For our third anniversary, my husband and I travelled to Italy and France. It was my first time in Europe and I will never forget it. There was good and there was bad and I found that for some things I had over planned and for others I hadn’t planned enough. Here was the basic itinerary for our trip while we were in Rome. We didn’t manage to hit all the stops I wanted, but we visited most of them. We started off in Rome before we traveled to the South of Italy, and ended our Italian stay with a night in the Eternal City before heading to Paris
2.5 Days in Rome
Arrive at hotel and settle in, discover the local area. Get dropped off at wrong hotel by driver, walk the streets of Rome (in the rain) with 100lbs of luggage. Find Hotel 2 hours later. Sleep and cry a little.√
Night 1– Visit the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. Eat Excellent Italian Food.
Day 2– Tour the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Square.
Night 2– Dinner reservations at The Bramble Kitchen. See Romeo and Juliet at the Roma Globe Theatre, in Villa Borghese Gardens.
Day 3– In early morning go to Termini to take a train to Naples. Travel Time.
Towards the end of our time in Italy we did have another half day in Rome.
Night 3– Private Night Tour of Colosseum and
Roman For`um (walked by)
Legend: Blue-Must Do Activities Red– Restaurants Recommendations Green– Central Subway Terminal Purple– Places to visit if you have extra time
We had 3 days in Rome, but in reality it only felt like 1.5 days, because of the jet lag, rainy weather, and travel time. We unfortunately did not manage to make it to: Pantheon or Pizza Navona and we only walked by the Roman Forum but next time we visit Rome, we will take an in depth tour of all of these places. We ended up seeing a lot of Rome at night, The Spanish Steps, The Colosseum, The Roma Globe Theatre, The Trevi Fountain. Actually we saw more of Rome at night than during the day. The first night we were there it rained cats and dogs, and we realized quickly to carry an umbrella no matter what the forecast called for.
We only sat down for dinner twice while in Rome. The first night we were in Rome we ate at a little restaurant off the path of the Trevi Fountain, called Enoteca Barberini. It was reasonably priced, I had a delicious fresh pasta carbonara dish and Mike had a Saffron Spaghetti Dish. The atmosphere was hip and chic, and did not feel “touristy” at all, but the best part was that they spoke excellent English. Although we didn’t drink tap water while in Europe just to be safe, the Roman’s rave about how clean public drinking water is. We opted for bottled flat and sparkling water and since Italy doesn’t have a lot of Nestea/Ice Tea like we do in North America, I also drank a lot of Sprite.
After the first night, we woke up early to meet our tour group at the Vatican. We went to Termini Station and took Line A on the Metro to Ottaviano S. Pietro Station. We under estimated the walk time from the Metro to the steps outside the Vatican Museum where we met our Tour Guide. You need about 25 minutes, not 10. Pro Tip: If traveling from Termini to Vatican Museum get off at Ottaviano S.Pietro or Cipro, as the Museum Entrance is directly in between these two stations.
We saw a lot of Vatican Museum with our tour guide, but honestly we regret paying for a tour guide. The only benefit was that we got to skip the long line at the entrance. It took about 5 Minutes rather than 20 minutes to get in once the Vatican opened. The tour itself was difficult to understand due to our guide’s accent and handle on the English language. Our audio headset to her microphone also kept picking up other tour groups and it was frustrating to say the least, especially in the big crowd.
Pro Tip: Go to the Vatican early in the morning to reduce wait times to get in. Also buy your ticket ahead of time. Do not get a guide to do the museum tour, do a Rick Steve’s or other audio podcast tour with your iPhone(there is an app for that) to save yourself a little money and reduce the stress of trying to follow and understand a tour group through a large crowd.
St. Peter’s Square
After our tour of the Vatican Museum the tour guide led us outside from the Sistine Chapel to St. Peter’s Square. We were tired and hungry after walking for so long. We went inside St. Peter’s, it was beautiful with so much to explore. The Square was amazing to walk around in and I enjoyed taking photos of all the architecture.
Pro Tip: Grab a water from the first street vendor you see! There are no opportunities to hydrate while on the tour.
After the Vatican City, we were so tired that we went back to the hotel and slept for 3 hours. It was extremely hot and sunny that day and this added to our exhaustion. This would have been optimal touring time and we could have seen the Roman Forum, Pantheon, Piazza Novano and more. We kicked ourselves after, but were too tired to function in that moment. We took the subway all over Rome. It was surprisingly easy for a ‘small town’ girl to navigate with a map and enough time. We also went to Termini to take the high speed train to the south coast.
The Bramble Kitchen
Beforehand, I researched restaurants close to our hotel and this one appeared to be close and had an enticing menu. I made a 6 pm reservation for our second night in Rome. When we got there it was practically empty, which worried me because I wondered how good the service and food were. It turns out they were both good and it was just that Roman’s don’t eat until much later in the evening and we had booked the equivalent of a senior’s meal time. We had some delicious arancini balls, as an appetizer to share which were oddly green, but tasted great. I ordered the Truffle Fettuccine, but it was too rich for me. My husband ordered the Lasagna and lovingly swapped dinners with me and I enjoyed what he ordered!
Roma Globe Theatre and Borghese Gardens
On our last night in Rome we went to see a performance of Romeo and Juliet at a replica of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. I think I was trying too hard to soak in the arts and culture Rome had to offer. The play was in Italian, and I thought since we were familiar with the play we could easily follow along. Well when we got there we quickly realized it was a modern day interpretation of Romeo and Juliet and although all of the actors were exciting and expressive, the language barrier had us leaving at the intermission. Plus we were a little too nervous to walk through the Gardens that late at night. We took the A line from Termini to Flamingo Station and walked a LONG way through the gardens (uphill) to the Roma Globe Theatre. The Gardens though…..wow! They were stunning and would have been even more beautiful in the daytime I am sure. I would recommend The Borghese Gardens to anyone with some extra time to burn in Rome that wants to enjoy some beauty, peace, and quiet. There is also a Zoo and the Villa Medici, a historic villa mansion with an art gallery
Circus Maximus and The Colosseum
When we were heading back to Rome, we realized we missed a bunch of stuff and in panic I searched the internet for any Colosseum Tours still available within 24 hours notice. I found a tour company called “Italy with Us” and although I was nervous considering our Vatican tour company was less than impressive but this tour turned out to be amazing! It was called the Colosseum Under the Moon Tour. We had special VIP access, and it wasn’t even that expensive compared to the day time tour rates. To get there we took the subway Line B from Termini to Circo Massimo to see the Circus Maximus, and then we walked a short distance to the Colosseum . We took some photos outside, and grabbed a bite to eat at a little Pub before we met the tour guide. The tour started at the “Italy with Us” office with a wine tasting social (we don’t drink wine, but enjoyed meeting some fellow travelers.)
The Colosseum was closed for public admission, but our tour allowed us access! Our first tour guide handed us over to the Colosseum’s office guide who took us out on the platform to see the stadium, and then took us underground! We got to see where the animals were kept and a mock lift system. It was super neat and between the two tour guides collective knowledge on the Colosseum, it was very informative. The first guide from “Italy with Us”, gave a great history of Rome and the Forum, to help set the stage for the history behind the Colosseum. I would recommend a Night VIP tour of the Colosseum as there were no crowds it was quite informative and the atmosphere was spooky!
Our time in Rome was short lived. If we had a chance to re-do our visit, we would have visited the Colosseum the first day/night and the Vatican the second. I loved the night tour VIP and if I had known this was an option I would have booked a night VIP tour at the Vatican as well.
Arrivederci Rome, Till we meet again