TRAVEL INSPIRATION: ROME
The B.LOVED team love to travel, so it’s only fair we share the best bits, top tips and what to avoid with you! Alexandria headed to Rome last weekend to celebrate her first wedding anniversary (yay, congratulations!!) and here’s what she got up to…
I’ve been dying to visit Rome for years, so our first wedding anniversary seemed like the perfect time to book a long weekend away. I became borderline obsessed with making the most of our time there, and so with the help of two brilliant guide books (The Wallpaper Guide to Rome and Pocket Rough Guide – definitely recommend both) and some fantastic suggestions from a native Roman, I couldn’t wait to get there.
We stayed at the Duke Hotel, which is just north of Villa Borghese, because of its location, they provide a complimentary shuttle to and from Piazza de Poplo (about a 10 minute journey) which was an ideal place to start each morning. The hotel itself was lovely, and had a really nice atmosphere. Being in a more residential part of the city, it was really peaceful and romantic to sit out on our balcony with a glass of bubbles in the evening before heading out for dinner.
We arrived just in time for dinner on the Thursday evening so we headed to Babette, in the Piazza de Poplo area, a gorgeous little restaurant with a romantic courtyard, sprinkled with fairy lights. We ate broccoli and brie polpetto, followed by melt in your mouth gnocchi, and then ossobucco that fell apart on the fork. After dinner, we walked down Via Babuino to the Spanish Steps, for a gelato and some people watching.
The next morning we wanted to explore, and walked down Via del Corso then up the Spanish Steps, and made our way through a maze of streets until we came to the Pantheon (very impressive), and then the Piazza Navona (slightly less impressive). From there, we headed to the ‘Wedding Cake’ – a building that definitely sparks a lot of opinion amongst the locals. There is an elevator there that takes you all the way to the roof, where you can see for absolute miles – the views are breathtaking – and it was definitely €7.00 well spent! For lunch, we headed to Alle Carrette – a little backstreet pizzeria, it was thin, crispy, cheesy – exactly what you want, and expect, from a Roman pizza.
We decided to join a proper guided tour of the Roman Forums, and the Coliseum (typical tourists!!) but I honestly don’t think it would have been worth visiting without the guide. This was true of the Forums especially, as without, you’re just looking at lumps of rock and crumbling pillars. The stories all of the ruins are incredible, and our guide showed us drawings of what the buildings used to look like which really brought everything to life. By the time we got to the Coliseum I was pretty exhausted, but we got to go into the dungeons, the staging area, and the third floor, which are all out of bounds to regular visitors – so it was well worth the tour for that alone. It also meant that we didn’t have to wait in queues, and it seemed that the running theme of all Roman attractions – was enormous queues! One thing I would have done differently, would have been booking the tour for the morning, as opposed to the afternoon, when it is a little bit cooler, and we had a bit more energy.
After heading back to the hotel for a nap, we got ready to go out for dinner, at a lovely little place by the Spanish Steps, called Antica Enoteca. We sat outside, and the whole street has a really buzzy vibe which was great. The food was rustic and delicious, we had antipasti to begin with, followed by spaghetti pomodorini (I can still taste this now – soooo good) and then meatballs and crispy potatoes. You can’t really go wrong wine-wise in Rome either, everything that we chose was absolutely delicious.
The next day we headed to Vatican City, somewhere I was really excited to visit. Again, after much research, I had learned that it was essential to book ahead of time, as the queues are truly insane. The Vatican museums were beautiful, but they were impossible to enjoy, or appreciate properly, because they were so busy, everywhere you stood you were shoulder, to shoulder, with someone else. I’d like to say, go when it is less busy – apparently it is best to try and get there as soon as it opens. I was expecting the Sistine Chapel to feel very special and holy, but sadly it just felt like a tourist attraction. We were told that there must be total silence in the chapel, but it was noisy, crowded, and full of selfie-stickers, and I just couldn’t wait to get out. Having said that, the ceiling was breathtaking, and it is worth going just for that. We then decided to climb to the top of the Basilica – Best. Decision. Ever. You go up the first 300 steps and then get to a balcony running around the inside of the dome, so you look down onto the church – amazing! The you climb a further 200, and then you get to the very top, and get outside of the dome, and then you can get a 360 degree view of the whole city, as well as get a birds-eye perspective of St Peter’s Square.
That evening we ate at Piccolo Abruzzo – this was the best restaurant that visited, by a mile. It is a cute little place near Via Veneto, the owner is charming, and the chefs come and serve you themselves. We opted for the ‘Menu Abruzzo’ €35 per person, and they just keep on bringing you food. You don’t know what is coming next, but all of it is ridiculously delicious. Their mozzarella was the creamiest, saltiest, yummiest I have ever eaten, this was followed by big juicy green olives, a selection of meats, two different soups, ravioli, spaghetti, a barbecued meat platter with crispy potatoes and salad, then cheese, and tiramisu – we were full to the brim by the time that we left, but every single bite was absolutely mouthwatering.
On our final full day (our actual wedding anniversary), we decided to just walk around and see where we ended up. We visited San Crispino – yummy gelato with all natural flavouring, and went to Recafe for lunch, where we witnessed an impromptu ‘photoshoot’ of a woman and her toy poodle, taken by her devoted boyfriend. The dog then proceeded to sleep on the table, waking up , only to lick the pasta on her plate….only in Rome. We then had a lovely wander through Villa Borghese gardens, and hired a little rowing boat and took it out on the lake. For dinner that night, we went to Dal Bolognese, it was nice, but I think we were a bit spoiled by the great restaurant choices that we made earlier in the weekend, because it didn’t really live up to our expectations. Great place for people-watching though!
All in all, we had an amazing trip, if you haven’t already visited, you must. There is so much to see, and do (and eat!) and we will definitely be returning.