Trastevere, Rome, Italy
SIGHTSEEING + EXPLORING:
St Peter’s Basilica
Porta Portese market
EAT + DRINK:
Dolce Bar – good basic sandwiches, good espresso, etc
Pizzeria Pepito’s (Via degli Stradivari)
Blow Lounge Bar
Pasta Chef Monti – had fettuccine alfredo. Yes, I know it is an American thing. No, I don’t care. Alfredo is delicious.
After leaving our little home away from home in Greve in Chianti, we took the train from Florence to Rome. We got a taxi from the train station to our AirBNB, checked in, freshened up, and headed out for dinner at La Tavernaccia. After dinner, we were still hungry and love Italian food, so we went right around the block to Pepe’s and got some pizza to go. Traveling from city to city wiped us out, so we ended the night watching Netflix, eating pizza, and drinking some of the wine we brought from Greve.
Our first full day was a Sunday, which meant that the Porta Portese market was open. It is the biggest market in Rome and you can find almost everything imaginable. Clothes, home furnishings, books, whatever! We spent a couple of hours roaming around and mostly people watching, but we also bought a couple of little nick-nacks to bring back home.
BONUS: We got to see a one-man band with a (not real) monkey that slapped some symbols together as he played.
That afternoon, we got gelato and then went to Da Bucatino for lunch. Our lunch there was one of our favorite parts of our entire two week trip! Not because of the food, but because of the owner. Don’t get me wrong, the food was great, but the owner was so much fun! I will be honest with ya, we don’t speak the best Italian. We learned the basics, but that is about it.
The owner of Da Bucatino was like a super friendly grandpa and kept coming over to talk to us throughout the lunch. We didn’t know what he said, he didn’t know what we said, but somehow it was like we were still having real conversations with him. Something about his happy demeanor, laughter, and the tone of his voice made us think we were on the same page. As we were finishing up our meal, he asked us if we wanted a coffee. Or so we though. We said no, then we said yes, then he said due (two) and we shook our heads then he pinched my cheeks. Then he brought us some type of cake. It was delicious so we went with it. After, he asked if us if we wanted coffee. This time we got it right though and he actually brought us coffee. After what ended up being a very long and incredibly delicious lunch, we got our check and he kissed me on the cheek when we left.
After lunch, we headed back to our AirBNB for a nap and then rallied again after to go back out. We grabbed drinks at a little bar near our condo (Blow Lounge) and then went back to Pepe’s for pizza. I am not lying when I say it is the best pizza either of us have ever had. We ate it multiple times during our 5 day stay.
On our third day, we go up bright and early and headed over to Vatican City. We purchased skip the line tickets that included the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica (from viator.com). Getting the skip the line ticket does not mean there is no line, but there is a different line and it was definitely a lot faster so I recommend doing that.
It was amazing to walk through the Vatican museums that have such rich history that included art by some of the best artists of all time such as Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello, il Perugino or Caravaggio.Unfortunately, you can’t take photos of the Sistine Chapel, but believe me when I tell you that it doesn’t take away from the experience at all.
After spending several hours walking through the Vatican museums, our tour ended with St. Peter’s Basilica, which was my favorite part of the tour.
Once our tour ended, we headed back to our AirBNB to relax and recover from the crazy crowds at the Vatican Museums. For dinner, we decided to switch it up a bit. At this point we had been gone for almost two weeks and were really craving some more American style food. Both of our favorite food type is Italian, but sometimes you need a little bit more home in your life. The closest thing we could find that wasn’t McDonald’s was a pub. Yeah, it is British and not American, but it is a little closer so we went for it. We had burgers, chips, and beer and it definitely hit the spot.
On our last full day, we finally got to do what we had been looking forward to the most – go to the Colosseum! I can’t even put into words how breathtaking it is. Seeing the Parthenon in Athens was cool, but my goodness the Colosseum was incredible. It is even bigger than pictures or movies can portray. Even though 3,000 people were allowed to be inside at once, it did not feel too crowded because it is just so big. Honestly, it exceeded my expectations beyond belief. We loved it so much that we are planning on going back again in 2020.
One thing we did learn from our Colosseum experience is to select the time you will be visiting when you buy your tickets. We chose the skip the line tickets, but that really just means you skip the general admission line for those who don’t have tickets at all. The waiting time for that line was over two hours. The waiting time for our line was like an hour. And the waiting time for the people who had the time on their tickets was almost non-existent. By the way, you can get your tickets here: https://www.coopculture.it/en/colosseo-e-shop.cfm.
Afterwards, we grabbed a much more touristy meal in Monti. We both had fettuccine alfredo. Yes, alfredo is an American creation. No, we didn’t care. Yes, we loved it. One thing we learned on this trip is that sometimes going to the more touristy places and eating the more touristy foods is really enjoyable. Ya know, because we are tourists afterall. To make this lunch even better, I met the sweetest little poodle dogs! It was the first time I had gotten to hug a puppy since we left home, so I squealed like a school girl for sure!
We spent the afternoon roaming the Trastevere neighborhood and soaking up as much of Rome as we could before preparing to leave the next morning.
For dinner, we grabbed our last meal at a small restaurant right by our AirBNB with a very local feel to it. We had wine, pasta, tiramisu, and after dinner cocktails. Afterwards, we packed up and got some sleep in preparation of our journey back home the next day.
After spending two weeks in Greece and Italy, leaving was bittersweet. We had an amazing time on our trip. We got to enjoy the beautiful blues and whites of Mykonos, see the Parthenon in Athens, explore the Tuscan wine country, and end with an amazing stay in Rome. We checked off a lot of bucket list items, ate the best food we have ever had, drink a lot of wine, and take as many naps as we wanted. It was beautiful, eye opening, and beyond what we had imagined. It was also exhausting and we missed our five little fur babies, so leaving had its perks. We will see ya again in 2020, Italy!
- For a residential feel of Rome, stay in the Trastevere neighborhood. There are tons of great restaurants and bars in a short distance along with the huge Porta Portese market.
- Get your tickets to the Colosseum beforehand AND specify the time for your visit. This will save you so much time. We did the skip the line ticket and still waited over an hour. The people who had specified times basically walked right in.
- Buy skip the line tickets for the Vatican beforehand. We got ours from viator.com. They have tons of different options, so you should be able to find one that suits your budget and goals for your tour.
- There is a dress code for certain areas of the Vatican – No shorts or sleeveless tops allowed. Knees and shoulders must be covered for both men and women. It was pretty crowded and hot, so I wore a cotton sleeveless dress that was mid-calf length and took a lightweight scarf that I could throw over my shoulders in the areas that required it.
- You can download areas on Google maps to use on your phone even when you are offline. This was a life saver in a lot of areas where we had poor mobile data speeds.
- Most banks charge international fees to use your debit cards, but not credit cards. Check out your policies to make sure you aren’t spending more than necessary when you swipe!
- Try to blend in when you can, but be okay with the fact that you are a tourist. Take the selfies, oh and ah over everything amazing you see, and eat the alfredo sauce at the touristy restaurants if you want to. Afterall, you are a tourist and that is what makes it a vacation.