First, here’s our two week trip schedule:
Rome – Venice – Florence – Pisa – Cinque Terre – Nice – Provence
So we have arrived in Roma! Our family took Aerlingus, transferring at Dublin. Upon arrival at the tarmac, we walked to a shuttle that brought us to the airport.
Note: We were unsure of where to pick up Zooey’s baby stroller and assumed it would be at the airport. However, the stroller was actually placed beside the plane on the tarmac. Remember to ask the flight attendant where your stroller will be upon your arrival if you happen to have one!
Heart of Rome
Piazza Pio XI, 78, 00165
We stayed here and highly recommend it! Cost was 100 euros a night for a double bed, an extra cot and a crib. Breakfast is provided and Michele the concierge made us the best cappuccinos in the morning to go along with breakfast.
Michele was also excellent at providing recommendations for places to eat as well as offer advice on transportation. He was warm and affable and always very attentive to our needs. We had opted for the smaller of the two available rooms but on the first night, the larger room was available and he offered it to us with no upcharge. How nice!
Note: Our lodging was closer to the Vatican. Other lodging options are near the train, which we read to be sketchier, and Piazza Navona, which is a nice area but more expensive. We took a bus to where we wanted to go every day, purchasing a ticket, or biglietto, from the local café (called a bar in Italy). You can also purchase tickets at news stands and tobacco shops.
Memorial for the Unknown Soldier
Pantheon (but we got there too late to go in)
Mouth of Truth, or Bocca della Verita
Campo dei Fiori
St. Peter’s Square
Vatican/Sistine Chapel* (Not stroller friendly)
Gardens of Villa Borghese
Piazza del Popolo
* Tickets purchased beforehand
The Colosseum has an underground tour that is not available online. You must call to get the tickets. We did not call until we arrived in Rome and the tickets were already booked by then.
The entry ticket for the Colosseum also includes the Roman Forum and Palatine. We went in one day to all three.
The Borghese Gallery and the Vatican can get booked up weeks in advance so buy these tickets first, especially the Borghese Gallery. For the Borghese, you will pay a fee to buy it ahead of time so you can skip the line.
The guided tour of the Vatican includes the Sistine Chapel. We did this tour at 8PM when it was less packed, less hot and cheaper.
To get to the Vatican, we started in St. Peter’s Square where the bus had dropped us off. However, the entry for tour was on the other side of the Vatican. Allot time to get there, say 20-30 minutes.
Things We Didn’t Get to Do/Eat:
St. Peter’s Basilica (We didn’t get to but you should go on Day 3.)- Free
San Crispino- Gelato, of course
Suggestions: Our family did not do any guided tours; however, I would recommend a walking tour. Rome didn’t have many plaques denoting what certain buildings were or any information related to them so things could be a bit confusing at times
Tip: Buy a water bottle and keep it. There are water fountains through Rome that are potable. Water bottles can get pricy and the water fountains were usually all very cool.
Piazza Rondanini 53
Dinner on the first night was at Grano, a restaurant recommended by our concierge. The food was good but what we found most enticing at Grano was the olive oil. The oil was light and smoky and lingered in our minds throughout the trip. I would purchase a bottle of it.
Our favorite restaurant of Rome, Fishmarket was adorable. We were hesitant as we looked at the completely Italian menu but knew that the cluster of people was indication of something good to come.
With the help of fellow Americans at a table next to us and a waiter that knew some English, we decided to try some specials. Mom meandered to the fish counter and chose some scallops and a fish to try.
We aren’t big on alcohol with meals but Mom was eyeing a table being laden with large glasses of beer. I opted for a white wine.
Tip: Prior to eating at a restaurant there are a few things to note. Restaurants will charge you for bread and water. Bread is usually charged per person per basket. Water is charged per half-liter or liter. Another thing to be wary of is the cover charge, or coperto. Some restaurants will have a cover charge per person. There will usually be a notice of a coperto at the bottom of the menu. Also, do not tip. It is not rude to not tip and you should not be expected to tip.