There is going to be a heavy Italian theme to my travel blog over the the next few months, based on an impending trip to Naples, Sorrento and Capri and the possibility of a return to the Italian Lakes later in the year.
So where better place to kick start this Italian odyssey than the capital, Rome.
Enjoy the photos from our recent-ish trip, and hopefully there'll be a few useful tips in there.
And as we discovered, it's all about the food.

The Colosseum, Rome

We arrived at the small but perfectly formed Ciampino airport, and whilst it may not have the extensive travel links of the bigger Fiumicino airport there's a bus that runs every 20 minutes that will drop you in the centre of Rome at the Termini station.
Our hotel was walking distance from Termini, in sight of the Colosseum, and what first struck us was how quiet it was, quite the opposite of what we were expecting.
But it was early on a Sunday, and this very Catholic country still keeping that day sacred made for a serene introduction to Rome. It didn't stay that way for long!


This was our first trip to Rome and there is a lot to see.
On our first morning we hit the Vatican Museum early. We had pre-booked the earliest tickets available but arrived even earlier and found (contrary to the published opening times) the museum open. So we enjoyed a relatively quiet stroll round the incredible corridors and rooms, including the Sistine chapel, and were back outside grabbing a coffee by 9.30am. We tried not to feel too smug gazing at the outrageous queues that had formed whilst we were inside.

Vatican Museum, Rome

Vatican Museum, Rome

The Vatican Square is an impressive spectacle and from there we walked along the river Tiber taking in the sights. We crossed at Ponte Cavour to climb the famous Spanish steps and took in the city views at from Borghese park above Piazza del Popolo.
We walked back all the way down Via del Corso, window shopping at some of the most expensive shops in the world. And there were a few diversions to see the Pantheon, a remarkable space. And not forgetting the Trevi Fountain, which has to be one of the busiest squares in the world. It was groaning under the sheer numbers of tourists. And this was a fresh day in January.

Trevi Fountain, Rome

We clocked up sixteen miles walking on first day in the capital, running on enthusiasm and excitement, it was fabulous, but we were exhausted.

Souvenirs, Rome

And it maybe explained why we struggled to surface the following day and arrived at the Colosseum a little later than planned. Subsequently it was starting to get very busy. So much so, that when contemplating the second part of the Colosseum experience, the Forum, we opted to give it a miss and head instead for the Edward Hopper exhibition at the Complesso del Vittoriano, which was superb and no doubt inspired countless future trips in search of lighthouses.

Edward Hopper exhibition at the Complesso del Vittoriano, Rome

By day three our walking exploits were starting to catch up with us so decided to make use of the decent tram network that serves Rome and save on shoe leather.
We crossed the river Tiger on tram number 3 to Trastevere and had a wander around this lovely area, which was  far from the maddening crowds, and a world away from the hectic centre of the city.
The walk up to Janiculum Hill was a lovely way to spend a morning and offered wonderful views of Rome. It isn't one of the 7 hills of Rome, although is sometimes called the 8th!

Frozen fountain, Janiculum Hill, Rome

And then we came across a wonderful surprise, that we hadn't picked up on our research (why would you research lighthouses when planning a trip to Rome?), perched on the top of Gianicolo hill was a splendid lighthouse that was a complete surprise and absolutely made our day.
The Faro del Gianicolo was a gift from the Italian community in Argentina, and further reading revealed it overlooks the Regina Coeli prison. Apparently this vantage point was taken advantage of by the relatives of the prisoners to communicate with their incarcerated relatives. As long as the messages were deemed important this was until recently, tolerated by the police!

Faro del Gianicolo, Rome

Back in Trastevere we ate lunch at Tonnarello, a large bustling restaurant, which had the tardis-like quality which we were becoming accustomed to in Rome. Restaurants from the street could sometimes be difficult to identify. There would just be a simple, small sign and innocuous door, which would then open to reveal a grand eaterie, usually noisy and busy, belittling it's humble entrance.

In restaurant Tonnarello the speciality starter of the speciality of fried artichoke was incredible, with the textures and flavours of almost perfect battered fish. It was simply unbelievable! Follow that up with superb meatballs and red wine, and you are fully deserving of an afternoon nap.

And then it was over, a longer weekend evaporated in a haze of historic Goliaths, red wine and simply wonderful pizza- How does it taste that good??!!

So despite the history and the incredible sights that greet you around every corner in Rome, for us the highlight was undoubtedly the food. Do a little research, drop back a couple of streets from the main tourists routes and you will find incredible pasta and pizza demanding to be washed down with carafes of house red wine. Resist the temptation to eat with a view (that you'll also pay for) and you'll find Rome is full of inexpensive wonderful, wholesome places to eat.

Piazza Venezia, Rome

After managing to see the majority of the main sites on this trip we'll be coming back to Rome to take in more areas away from the main tourist routes, such as Trastevere. They were very more-ish, as was the main reason for a return. The food was the best we've eaten anywhere in the far.x

The Colosseum, Rome


Popular Posts