Whilst on holiday in Poland, we decided to book our next adventure to Lithuania. Unfortunately, due to COVID travel restrictions, we had to change our plans last minute and we ended up booking Rome! Our birthdays are both in September so we like to have a long weekend break around the end of the month to celebrate – this time Scott was the one who’s birthday fell into it nicely. We flew out on a Thursday evening to get as much time there whilst using up as few days off work as possible, meaning we were able to have four days in the Italian capital.
Whilst on the plane I met a really lovely girl called Monique, who we ended up going for a meal with one night in Rome. Her and her boyfriend Adrian feature in some of our activities so I thought I would add some context now!
When we landed in Rome (Ciampino), it was nearly midnight and we only just managed to catch the last bus into the city. It cost us €7 each and took around 30 minutes to reach the main terminal. There are a lot of buses in Rome which seem to be quite frequent, however we don’t have any experience with them other than from the airport. You can walk pretty much everywhere you want to go if you’re prepared to get some serious steps in. My first tip would be to make sure you bring some comfy walking shoes and blister plasters! Don’t worry if you’d rather get a taxi though, because there are lots around and they also have Uber.
Our favourite mode of transport was introduced to us by Adrian and Monique, which was the electric scooters! All over the city there are electric bikes and scooters that you can use as you wish, and they are so easy to use (although I did accidentally fall off as we were on our way home from a bar at 1am on Scott’s birthday…). You just need to download the Uber Lime app which you use to lock and unlock them when you need it, and it all gets paid for from the card connected to the account – just like Uber! The only problem with them is that they can get addictive and you can easily ramp up quite a hefty bill if you’re not careful.
They cost €1 to unlock and then 25C per minute!
Despite it’s beauty, we did find Rome to be quite a dirty city. There was a lot of dog mess left on the side of the roads and there was an overall ‘grubby’ feeling.
Things to do
Colosseum and Roman Forum – We bought a ticket through Get Your Guide which included the Colosseum, Romun Foum and Palatine Hill in one tour. This was perfect because it meant they were ticked off all in one day, and we could then spend the afternoon relaxing! The Roman Forum was by far the longest stretch of the tour, lasting approximately 2 hours. As everything is outside and Rome is quite hot, we would really recommend taking a bottle of water with you – there are plenty of fountains to fill up with around the city. If you have four days in the Italian capital, you defintely need to set one aside to see this historical wonder.
We stupidly decided to skip breakfast before going on this tour and it was a huge mistake! I spent half of the morning feeling faint, dizzy and nauseous which resulted in Scott having to be my third limb for an hour. Even the guide stopped to ask me if I was okay because I looked so unwell – not what you need when in the middle of a pandemic…
Trevi Fountain – If you’ve ever watched The Lizzie Mcguire movie (or pretty much anything else set in Rome), I’m sure you’ll recognise this famous landmark. Take a stroll down some quiet back-streets of the city until you come into a vibrant little area full of excited tourists around this amazing fountain! If i’m honest, it’s much smaller than I thought it was, and sadly because of COVID we weren’t allowed to get right up close to toss in a coin, but it was worth the walk nevertheless.
Spanish Steps – Another Italian landmark that you have to visit whilst here, but don’t plan your day around it! Before coming here, I’d heard such a hype around the Spanish Steps in Rome but it really was just a grand outdoor ‘staircase’ in the middle of a busy, overpriced tourist street. It’s worth swinging past to be able to tick if off your list but as I said, don’t expect much from it.
Pantheon – To be honest, we sort of forgot about this until our last full day however we are so glad we got to see the Pantheon. It’s sort of ‘something and nothing’ in that it’s in the middle of a little square and quite off the beaten track, however the history of it and the facts that you learn about the Romans is so fascinating. They really were incredibly clever people who’s thinking was so ahead of their time. I’m not one for appreciating architecture but it’s hard not to when in comes to the Pantheon. As it was a spur of the moment decision to visit, we hadn’t planned or booked a tour. We were approached outside the queue by a man offering a tour for only €10 each, which we would recommend. The company was called The Vatican Tour Company and the information that the guides can offer really makes the visit worth it!
Visit The Pope – Surprisingly, I’m not even joking. Although you might think the chances of seeing the big man himself are slim, you’d be surprised at just how often he makes an appearance. Every sunday at midday he comes to the window (second from the right on the rop row) of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, and talks to the crowds that gather below. We were fortunate enough to be there at this time and it was an amazing thing to experience. He gave a short speech and read out a blessing (according to Google… It was in Italian so obviously neither of us understood). If you are in Rome on a Sunday, I would 100% recommend heading to The Vatican for an hour to witness it yourself.
Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour – As there is so much walking to do in Rome, we thought it would be a good idea to book a hop-on-hop-off bus for one of the first days in the city. This way, we were able to cover a huge area and pinpoint the parts that we wanted to come back and see at a later time. The great thing about the bus was that, as well as being a tour in itself (they provide you with headphones to plug in and listen to information about the city), it was also a great form of transport for the whole day! We decided to only do the 24 hour service which was €17.70 each, but they had the option of 48h and 72h as well so if you think you’ll be travelling about the city a lot, it may be worth looking into to save getting an Uber!
Where to eat
Looking for a relaxed, quiet street to sit out for a romantic evening meal? We’d recommend Nipotino del solitario. We came for a lovely meal one evening and had some really good authentic Italian food. The price was reasonable and the service was great! Another great place for an evening meal is Tonnarello. It’s a very popular place in Rome and is famous for their pasta dishes which come served in the pans that they are cooked in.
We went to Tonnarello with Monique and Adrian after some drinks at the most amazing rooftop bar called Cielo Terrace above Hotel de la Ville. The drinks here were MEGA expensive (it cost €12 for a bottle of beer) but the view and the company made it worthwhile!
If you’re near the colosseum and fancy a bite to eat, Al Gladiatore offers some nice food at a good price, with a backdrop of the ancient amphitheatre. I had one of the best carbonaras of my life here – if that statement doesn’t tempt you then I don’t know what will! Our best lunchtime recommendation is Hostaria de pastini. Scott had Oxtail in tomato sauce which was so tender that it leterally fell off the bone! He’d never eaten it before so it was another thing to tick off his bucket list this trip!
We were in Rome over Scott’s birthday and I asked him what he wanted to do for it. He said he just wanted to have a relaxed day of drinking, people watching and future holiday planning! We do love to make time for ourselves when we go away, even for a weekend break, and we found the perfect place for it. Lauro Bistro was a lovely little place just outside of the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas. We sat outside and drank lots of wine (as well as a £100 bottle of champagne which Scott had been waiting to tick off the bucket list), whilst listening to some great background music. It was the perfect way to spend our last evening in one of the most historical cities!
We have come to terms with the fact that this was probably our last holiday for a little while as sadly, COVID is back on the rise again. Hopefully we will be able to safely make it away over Christmas but if we don’t, it was nice to squeeze in some culture and adventure to see us through to the new year.
Shot glass number 17 and 18 are done and dusted.