We went to Italy for nearly two weeks for our honeymoon with stops on the Amalfi Coast, Rome, Tuscany and Florence. This is the second piece on our travels.
Our second stop on our two-week trek through Italy was in the Eternal City, Rome.
We used points to stay at the Rome Marriott Grand Flora. While it took 135,000 points to stay at this hotel for three nights, it was well worth it as we were in a great location. We were within a couple of blocks of the famed Villa Borghese, Rome’s equivalent of New York’s Central Park.
While the park is beautiful with ample walking and biking paths, one of the gems of the park is the Pincio, a hill on the western edge of the park that overlooks the Piazza del Popolo. On clear days, you can see Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica, and catch a glimpse of the Colosseum.
We were in Rome at the end of March and it was gorgeous, nearly 80 degrees and sunny. Truthfully, we were lucky and had fantastic weather the entire time we were in Italy, save two days.
Tip No. 1: Stop for a glass of wine at the Café del Pincio at the Casina Valadier just south of the Pincio in Villa Borghese. One of the best glasses of wine we had was the Morellino di Scansano from Maretto Bruni at this café.
One of the beautiful aspects of Rome are all the sights you will find while just meandering through the streets. Rome certainly has no shortage of incredible, world-renowned sights – St. Peter’s Basilica, the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Forum to name a few – but you can really get a feel for the city and discover some tourist free sights by venturing off the beaten path.
Of course, no trip, especially a first time visit, to Rome would be complete without seeing the major landmarks.
Tip No. 2: Buy tickets for the major attractions such as St. Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel and the Colosseum online before your trip. Depending on where you are traveling from will have an impact on how early you can buy tickets. Buying tickets online will help you avoid waiting in incredibly long lines and helps you to maximize your time.
Some attractions, such as Trevi Fountain pictured above, you can spend as much or as little time at as you want. This is helpful when you want to explore other areas, you won’t need to dedicate a ton of time to.
The Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Gardens are all as incredible as you can imagine. The Vatican Museums include incredible works of art from statues to paintings. Inside the Vatican Museums, you can get an up-close view of al fresco paintings by Raphael.
The Sistine Chapel is absolutely stunning yet much smaller than anticipated. There is no photography or talking permitted inside the Sistine Chapel so you can totally take in the masterpiece. Get the audio tour so that you can listen to the descriptions. I recommend standing near the middle of the room so that you can see everything.
For the Colosseum, we bought tickets for the underground tour and I would highly recommend it. While it was cool to see the below floor level of the massively large structure, to me, the highlight was that our tour afforded us a chance to climb to the very top level which regular tickets do not permit. From there, you have incredible views of the Forum and get another vantage to appreciate how big the Colosseum is.
Tip No. 3: An added bonus to buying a ticket for the Colosseum is that it gets you into the Forum as well.
For authentic Italian and Roman food, be sure to venture away from the center of the city. We went into the Trastevere neighborhood, which is west of the River Tiber and south of the Vatican. Our dinner there was good, but you need to go more than a couple of streets from the river. One of the other best places we had dinner was called Flavio al Velavevodetto, which is near the River Tiber but on the eastern side and in the southern part of the city.
After dinner at Flavio al Velavevodetto, we walked to the Colosseum for a nighttime view, which was incredible.
Overall, Rome is an incredible city with so much to offer in terms of sights, history, food, drink and culture in general. We found the city to be very walkable but be sure to have comfortable shoes. I’ve raved about them before, but the Zerogrand line from Cole Haan is my go-to for travel. They can be easily dressed up or down and are super comfortable, which is helpful when you’re walking for six to eight hours a day.
I should also note that we were back in Rome for our last night before heading back to the States and we stayed at the Westin Excelsior and it was absolutely stunning. I put in our reservation that we were spending the last night of our honeymoon at their hotel and they had chocolate, wine and a card waiting for us in our room. The Westin was spectacular and it’s worth the splurge for a special occasion.
Have you been to Rome, or have questions about anything in this post? Let me know in the comments or follow me on Twitter (@mditt).