2016 was a pretty special year for me. My partner and I of 11 years tied the knot in an amazing day surrounded by our closest friends and family. For our honeymoon we did have original plans of going to America followed by Mexico, but due to costs and the virus in Mexico we gave it a miss. Instead we decided on visiting Skiathos, Greece and having a weekend in Rome, Italy. All in all we were gone for a lovely 25 days.
We put two trips together as an overall honeymoon and then added Rome to celebrate 11 years together. We booked the flights with EasyJet and stayed at Kolbe Hotel, Rome. This hotel has a great location; based in front of the Roman Forum and a short 15 minute walk to the Colosseum. The Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain are walk-able (about 25 minutes) as well as the Vatican city with about a 35 minute walk. Of course you can take taxis, and Uber does work in Rome.
For the majority of the time there we walked as the weather was lovely and we’d stop for bites to eat along the way. We would use a taxi in the evening, potentially after one too many glasses of wine and stuffed from cured meats and olives!
As we arrived in the evening, day 1 was a quick change and out to eat. By this time it was 10pm. Now, one thing to note about TripAdvisor overseas, especially in Europe, is that the closing times on restaurants aren’t always accurate. During our travels in Europe, we have mainly noticed places stay open later than advertised – a huge bonus for us when arriving later evening. We ended up eating at 0.75 – Zerosettantacinque, which was a 2 minute walk from our hotel. Great food and atmosphere.
Fortunately we had breakfast with our room, so the next day we were up bright and early. After breakfast we headed off to a couple of recommendations a friend of mine had made, to make the walk up the hill to Aventino – The Aventine Hill to get to Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus) for the Orange Garden for the best view over Rome. The walk here from our hotel was roughly 20 minutes, so not too bad. Until we then realised we had a 35 minute walk to the Colosseum!
If you have never been to Rome, prepare for crowds. I lived in London for over 20 years and the crowds were easier to navigate than Rome. If you don’t have tickets to get in to the main attractions, there are touts there who will sell them to you, but be sure to haggle. They try to get you in for 50 Euros per person and after a long 10 minutes we had them agree the two of us for 50 Euros. I am sure you can get these passes cheaper if you book online and in advance but we initially didn’t plan on sightseeing. We just wanted to find great places to eat and wander around the the sights. I imagine going any time would be busy, but going for a weekend in Rome may amp up the tourist numbers – so maybe keep that in mind.
To shorten this post down I will highlight the best places to see, eat and things to do for when you only have a few days in Rome.
Must see attractions when in Rome
Firstly your bags will be checked and all liquids must be disposed of. You can book with a tour guide and go around the Colosseum with the group or, like we did, break off and wander around on your own. As expected it is somewhat busy inside, so if you are travelling with children, elderly, or someone disabled, please keep this in mind. Just take your time to explore and I’m sure you will have a wonderful time.
From here you can get great views of the Colosseum. There is a huge area to walk around, and you can book a guide or, like we did, follow a group around every now and then. The history there is as phenomenal as the Colosseum, and with the ticket we had, it allowed us access to here as well.
We visited the fountain on day two after a day sightseeing, shopping and eating. As we arrived in the evening there was a light show on, which made it pretty cool! The crowds aren’t as bad, but they’re still there even at 22:30.
These were a let down for us. They were so over crowded we couldn’t gain access to the steps. Instead we made do with seeing them from the ground, but that meant we missed out on the views. I can only say get here early. We arrived here day two around lunchtime, so aim for early morning.
Aventino: The Aventine Hill
You’ll need to get to Circus Maximus and head up the hill until you get to an orange garden. Its not much of a walk but you may need a map or use Google Maps. Here you will get one of the best views over Rome and if you walk another minute up the hill, you’ll find a door with a looking hole in it. From here you’ll see St Peter’s Dome – you can’t miss this spot, there will be a queue of people but it passes in about 10 minutes. There is also a drinks van so you can stay refreshed whilst queuing which is essential, especially if it’s a hot day.
Top places to eat when in Rome
Pane e Salami
My goodness if you miss this restaurant off your Rome trip, quite honestly you’ve wasted your time there. This restaurant is one of the best I have dined at for three reasons, all I hope you’ll agree are key to an exceptional evening out. Firstly the seating. If you’re in a large group they will seat you together, they have a large bench at the end of the restaurant and can arrange tables as needed. If you’re in a couple or a single, you can also be placed at the bench if the other tables are full. Now, at first I was slightly hesitant at dining on an open bench, but let me tell you – this was the best decision. We were lucky enough to have been sat with another lovely couple and a single gentleman. After you get over the initial awkward hello, our evening flowed. After the couple left a Swedish family joined us and the night continued to stay at a high.
The food here is exceptional. It is of cured meats, olive paste, breads, wines, cheeses all served on platters. It’s such a relaxed way to eat. We do it at home quite often and so to be able to somewhat relax when dining out is a huge plus. And lastly the staff / owners. They made the night run without a hitch. We were there when it was peak and due to having wonderful company we decided to stay longer, even-though we were wiped from a day of exploring the city, and stayed until it was relatively quiet. I kept requesting more wine, bread and olive paste and it was served exceptionally quick. Make sure you try the olive paste here, it may sound like such a simple food item, it is, but here the flavour and texture is just to die for.
0.75 – Zerosettantacinque
Go here for a relaxed authentic dining experience with great pizza. As I was practicing my Italian, we both ended up with the same pizza. Fortunately my husband didn’t mind seeing as we hadn’t eaten for almost 8 hours! We stayed here from about 10:30pm until 1am. Plenty of food, wine and just unwinding from a day of travelling.
If you’re by the Spanish Steps head here for great Apertivo.
A great place for cut pizza, perfect for grabbing a slice whilst you continue to explore the city.
Cool down after sightseeing at this gelato spot. You’ll have over 150 flavours to choose from.
Lost Food Factory
Located in the same square as the Pantheon. A perfect fast food place, but all made from fresh with locally sourced items. Primarily they sell paninis and ciabattas, but they are filled generously and taste so fresh.
To get around we walked most places. From our hotel we were about 15 minutes to the Colosseum, 25 minutes to Spanish steps and 35-40 minutes from the Vatican City. You can use Uber in Rome, so this is a must have app when you’re there, especially to get you home after a full day of walking.
However you do Rome, I am sure you’ll have a wonderful time. Allow yourself at least 48 hours to see all the sights and enjoy the local culture. Of course you could cram it all in for a day, but to relax and explore, I’d definitely say 48-72 hours is needed so a long weekend in Rome is a travel must for solos or couples.
Be sure to let me know if you go on what your favourite things to see, do and eat were. And of course if you have any questions, please use the comments below or find me on social media.