We decided that we had to visit this romantic city as a part of our honeymoon. With it being my second visit but the first for Cam, I was so excited to jump into playing tour guide and show him all the magic of Roma (gelato in hand, of course).
Our flights in were delayed and we ended up losing an entire day, but that didn’t dampen our spirits. We landed early in AM after a quick stop over in Munich from Hong Kong – not the most direct route, I know – and headed straight to our hotel to check in.
We stayed at Hotel Manfredi a smaller boutique style hotel within walking distance to the Spanish Steps. The staff were so friendly and flexible with our late arrival, they made sure our stay was a memorable one (Grazie Mille for the champagne and strawberries!)
The area around the hotel is sleepy in the mornings, once you head out and down the cobble stone street you’ll see a few tiny cafes open offering espresso to get your day started. Grab it to go with a prosciutto baguette and window shop the designer boutiques until you hit the piazza.
Jet lag was creeping in but we decided to power through and head to the Vatican. The lines were astronomical (we were visiting peak season) we saw this from the cab when we were heading to the hotel. We managed to book our tickets online before we got there and printed them off at the hotel. I really recommend getting there early and pre booking your tickets. There is nothing worse than feeling like you’re losing half your day standing about in line getting stabbed by someones pushy elbows. The hallways are lined with paintings and statues, the audio guides will give you a description of almost every piece… if you have the time to stop and listen to them all.
Vatican Museum tick
Raphael Room tick
Sistine Chapel tick
St Peters Square tick
Amazed and exhausted it was time for an Aperol Spritz!
We powered through the “must see’s” stopping along the way to enjoy a coffee or a wine with an anti pasti board and sit back and watch the Italian world go by. We wandered from the Colosseum through the Roman Forum, down along the Tiber (or Tevere in Italian), saw the Pantheon, watched the sunset from a bar at the top of the Spanish Steps and made our way back to the hotel via the Trevi Fountain.
We headed out to St Peters Basilica in the morning of our second day. I think this is the longest period of time that both Cam and I have just been totally silent. The place is mesmerising and overwhelmingly spiritual. We could have spent hours in there.
Cam’s best man arrived in that morning too (perfect timing!) from Hong Kong for an overnight so after he had a nap we decided we would meet up in Piazza Navona. Evan and I were in debate (not unlike us) over the best coffee in Rome so we decided to put them both to the test. I had raved about Sant’Eustachio Cafe for months to Cam so we headed there first. An espresso or two were downed and we headed over to the spot that Ev claimed to be superior (I can’t remember the name of it sorry Ev!). We decided that they were both amazing – how can you really go wrong with coffee in Rome?
We played like locals and wandered the streets for a while before heading to a rooftop wine bar for pre dinner drinks. There we met an interesting man who had spent the last few months walking.. yep walking. He shared some stories and as the sun was setting we said our goodbyes headed over the Ponte Sisto and into Trastevere for dinner.
Trastevere is by far my favourite spot in Rome. It’s known for its younger crowds and local style restaurants. As soon as the sun goes down, Trastevere comes to life. The district is somewhat of a labyrinth and its easy to get lost but if you head towards Piazza Di Santa Maria and down Via Del Moro you’re bound to find a buzzing restaurant or bar. We settled in with a couple of bottles of wine, some amazing pasta and conversation driven by jet lag. This was by far one of the best nights we had!
If you’re heading to Rome and only have a few days to enjoy the city, make sure you :
Colosseum & Pantheon, Spanish Steps & Trevi Fountain – Toss a coin in the fountain with your left hand over your right shoulder. One coin means you will return to Rome, two coins for love and three for marriage… or so the legend goes.
Test your honesty at the Bocca della Verita (Mouth of Truth) – People believed that the mouth of the marble face would close if anyone put his hand in it and told a lie. Those who were believed to have committed adultery or perjury were brought here once upon a time.
Campo di Fiori – come early in the morning and experience the bustling fresh produce markets or pull up a chair in a cafe with and espresso and absorb the Italian culture.
Visit Villa Borghese – Wander the gardens and visit the gallery.
Get lost in Trastevere
The Vatican City
Don’t forget to eat where the locals are, the big, shiny restaurants aren’t always the best. Try to avoid August as this is when most of the locals leave the city for their vacations so a lot of places are closed. It’s also one of the hottest months.
Oh and gelato… it goes with everything!