sistine Chapel was the final place along the tour (no photos allowed in this part). “Silence” was frequently called out by the staff around the place (it was a bit stressful!). The Michaelangelo paintings on the ceilings and walls are incredible. I got a sore neck and eyeballs from trying to look up at the ceiling.
After another lunch of pistachio spread sandwiches, we found the Sant ‘Eustachio II Caffe. This place was recommended to us by a work mate – best coffee in the world! We tried it (had to stand at the coffee bar to drink it) and it was pretty good. Since being home I have been working hard to replicate it!
We continued walking (in a very alert state after the caffeine hit) on to the Portico of Octavia. These are ancient ruins including colonaded walks, built around 27BC. It was weird to see ruins in a normal Roman street!
Next we visited the Chiesa del Gesu (the Jesuit church in Rome). This is an incredible church, built in 1551, well worth a look if you find yourself nearby.
DAY FIVE – Rome
We were up bright and early to walk to the Coloseum this morning. Our pre-purchased tickets were for 9am and when we arrived we could walk straight in, not having to queue up. The audio guides were helpful here too, but we found them to be not as good at others we have had throughout our trip. I loved looking at the passageways you can see that would have been under the arena floor.
From here, we walked next door to the Forum and Palatine Hill. No audio guides for here but all the ruins had information signs so we could read about what we were looking at. We spent all afternoon exploring here. The sun was quite hot and by the end we were “ruined”. So we left and went back to the Al CoNosseo gelati shop from the other day.
We ate out at a restaurant called Fattaincasa and I ate the best pasta carbonara in my life. After dinner we walked back to the Colosseum to see it lit up at night. The city looks beautiful at night.
DAY SIX – Rome
Today we walked over the river again and explored Trastevere, a quaint little area of Rome where lots of students live. There is a university there and the food is cheap! There are also less tourists there. The laneways there are picture perfect.
Pizza was cheap so we enjoyed a delicous lunch at Carlo Menta.
We did a spot of shopping this afternoon and of course indulged in our daily gelati.
DAY SEVEN – Rome
This morning we ventured out to Roscioli bakery (it’s not far from our apartment) for some treats! We enjoyed a very special morning tea here. Apparently this bakery is Rome’s oldest.
After this we walked to the Villa Borghese gardens. These gardens were so beautiful with a lake and more ruins! There were ducks, swans and tortoises both swimming in the water and sunning themselves on the rocks.
We walked home via the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon to see them for one last time. Today is going home day.
Near the Pantheon we found a place called “150 Flavours” so had to have one last gelati….but how to choose! Oh my, it was a big decision!
Then we stopped by our apartment and picked up our bags. We walked to a nearby bus stop. The bus took us to the Termini and we caught an airport shuttle bus out to the airport. It all went smoothly and we survived the long flight home.
Thank you for taking the time to read about our travel adventures. I hope it has been helpful for you. Let me know if you would like to know more!!