Italy - When In Rome

Rome, one of the most known city in the world. A must for any travel fans. But, when in Rome, do you do as the romans do? If not, this is the perfect guide for you. If I could describe Rome in three words they would be: History, Romance and Food. Rome can be divided in many neighborhoods and can become very overwhelming with the large amount of tourists all year round. We went from May 11th to the 17th and choosing our place to stay for the week was a important decision. We wanted to be in walking distance of as many of Rome's attractions, but didn't want to splurge our whole budget on our accommodation either. We stop our choice on this Airbnb: https://fr.airbnb.ca/rooms/15737154 and honestly couldn't of asked for anything better. If you are a first time user of Airbnb get 45$ of your first reservation using the link on the home page of the blog (shameless plug ;) ). The Mama's Loft apartment (Airbnb) was unbelievably well positioned (in front of Campo Di Fiori, my partner loved opening the window every night and listen to the music). Beautiful by itself (very modern), the owner was very nice and organized our transportation back to the airport at the end of our trip. We found it was very reasonably priced for eveything it came with. Coming from Canada, we had a 6 hours time difference and I have a lot of difficulty adjusting to that, so being able to go back to the apartment before supper to take a shower and relax was worth every penny.

Let's start from the beginning, the airport. We flew in from Montreal to the Fiumicino airport in Rome. Which unfortunately isn't really close to the City itself. The quickest and most convenient way of getting there is by train. The Leonardo Express Train is accessible from the airport and offers you a non-stop 32 minutes ride for only 14E per person. Trains depart every half hour from 6:23 to 23:23 and bring you to the Rome Termini, the main train station of Rome. From there on, you can just take a taxi (very easy to find near the train station) to your airbnb.

There are many things to visit in Rome and most people don't have much time. We have narrowed it down to the following paid activities:

  • The Vatican Tour

                    We decided to do a skip the line night tour of the Vatican museum and the sixteen chapel and would honestly recommend it. Every Friday from April to October, the museum offers a special night concert/tour from 7:00 to 11:00 pm. We reserved our tickets for only 21E per person via http://www.museivaticani.va. You must book your tickets exactly 60 days in advance (the day the tickets open in order to get the 7 pm time slot) because tickets sell quickly. It is recommended to be in line with tickets in hand 30 minutes before the doors open. Being the first to enter gives you an opportunity to see the outsides garden at sunset with almost no one around you, giving you beautiful scenery for all the photographers out there. If you wish to visit the famous St. Peter's Basilic at the same moment as the night tour, you must go before hand since it closes at 6 pm. Also, do keep in mind there are many people coming from around the world to see this, so you will not be alone and wait times can go up to an hour wait! As for the night tour, the entrance to the museum is not at this location, but if you write down Vatican Museum entrance on google map before going, you will easily find your way. Another thing you should know is that there is a dress code: no sleeveless clothing, shorts, skirts not covering the knee, or hats. Even if you get through security, you will be turned away by the attendants at the door. Finally, if you decide not to do the night tour and not to take the skip the lines tickets, note that the museum is open from 9 am to 6 pm (last entry at 4 pm) and that many tourists go during these hours, so the wait time can go up to 2 hours (which isn't unusual during the summer time).

  • Castel Sant' Angelo

                  Really pretty Castle close to the Vatican City. The price per person is 14E, but if you are aged between 18 and 25, they can be priced at 7E if you look like an European (since it is supposed to be a price reserved for European only but we got them anyways). If you go to the rooftop the view is amazing, plus the castle in general is filled with history, so for all the history geeks this is a must stop.

  • Villa d'Este

                 Since we were in Rome for a week, we decided to leave the city for a day and go visit the Villa d'Este, famous for it's fountains and gardens. The villa is open from 8:30 am to 6:45 pm and the price is 10E per person starting from the first of May. We decided to take the metro and bus to get there, so here is how we did:

Take the Metro B line in the direction of Rebibbia to Ponte Mammolo. Look for the bus ticket boot to buy your bus ticket to Tivoli (3,20E person for the round trip). It isn't the same as the official bus ticket boot, it is located to the right of the coffee shop. It is about an hour bus stop, there are many stops between the Station and Tivoli, so get off at the terminal Station at Tivoli. The opening hours of the metro is 5:30 am to 11:30 pm. Buy a one way ticket at a time (1.50E per ticket per person).

Villa d'Este

So the total price of this activity was 16,20E per person. As for lunch, I had found a restaurant with an amazing view only 9 minutes away from Tivoli gardens. If you are going during summer on a sunny day, try to be seated outside to enjoy the beautiful view of Italy's mountains. It is located at 33 via Ponte Gregoriano and is open from 12:30 pm to 3 pm and 7:30 pm to 11 pm. Note that they only serve pizza at night.

