Recapping our 3 days in Rome, Italy! Sharing where we stayed, ate, and the must-see sights!
Rome was an incredible city to end our trip to Italy in. It was a tourist’s dream. So many iconic sights, architecture, churches, and the food was fab.
We stayed in the perfect little neighborhood too called Trastevere, which is just across the Tiber River (about a 20 minute walk to downtown Rome). Referred to as a real Roman neighborhood, it has more of a residential, local feel to it. It’s a funky, bohemian, former working-class area, known for traditional and innovative trattorias, craft beer pubs and artisan shops. We stayed at an Airbnb which was perfect for us six.
We returned the rental car in Chiusi (about 30 minute drive) and then took the train from Chiusi to Rome (about 2 hours).
We arrived to our airbnb in the afternoon and had our food tour in Trastevere to look forward to a few hours later. We were hungry though and grabbed some slices of ‘za (aka two pizzas) from the pizza place just below us to hold us over until the tour. The food tour was so wonderful that I’m going to devote an entire post to it!
We were told the Vatican would be a 4 hour excursion so we basically set aside one entire day to do the Vatican. We bought our tickets and reserved an entry time ahead of time (20 Euro each), which I would highly recommend, otherwise you’ll be dealing with hour long lines just to get in.
We used Rick Steves’ audio guide to take us through the Vatican Museum, which was perfect for highlighting the most popular exhibits.
Everything was so ornate and spectacular. I was just awe-struck walking through and gazing up at the ceilings and even the floors.
We also saw the Sistine Chapel and Rick Steves has a separate audioguide for that, which walks you through painting by painting.
After the Vatican Museums, we made our way to St. Peter’s Basilica, referred to as the richest and grandest church on earth. It’s also home to Michelangelo’s Pieta. St. Peter’s has its own audioguide on Rick Steves’ app so be sure to download that one too!
One thing I learned about the Vatican is that it’s actually its own city with its own zip code! It even has its own post office. And there are parts of Vatican City that are off-limits to the public and guarded by men in funny looking garb lol.
A few people we met on out food tour the day before recommended a restaurant near the Vatican, Dal Toscano Restaurant, for lunch so we headed there afterwards. I ordered the pumpkin ravioli with sage butter sauce and it was off the charts delicious.
After lunch, we went on to do some more sightseeing and stopped by the Spanish Steps.
And then the Trevi Fountain. Yes, we threw coins in and made our wishes.
We then walked over to the Pantheon, which is a former Roman temple dedicated in 126 AD, and is now a church. 126 AD. Like what?! I felt that way a lot in Rome. It was hard to fathom that these structures were built almost 2000 years ago. We couldn’t get in the Pantheon though because there was some event so we decided we’d come back the next day.
That night we met Steve’s Dad’s cousin’s son who lives in Rome with his wife and newborn. They met in the U.S. but she is from Rome and they moved back there. They took us to a local spot close to where they live outside of Rome, near Trastevere. The food was amazing but I didn’t take any photos because I didn’t want to be rude with family I was meeting for the first time (clearly I don’t care with my own family lol). I do remember we had carbonara, cacio e pepe, and amatriciana pastas and grilled meats. It was all delicious.
My mother was craving eggs benedict because that’s our go-to-brunch order back home and she loves having eggs for breakfast but it’s pretty rare to find eggs for breakfast in Italy because most people just have croissants or toast with butter and jam. Their breakfasts are pretty light, which I found challenging as well in managing hunger.
But when we were out to eat with Steve’s family the night before they mentioned how there’s something for everyone in Rome when it comes to food. You can find Indian, Mexican, Ethiopian even, it’s all there. We asked about Bloody Mary’s and Eggs Benedict haha and they told us about this place that does an English breakfast near the Spanish Steps in Rome. So guess where we had breakfast the next day?
Babingtons Tea Room makes a very, very good Benedict, I’m not going to lie. The English muffins were homemade and the eggs were all perfectly poached. But be forewarned, their Eggs Benedict was like $30 Euro. Probably because they have the monopoly on Eggs Benedict in Rome and they know crazy Americans (i.e. us) will pay for them.
After Babingtons, we walked to the Colosseum. And surprise, surprise, we used Rick Steves’ audioguide for this too. The Colosseum is unreal to see up close. It’s crazy to imagine 2000 years ago this stadium being filled with 50,000 to 80,000 spectators watching gladiators fight lions. Like no, not real life. But that’s what happened here.
This is the arch of Constantine, who was the Emperor of Rome in 312 AD and legalized Christianity. We couldn’t help but make countless references to our cat, Constantine, who was named for his imperial nature.
From the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, we walked toward to Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. We bought the combo tickets which included the Colosseum and the Roman Forum and allowed us to skip the long lines at the Colosseum.
The Forum is a plaza surrounded by the ruins of important government buildings at the center of the ancient city of Rome. The Forum, referred to as the Marketplace by ancient Romans, was the center of day-to-day life in Rome back in the B.C. days. It’s pretty wild that these ruins are so old and to look around and imagine it as a bustling center for Ancient Rome.
Walking from the Forum back toward the Pantheon, we stumbled upon The Vittorio Emanuele II Monument, a monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a unified Italy.
After all that walking around we were hungry so we stopped for pizza at Da Baffetto, which Steve’s cousin had recommended to us. It hit the spot.
After pizza, we stopped at a Pittsburgh Steelers bar because my sister went to school in Pittsburgh and her boyfriend grew up there and is a big fan. It was kind of funny being in a different country and connecting with American Steelers fans who’d walk in the bar.
After the bar and getting freshened up back at the Airbnb, we headed to our last dinner together in Italy at Renato e Luisa Quelli della Taverna, another recommendation from Steve’s cousin. The pasta I had here was mouth-watering. It was trofie pasta with wild mushrooms and truffles. It was so good that while everyone was sharing bites of their dishes, I stayed quiet, enjoying every bite until it was gone. We all laughed after about how I was very discreet with my dish and didn’t share with anyone. Sometimes when food is that good, it’s not meant to be shared ;).
We also ordered some grilled meat but it wasn’t that good compared to the meats we had in Tuscany.
Love mi familia! Living in a different city for almost 14 years, I don’t get many opportunities to spend days on end with my family. It was such a treat spending extended quality time with my fam, especially in a place that values gathering around the table with good food and wine.
After dinner, we walked to the Trevi Fountain to see it lit up at night.
And then one last gelato for the road at Il Gelato di San Crispino.
And that’s a wrap for our Italy trip! If you missed any of the recaps, I’ll link to them below.
Tell me, have you ever been to Italy? What was your favorite city/town?