Experience Rome with our hand picked travel guide

We first visited Rome in 2013 as part of our first ever Italian Adventure.  We fell in love with the city and want to share with you our thoughts on the best of Rome.   On this first trip we’d spend 3 days exploring the city, taking in the main tourist attractions and finding a few unique things to do before heading to Sicily by overnight ferry which you can read about at the start of our Vulcano Blog Post

The Colosseum rome
The Colosseum rome

How to get to Rome?

Rome is a very popular destination and as such it can be reached from all the main airports in the uk.  After arriving at the airport there’s a regular train service to get you from the airport right into Roma Termini the main train station in the city centre.  Like most city centres with a metro we headed straight for that and Rome’s underground system is pretty straightforward and all areas of the city and all the main attractions of Rome can be reached from the central station Roma Termini. 

If your not into flying you can drive there or take the train although these options will take longer and will be more expensive. If you are already in Italy you can reach rome via public transport, Italy has an excellent train network. Check out our 2 guides here that have some great information:

Andiamo Amigos Italy Travel Guide – How to get there & explore

Travel Resources – guides for trains, planes and so much more

Where did we stay in Rome? 

We’ve been to Rome a few times and the times when we actually stayed in the city,  our hotels were really good value for money and pretty centrally located.

Hotel Boccaccio is an Ecoworld hotel and like a lot of hotels its an old townhouse that’s been converted into rooms and let by the owner. It was really central, near the Trevi fountain and had beautiful high ceilings and big expansive windows and was perfect for our first stay.

We didn’t have an en suite in the room but the bathroom was just down the hall and adequate. The bed was incredibly comfortable and the hostess was lovely.

There was a good selection of guides available and the hotel owner allowed us to leave our luggage on the final day so we could explore some more before leaving the city. 

On another trip we chose Li Rione Bed & Breakfast because of its location to one of the sights that we wanted to see, the Basilica di San Clemente.  Even better it was also right next to the Colosseum and the metro station.  We had a double room with an en suite and there was a terrace outside the breakfast room which you could actually see the Colosseum.   One of the things we loved about this hotel as well as it being great value for money was the old fashioned lift to take us up to the landing where our room was. 

When in Rome…what did we get up to?

Everyone knows the famous sites in Rome but let us give you our take on them.

The Colosseum  

An absolutely magical site that you have to go to and have to go in however don’t be duped by joining a tour.  You don’t need to be part of a tour as that will cost you an arm and a leg.  Its much better just to have a wander round and there are plenty of signage in several languages so you’ll know exactly what you’re looking at.    If you’ve got a guide book then that will be a good point of reference too.   As with most sights – get there as early as possible before the crowds and tour buses. 

The Parthenon  

This is Chris’s favorite building and it is incredible.  Built around 113 AD its the oldest building in Rome and when you get up close you can see history in the cracks, the colouration and the bullet holes.  It has the biggest brick dome in the history of architecture.  When inside, look up as its a fabulous view.  Oh and its free to enter. 

The best of Rome
The Pantheon Rome
The Trevi Fountain 

This fountain, in the Trevi district in Rome is probably one of the most iconic sights in Rome.  Designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Giuseppe Pannini and several others. Standing 26.3 metres high and 49.15 metres wide, it is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world.  When we visited we noticed a door open at the side and snuck in and saw some of the inner workings behind the fountain, shhhhhhh! 

The Spanish Steps  

The Spanish Steps are a set of 135, yes we counted them, of steps. Named the Spanish Steps as the Piazza di Spagna is at the foot of the steps and the Spanish Embassy is there.  We liked to see the Spanish Steps in the evening, all lit up, with the fountain at the bottom.  Yep the evening was really special. 

Spanish Steps Rome
Spanish Steps Rome
The Forum 

A forum was a public square in a Roman municipal area reserved primarily for the vending of goods;.  Its a marketplace, along with the buildings which were used for shops and the streets would have had open stalls.   

Piazza Navona (My Favorite Piazza, Ever!) 

Rome is filled with Piazzas but this one has a special place in my heart mainly because its built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian built in the 1st Century AD.a public open space in Rome, Italy.

It is built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian, built in the 1st century AD.  At the top end of the square you’ll find the Stadium of Domitian museum and its really worth a visit.

