Rome was the first stop on our 19 day trip throughout Italy, Croatia, and Greece in May 2022. I was initially worried about this trip of mainly cities as my husband is not a huge fan of cities in general, preferring nature. However, after just a few hours in Rome, he was in love. We were also lucky enough to meet up with friends on the first day which was so fun.
Rome has so much to do, and while we were able to see most of the highlights there were still things we didn’t get to see despite walking 11-13 miles a day.
We saw the following tourist spots:
- Vatican Museum and Gardens – Including St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel
- Castel Sant’Angelo – Due to time constraints we weren’t able to go inside this one
- Piazza Navona
- Trevi Fountain
- Spanish Steps
- Villa Borghese
- Piazza Venezia – free to go inside
- Roman Forum and Palatine Hill
- Mouth of Truth
- Various Churches/Cathedrals
Rome is a very walkable city, and most of these attractions are within 20 minutes of each other . Our hotel was close to the the Colosseum and about 40 minutes away from the Vatican which the furthest spot. We ended up taking a taxi there and walking back, wandering the streets and stopping at sights along the way. Other than taking an express train from the airport to the Termini train station, that was only time we used transportation.
One of our highlights in Rome was getting professional photos taken, something we have never done before but ended up doing twice on this trip, the second time being in Venice. Our photographer was local and very sweet. She also did an excellent job of explaining what poses she was looking for and getting us to look natural while taking the photos. If you have never gotten photos taken while on vacation before, I highly recommend as it was a great way to get beautiful memories of our time in Italy and our photographer gave us great recommendations (the gelato shop she recommended was the best gelato we ate on the entire trip).
If you’re interested in booking with her, you can find her on Airbnb and she also has an Instagram @shootingwithapro
- Giovanni Fassi – the gelato our photographer recommended
Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the first gelato place we ate at. In general when it comes to gelato you want to look for signs that say ‘Gelato Artigianale’.
- Pastaciutta – this pasta was 6 euros and my husband still raves about it. The Cacio e Pepe was the best one of the four we tried, which makes sense since it is a traditional Roman pasta.
- Aroma – I booked this months in advance and while it was an experience, it was not worth the insane price. There are cheaper restaurants that still have a view of the Colosseum, if that’s what you’re looking for. Or if fine dining is what you’re after, there are more authentic restaurants than this one, whose entire clientele were American tourists.
- Le Caveau Ristorante – We ate here since it was close to Giovanni Fassi, the food was decent and the service was great.
- There was a pizza place my husband really wanted to try, but the road it was on was closed since they were filming Fast & the Furious.
Our favorite of everything was that 6 euro pasta. It has a couple locations but the one we ate at was right next to the Vatican.
Tips and Tricks
I visited Rome for the first time with my family when I was 14, and one thing I remember was waiting outside for a very long time to get into the Vatican. I knew I wanted to avoid that happening again, so I started to research skip the line tickets and city passes. I ended up choosing the Rome Tourist Card which included the Vatican Museums, a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum, and Roman Forum. I thought it was a great deal, and we saved a lot of time. If you do choose to purchase this specific card, make sure to follow the instructions on the tickets exactly. We did not realize for the Vatican that we were supposed to meet at a building across the street, and ended up missing our reserved time slot. Luckily they let us join the next one 30 minutes later.
- Do not spend tons of money on water bottles! In most of Italy, and especially Rome, there are fountains with water safe for drinking all over. Some fountains even had both natural and sparkling water.
- The Spanish Steps are insanely crowded at night with people watching the sunset (not to mention the people trying to sell you things). Go to the top of the steps and turn left, keep walking until you reach Villa Borghese. You will be treated with a gorgeous view that surprisingly didn’t have very many people. The picture above is from this spot. Kudos to our friends who were with us for this tip!
- No Grazi will become your most used phrase, if anyone tries to sell or give you something, just respond with this and keep walking.
- We personally did not experience any pick pockets, but it’s important to stay diligent in big cities. I never place anything in my pockets.
- In a post Covid world, there are places that make you buy tickets online ahead of time. The Roman Forum was one of these places, so make sure to research anywhere you plan to go so you don’t show up only to find out you can’t go in.
- Speaking of Covid, the Vatican was the only place that enforced masking wearing.
- Somewhere we wanted to visit but didn’t have time to was the Trastavere neighborhood, might be worth checking out on your trip!
We felt that Rome was a great way to kick off our trip in Italy, and is a must see if you are visiting the country. It typically also has the cheapest flights to and from the United States, which is something to consider when planning your trip.