Updated: Jan 24
Mama Mia! As we end our first half of the trip in Rome, it's safe to say that Rome was not built in a day. For anyone who wishes to travel here please give yourself 2-3 days in order to fully explore the city. There is so much history and plenty of sightseeing to be done, you don't want to cut your trip short.
Lodging: We stayed in a small Airbnb conveniently located near the Roma Termini in the north of Rome. Although conveniently located near bus stops, markets, restaurants, and more, we quickly realized the area had its flaws. We were advised by an Uber driver that the location late at night could potentially be a little unsafe and the restaurants could be untrustworthy at times, which we also found out the hard way. If we were to do it again we would stay in a hotel closer to the Coliseum which is a more centralized, higher traffic location.
Transit: The biggest debate prior to our arrival was whether or not to rent a car for the trip. Rome most definitely does not require a rental car. There are excellent deals on multi-day bus tours which we essentially used as transit. Rumor has it that Italy does not have Uber, however they were easily available and reasonably priced for the most part. On NYE when it was busier, we were able to hail a taxi easily. The ride was a very reasonable price for the distance and time of night, especially considering the evening's festivities. Rome was wonderful to walk around during the day and easy to get around on foot for the most part. That said, the roads can get a little confusing at times so make sure you have some sort of map or directions on hand whenever possible.
Food: Who goes to Italy and not expect to want to eat everything in sight? Surprisingly enough, Roman food was pretty average as a whole. Firstly, you cannot go to Italy and be looking for a Chipotle or Chili's. You can go to Italy and expect to see a sign pointing at a McDonalds at every corner. Everywhere you look you'll find no shortage of food, but of a very limited variety: gelato, pastries, pasta, pizza, fish, and meat. The only real parody is the occasional Indian or shawarma restaurants, as well as a few Asian restaurants, all of which we chose to stay away from. In part we feel that it was our "home-base" location that may have left a bad taste. Even so, most of the meals we had around Rome were inconsistent and nothing to be blown away by. However, the pizza, pastries, and the gelato left us happy and satisfied 9/10 times! When it comes to restaurant etiquette, Italians do not play around with their food. A simple Italian breakfast consists of a coffee and pastry of some sort however, there are a few places that offer a "traditional" American breakfast. When ordering for lunch/dinner, all restaurants split their menu into courses. The first course consists of an appetizer, second is a pasta dish and third is a meat/fish dish. Dessert and coffee are optional and most places provide complimentary bread as a starter. Please note, water is not free in Italian restaurants! You're given the option of either still (acqua naturale) or sparkling water, but must pay if you would like water with your meal. Last but not least, make sure you finish all of your food! Do not order more than you'll eat because not all places have to-go boxes and it is seen as disrespectful if you do not finish all of your food. Tipping is not custom here however waiters do highly appreciate it if you leave them a Euro or two.
Sightseeing: The Trevi Fountain was by far our most frequented site for a number of reasons. We were enamored by the thousands of people who came to marvel at the fountain's beauty. The food, treats, and shops in the area are all fantastic and there is no shortage of finding whatever you may be looking for. These seemed to also be the most consistent bars and restaurants, as well as some of the best shopping deals around. More importantly, the fountain is free and in a solid centralized location which is easy to get to for anyone and everyone. Without a doubt, this should be at the top of everyone's list.
The Roman Colosseum. What is there not to say? This is one of the most incredible pieces of standing architecture in the world today. The sheer size of it alone emanates a mind-numbing aura from the outside, but when we stepped foot inside it gave us chills. Rome has done a wonderful job trying to preserve this marvel, as well as provide helpful information and dioramas throughout it's hallowed halls. It is important to note that to enter the Colosseum it is a little bit of an ordeal. Depending on the time you go, you could be waiting over an hour in line to get in. We recommend going as early in the morning as possible and to most definitely avoid the mid/late-afternoon rush. The Colosseum is 18euro to enter, but worth every single bit of it.
The Vatican City was another must on our list. This was one site we wish we could have spent a little more time in, but were at least happy to have been able to step on site and explore a little. We did not actually go in to St. Peter's or the Sistine Chapel because of the lines on the weekend, but the city itself was a wonderful sight. Of course, there were thousands of tourists, but was moving to see how grateful some people were to be in the presence of such a highly important religious site. This is on our short list of things to go back and see if we are to ever return to Rome.
Shopping: All of the window displays are full of great deals that made us want to scream "take all of our money!" We did our fair share of shopping around in Roma. One place that stuck to us was a shop named "Sore" located at the Trevi Fountain. The staff was very helpful and the deals on shoes were great. Dan John was another fantastic one- a namebrand store with high quality menswear for an exceptional price. Their staff was very kind as well. There are several located around the city so don't hesitate to check them out if you are in need of some new suiting, slacks, sweaters and more. There are many high quality boutiques for women with hand-made clothing everywhere you go. We definitely recommend not settling on the first things you see. Most everything is negotiable and there are plenty of shops with similar items for a variety of prices. This applies for the street vendors as well. They are by far the easiest to bargain with so do not settle on the first price they give you. We ended up buying more things than we thought we would. We reccommened buying suitcase from one of the vendors on the street and checking it in on your flight. The prices for suitcases here are much cheaper than they are back at home.
Final Thoughts: Rome is fantastic and a must-see on anyone's list if travelling to Europe. It is one of the most historically-rich places in the world and a very tourist friendly city. Everyone speaks English, nothing is terribly expensive and if it is then there is someone else with the same product close by. Additionally there is plenty of food, and ultimately plenty to do. We don't think you need much time in the city beyond 3 days depending on what you're looking for, and with a tour bus you should be able to hit everything you need no problem. Eat and Travel gives Rome and overall rating of 4 out of 5 jalapenos!
We hope that you find this review as a helpful guide for your future travels! For pictures and more on the specific places we went and food we ate, visit @eatandtraveldotnet on Instagram, as well as the Italy section on the page!