I’ll confess I had visions of romance, sophistication and if not warm, then at least warmer than the miserable cold and grey UK winter when I booked our visit to Rome. This was one of our first ‘holiday’ type trips away together so I had high expectations. Unfortunately for us there was an uncharacteristic cold snap across Europe while we were there and Rome experienced some of it’s coldest weather for many years.
Of course, we hadn’t packed our ski wear and even wearing layers of every piece of clothing we had brought was still not enough to keep us from being uncomfortably cold whilst outside. And most of Rome’s delights are outside. Aside from the screaming pain of chilblains in the hotels shower though, there was a lot to like about Italy’s premier tourist city.
Normally we shy away from being tourists and we wanted to experience the city as much as possible like locals. This was not to be unfortunately and to some extent our experience was spoiled by the constant feeling of being ripped off and paying the ‘tourist trap’ prices. Hard to stomach when you are used to paying the lovely low prices of a city like Valencia. However, ‘when in Rome’, we decided to suck it up and just accept that all that history comes at a (high) price. To give you an example, we stopped for a coffee and tea in the centre between the Trevi fountain and the Pantheon and paid €11, ouch. It’s worth knowing the the water in the drinking fountains around the city is free and completely fine to drink. Top up your bottle whenever you see one to keep hydrated and save a few pennies.
Like many people that visit Rome we were only there for a few days and wanted to cram in as much as possible. There is so much to see in this city that its really impossible to feel like you can do it justice in such a short time without feeling like you are just ticking off the sites. Be prepared to do a lot of walking and wear comfy shoes is my main tip. How I longed to wear that gorgeous dress and skip down the streets in stilettos to get that perfect Insta pic. Reality – wrapped in every piece of clothing I owned, hat hair, cold chapped face and sore feet. Kudos to those Insta girls!
There is a metro system but it isn’t the best and only takes you so far. No matter where you stay you wont be near all the top attractions. Tip for buying metro tickets – instead of queueing (which can be for a while if you go at a busy time of day) for the ticket machine (we found there tended to only be one machine working at a time and it only ever accepted coins) you can also buy tickets from the little kiosk booths within the stations.
Our itinerary for 4 days of sight seeing looked like this;
Day 1 – Roman ruins – Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Forum
Day 2 – Getting religious – St Peters Bascilica and the Trastevere district
Day 3 – Staying central – Spanish steps, Trevi fountain, Pantheon
Day 4 – Awe-inspiring art – Vatican museums and the sistine chapel
This itinerary worked quite well and kept us busy without being too exhausting. Even being in Rome during low season it was busy and we queued for over an hour for all the main attractions. Definitely purchase tickets in advance where possible and check the opening hours, days and any special event days for St Peter’s and the Vatican museums especially. Even getting there early and queuing for over an hour we just managed to sneak in to see the Sistine chapel before it was closed for a special event!
We enjoyed meals out each night in the area local to the hotel and the food ranged from good to excellent. We didn’t have any bad meals but we found the prices and quality variable. For example, our favourite place served a starter of bread and oils, large pizza, wine/beer and coffee for €10 each. Tasty and great value!
Overall we really enjoyed our trip to Rome and it was great to see the amazing attractions but we wont be rushing back. There are too many other places to see on our travel list!
We flew from East Midlands Airport to Rome Ciampino with Ryanair in Jan 2017. 4 nights at the 4 star Hotel Mondial cost us €439 through booking.com. We choose the hotel because it was only 150m from the nearest metro and a short walk from the main train station which is where the buses drop to and from the airport. Overall we were very pleased with the hotel and the location.
Pro’s – The history, the monuments, the architecture, the food…
Cons’ – the prices, queues and in January, the icy weather!
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