When in Rome! The last stop of our trip where Matt and I spent 3 days in Rome (here you can see more from our Barcelona, Florence and Tuscany stops). Rome has always been on my bucket list ever since I saw Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s movie, When in Rome. It had always seemed so romantic, fun and full of history. It did not disappoint! Here is how we spent our 3 days in Rome.
Matt and I rented a car in Siena a few days prior to leaving to explore Tuscany. We actually had bus tickets but decided at the last minute to just drive from Siena to Rome. The drive from Siena to Rome is about 2 1/2 hours but we decided to stop and explore a little bit. At the half way point, we decided to stop in Orvieto, Italy.
This medieval city is perched on a rock cliff located in Umbria. When we were approaching the city from the highway, it reminded me of a medieval city from a Disney movie. We didn’t understand the parking so we just parked on the side of a street. I am pretty sure we weren’t allowed to park on the side of the street. I would definitely recommend parking in the parking lots outside of the walls of the city. Besides the parking situation the city was great! There were few tourists and it was relatively quiet.
We walked around the city a bit, grabbed an espresso and then decided to have lunch. We decided to sit outside at this cute restaurant down a side road called Trattoria dell’Orso. This was definitely the top 3 favorite meals we had our whole trip! Matt ordered the cacio e pepe and I ordered the black truffle pasta. I am not a huge fan of truffles but fresh truffles are nothing like the “truffle” dishes we get in the United States. They are so mild and delicious. I could eat fresh truffles all day long!
After lunch, we decided that we needed to walk off our pasta so we stopped by the Orvieto Cathedral. It was beautiful like all of the Roman Catholic Cathedrals around Europe. The detail and mosaic work is insane!
Arrived in Rome
When we arrived into Rome, I couldn’t wait to get rid of the rental car. Driving in Rome was crazy! The motorbikes share a lane with the cars and there are tons of them. Every 5 feet I thought we were going to hit someone, it was nerve wracking. Once we checked into the hotel, we decided to walk around and explore a bit.
The Spanish Steps was our first stop. The 135 steps connecting the Spanish Embassy and Trinita dei Monti church was extremely busy! We sat on the steps for a little while and just people watched. It is a great people watching place but if you don’t love tons of people, I would recommend heading here later in the evening or earlier in the morning.
After the Spanish Steps, we headed to the Trevi Fountain. The Trevi Fountain is one of the oldest water sources in Rome. Beautiful but again, so so busy! This was busiest place I’ve ever seen with tons of people everywhere. Matt and I each threw a coin into the fountain, made a wish and moved onward. I would also recommend seeing this early morning or later in the evening.
Next we headed to the Pantheon. The Pantheon was the temple to all Gods and the best preserved Ancient Roman monument. Even the original marble floors still remain. The Pantheon is free to enter and a beautiful place. The inside is actually a dome but the outside looks flattened. I didn’t know I was in the same building when I entered, it was cool and beautiful!
After we walked around and saw some of the popular sites, we headed to the Trastevere Neighborhood. This neighborhood was our favorite part of Rome. This is a local neighborhood of Rome, filled with great restaurants and shops. We ate dinner at Grazia & Graziella. While we waited in line for a table, everyone was given a glass of prosecco which was a nice touch. We ordered the French Fries Cheesy & Peppery, Funghi pizza, Crispy Roman Artichoke and of course a bottle of wine. The food was good but it felt more like a “hipster” Italian restaurant instead of the typical authentic Italian restaurant we were used to while in Italy.
Campo de Fiori
We headed to Campo de Fiori market first thing in the morning. It is a market right in the city with lots of fresh juices, pasta and produce. We purchased some fruit and fruit juices and ate them as a snack while we wandered around. There are a lot of restaurants around here too.
After wandering around the market, we were starving! We decided to try this restaurant owned by the same family since 1936 called Felice a Testaccio. When we started to walk to the restaurant, we didn’t realize that we were walking to a whole different area of the city. We probably should have taken a taxi but it worked out. This restaurant was a pleasant surprise! The restaurant was full when we walked in at lunch time and all the food looked amazing. The restaurant is known for the “cacio e pepe” and it was the best pasta I’ve ever had! It was so good and done perfectly. A family owned restaurant done perfectly.
After lunch, we walked back to the Trastevere Neighborhood and stayed there the rest of the day. We found a restaurant where we sat outside, drank wine and talked. After wine, we stopped to get some gelato and went back to the hotel to call it a night.
The reason Matt wanted to come to Rome…the Colosseum! He is obsessed with any Gladiator movie so he was so excited to see it. This is the largest amphitheater in the world and though 2/3’s of it was destroyed by vandalism, earthquakes and fire, it is amazing to see! We headed there first thing in the morning, right when it opened. I would HIGHLY recommend getting there first thing in the morning due to crowds and the hot sun. We purchased tickets when we were there and the line wasn’t too long, we waited 20 minutes. We are not the tour guide type of people so we wandered around ourselves. I would definitely recommend reading up on The Colosseum before seeing it too. It is a must-see when in Rome.
After the Colosseum, we headed to Vatican City. Vatican City is the smallest country in the world, encircled by a 2-mile border within Italy (Rome). We knew it was going to be busy because we arrived right before lunchtime. When we entered the museum, it was incredibly busy with tour guides with their groups of tourists. I felt like we were weaving in and out of people throughout the whole museum. Keep in mind the museums are not air conditioned. Minus the tons of tourists, the artwork and sculptures were amazingly beautiful.
We headed to the Sistine Chapel after we were finished with the museum. The Sistine Chapel is most famous for Michelangelo’s frescoes and it was spectacular, like something I’ve never seen before! Pictures are not allowed inside the Sistine Chapel. Matt and I could have stood there all day and just studied Michelangelo’s work. Make sure to stop into the gift shop and pick up some rosaries! Next time, I would do the Colosseum one morning and the Vatican City another morning. These are definitely 2 places you want to get to right when it opens.
Roman Ghetto (or Jewish Ghetto)
After the Vatican City, we headed to the Roman/Jewish Ghetto for lunch. This was another one of our favorite parts of the city and it happens to be one of the oldest parts of the city too. We decided to sit outside at Nonna Betta and enjoy lunch and some (or lots) of wine. We ordered the roman artichoke, fried mozzarella to start which were both very good. Matt ordered the gnocchi with lamb sauce and I ordered the cacio e pepe (because I’m obsessed) and both were good! After lunch, we wandered around and shopped a bit. They have the most amazing handmade Italian handbags! I would definitely recommend purchasing a handbag while in Italy.
Matt and I LOVED our whole entire trip to Italy. Even though we spent a few days in each location, it was the perfect trip. When in Rome (and all over Italy), make sure to enjoy wine everywhere you go! Eat all the pasta and soak in all the romance! CIAO! We miss you already, Italy!
A HUGE thank you to Caitlin Hoffmann founder of Wandering Eye Co. for your amazing recommendations and help planning this great trip! She did an absolutely amazing job! I highly recommend her services. We wouldn’t have had the experience we did without her help.