The same friends that needed tips on Paris, are also going to find themselves in Rome. Having been there too (yes, I do like to reminisce. Really? Have you not realised by now?) I thought I’d share my highlights and tips with them on this fabulous city too. Rome isn’t exactly known for it’s wine, but I did find myself drinking a fair amount while I was there (that shouldn’t really come as a surprise either).
I’m only mentioning the sights that are worth seeing if you’ve never been there before. You can spend days and days in Rome. But here are my highlights. If you’re not interested in sights, make sure you visit Antica Enoteca (near the spanish steps and mentioned below). Amazing!
1. The Collosseum is probably the most impressive ruin you’ll see in Europe. Grand statement – I hope it lives up to it. I was blown away.
The Q’s in Rome are a nightmare though and that especially includes the big attractions. You can get a ticket to the Colloseum at Palantine Hill which allows you entry into both attractions (although don’t bother with Palatine if you have limited time) and there’s hardly a queue at Palatine Hill. So head over there, get your ticket and head back to the Collosseum.
These directions may help to The Palatine Hill ticket office. If you stand with your back to the Colosseum Metro with the Colosseum on your left and the Arch of Constantine in front of you, you will see an old cobbled road (Via Sacra) on your right. Go up there, pass to the left of the Arch of Titus and you will come to the ticket office. Usually there is no queue here. Once you have your ticket, go back to the Colosseum, where you can bypass all the people in the queue (they will be waiting to buy their ticket, not waiting to get in), put your ticket in the turnstile and away you go.
Do an audio tour or an actual tour of the Colloseum if you can – and if you’re into history. If you’re not – skip this tip. Hmm, maybe skip the Colloseum then too.
2. We had the most amazing carpaccio at Cavour 313 (which is close to the Colloseum and obviously why I mention it at this point). In fact, the cover photo of my blog was taken here! It is my idea of heaven. Wine bottles everywhere. When you order your bottle, they reach up into the open rafters above you and bring it down with a long hook type thing. Every wine imagineable. It was awesome. Try the boar carpaccio if you’re daring! Closest station is Colloseo (and address is Via Cavour 313).
3. The Vatican, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.
The first tip for this attraction if you go, is make sure your knees and your shoulders are properly covered. They won’t let you in at all unless they are!
The second is… well, you’ll get there and realise there’s a HUGE queue (you seeing a trend here?). There will be a few art student type tour guides who walk around and sell their services to guide you through the museums and talk you through all the art. Not only this, but with them – you skip the Q so it’s worth joining one of these tours. Keep your flash off in the Sistine Chapel – and be sneaky as its completely illegal to take photos. Its exquisite though!
At St Peter’s buy the ticket that allows you to climb all the way to the top (550 stairs) but worth it. Also don’t miss the toe on the bronze statue of St Peter – worn down by years of kisses (quote: lonely planet)!
Doing all of this will take a full day!! If you’re going to choose only one of these three, pick St Peter’s.
4. I loved the Pantheon. And especially as it was also part of the Dan Brown movies, it’s pretty cool to see. But we visited before Dan Brown rocked to superstardom and when Rome was just referred to as ‘not being built in a day’. Visit it if you have time. Architecturally its a goodie.
5. Indulge in the BEST Gelato at Giolitti (Via Uffici del Vicario 40, 00186 Rome) as Audrey Hepburn did in “Roman Holiday”. Try something different here! Everything is sensational. The Q is worth it and it moves quickly don’t worry.
Directions: Follow Via Del Pantheon (right side of Pantheon, facing it from its front), which after 100 m becomes via della Maddalena. About 200m further you will get to Via Degli Uficci del Vicario. Turn right, you’ll find Giolitti on your left.
6. The Spanish steps is an awesome way to people watch in the masses and in the sun. Everyone does it. It’s pretty cool. Also its right at the top of the road that has the best shops. If thats what you fancy doing in Rome (all designer labels).
7. Whats even cooler is this wine bar just down the road from the steps called Antica Enoteca (an enoteca is a wine shop or wine bar. If I ever open a wine bar I’d call it Enoteca).
It’s this gorgoues wine bar with a looooong bar where you can sample wines and get tipsy. Probably the highlight of my trip to Rome.
Via del Corso (metro: Spagna)
8. The best tip we were given about Rome is the “apertivo hour”. Between 6 – 9pm some bars offer buffets free if you order a drink. Yep, have a drink at the bar and you get a whole host of goodies for free. Enough for dinner! We went to Gusto and were impressed (granted at the time we were budget type travellers). It’s up in sort of the same area near the Spanish steps etc.
The address: Piazza Augusto Imperatore 9.
9. Trevi Fountain
You’ve seen it in the movies and also in that cheesey Pizza ad on TV. This is the Fountain that if you toss a coin (backwards over your shoulder just for effect) it ensures a return visit to Rome one day (hmm… hasn’t happened for me yet). Ofcourse, maybe I’m re-visiting Rome just by writing this. Fate, destiny and serendipity are weird like that.
Its a crazy piazza – the fountain is beautiful but there are thousands of people pushing to get their moment (plus photo) with the fountain. Its nice though…
And that’s Rome!