Day 1 (4 hours, 7 miles walking)
So we started off our 2 week Italy trip with a delay at the airport, only 1 hour 30 minutes, so can’t complain too much – but it was only going to get better from there, right? On arrival at Rome Airport we were greeted by 32 degrees heat, something we have become quite accustomed to with all this lovely weather in the UK of recent.
To get to our accomodation we used the bus service and got our ticket at the airport, which was easy and cost €5 each.
Where we Stayed
Due to the slight delay, we had limited time on our first (half) day, however we wanted to pack as much in as we could. Well, lets say I did! Our accommodation was Relais Indipendenza, which we booked 3 nights on booking.com for around €140 for the both of us. I have to say it was a great room, with fantastic air conditioning (much needed). The beds were comfy and the host Mario was very accommodating.
The shower/bathroom was a little on the small side, but for the price this place was perfect and our little safe-haven for getting out of the heat. Plus we even got a free bottle of wine – a nice little touch!
Visiting the Spanish Steps
As it was about 2.30pm we decided to visit the Spanish quarter. Our room was about about a 40 minute walk away, but we thought this was a great way to get our bearings. We arrived at the top of the steps, where we looked down over a massive crowd of people.
Stepping down the steps to join the crowd, we were welcomed by a stunning view of the steps…
Everybody was hurdled around the fountain as it was shaded. And here we found out that there were free water fountains on hand to keep hydrated. We took advantage of these throughout the trip, and would just take bottles of water with us everywhere to refill. There was a fountain around every corner! If not, there was always someone trying to sell you a small bottle for €1.
Visiting Piazza Del Popolo
We then took the short trip towards Piazza del Popolo to see a few more of the sights. This area lacked shade, but was worth the trip.
Looking at the map, we saw a little park area nearby, so we thought we’d try it out as it was on route back to our hotel. And I’m so glad we did! As we got higher in Pincio Park we were fascinated by some of the views, and there were crowds marking the viewpoints.
Drinks in Rome
To finish the evening we had a well deserved drink, of course an Aperol Spritz for Kelly and a pint for me! And pasta! The restaurant was called Caffe Giuliani, and very close to our hotel. Our bill came to €30 euros, and the food was delicious. I believe this was a food chain, as we saw many places with the same menu.
Day 2 (7 hours, 12 miles walking)
Visiting the Colosseum
Today was the day! The day we finally get to see the Colosseum. It is something that has been on our bucket list for ages. We had an early night so we could get to the Colosseum first thing. After a 30 minute walk, we arrived at the Colosseum for 8.30am to see crowds of people queuing and many more arriving.
Getting Tickets Quickly for the Colosseum
We were greeted by many tour operators, but after doing our research on Tripadvisor, we knew we could get tickets from Palatine Hill for €12 euro on the door. And that we did! We walked past all the queues and took the 5 minute walk to the Palatine Hill entrance. There was no queue at all and we got our tickets. We then walked out and straight to The Colosseum where we took the centre queue and were in within 5 minutes. This saved us loads of time, and I would highly recommend doing it this way.
I’ve got to say I was absolutely fascinated by the enormous scale of the Colosseum, which we found out once use to hold 70,000 spectators. Entering the Colosseum at first, it was fairy empty, but by 9.30am the crowds just got bigger and bigger.
Gift from the Colosseum
We picked up our little memorabilia from the gift shop inside, which cost €5.50, and learnt more about the amphitheatre on the go.
Visiting Palatine Hill & The Roman Forum
Included in the €12 ticket were the Palatine Hill entrance and entry to The Roman Forum. We made our way back to the Palatine Hill entrance and spent the next 2 hours walking around these. They were both fascinating areas, full of the roman ruins and Kelly trying to ruin (excuse the pun) my photos.
I was constantly on the hunt for more Colosseum photos…
Early afternoon, we started heading back towards our hotel, taking the sightseeing route of course! We passed the Sepolcro di Gaio Poplicio Bibulo and Trajan’s Column, which were both stunning places of architecture.
We even managed to find a Genie! These street artists were fantastic.
Best Panini in Rome!
After a few hours of walking and bottle filling, our stomachs were grumbling. We had researched a few of the best ‘cheap eats’ places on Tripadvisor and one was this place called Pane & Salame. We arrived at the panini/sandwich shop which was around the corner from Trevi Fountain. The place was rammed, with a few people waiting for orders outside. Which is only the sign of a good thing!
I have to say the Panini’s were phenomenal, they really did live up to the reviews. Even better, we ate them on the steps of Trevi Fountain, overlooking crowds of photo happy tourists, quite the lunch! Although I would have preferred not to be interrupted by several guys trying to sell the same selfie stick.
Visiting Trevi Fountain
It just so happened that Trevi Fountain became a passing place for us on a number of occasions. On every occasion the place was so busy, even at 11pm.
