The very last leg of our Europe trip was Rome. This was one of my husband’s top choices, and it was high on my list of places I wanted to visit as well. I mean, my pre-teen Lizzie McGuire dreams had to be satisfied, am I right?
We arrived at the Roma Termini station and walked to our first hotel. We actually stayed in two hotels during our time in Rome; the second was a request of my husband’s. The first was one of the cheapest places we could find in the city–B&B Trinity.
Accommodation Review: B&B Trinity
This hotel is about a 10-15 minute walk from the Termini station and was easy to find with the directions provided. We were greeted by a friendly staff member on our arrival and shown to our room, which was a private double with an ensuite. Everything was clean and comfortable. The room seemed huge! It had air conditioning, which was an added bonus, and free wifi which worked wonderfully in our room.
Breakfast was included in the price, as it is with most B&Bs, and we found it was more of the same that we’d experienced at our other Italian hotels–croissant, those big crouton things, juice, and tea or coffee. It’s actually delivered to your door at a time that you request, which was pretty handy though I suppose if you don’t know what time you’re going to get up the next day it could be a bit of a nuisance.
I will say, the staff were super helpful. My sister-in-law joined us for our last few days in Rome and was going to be arriving late one evening and staying at Trinity. The owner ended up not being able to be there for the late arrival and arranged for another place for her to stay, which was close, and informed us about the change.
We’d highly recommend this as a basic sort of accommodation within easy walking distance of many of the main attractions.
Accommodation Review: Hotel Teatro di Pompeo
Our last night we stayed at Hotel Teatro di Pompeo, which is a higher-end hotel located in the heart of Rome. My husband chose this hotel because it’s supposedly built around the area where Julius Caesar was murdered, and he wanted “to see Caesar’s ghost.” ;) It was a bit expensive, but whatever!
The hotel was almost impossible to find. We knew we were in the right area, but it was tucked into a back alley and we struggled for a long time, having to ask at several different shops and getting different directions from each person we asked. Finally,we arrived and were greeted by a lady who was very nice in giving us tons of warnings about the “gypsies” that were around who would steal everything we had if we gave them half a chance. ;) We thought it was nice that she was looking after the guests’ best interests.
The room was clean with lots of extras like slippers, shoe shining polish, soap, shampoo… We felt like we pretty much got our money’s worth. Breakfast was included in the morning and it was a buffet style with many more options than we’d had the rest of our time in Italy; eggs, meats, yoghurt, various fruits and pastries (and yes, more of those crouton things!). All in all, a good stay, even if we didn’t see Caeasar’s ghost.
Because we didn’t arrive until midday on our first day in Rome, we decided to take it easy and simply did a bit of cursory exploring, scoping out what we would do in the next few days. We walked over to the Colosseum and walked around a bit, buying lunch at one of the MANY vans with the brown overhangs that was parked around. The food there was actually pretty good, and it was only about 4 Euro per sandwich or pizza, which was pretty good value compared to going to a restaurant.
When we’d soaked in our fill and made something of a plan for the next day, we headed back to our hotel for a while. We ended up going back to the Termini station for dinner that night to eat at Ciao Ristorante, a self-service restaurant on the upper floor. We’d become fans of self-service over our time in Italy as we found it was a cheap, easy, no-fuss way to get food (in other words, our favourite way!). We went rather late for us (about 9 p.m.) and there wasn’t a ton of food out. But the chefs made up some pasta and pizza for us which was pretty good, and cheap too!
On the second day we headed out early to go inside the Colosseum. I had heard horror stories about the lines, but it wasn’t bad at all (we were there at probably 9:00 a.m. on a September weekday). It looked a bit intimidating at first, but it moved fast and we ended up standing in line for only about 10 minutes. While we were wandering around the outside, we were set upon by dozens of “tour guides” offering a “skip the line” tour… we weren’t sure if these guys were legit or not and decided it was best to avoid them. We also enjoyed the freedom of wandering around on our own without a tour weighing us down.
I’d say that a visit to the Colosseum is well worth the visit. It was a bit crowded inside, but there was so much history there it was difficult to know where to turn next! We had fun roaming and reading the various plaques and wandering through the museum. Tons of stuff to see!