  • visit the underground levels of Piazza Navona, first opened to the public in 2014
  • descend 5 metres beneath street level into the excavations, at the time of the Roman Empire;
  • admire the ancient ruins of the first and only masonry stadium in Roman history;
  • learn more about the history of the Stadium/Piazza Navona/ancient Roman sports.
Piazza Navona Rome
Piazza Navona Rome
Explore the Appian Way by bike 

We hired bikes and spent the day exploring the Appian Way – Rome’s ancient road. 12km of Roman Road leading out of the city.  Completely traffic free with some great historical sights to see along the way.  Click here to find out more and how you can do that too.

Rome’s pyramid – Pyramid of Caius Cestius

Did you know the city of Rome had a pyramid?  No, well, it does and its smack bang in the middle of a busy intersection. The Pyramid of Cestius was most likely built between 18 and 12 BC. The 36 meter (about 120 feet) high pyramid was built as a tomb for a wealthy Roman who was enchanted with all things Egyptian.  No one knows who that Roman man was. So if you want a peek inside an Egyptian pyramid in Rome it’ll cost you approx €5.50 

Vicus Caprarius-the Water City

Here you’ll find the remains of a Roman house & aqueduct at an archaeological site 9 meters below modern street level. If you’ve visited Rome then you’ll most definitely have stood in front of the Trevi Fountain with your selfie stick trying to get the most perfect photo.  You may have even thrown a coin into the water and made a wish but I’ll be you didn’t stop and wonder where the water came from or where it went after flowing through the fountain.   When you visit the Vicus Caprarius you’ll find out. 

Once you’ve paid your €3 you’ll make your way down the ramp to the excavation area where there are information boards and ancient artefacts including Afrian amphore and a bowl full of ancient coins. It really is a superb attraction and at €3 its fantastic value for money.

Stadium of Domitian Piazza Navona

On the corner of Piazza Navona is the museum and ancient ruins of the Stadium of Domitian. The stadium was on the site of the Piazza and could hold approx 30000 people who came to witness all sorts of events. 

What you’ll see underground
  • The different  underground levels of Piazza Navona.
  • See the ancient ruins of the first and only masonry stadium in Roman history;
  • Information boards  about the history of the Stadium and the ancient Roman sports that took place here.

The entrance price €8.50 provides you with an audio guide that leads you through the exhibits and illustrative and informative panels. It takes around 45 mins to visit all the exhibits. 

Stadium Domitian
Stadium Domitian Piazza Navona

Make sure you have the Vatican on your Rome itinerary – Here’s 5 cool Vatican facts 

 
Cool fact number 1 – The Vatican City Is The World’s Smallest Country

It sits in just over 100 acres and is the smallest country in the world.  Its status as a sovereign city-state is recognised under international law.  Approximately 800 individuals live within Vatican City, including the Pope, and around 450 people hold citizenship. 

Cool fact number 2 – It Is Home To The Largest Religious Building In The World

St Peter’s Basilica (Basilica di San Pietro) in Vatican City is the largest religious building in the world, covering an area of 227,065 square feet. The magnificent dome of St Peter’s Basilica was designed by Michelangelo and based on Brunelleschi’s Duomo in Florence. 

Cool fact number 3 – The Ceiling In The Sistine Chapel Took 4 Years To Paint

Perhaps the most famous work of art by Michelangelo, the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel is one of the main draws to Vatican City. Painting began in 1508, but the Renaissance master had to take a year-long break in 1510 due to the toll of such a monumental project. Michelangelo eventually completed the 12,000-square-feet frescoed ceiling in 1512. To this day, his work of genius inspires the millions of visitors, pilgrims, and artists who visit Vatican City each year.

Vatican Rome
Vatican Rome
Cool fact number 4 – The Vatican’s Popularity Is A Threat To Its Artwork

Vatican City attracts more than 20,000 visitors per day during the summer, which is an inordinate amount for such a small place! To protect its most precious work of art—Michelangelo’s ceiling in the Sistine Chapel—the Vatican has had to limit the number of people permitted to enter the chapel to 6 million per year. This is because dust, carbon dioxide, and body sweat all pose a significant threat to this historic and delicate masterpiece. Climate control systems were also introduced to filter the air inside the chapel.