Il Ciocco ristorante, Tivoli

  • Coliseum

                 The famous Coliseum. I have to say this is the location where we felt the most crowded ever.... A lot of people! We had booked our tickets in advance online for 10:45. Therefore, there wasn't as many people when we arrived compared to when we left. Being really excited since it was our first time seing it, we decide to go super early to eat breakfast close by and take our pictures before the crowd levels got up. Unfortunately our coffee close by was close but it was the best thing that could of happened to us. Arriving at the CoLIsieum from higher up, there was a coffee shop close by where we bought chocolate croissants and coffees to enjoy while looking at the Colisieum... £6,50 and this was our view:

Best £6,50 ever spent! So you can only imagine how many pictures we took! Afterwards, we went down a couple of starcases and that is where most people were talking there picture... No one was getting a picture with no one in it... So, picture location go up all stairs! As for tickets, skip the line tickets are the best investment you can make. The line that day was about 2 hours and we didn't wait at all!! Here is where we got our tickets for only £14 per person: https://www.coopculture.it/colosseo-e-shop.cfm. We didn't know at first but these are skip the line tickets so no need to get there 45 minutes before your entry time. You have to book these in advance (about 3-4 months) so you can take the exact moment you want to go. Tickets sell quickly.

Free activities that you must do!

  • Keyhole

               Located at Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta is it one of the most fascinating views you will ever see. You look in the keyhole and can see through countries at once:

  • Sovereign order of the nights of Malta
  • Rome, Italy
  • St-Peter's dome inside the Vatican (Vatican CIty)

People are willing to wait in line for an hour to see through this little hole so try to go to strategic hours like early in the morning or late afternoon to limit the amount of tourists. Also, do go during sunlight to see the beautiful view. Do not look up the view online let it be a surprise!

  • Spanish Steps & Trevi Fountain

                  Me, being a stressed out person, do not like big crowds so these two locations were my worst nightmares coming to Rome. But strategically planning our visit really helped us reduce the amount of tourists. For the Spanish steps, we went around 9 am and there wasn't a lot of people, especially if you go higher in the stairs. I guess people are too lazy to go up the stairs fully but honestly the view is bette there and the workout makes you get a gelato without feeling bad afterwards so.. it's a win win!

As for the Trevi Fountain, we went without thinking the first day around 2 pm. Worst idea ever! I got pushed and almost fell to the ground because of the amount of people there, so we just left. A couple of days later we went around 7:30 am and were alone. Like really alone! We had the trevi Fountain to ourselves to take our pictures and just enjoy!

  • Trastevere

                  Fun neighborhood, great fo nightlife! They are so many restaurants to enjoy there and a lot of action at night. Great place to be to grab a drink and listen to street musc.

  • Villa Borghese

                     The best spot to go to to get away from the chaos of the city. It is a huge park where you can relaxe, sitting down by the small lakes, grab a coffee or walk to do some exercise away from the streets.

Foodie Top Picks

  • Venchi, many locations, BEST gelato, each one is open from around 10 am to midnight
  • Antico Forno Roscioli, best meal we ate in Rome and cost us £7,50, must go, 34 via dei Chiavari (4 minute walk from Campo di FIori), 8 am to 8 pm except for Sundays (8 am to 6 pm).
  • Pianostrada, farm to table like experience in Rome, a culinary lab, must do a reservation via phone or their facebook page, 22 via della Zocolette, not open on Monday and open from 1 to 4 pm & 7 to midnight all other nights. Close to Campo di Fiori.
  • Tram Depot, cute coffee shop/cocktail bar, 13 via marmorata, 7:30 am to midnight. Close to the Keyhole.
  • Lounge Garden (Marco Martini), nice cocktails for £12, 121 Viale Aventino (close to Cinco Massimo), open daily from 6 pm to midnight but closed on Sundays.
  • La casetta a Monti, cute spot for breakfast, open daily from 8:30 am to 9 pm except on Tuesday, 62 via della madonna dei Monti
  • Romeo Chef and Baker, cute restaurant and small grocery store (bread, cheese and meats), 28 Piazza dell'emporio, open tuesday to Saturday from 4 pm to 2 am and Sunday from 12 pm to 2 am.
  • Trapizzino, 88 via Giovanni Branca, open Tuesday to Sunday from 12 pm to 1 am.
  • Terrazza Borromini, for a nice lunch with a view, reservation are necessary : https://www.terrazzaborromini.com/terrazze/, 30 via di Santa Maria Dell' Anima, open daily from 12 pm to 3 pm and 7 pm to 11 pm. Request to sit outside and do reserve your spot around 12:30 to get the best table in the house!
  • Jerry Thomas Project, Secret cash only bar (speakasy), reservation online are obligatory: www.thejerrythomasproject.it. You must first figure out the password to be able to make a reservation!
  • Gelateria and Pasticceria Don Nino, 134 via dei Pastini, open from 8 am to 1 am.
  • Caffe San Eustachio, 82 Piazza San Eustachio, Sunday to Thursday from 7:30 am to 1am and Saturday from 7:30 am to 2 am, BEST COFFEE IN ITALY
  • Pasticceria de Bellis, good pastries and the peculiar donut burger, 56/57 Piazza del Paradiso, open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to 8 pm.
  • Il vero Alfredo, for the original Alfredo pasta, 30 piazza augusto imperatore, specify to eat on the terrace if open and reservation is recommended: http://www.ilveroalfredo.it/
  • Baja, located on the water between pont Margherita and Ponte Pietro Nemmi, opne from 10 am to 11:30 pm
  • Rooftop bar at Matis Palace Hotel, 1 via San Giuseppe Calasanzioé, AMAZING view or Rome

Happy Travels!


Megan Chartrand-Robichaud

January 17, 2020