When we had our fill, we headed up to Palantine Hill and the Roman Forum–these were actually included in our Colosseum tickets. Again, we wandered and read signs and soaked in the history. There was a lot here too, and the setting made for some picturesque photo ops.
It was also really cool to see some of the archaeological digs going on near to here–what I wouldn’t give to be part of that!
After our time in the forum, it was getting to be the hottest part of the day. Rome, we discovered, was ridiculously hot, even nearing the end of September. We headed back to our room to cool off and rest up before our ghost tour that evening.
Worth a mention is our dinner that night, near to where our ghost tour started — Pizzeria Florida on the Largo di Torre Argentina was some of the BEST pizza we had in Italy (and, indeed, our entire lives). It’s pay-by-weight, and we managed a large dinner for under 7 Euro altogether. Tons of different types of pizza, which they change each day (yes, we were back the next day… and the next.) I was satisfied with plain old margherita, while my husband swears by the one with a pumpkin cream sauce. Check it out if you’re in Rome!!
Activity Review: Dark Heart of Rome Walking Tour
This tour was serviced by the same people who did the Dark Heart of Florence walking tour. If you read my last review, you’ll know that I wasn’t hugely impressed by that tour, so I went into the Dark Heart of Rome with some trepidation. However, I found it was MUCH more to my liking. Loved it!
The tour starts just past the Largo di Torre Argentina. Apparently so many people had booked that they split us into two groups. Because we were early, we went with the first group. Our guide was American but had been living in the city for something like six years, so he knew it well. He did warn us that it wasn’t so much a ghost tour as a history tour, which suited me. As we walked around, we heard stories about famous people and not-so-famous people, ghosts, reasons why some things were the way they were in Rome, tips and tricks for getting around the city… we learned SO much and had a great time. Highly recommended!
On our third day, we decided to head to the Vatican. Neither of us is religious at all, but hey–it’s one of those “must sees” right?
We walked all the way there from our hotel, which was quite a walk but we stopped and saw various ruins along the way. The Vatican is gorgeous, lots of pretty buildings. There were priests, nuns, and brides everywhere. Plus, tons of rosaries. I mean, this is the place to be if you’re into that sort of thing!
Confession time, though (see what I did there?) — we didn’t go into the Sistine Chapel. the line was hugely long, it was hot, and we just weren’t feeling it. So, we just wandered around outside for a while. Apparently we had just missed hearing the Pope speak, which would have been a cool. I’m not sure how much notice they give for that sort of thing, but definitely have a look and see if he has any scheduled appearances on the days that you’re there.
On our last day in Rome we met up with my husband’s sister. She had already been to Rome and was really just stopping by to see us on her way to Naples (we live in Australia, but she lives in New York, and it’d been about a year since we’d seen her!). We decided to see a few things we hadn’t seen yet–the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Pantheon.
On our meandering route, we actually found the Pantheon first. It was really neat–a very cool building, and free to walk into. Worth a look on your way past!
The Trevi Fountain was a huge disappointment. Remember what I said about my Lizzie McGuire dreams? Dashed! The Trevi Fountain was empty and there was tons of scaffolding all around it–it was being cleaned as part of a huge Rome clean-up effort (the Colosseum was also partially affected by this, though it was still accessible). So, while I appreciated the clean-up, I was sad that I wasn’t able to toss a coin in the fountain.
The Spanish Steps, to be honest, were a bit underwhelming as well. I don’t know what I was expecting here. The view from the top was really nice, but there were tons of those people with roses and trinkets trying to sell us stuff (word to the wise: it is illegal for them to sell you these things AND it is illegal for you to buy, so don’t do it!).
Okay, so we weren’t quite as lame in Rome as we were in Florence, but we still didn’t see as much as we could have. My husband’s favorite part was the Pizzeria Florida and the Largo di Torre Argentina, where there were tons of cats! I really do recommend that ghost tour we went on–it was really well done. I’d like to go back to Rome one day when we aren’t so exhausted and have another look around. There’s so much to see it seems impossible to see it all in one trip!