I came back to Rome after 15 years and surprise, surprise - not much has changed. This time around I took my husband for a romantic gateway. We were against ticking off the list every single tourist attraction but of course, we visited the main ones.
We spent three fantastic days in Rome, walking around Centro Storico, visiting places, eating pizza and gelato, trying Italian cuisine in small restaurants along the way and of course shopping. If I tell you there is Saldi (sale) in August, do I have to say anything else? Shopping wasn't my intention but I am a typical woman and it happened. I also bought a painting. People who know me wouldn't be surprise that I brought another one home.
If you want to feel a real atmosphere of this place, you should get lost around small streets and walk until you can't feel your feet.
I wrote some tips under the photos.
We're both huge ice cream lovers so it's easy to please us in Italy. I personally think their gelato is the best in the world. We ate in Alice Pizza place near Largo di Torre Argentina three times, so that would be good enough recommendation. I enjoyed most of the restaurants we had eaten in but because we all have different taste I encourage you to just go with the flow. Everyone can easily find something tasty in Italian cuisine, so you definitely won't starve there. Unless you're very picky, then you should stick with gelato.
Italians can be vary fashion-conscious. Put some effort and dress up for the evening dinner. Unless you want to look like a typical tourist. It's up to you.
We booked Baghirova in Rome B&B in Centro Storico, just two minutes walk to Pantheon. Perfect location for sightseeing, shopping and nights out. It's a small hotel with no restaurant so your breakfast is served in your room - it is something that you have to pay for extra in other hotels. Rooms are basic but stylish and very clean, and that is very important for me.
Don't expect a porter nor any fancy door fob because you are going to end up with a set of four old fashion keys and that will make you feel like you're a local. The hotel is set in a former palace dating back to 1555. This building has witnessed a lot of Rome's history. Isn't that fascinating?
Colosseum is very busy place in summertime. There are three lines to enter it. One will guide you to the ticket office - it is very long and I mean it! Second one is for people who already purched ticket online or in Roman Forum ticket office, unfortunatelly that one is very long too. Third one is for people who bought online 'Skip the line' ticket and they dont't have to wait too long, just few minutes to the security check point.
I highly recommend you to buy online the 'Skip the line' ticket. Then go straight to Roman Forum ticket office to exchange your online confirmation for real ticket (queue is not that long) and then go straight to Colosseum. Your online booking is made for specific entry hour so be sure you're on time because they are very strict. That €3 extra will save you at least one hour of unnecessary queueing.
PS. Please ignore any licenced tour guide trying to convince you that you do not have 'Skip the line'. They are just trying to earn extra cash at your loss.
Do I have to say it was full of tourists? I don't think so. Visit Pantheon in the middle of the day when the natural light comes through the oculus and it is the only source of the light inside.
Piazza della Rotonda is a square in front of the Pantheon, hustling and bustling with people and street musicians who creates vibrant atmosphere. I sincerely enjoyed the place.
Trevi Fountain & Spanish Steps
There is a tradition regarding the Trevi Fountain. It is said that if you throw a coin over your shoulder into the water, you will
be sure to return to Rome. I threw 20 Italian Lire coin into fountain 15 years ago and I had returned. It has worked for me, so make sure you've got some spare change in your pocket.
Spanish Steps are usually thriving with people but there was a renovation work going on at the time we were in Rome. Empty staircase of Trinita dei Monti it's a very rare view and we enjoyed it a lot.
Saint Peter's Basilica
Italy's largest, richest, spectacular church with many priceless arts and artefacts.
There is a dress code when entering the basilica, so no miniskirts, shorts and bare shoulders.
Entrance to the basilica is free of charge but expect a very long queues. You can avoid them simply by purchasing 'Skip the line' ticket or visiting this place in the late aftenoon hours. We have been there at 5pm in August and we stormed the place without queueing.
Cats in Rome
Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary is a home for a saved cats, who are taken care of by volunteers. Most of the cats there are old, hadicapapped or sick but shelter is also provided for healthy cats and kittens ready for adoption.
If you are a cat lover it is definately the must-visit place for you. Cats are very friendly and enjoy being petted and cuddled. They provide some gadgets and gifts for sale to raise funds for their operation and also adoption at distance.
I encourage you to visit the place, play with cats and donate what you can afford. They highly depend on tourist's donations.
Make sure you have some spare time. I could easily spend there a whole day.
'The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time'.
Rome is all about sightseenig for most people. You can see them walking in trainers from one tourist attraction to the other, ticking them of the bucket list.
But for me personally, Rome is all about that romance. I simply enjoy 'wasting' my time in small restaurants, eating gelato whenever I like and getting lost wandering along alleys with my partner in crime.
Remember, every place is what you make of it.