This past September my mom, sister, and I took a 2 week trip to visit Europe. It was my second time to Europe and their first time so it was a really special trip that we had planned. We spent a few days in Rome then hopped on the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas cruise ship for 12 days before returning home. In the next week I’ll be sharing photos of the places we visited and travel recommendations for those of you looking for ideas for your next travel adventure.
First up is Rome. Flew from New York to Rome and landed in Rome around 11am local time. We finally got to our hotel which was Ostello des Artiste, located on the outskirts of the downtown/historic area. The hotel itself was pretty quiet and had a metro station located a few blocks away so we could easily pick up the metro or subway and take it to anywhere in the city. But if I were to do it again I would stay somewhere closer to the downtown/historic area. It would most likely be more expensive, but it would have been great to be able to walk from the hotel to all the places we wanted to visit.
The first day we spent walking around the city for a few hours explore and getting our bearings. We had some delicious homemade pasta at a small local restaurant very close to our hotel called Trattoria Dell’Omo and it was the best way to get to know the city and the local people and food.
The next day was our first full day in the city and we had a tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum. We had an amazing tour guide and it was so amazing to hear all of the stories and history behind all of the buildings and things we were seeing. For lunch we stopped at a restaurant right around the corner from the Roman Forum called Ristorante Massenzio Pizzeria for pizza and salad.
The next day in Rome we went to the Vatican where we had an all day tour. I highly suggest doing a tour because you can get in early and you don’t have to wait in a long line. The line to get into the Vatican museum can get up to a couple of hours long to wait. The first part of our tour was really just our tour group which was very small (maybe 10 people). It was like we had the whole place to ourselves and we got to see and learn so much more this way. After a few hours of being open the museum and St. Peter’s Basilica were VERY crowded (I’m talking people in every inch of hallway space) and will almost definitely ruin your experience if you come at the height of traffic. Another good reason to visit in the morning is so you have time to explore the surrounding city once you are done. This is what we did and we had so much fun.
Exploring the Vatican museum is amazing, just to see the unique and elaborate works of art is worth the trip. It is filled with so much history and hearing the stories from the tour guide really made it come alive. But the most notable work of art at the Vatican is the Sistine chapel which is located between the Vatican museum and St. Peter’s Basilica. It is truly amazing to see after hearing about the painstaking years it took to create. Unfortunately there are no photos aloud, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. ;)
Since our tour was from about 7am to 2pm we had a little bite to eat at the Vatican but were very hungry once we were done. There is a small area near Castel Sant’Angelo called Borgo Vittorio that has some really great little shops and restaurants. We ate at once of these little places and had delicious carbonara (a local Roman specialty) and a quick mid-day espresso pick-me-up.
If you have time I highly suggest visiting Les Etoiles, a roof top restaurant and bar which has some of the best views of the city. It wasn’t open for lunch when we went and we never went back for dinner, but we still snuck up to the roof top to take some great panoramic photos.
The following day we went on a bike tour, which was honestly one of my favorite days. At first we were apprehensive about doing the tour because we had seen the major sites of the city already from our previous tours and from just walking around. However, on the day we decided to go through with it and I’m so glad we did because we were able to see the city really through more of a local lense. This tour was about 5 hours and our guide took us on bicycles through the city. After riding past the Colosseum, our first stop was a small cafe for some cappuccinos and breakfast pastries. Our guide then took us to a medieval overlook of the city with amazing views and then onto a huge outdoor market called Campo de’Fiori where we had pizza and gelato. After filling up, we finished our tour by visiting the Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain.
I just wanted to mention a few other restaurants we wanted to try but didn’t get the opportunity to.
La Pergola – great views of the city, close to the Vatican
Le Jardin de Russie – also great views of the city, right next to the Piazza del Popolo and Villa Borghese
Giolitti – Near the Trevi fountain, apparently one of the best places in the city to get gelato.
La Carbonara – this place has a great reputation for amazing food.
Our time in Rome was magical. Even just going to Europe to explore Rome is worth the trip and we could have spent a few more days if we had the time. However, we were super excited to start the next leg of our journey which was a 12 day cruise!
Hope you enjoyed this part of my travel recap and find it helpful for planning your vacation to Rome. It is an amazing city with so many things to see and do.