When in Rome!
Hi all. I thought I’d share my experience of Rome with you. We were really torn where to go for our first wedding anniversary, can you believe it’s been a year?!? We were debating in the end between our short list of Rome or Venice. We went with Rome after feedback from others and reading up about it. We wanted a shortish flight and just somewhere to go for a few days.
The flight is straight forward, just over 2 hours, they’re an hour in front in Rome. We got a really early flight from Birmingham to Fiumicino and a late flight back. Meaning we’d get 2 nights and 3 full days there. It was tiring getting up so early, but well worth it.
We did a lot of research on hotels, we wanted somewhere central and modern. We finally found a lovely looking 4 star hotel and booked that, it was called the Monti Palace Hotel. We got a pre booked taxi to the hotel from the airport, it took about 30 minutes, 40 euros. Jesus the taxi driver clearly hated his job!!! He was pushing 70 and obviously didn’t want to be driving around Rome anymore. His Merc must of reached over 100mph!! If you’ve ever been to Rome, you’ll know it’s a road rage hot spot!! Everyone beeps at each other and there’s not always road marks! You literally just hope for the best! He must of exhaled heavily over 10,000 times in half an hour lol! He was just like a balloon loudly deflating! Just retire lol!
So we walked in to the hotel and smiled, it looked perfect. Next minute the receptionist took our names then quickly got on the phone. She explained there was a big problem. I knew straight away we wouldn’t be staying there! The third floor was having construction work done and apparently they’d had a flood. They’d closed the entire floor off and there weren’t any other rooms available. We were so tired after a mega early wake up and really didn’t need this. To their credit they called a hotel down the road, same star and walked us and our bags there.
The new hotel was a four star too, but not as modern, not as “us”. They gave us a key and we went to our room. I took one look and went straight back to reception. They’d only put us in a twin room! It’s our first wedding anniversary, there’s no way we were having twin beds lol!! After trying to encourage us to have the room with the beds pushed together, or a double mattress laid over the top, they eventually found 2 other options. Both were upgrades and the other hotel were paying. We ended up on the top floor with a beautiful balcony and a rather spacious room. It wasn’t as modern as the last place we booked, but for 2 nights it was fine. Can’t complain at getting a superior room for the same price really. So not the best start!
Location wise it was brilliant!! The Colosseum was a five minute walk away, as were the Spanish steps and Trevi fountain. The bus stops for the city tours were really close by too. I’d definitely recommend staying in this area. It was the FH Grand Hotel Palatino. Via Cavour 213, Rione Monti, 00184 Rome. Breakfast was ok, it’s a buffet style set up in a really traditional dining room. There were lots of lovely fruits, cereals and a cream cheese like quark bowl. Then cold meats, boiled and scrambled eggs, cakes, cheese, pancakes and then bacon and turkey sausages. These I wouldn’t eat. So you can be on plan if you wanted to. I’d imagine the other hotels are pretty similar. The staff were great, nothing was too much.
So day 1 we set off early and decided to head for the Colosseum first. I was prepared. For the first time ever I took trainers to wear in the day! If you know me, or follow my pages, you’ll know I only do heels! Everyone had said though Rome was not somewhere you could fully explore with heels on! So I gave in and got some new black adidas trainers, I wanted some that would go with black skinny jeans. Best trainers ever!!! They were so comfortable!!!! Link is here http://www.adidas.co.uk/zx-flux-em-shoes/S76499.html. In hindsight I would’ve pre booked tickets to enter the Colosseum, it would of saved queuing! This place is seriously mind blowing! It’s crazy to think how much history it holds. It looks huge from the outside and inside it felt even grander!! We just explored it ourselves, as opposed to a tour. I get bored of listening to the guides and would rather do what we want to do. My husband asked me to name a famous Rome saying, I couldn’t bloody think of one on the spot, so said “Rome is where the heart is” ha ha obviously I remembered them after. Made him giggle.
After this we walked to the Trevi fountains. The Trevi Fountain (Italian: Fontana di Trevi) is a fountain in the Trevi district in Rome, Italy, designed by Italian architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Pietro Bracci. Standing 26.3 metres (86 ft) high and 49.15 metres. The architecture was stunning, it was my favourite place to visit. It doesn’t feel real, I can’t explain it. You feel like you’re having an outer body experience looking at it, trying to take it all in, as it’s just so grand!!! Loved it!!! You can make a wish by throwing a coin in, quite romantic.
We decided that evening to try the Trastevere district, a more medieval area with tons of traditional restaurants. We love a square!! You know the type, a big square with entertainment and loads of restaurants and bars around the edges. I love people watching, in a none creepy way. The one here is quite small, but lovely. There’s another one close by with another fountain. They love a fountain! I didn’t have a great meal this night. In fact my experience of the food overall was pretty poor. I’m all for traditional food, but I need flavour. We went to a variety of restaurants, some more central and near to tourist attractions and some off the beaten track, more hidden away. None were great, the food lacked flavour and for a food optimiser everything was drenched in oil or had cheese. You can ask for neither, but it wasn’t easy or still came with it anyway. I had really high hopes for the food, but I can make tastier pasta dishes myself, for a fraction of the price. Don’t go to Rome if you want cheap and cheerful! A large beer was 10 euros! The restaurants higher up on trip advisor weren’t in the areas we wanted to visit sadly. I can’t rely on reviews online anyway, as it’s all a matter of opinion isn’t it. Chris doesn’t have the same standards as me about food, he eats anything, so was quite happy! If I’m eating out, which I don’t do often, I want it to be amazing. It needs to be worth the syns for me to really enjoy it. Or better than what I can cook myself.
