I am not going to lie, Rome hasn't always been on the top of my travel bucket list. The historical sites that you think of when you think of Rome seem "overplayed" in a way. It seems that everyone has been to these sites, and honestly after visiting, I see why.
We arrived and left in the middle of 2 days. We decided to pack those days with guided tours and In an uncharacteristic move, Angie and I decided to leave the 2nd of our 3 days in Rome totally unplanned. Since it was the middle of our trip, we wanted to be able to relax if we wanted and to be able to stumble across some hidden gems. We added some places to a list of things we would like to see, I threw together a walking route that made the most sense if we wanted to follow it, and we set out for the day.
There is one thing that generally really irritated me about Rome. It was all the people on the street selling all these dumb souvenirs. I can't tell you how many times we had someone come up to us and forcefully offer us a rose, or try to demo those flyers that shoot off a base into the sky. Nevertheless, we still managed to have a good time.
Check in to your Airbnb
We arrived from Naples at around 1:00PM and immediately got to check in to our Airbnb. We actually really loved the location of our Airbnb. It was an easy walk to everything and was located in a super cute courtyard with a Michelin star restaurant next door. Our host was also very responsive and even provided a PDF with her suggestions for places to eat and things to do!
Talking a walking tour of the Colosseum
We pre-booked a walking tour of the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill and Colosseum for 3:00PM that same day. We ended up taking a leisurely walk from our Airbnb to the Colosseum, which took about 20 minutes! We stopped about half way to grab a road beer (a theme throughout our trip!)
We loved this tour and were glad we had a guide to fill us in on the history here. Up until this point, we hadn't taken any formal history tours so this was a great change of pace. You can book this tour here! The tour took about 3 hours of walking and ended with the grand finale: the Colosseum. I knew very little about the history of these sites. It was so interesting to see that the Piazza Novena used to be a huge track. The curved raceway space is still apparent when you go to the Piazza today.
Roman Forum & Palatine Hill
Make sure you wear some comfortable walking shoes. Here are some that I own and have worn on my international trips:
Dinner & Beer
The dinner spot that we initially wanted to eat at was closed so we opted to eat at Roma Beer Company: Sit outside for some good people watching, but don't sit at the tables right along the walkway! I loved their IPA! It actually tasted like a good ole Washington IPA. We also loved their meat and cheese platter and giant calzone! After dinner, we were heading to another spot for beer but stumbled across The Drunken Ship: It is actually a bar where a lot of American ex-pats and college students go to enjoy beer. The last spot of the night was My-Ale Craft Beer & Food: The pin on Google Maps isn't quite right. It is a bit further down on the right! The place is underground and is super cute. They have a lot of options for beer.
Time to hit the Trevi Fountain
If you want to see the Trevi Fountain and really enjoy it, then go before 7:30AM. I was able to wander around the whole perimeter and take it in for what it's worth. Of course, I was also able to get those Insta-worthy shots.
Grab some breakfast, with a view
We ended up picking an Airbnb in the best location. Only a 10 minute walk to the Trevi Fountain and a 5 minute walk to the Pantheon. We wanted to check out the Pantheon so we found a spot for some breakfast with a great view of the Pantheon called Trattoria Dai Tre Amici Al Pantheon. It wasn't necessarily anything special, but the coffee was good and the awning protected us from the 10 minute downpour in the middle of our meal. All the street sellers quickly switched from selling cheap souvenirs to 5-10 Euro umbrellas. They were all running from out of nowhere to try and get the sale! it was insane to watch.
Head into the Pantheon
We didn't know until we were there, but the Pantheon is free to visit! It is definitely worth it in my opinion. The center of the Pantheon is completely open and there is a hole in the ground where any rain water will drain into. I've never see anything like it! Tip: If you are a road drink person like we are, just know you can't bring drinks inside.
Do some shopping
Make your way to the Rione IV Campo Marzio area, which has a ton of shopping you can do! From high end luxury, to souvenir shops. Angie ended up buying a pope giving the thumbs up shirt!
Check out the Piazza di Spagna
This wasn't necessarily a place we wanted to see without tourists, so by the time we got there around 11:00AM, it was CROWDED. i took one look at it, took my tourist filled photo and went in to Sephora. If you want to really enjoy this, head here right after the Trevi Fountain.
I had my heart on finding a cool vintage, used designer bag. A quick Google Maps search showed 3 in the area. I found a few that were cute, but didn't end up committing to making a purchase. If you want to go thrifting, check out: Cinzia Used Clothing. There is also another one right around there, I just can't remember the name!
Get a coffee pick me up
There are dueling coffee shops that border two sides of the Parthenon. Each one obviously thinks their coffee skills are better than the other. We didn't have time to go to both, but we chose La Casa Del Caffè Tazza D'oro. You first order at the register and take your receipt to one of the baristas. Tip: If you are an espresso dopio con panna person like we were, make sure you add the sugar when the barista offers it to you. Their con panna is not sweet. The espresso shots we had were delicous!
Want to compare the dueling coffee shops? Head over to Sant' Eustachio Il Caffè.
Head to the Trastevere Neighborhood
This neighborhood used to be more of a hidden gem, but thanks to Pinterest, more and more people are flocking out of the center of Rome and are exploring the smaller neighborhoods. This is a great place to do a walking food tour if that is something you are in to, or you can go to:
VinAllegro: This is a cool little wine bar. We shared a bottle of rose and also had a delicious charcuterie board! Keep in mind the outside patio is small and can get pretty crowded.
Pimm's Good: This is an English style bar with about 10 different Pimm's Cup drink variations. What is a Pimm's Cup? It is a gin based drink with fruit juices, spices and also served with either ginger ale or lemon soda.
Wander around this neighborhood. There is a lot of character in the streets!
Time for dinner!
Are you sick of pizza and pasta yet? We weren't! We decided to try a hole in the wall pizza shop called Ai Marmi that is family owned and uses wood fired ovens. We got to watch them in their element. They flipped pizza dough and had an assembly line to add the toppings. They then loaded about 10 pizzas into the oven! We didn't realize the oven could hold that many pizzas! Also, don't get mad when you get an un-cut pizza. It is pretty typical at a legit pizza restaurant to get it un-cut.
Check with your Airbnb or hotel to see if you are able to leave your bags until you have to leave Rome. We were able to leave our bags with our Airbnb in a secured storage room.
Ready for some history?
We scheduled a walking Vatican tour for 9AM. The walking tour included a headset so you could hear the guide. You need some comfortable walking shoes for this one. You are on your feet for at least 3 hours! I've never really been interested in visiting the Vatican, but ended up learning EVERYTHING I needed to know.
I also was reminded how much I HATE crowds. This officially takes the cake for most crowded tourist attraction. For most of the tour, you are trying to squeeze through hoards of people. By hour 2 we were ready to get out of there just to get away from the crowds.
We booked this tour, which we enjoyed!
Last lunch in Rome
We took a 20 minute walk from the Vatican back to the area our Airbnb was in to have lunch. We chose Margherita for more pizza, but I got to enjoy a New York IPA. I had also never had zucchini flower on my pizza before. I think it is now my favorite topping. I have been on the look out in the states ever since!
Here is what the Trevi Fountain look like at 1PM
Remember when I said to make sure you go before 7:30AM? We were killing about an hour and decided to walk back over to the Trevi Fountain to grab a drink...holy crowds! We still threw the coin over our shoulder from the upper level! I was a little worried I wouldn't throw it far enough.
We crammed a lot in to 48 hours, but were able to also discover some hidden gems in Rome! What places do we have to check out next time we are there? Leave me a comment!