Truth to be told, when Rich first suggested we go to Rome for my birthday, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic. I had been to the eternal city before and although I loved it, I have a loooong list of places where I want to go so I was keen to adventure somewhere new. But then I remembered the hot Mediterranean sun, the gelato, the incredible architecture and I was kinda sold again.
What was interesting this time around is that it felt completely different from the previous time I went. Probably because the last time, it was part of a school trip and we had a strict itinerary. This time, there was a lot of getting lost in cobbled streets gelato in hand, sitting at the terrace of cafes, exploring magnificent historic sites, dining al fresco, drinking wine. It was all I needed to recharge my batteries before heading back to work.
If you ever decide to go, here are some tips/recommendations:
/EAT & DRINK/
For a gelato – Gelateria Venchi (Via della Croce, 25-26, Roma), Gelateria Della Palma (Via della Maddalena, 19-23, Roma) and Gelateria Del Teatro (Via dei Coronari, 65-66, Roma)
For an aperitivo – La Locanda del Prosciutto (Via del Gesù, 81, Roma). They have the most amazing cheese & meat board and a great selection of wine. Need I say more?
For a pizza – Parione (Via di Parione, 38, Roma). It doesn’t look like much from the outside but the piazzas were just spot on.
/SEE & DO/
Colosseum – you can’t possibly go to Rome without visiting one of its most iconic landmarks. Try to go early to avoid the queues. You’ll still need a fair amount of imagination once you’re in there to visualise what it looked like before and what it must have felt like for the gladiators and the crowd but I still think it’s worth it.
Pantheon – this was my personal favourite. It’s a church although it doesn’t look like one at all and it has this incredible circular opening in the dome. A must see! And it’s free to visit. If one day, it’s raining, please go for me. The opening in the dome is never closed, which means that when it’s raining out site, it’s also raining inside the church. I would have loved to see that.
Villa Borghese – the parks around the villas are gorgeous. It’s perfect to escape the heat of the city. Make sure you to go through the Pincio Hill Gardens and Piazzale Napoleone I for beautiful views across Rome’s rooftops.
Via Margutta (where they filmed Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn) – probably my favourite streets in the city. It’s ivy-draped, with artists selling their paintings on the street.
Via dei Condotti & around – for a spot of Italian retail therapy (or window shopping) near the Spanish steps.
Sit down at the terrace of a cafe and do some people-watching. Best spots are on Piazza Navona, Piazza del Popolo and Piazza di Spagna.
Early evening, make your way to the Trastevere neighbourhood for drinks, aperitivo and dinner. I really enjoyed going there early morning for a coffee as well when it was still quiet.
Stock up on fresh produce to bring back home at the Campo de’ Fiori market. I can’t remember the name but there is also a very cute shop just by the market. It’s like a deli/butcher’s shop.
Unless you’re 100% comfortable walking in heels all day long on cobbled streets, forget about the 4-inch high killer sandals you were thinking of taking with you. Go for a couple of pairs of pretty yet comfortable flat shoes like Converse trainers and sandals for the day and if you want to bring one pair of heels for evenings, go for a sturdy low heel. Also, you’ll want a minimum of two pairs of flat shoes because trust me, you’ll need to interchange them every day. I don’t think my feet have ever hurt this much before and you know me, I mostly wear flat shoes. And I’m used to walking a lot.
Also, it gets hot, probably hotter than you think. It was 30 degrees when we were there and it was only early May. So forget about skinny jeans. Go for cute dresses and jumpsuits/rompers instead or a bunch of skirts and tops you can mix and match. If you’re planning on visiting the Vatican or some of the churches, you’ll need a kimono or something to cover your shoulder and cleavage. Do pack a jacket for the evening. Temperatures do go down even if they get as high as 30 during the day.
Don’t forget the sunglasses, sunscreen and blister plasters. Trust me, you’ll need them.
Get up & Go with Travelodge – Brighton edition