Sorry for the Cliché blog title, I had to…
So I literally almost cried about 5 minutes into arriving in Rome… and when I mean almost cried, I curled up into a little ball, closed my eyes and almost had a full-blown anxiety attack…Driving in Rome will do that to you (don’t worry, I was in the passenger seat). Luckily this was where we were dropping the car off.
Other than the insane driving, I loved Rome. I had those happy feelings you get when you think to yourself, yup I would live here. How can you not though, Rome is STUNNING!
Where we stayed:
We stayed at an adorable Airbnb in the Rione Monti area. It was extremely central so we really burned off all the pasta calories while walking to most of our destinations. However, we did have to take a couple of cabs (and almost got scammed by a taxi driver). See below for what happened and how you can avoid getting ripped off.
Check out our Airbnb HERE.
What we did:
- We probably did the most touristy thing we could possibly do and bought tickets for the Hop on Hop Off bus. Honestly, this is probably the best way to get a visual of all the popular places in the city. We filled a water bottle with white wine and enjoyed the views (and the breeze). The Hop on Hop off bus was around €25,00 per person and so unbelievably worth it.
- There are a couple MUST sees in Rome. The Pantheon is one of them. It is also free to enter, but just make sure you don’t try and bring in a gelato like we did.
- The Trevi Fountain is also must see and is extremely packed. After seeing everyone’s beautiful photos which miraculously all look like they’re the only ones there, I was pretty shocked at the massive crowds (how naive of me). If you want to get a great photo I suggest you go at the crack of dawn.
- The Coliseum is obviously a must see as it is the biggest well-preserved coliseum in the world, expect there to be huge crowds as well.
- Climb the Spanish steps for views of Rome. We had a heat wave in Italy when we were there and yes, it gets a little sweaty.
- We drove, walked and bused by Altare della Patria; a massive marble monument. Each time we passed by we were awestruck. You can’t miss it, it’s actually massive. Apparently you can take the elevator to the top of it for 7 Euro, but don’t quote me, I saw this on another blog from 2014.
- The Giardino Degli Aranci, or commonly know as the Garden of Oranges was perfection. There were no oranges on the trees but the premise is so well-groomed and spectacular, it didn’t matter. Someone was getting their wedding photos done here and I was super jealous. We walked to the peak of the garden which overlooks the city and watched the sunset.
- If you are looking to see something way less touristy but still quite impressive, head over to the stunning Biblioteca Angelica. It is an extremely old and beautifully charming library. In fact, it is one of Rome’s first public libraries. Biblioteca Angelica is still a locals library so you have to be extremely quiet. You also wont be able to read any of the books if you aren’t fluent in Italian. The librarian is quite aggressive and allows only one picture (I’m such a rebel, I took 2). Go see it though, it is absolutely spectacular.
Okay shoot me. Due to time constraints, we decided to skip the Vatican and put it on our list for next time.
Where We Ate/Drank
$ If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat or some great take-away food, head over to Pasta Chef. It’s located only a short walk from the Colosseum and has a drool worthy menu. They serve authentic, fresh pasta which is made daily. The plates and cutlery are biodegradable so your meal is basically guilt free! We decided on the risotto and the pesto pasta. It was quick, affordable and delicious!
$$ We were on the brink of getting very sick of wine so for dinner we decided to get some artisan beer and pizza at one of the hottest spots in Rome, Bir + Fud. The place itself is buzzing with modern flare and feels very contemporary and hip. We got there at 7:30 and were able to be seated right away, however, at 8:00 p.m. the place was packed. If you plan on eating here after 7:30, definitely make a reservation. We shared a pizza and the buffalo mozzarella and ham calzone and ended up having a fork battle over the calzone. It was cheesy, yummy perfection. The beer was also spectacular and they have a massive variety to choose from.
$$$ Trattoria Monti is located a little bit away from the center of Rome but VERY worth the small trek. Clearly this spot is a local gem as every seat was full. Luckily for us we had made a reservation beforehand. Trattoria Monti is a little more upper class, so expect a pricier meal. Despite this, IT IS WORTH IT. Plus, it has a very welcoming and cozy atmosphere, you may as well be eating at Nonas house. We settled on an appetizer, the tortello stuffed with ricotta, egg yolk and topped with butter sage sauce and a meaty pasta dish which I forgot the name. Each meal was incredible and exploding with flavor. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
We grabbed a coffee and people watched in big brown chairs at Café Angelina. We both had an Iced Coffee to cool down and this was the perfect spot to rest the legs.
$$$$ We headed on over to Jerry Thomas, which is a 1930’s inspired speakeasy bar known for their killer cocktails. We knocked on huge dark door which was located in a very dark ally and waited outside. A man came to the door and asked for a password… which we didn’t have. Luckily when we smiled apologetically he told us it was no problem, we would just have to wait an hour. FYI if you go, you are supposed to find the daily password on their Facebook page. Soon after, a small family knocked on the door and gave the man the password. The door man turned them away due to capacity reasons (the bar only holds up to 40 people), then promptly led us into the bar.
The place itself was very charming with it’s old world glamour and dark mystic vibes. Leon and I sat at the bar and ordered two drinks; I had a Gin concoction and he ordered the Buffalo whiskey sour. My drink was good, but his literally knocked my socks off. I made us stay longer so I could have one of my own. If you can, sit at the bar when you go. Watching the mixologists is quite fascinating.
I only have one complaint, and please don’t let this deter you from going whatsoever. The people who were standing behind us (basically touching us it was so packed) decided to light up not only a cigarette, but a cigar too! There are no windows in this tiny bar and the big door was closed tightly. So here we are sitting and having the most amazing (and expensive) drinks ever, and these people are smoking on us. Luckily after about 15 minutes they got seated and left. But still – circulated air.
Tips on Taxi’s
Luckily our Airbnb was pretty central which cut down on the amount of cabs we had to take. Out of 3 cabs I took, 1 tried to rip us off. Leon and I were taking a cab to a Speakeasy bar one night after 10pm, the surcharge of €5,80 was already added at the beginning. The cab ride came to 13 Euro, Leon handed him a €20 and the man gave us back €2. I told him he didn’t give us enough change and he said that there was an additional surcharge anytime after 10 p.m. I told him the surcharge would have been added to the meter at the beginning of the trip and he frantically pointed to various maps in his cab that said nothing about a further surcharge. After fighting with him for 2 minutes he finally gave us back our correct change. So if you’re in Rome, watch out for these kinds of things, like being charged for a surcharge on top of a surcharge.
Here are a couple of ways to make sure you’re not spending more money on cabs than you need to:
- Know the surcharges:
- Watch out for fixed taxi prices
If someone wants to give you a fixed price within the city – chances are you are getting ripped off. Make sure they turn the meter on, if they don’t, get out!
- Check and say the amount of money you give to the cab driver
instead of just giving the cab driver a bill, say “here is X amount of Euro”. I’ve read taxi scams where cab drivers will switch bills and then say you haven’t given them enough money.
- Try to give them exact change.
Cab drivers might pull the “I have no change” card to try and swindle a couple extra dollars from you.
- Grab a cab from an official taxi pickup
This will lessen the chance of you getting picked up by an unregistered (and possibly shady) taxi cab. Registered cabs are white and have their licence number on the side!!
Anyway, Rome was an amazing surprise. I expected it to be a dirty city with way too many tourists but it turned out to be my favorite stop this trip.