Getting to Rome
Our hotel was about a 5 minute walk (it took us 40 minutes as we got completely lost) from the station and it was just beautiful. We stayed at the Hotel Rimini which came as part of the BA city break package I booked. It was clean, ideally located and the staff couldn't have been more helpful.
Breakfast every day was lovely as well, so much coffee...
1. The Trevi Fountain - Unfortunately, when we visited the scaffolding was still up, but I believe it's now been removed, with many thanks to Fendi for funding the renovation work!
2. The Colosseum, Forum, Trajan's Column, Trajan's Market.
Top Tip: It's worth joining a group tour of the museums and basilica in order to beat the queues. There are usually a lot of people trying to sign up groups dotted around, and I can't advise this enough. Not only do you get a LOT of information on the tour, you get to avoid waiting in line for up to 4 hours. We booked with What A Life Tours. It was around 96 euros for 2 of us, which seemed a lot, but it was SO worth it for us to have the time to go on from the Vatican to Castel Sant'Angelo and see everything without needing to rush. If you're feeling fit, you can go right to the top of St Peter's. There is a lift to the lower roof (where there is a bar and gift shop, obviously) and then around 1-200 steps to the very top, It's so worth it for this view.
6. The WFP - ok, ok, this one isn't a tourist site, but I'm a massive UN geek so I wanted to see the head office of the World Food Programme and I have no shame. PLus it was right behind the Colosseum, so it would have been rude not to...
7. La Bocca della Verità - Little known fact is that my favourite film in the whole world is Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck. The scene where they put their hands in the mouth of truth is one of the greatest in cinema history, purely because Gregory Peck played the best prank on Audrey Hepburn. Her reaction was so superb that they kept it in the film.
Watch the clip here :)
9. San Clemente - The layered church. Some of Rome's oldest historic sites have been excavated under this church. It's truly amazing to see.
10. Santa Maria del Popolo and Santa Maria della Vittoria - Yes, of Angels and Demons popularity and fame, but also sights of beautiful artwork and statues by Raphael and Bernini.
11. The Pantheon - Temple dedicated to the Gods of Ancient Rome.
12. Piazza Navona - Built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian and home to Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers.
13. The Spanish Steps - Rome's most famous meeting place!
14. Fontana del Tritone by Bernini, situated in Piazza Barberini.
15. Sant'Ignazio - The Jesuit church. Again, absolutely gorgeous. Make sure you look up!
16. Largo di Torre Argentina - Home of all of Rome's stray cats. I'm kidding, but there are a lot. Also home to the remains of Pompey's theatre and a number of Republican temples.
17. The Medici Villa - I've been interested in the Medici family history for a long time, since my gran lent me a book about them. One of the most interesting families you could hope to read about.
10 Top Tips !
Rome is unfortunately known for its pickpockets. Be very vigilant of people around you. We were being surrounded by very dodgy people at one point, when sat in a park, who were eyeing up my bag. We made a swift escape, they followed and then gave up. On this note also avoid Termini station late at night, it's full of beggars and generally dodgy looking people. We had to go and get painkillers as I was feeling awful, were offered drugs, said no and got glared at by a very evil looking chap. Rome is by no means dangerous, but just be sensible.
2. Take sensible shoes.
Yes, ladies, Rome is one of the most fashionable cities in the world, but stiletto's and cobbled streets are never a great mix. Also, you'll be doing a lot of walking. I wore vans and even I struggled.
3. Look for restaurants down side streets, away from the tourist areas.
They're often far better priced, with much better quality food (and wine). I think the only night we ate in a tourist restaurant was in Piazza Navona as you can't really escape them. It was worth it for the scenery and atmosphere.
4. Street Vendor Avoidance.
People will try to sell you things you don't want (selfie sticks, I'm looking at you!!)/sell you flowers/rosaries/lavender. If you want to buy them, go for it, but if you buy from one person, expect a swarm.
5. The train from FCO airport.
The 'Leonardo Express' is reasonably priced, whisks you through the Italian countryside and costs about 1/3 of the price of a taxi/transfer bus.
6. Avoid visiting in summer.
If that's the only time you can go, that's fine, but be aware of how hot the city will be and how busy due to summer holidays. The first time I visited I went in mid October and this time we went in November and it was busy, but manageable. It was also around 23 degrees in November...
Outside the Colosseum are plenty of men dressed as gladiators. Just be aware that they will pose for a photo with you and then charge a fee for the privilege.
8. Buy water from supermarkets
Firstly, it's about 50 cents a bottle instead of 3 euros from a street vendor. Secondly, you get a much bigger bottle. Winner.
9. Fall in love with Rome!
10. Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain
This will ensure that you return to the Eternal City one day!
Who knows, maybe one day I'll end up working for the UN and living there. Well, a girl can dream...