Chasing Davies: Three Days in Rome, Italy

October 31, 2019

Three Days in Rome, Italy

Rome, the heartbeat of Italy, the home of so much unfathomably deep history, and the perfect Italian city to kick off our 10-year marriage anniversary trip. 

Not only is it the easiest city to fly into (way more flight options), but this city keeps you busy and walking everywhere - don't save it until the end when you are winding down from your travels. With our bright eyes and bushy tails, we ate our way through this city (pasta on pasta!), yet still managed to loose some pounds with all the walking!

When planning for this trip, we worried if 3 days would be enough for Rome. After talking with many others who'd visited Rome and reviewing a ton of itineraries online, we felt good about our plan. After three days (2 full days with an evening and a morning on either side) and three nights in Rome, I can confirm that it was the perfect amount of time, and we felt great about moving on to other cities on our trip.

Arriving in Rome:

We planned to fly direct, over night from NYC to Rome on Norwegian Air, but 2 days before we were set to take off, they cancelled the flight.  Insert deep breathing and hours on the phone here.

We had to shell out about triple the cost to get a new flight into Rome (not even direct...), but made it the same afternoon as planned, putting that stress behind us. We took a taxi from the airport to our Airbnb apartment, located in the heart of Rome and perfect for walking to just about anything (which we did!).  It was a great location and space for what we needed (but beware, the bed is up on a loft which you reach by a small spiral staircase - maybe not suitable for everyone).

Night One:

Our first tourist activity: to meet up with my cousin who just happened to be in town for work and go to a Roma football game at Stadio Olimpico.  This was Greg's very exciting must-do, and we enjoyed the experience - which was my first soccer/football game outside of the US. 

The stadium itself was way bigger, and old and historic looking (like the rest of the city), but more barebones. They don't need all the concession stands and tons of flashing lights I guess. But the energy of the fans is unreal.

My only watch-outs for attending a game:

The limited concession and beer stands only take cash! Bring cash.

The stadium is out of the city center, so definitely wasn't walkable for us. We went early so we could walk around, so getting a taxi there was no big deal. But getting a taxi back was impossible. We even walked out a ways to a taxi stand, but all the taxi drivers used the stand to park while they attended the game themselves. :)

Day Two:

Since we only had two full days, they both needed to be spent hitting up some major historic sites. Our first full day in Rome was dedicated to the Vatican, St. Peter's Basilica and Sistine Chapel.  We pre-booked and did a tour organized through Vatican (recommended) of all three that lasted about 3.5 hours.

I recommend this because the tour guide keeps you moving to the important stuff (especially if you have a husband that will stop and linger to read anything and everything....), you skip the long lines and get the background stories. Regardless, it still felt like we were cattle being herded through the museum.

After the tour... Greg somehow talked me into climbing to the top of St. Peter's. There are two tiers, and you can either walk the stairs or take the elevator to the first level which is inside of the dome.  That part of was ok.

Then you have to take the remaining 320+ stairs (no elevator) to the second tier, which is at the top of the dome on the outside. It's a lovely view of the city, but... getting there can be panic-inducing and intensely claustrophobic.  The series of staircases are tight - single file tight with solid walls closing in on you. You had to lean with the wall as you walked to up the stairs. And then some were tiny, spiral staircases that seemed to go on forever. 

I don't like tight spaces or heights, so this was a nightmare. 

On the plus side, Rome has free, fresh water allllll over the city.

 (After we came back down to the first tier... less than enthusiastic)

After this... let's just call it, a learning experience... it was time for much needed (late) lunch.  We walked back towards our apartment and just stopped at a cute little place along the way - there are so many places to duck into, you probably can't go wrong.  We started with drinks and a charcuterie board of meat and cheeses - chefs selection, and then moved right into pasta (duh).
 After lunch (which was now closer to dinner), we went back to the apartment to rest. I took a nap, while Greg walked to the Pantheon. He did the Rick Steves self-guided tour via Rick Steve's app (free!!).

After my much needed nap/rest, we had a walking food-tour which we booked through Airbnb - I definitely recommend! It was a great value and nice way to try a bunch of food, cheese and drinks while walking around the city, learning about the history of different parts and buildings. I loved it!

Day Three:

Another full day, packed with all the things you just have to see when in Rome. You read all about these things, you study them in school, it seems you know about it all already... but being there, in person, is profound. Something that has existed longer than the US as a whole, and way beyond that, with so much history you can feel it.

The Colosseum was one of my favorite monuments that we saw. One of the seven wonders of the medieval world, and it was a wonder to be there.

Obviously a big tourist attraction (and apparently backdrop for Instagrammers around the world), so long lines and big crowds.  We did not pre-buy tickets or do a tour for this, but instead downloaded Rick Steve's audio guide (again, free!) on the Colosseum.  And to get tickets, we followed Rick Steve's advice to skip the long line you'll see at the Colosseum entrance, and pick tickets up at the Palatine Hill office - just about a 6 minute walk east of Colosseum. 

Then we walked back to the Colosseum with our tickets, skipping the long line and walking into the separate line for those with tickets or doing a group tour.  I'd also advise going first thing in the morning - it only gets more crowded throughout the day.

After the great Colosseum, we walked back to Palatine Hill entrance and through these grounds which was also on the way to our next site. 

The Roman Forum contains mannny ancient monuments (see the full list here), and is an impressive city in and of itself which was the center of day to day life in BC Rome. Again, we did a free Rick Steve's audio tour as we made our way through this city within a city. 

After all this... it was time for another late lunch. (Word to the wise - eat a good breakfast and/or carry a snack.) But this time, we headed for a restaurant I had flagged from some pre-trip research, and it did not disappoint. The good part about eating late lunches is when we went it was not that busy. 

CiPASSO had the most wonderful lasagna I've ever had.  

And then after some lunch and wine... we had our first gelato (of the trip, of Italy).

After another rest and some freshening up, we walked to the Trastevere area (just east of the river) for our last dinner in Rome.  We ate at La Taverna Dei Monti, and it was a complete blast! Not only did we get to hook back up with my cousin, but her co-workers, too, and they took us to the most amazing hidden gem. 

The food was amazing. And the history of the building was epic. We sat outside under twinkle lights, but had to duck to go inside to go to the bathroom. Legend has it, the first floor of this building a century plus ago was where animals lived (thus the low ceilings).

And this is the place I had my most favorite dessert of all time. I need to figure out how to replicate this chocolate ricotta deliciousness. 

Last Morning

Our last little bit in Rome was spent getting ourselves to the train station (way too early as it turned out), grabbing a cappuccino and pastry before hopping aboard and heading south!

The high-speed train was super comfy. We took the Rome to Napoli train, and then began our second Italian adventure with a pitstop to see Pompeii before ending in Sorrento. More on those next adventures soon.
We somehow mastered some light packing to enable easy maneuvering, which lead to these outfit pieces on repeat:

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