In the evening we visited a bar called The Trinity College bar, as it seemed to be one of very few that were playing the first game of the Premiership season. The bar had a few screens and the staff were great. Kelly won two free shots for beating the barman at beer mat flipping, her talents do come in handy sometimes!
Day 3 (James 12 hours, 15 miles walked) (Kelly 9 hours, 9 miles walked)
Visiting the Pantheon
We headed out a little later today and got to the Pantheon for about 12oclock. Again, this was about a 30 minute walk from the hotel. The Pantheon was massive! To go in is free, and you must dress respectfully. It was extremely busy, and the crowd was disrespectfully noisy, which really bugged me considering it is a holy place. Definitely a must see though.
Lunch idea in Rome
Around the corner, we grabbed some lunch from another Panini shop called Bread In. Again, a top 10 on Tripadvisor for cheap eats and this didn’t disappoint. The menu was movie themed, and we shared a Captain America, as the portion sizes were huge! Not bad for €5. And oh look our refillable water.
Castle of The Holy Angel
We then headed on a further 30 minutes to reach the Castle of The Holy Angel. This was just a passing visit on our way to the Vatican, but certainly worth while. The river views were quite spectacular.
Visiting Vatican City
A bridge cross and 15 minutes of walking later, we had arrived at St. Peter’s Basilica, which was phenomenal to look at, and certainly worth a few panos. To the right we then headed 10 minutes towards the entrance of the Vatican, just follow the wall!
Getting tickets for the Vatican
Again, we hadn’t booked any tickets for the Vatican, as everything online was booked up for the next week and the tours were €50 upwards. On approaching the Vatican we were constantly approached by tour operators, but we said we were getting tickets on the door. There were so many groups though, so it was a little daunting. And the tour sellers were telling us we couldn’t get in otherwise.
When we got in through the main entrances (which didn’t actually clearly say general admission), we went through security, passed the herds of tour groups, straight up the stairs and were at the ticket booths with no ques at all. It was a very easy process, and the groups in the foyer before us were all being told they had to wait their turn. The cost of the ticket was €17 each, so you also save a booking fee, if you were to book online.
The Vatican itself was simply incredible and nothing I had witnessed before. Around each corner was heavy decoration in an antique fashion. You witness two very long corridors with ceilings full of artwork frames. There is really too much to take in, and because of the crowds you are constantly being pushed along.
This was one of my favourite statues. A pose we are seeing way too frequently nowadays…the selfie. I won’t show you the bottom half.
Halfway around the Vatican we entered the Sistine Chapel, again another holy place, where silence was required and no photos were allowed. Two things that didn’t seem to be understood by visitors. Twice the Chapel was silenced by a guard on a microphone and copious amounts of people were sneakily taking photos. The lack of respect was annoying, but we continued to admire the Last Judgement painting and the beauty of this religious landmark.
In the gardens, the Vatican has a free water fountain and a restaurant to keep you fed and watered. The grounds were actually quite stunning too…
Finally, you round off your visit with a descend down this wonderful staircase. Ok, you’ve already seen the pictures…
On exiting the museum, we saw that the entrance was closed. I believe it closed at 4pm on Sunday.
Dinner idea in Rome
We then went to scout out some food. Where we found a place called Ristorante Giovanne. This wasn’t a restaurant we had researched, however we were drawn in by there menu deal of Starter, Main and Soft drink for €12. Plus it looked over the Castle of The Holy Angel. The food was actually delicious, despite the reviews on tripadvisor. Again, our food choice was pasta!
Kelly and I finished the night with a few drinks back near Trevi Fountain, this was kind of our pitstop! Then I went on into the night to seek the sunset over Rome, and more photos of the Colosseum at night. And I must say the extra 3 hours of walking were more than worth it! Even if this may have been to Kellys despair.
The Secret Hole of Rome
I firstly found The Secret Hole of Rome, which is essentially a keyhole in a door, which overlooks St. Peter’s Basilica. It was about a 45 minute journey from Trevi Fountain, and along the way I got to see the Roman Forum from a higher perspective.
On arrival, there was a 15 person queue (8.30pm, Sunday), but the wait was totally worth it. Looking through the hole, the garden verges funnelled your eye down to St. Peter’s, which was spectacular. A great moment.
Unfortunately, getting any decent photo was a struggle, but Photoshop is a clever thing!
Just around the corner from this delight (4 mins approx) was a viewpoint, looking over the whole of Rome. It was pretty magical watching the sunset here, and everyone was fascinated by what they were seeing. I’d recommend taking a bottle of wine and a few glasses here, it seemed very romantic!
So as the night was drawing to an end, and I was aware I was the other side of Rome from the hotel, I took a quick detour and visited the Colosseum at night. And I’m so happy I did.
After telling Kelly I’d be about an hour, it was actually 3 hours later I arrived back. But she got a good laugh at my keyhole photo out of it.
Next stop… Perugia by train for our friends wedding. Time to relax.