Cool fact number 5 – It Has Its Own Post Office And Bank

Vatican City has its own passports, postal service and stamps, bank and euro, telephone system, radio station, pharmacy, and national football team! The postal service is actually one of the most efficient in the world, so much so that many Romans go there specifically to post their mail. In 2000, the Vatican adopted the euro as its official currency. It is also permitted to mint its own euro coins, which are legal tender throughout the eurozone. The Vatican Bank ATMs instruct users in Latin, so when the display reads “inserito scidulam quaeso ut faciundam cognoscas rationem”, you are being prompted to insert your card!

St Pauls Cathedral Rome
St Pauls Cathedral Rome

Rome – a foodies paradise 

Any trip to Italy has to involve food and our first trip to Rome we immersed ourselves into the most fabulous food. We did however make a mistake on our first night there and ended up in a tourist trap restaurant where the food was not that great but it taught us a valuable lesson. We didn’t finish our meal, paid and left to find something more authentic. Its a good idea to do a little research on where you’d like eat, what type of food you’d like to eat and ask at the hotel for something authentically Italian.  Ask the hotel staff where they like to eat for a meal out.

Best Gelato in town, Rome
Best Gelato in town, Rome
Here’s a couple of places where we absolutely loved:

Roscoli Salumeria con cucina – Our first recommendation. One of the other things we really wanted to do whilst visiting rome this time is visit a restaurant that was reputed to be the home of carbonara.  Somewhere that you could get the most authentic carbonara in Italy.  Roscioli Salumeria con cucina and we weren’t disappointed.  

The restaurant had appeared on a British television show Rome Unpacked which shows the presenters visiting and enjoying the carbonara. So we put it on our to-visit list.  

The restaurant was small and we had to book and we booked to sit up at the bar and that was the best choice.  We could see the staff at work preparing starters and desserts and drinks and our meal was amazing.  So good we even bought their cookbook to add to our collection. We would definitely recommend this restaurant and when we’re back in Rome, we’d absolutely go back here.  Oh and just to note, we always make our carbonara this way, so delicious. 

Another restaurant we’d recommend was over the river in Trastevere and was called Il Ciak. It was a steak restaurant but had all the Italian specialities you’d expect to find in a traditional trattoria. The service was impeccable and the waiter helped us order explaining what each dish was and how it was prepared. We opted for our usual meats and cheeses to start with and then we had pasta followed by desserts. It all was delicious.

Also in Trastevere was a fantastic little bakery, Biscottificio Artigiano Innocenti.  Here you’ll find a vast array of really unique biscuits and pastries.  All the equipment and shop fittings looked like it had come right out of the 50’s and its well worth a visit if you’re there.

You can’t visit Rome without having a Gelato and the best place we found was Gelateria Valentino. Great Gelato, Great Flavours, Great Service and best of all it was round the corner from our hotel. Result !

The Carbonara Mamma Mia
Roscoli Salumeria Carbonara

Our view

Rome has so much to offer it is almost overwhelming.  Make sure you have a plan. Decide roughly what do you want to see and do while you’re there?  Three days is enough to visit most of the main sites and to get an overview of the city.   We think though you will be back as the more you visit the city the more of hidden Rome you will find.

Booking resources for your trip

Flights

You can compare cheap flights on the Expedia platform or here on the Aviasales website.  Both will give you a good idea of how much its going to cost you to get to your chosen destination.

Accommodation

We have always tended to use Booking.com having said that if your on a tight budget another good site to try as a comparison is Hostelworld, If your looking to compare different sites you can do that on Hotellook, we tend to look on here first to make sure we are getting the best deal.

Tours & Tickets

You can book your visits as you go at the entrance to your chosen attraction or site.  Or you could use the following links to book in advance or just to find out what your choices are in the area. GetYourGuide and Tiqets are our go to choices you could try Viator to see how they compare.

For a full list check out our resources page. Don’t forget always shop around to find the best deal for you. What works for us should be good for you but it’s always reassuring to check.

Some of the links on this page contain affiliate marketing links, which means we may get paid commission on sales of those products or services we write about. You will never be charged a fee for shopping through one of our affiliate links. You may even get a discounted rate and we will make a small commission. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships.

A selection of posts from our travels

2 thoughts on “Experience Rome with our hand picked travel guide”

  1. Since the first time I visited Rome, I`ve always said everyone is supposed to be lucky emough to visit Rome and Italy as a whole once in their life time.
    Lucky for me, it takes me less than an hour flight to be in Milan,Venice,Rome and most italian cities so my summers are always spent in Italy.

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