We spent 3 days in Rome but I truly think you could spend a lifetime and never see everything. It’s such a beautiful city full of history.
Coming to and from the airport we used taxis. There is a train that goes to the city center but unless you’re really good with getting around public transportation I would not suggest that option. Once we were in the city we used metro the entire time. It is fairly easy to navigate. Please note that pick-pocketing is a huge problem in Rome and watch your things closely while on the subway. We were lucky and did have any problems except one man we suspected was checking us out to possibly steal from. We got off at a stop before him and told some Italian military men that guard each subway station. We felt safe the rest of the time but definitely be cautious. There are also buses that run throughout the city but the subway is faster so we always used that instead.
The Spanish Steps and church can be easily accessed from the Spagna stop on the metro line. I will forewarn you that this is a very busy area and has tons of tourists at all hours of the day. There are many shops, cafes, and restaurants in this area to choose from. Walking a few blocks away from the main tourist area will help you find more local places with a more authentic Italian feel.
FOOD AND DRINK:
The main thing to look at when choosing a place to eat is the menu. If it has pictures on it of the food DO NOT eat there. It is a tourist trap. Most restaurants in Italy have their menus displayed outside the restaurant which means you can look at what they offer and their prices. Most places have a table setting fee for each person. This is very common! You will also pay for water. Nothing is free like in America. If you take your food to go it is cheaper. Just tell them you want “take away.” We usually did this during breakfast and/or lunch if we were just grabbing sandwiches. Tipping is not really much of a thing either. Sometimes gratuity will be added into the check depending on the restaurant. My favorite pasta dish was cacio e pepe which literally translates to cheese and pepper. We found that the simplicity of many Italian dishes we tried was what made it so good! If you find a place that does the pizza version of this then you must get it. We only found one place: Miscele e Fuoco located near the Colosseum. We also had the best white spritz ever (prosecco, elderflower syrup and soda water). This was probably my favorite place we stumbled upon in Rome. Other favorite drink was limoncello. I do not think we ever had a a bad one! I tried Aperol spritz and sadly it is not my thing. It tastes like a weird orange Fanta to me.
The Trevi Fountain can be accessed from the Barberni metro line stop. If you go anytime after 7:00 am there will be tons of people everywhere. The earlier you visit; the better. I really enjoyed seeing it in the daytime and at night. It truly is magical.
The Colosseum can be accessed via metro stop Colosseo. Get your tickets before and be in line before 8:30 am when it opens. It gets very crowded as the morning goes on. Guided tours are available but we just walked around on our own.
The Roman Forum is located next to the Colosseum which makes it easy to visit next. We had free entry with our pass for the Colosseum. It is quite large and gets hot because there is hardly any shade throughout.
Located about a half mile from the Roman Forum is the Mamertine museum. This is where Peter and Paul were imprisoned. You can even visit the cell they stayed in. I thought it was really cool to see a place directly from the Bible. It also was not very crowded because it is kind of a hidden gem in Rome.
Admission to the Pantheon is free and can be accessed from the Spagna metro line station. It does get pretty crowded as the day goes on so visit as early as possible.
Vatican City is a whole day in itself. Get your tickets to the Vatican Museum before so that you can skip the line. We were there when it opened and were able to go straight in. Make sure you are covered because they do have a dress code. Especially shoulders and chest. My dress was knee length and I did not have a problem getting in. This is where you will see the Sistine Chapel. After we visited St. Peter’s Basilica. The line was pretty long and it was very hot outside. Just be prepared if you go during the summer.
WHERE TO STAY:
We found an apartment on http://www.homeaway.com but if you are looking for a hotel we stayed at Hotel Fellini our last night and enjoyed it. It is just steps from the Trevi Fountain. Regardless of where you stay make sure it is walking distance to a metro station and you will be able to get pretty much anywhere in the city.
THINGS TO KNOW:
Ignore people on the streets selling things or tours. They just want your money. I acted like I did not understand English and they left me alone.
Have cash and cards. You never know when one or the other will not be accepted! Do not rely on ATMs because sometimes they do not work overseas.
Get an international data and calling plan. We used Google Maps literally everyday throughout our trip. Worth every penny especially when you are lost! You need calling turned on in case of an emergency. My sister left her phone in a taxi and I was able to call and cut her phone off. Fortunately it was returned to her but that often is not the case. If you are on ATT you can do unlimited everything for $10/day.
Do not buy things you can buy in the States if you can help it! Also, buy souvenirs toward the end of your day so you do not have to carry them around forever!
Visit local grocery stores in the neighborhoods around Rome. We found so many neat things that we loved!
If you go in the summer it is very hot. Places have air conditioning but not like we have here. If you have any medical condition that makes it hard for your body to handle heat then please think about going during another season.
Be prepared to walk until your feet fall off. Rome is a huge city. We walked 10 miles or more daily. I wore Birkenstocks the whole time and my feet did not blister. Make sure your shoes are broken in before you go!
Carry a bottle to refill with water. There is water that is safe for drinking all over the city.
The airport in Rome is very confusing to check into because where you drop your bags and go through security are in separate places. Leave yourself plenty of time to get to your gate when you depart.
If you buy liquor in the duty free in the airport make sure they put your things in the correct sealed bag. They did not do this for me and I had to throw away $100 worth of liquids including a bottle of Veuve Clicquot rose in the Toronto airport in customs. Do not make my mistake. I had never purchased from duty free before and thought I was fine because it was in a box.
If you have any questions about my trip to Rome feel free to leave a comment! I would love to help you plan your trip to the Eternal City!