The second day we decided to do the hop on hop off bus tour. It’s worth doing and cost 18 euros. There’s the city tour or the more local tour bus. They go to the same spots, but the local one is cheaper. They run every ten minutes. You can visit the Colosseum, then hop off at the Vatican to visit St Peter’s Basilica and see the Swiss Guards. Pause at Fontana di Trevi to photograph my favourite fountain. Hop off at Piazza Barberini to take the walkway to Spanish Steps or jump off at the Piazza Venezia to visit the Pantheon and Michelangelo’s Piazza del Campidoglio. We decided to jump off where some of the shops were. These were ok, again a bit disappointing. I got a pair of tights! That’s it! Hubby got a gorgeous jacket and some jeans. Not fair! I love shopping, yes even when on holiday. It’s good cardio 😉 There’s a mix of designer, like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany, then high street stores such as Zara.
St. Peter’s was a very unique experience. We couldn’t enter as there was a service going on, thousands and thousands of people had gathered to see the pope! He was actually there giving a service, we saw him on a big screen. It’s like attending a religious concert! Not sure they’d ever allow Beyoncé or Kayne to perform there though. Not many people can say the say the pope!
We stopped off for coffee, we did this a lot!!!!! Don’t expect a large cup, it’s a tiny cup for 4-5 euros each. Hubbie wanted to try some local gelato, these are everywhere!!! He choose a coffee one, chocolate and Nutella! I had to have a little taste, just to check it was ok of course, OMG amaze!! I took an apple from breakfast and a hi fi bar! It’s made in Italy with cream, so mega high syns, but very very nice!
You do walk miles, most days I averaged 20,000 + steps! Sunday we did 28,000! But I don’t see this as a reason to have more syns, it’s just not my style anymore. Sw is a lifestyle change for me. I knew the milk, oil etc would be syns, so decided not to have my own ice cream. Lunch that day, I did my research and wanted to try La Carbonara. It’s more hidden away and had amazing reviews. It used to be a well kept secret, but now people flock there! When we arrived they were fully booked, I was so disappointed. They close Sundays, so we didn’t get to eat there. Make sure you check it out if you go, book ahead though. I ended up with a pasta and meat sauce dish and a side salad, the restaurant we ate in had good reviews, but again I didn’t rate it unfortunately.
That night we decided to try Campo de fiori, a lively area with more nice bars and restaurants. They had a lovely bigger square here. I also finally had a nice meal lol! Hurrah you cry!!! She’s finally happy with her food!!! Played it safe with fillet steak, it had bacon wrapped around it, a red wine sauce, grilled veg and rosemary potatoes. I was so full!! I didn’t drink much while I was away. I haven’t for a while now. I just had some small beers, then water. The beer is gorgeous there!! It’s not a dressy place really, everyone is quite casual. The streets are so cobbled! You could never wear skinny heels!! There’s a big student culture in this area and it comes alive after 10pm. You can drink on the streets in Rome, the age for drinking is also younger. This didn’t bother us though, we were also warned about pick pockets, again didn’t see this luckily. There are a lot of people selling tours and some beggars, but nothing majorly intrusive. The one thing that is majorly noticeable is the amount of smokers. Everyone smoked!!!! As an ex smoker, this was hard!! Coffee, or a glass of wine and a cigarette was something I used to love! I’m also quitting my E cigarette, when I gave up a few years ago I replaced it with one of these. But I think these can be really addictive too. I only use them when I’m driving long distance or drinking. But I’ve not used it now for a few months. So be prepared if you don’t like smoking.
The final day we wanted to explore a market for something different, so we thought we’d try a larger one. The most famous is the flea market, porta portese. It took forever to walk there!!!! We arrived and if you love 1 euro jewellery or tacky key rings, go. If not, don’t, it’s a jumble sale of tat. Sorry, that’s just my opinion. I wouldn’t recommend making the effort to go. The walk however was fascinating, we saw the locals attending church, little hidden pockets of Rome we’d never of seen and some more rougher areas, we really experienced the different sides to the city. We went back to campo for lunch and found a lovely place. I needed flavour, so had pesto pasta, super oily and lots of cheese, but at least it was tasty. I’d burned over 2,800 calories walking, so that’s something. Chris had a pizza, it was ok, not great though. Pizza just doesn’t do it for me anymore. Years ago I loved it, dominos was a hangover Sunday routine before sw! Now it’s just not as good as I remember. I’m good with this though, as it’s so high in syns!
As we had the entire day we went back to St.Peters to go inside. The queue was crazy long though, so we just explored up to the doors and outside it again. After yet more coffee stops we went for an early dinner. After eating so much pasta and not really enjoying it, I needed something different. There are no well known food places in Rome and hardly any alternative foods, which is lovely, but you do get bored. You won’t see a Starbucks, subway, wagamama etc, we didn’t even see a McDonald’s, which is good! We love Asian and Indian food, after searching for ages we found a Chinese place. I know when in Rome it might sound odd to look for somewhere like this, but I needed different flavours and some spice. I had Singapore chicken noodles, again an old fav pre sw. They were really nice!!! That was our last meal, then we flew home late that evening.
Would I go back? No I don’t think so, I think once you’ve seen all the stunning beautiful attractions, it’s done, ticked off. Going back wouldn’t have the same wow factor for me, seeing it for the first time is amazing. I think I’m happier in more modern places. Barcelona is one of my favourite cities. A mix of beaches, sight seeing, shops, markets, swanky bars and traditional tapas. More my thing. Still, I wanted to visit Rome for the culture and experience and we have. Would I preferred Venice. I’m not sure? I’ll need to go to find out for myself I think. Another excuse for a holiday.
Thanks for reading and Happy Fopping xx