Thursday, July 7, 2016

Things to Do in Rome and Trastevere, Italy

Before heading to the Amalfi Coast, and after our time in the Tuscany/ Florence region, Ryan and I spent 2.5 days in Rome. As in Positano, we rented an Airbnb in the Trastevere neighborhood where apartments lined cobbled streets and where the nightlife was much less touristy than other areas.

The entrance to our Airbnb

View of the Vatican from Trastevere
We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and were planning to leave for Positano first thing on Tuesday and since we had so many sights to see in such a short period of time we handled this leg differently than the others. We knew that Saturday would be spent exploring our local neighborhood, Sunday would be used for traversing the city and Monday would be dedicated to a trip to Vatican City. Using a combination of Rick Steves' Rome, Trip Advisor and recommendations from friends I put together a list of all of the places we wanted to see each day and mapped out the route that would most efficiently allow us to see them all and came up with the following:

❌Pressede on way to apt
✔️St Maria in Trastevere Basilica
✔️Jewish ghetto
✔️Piazza Venezia
❌John the Lateran?
❌San pietro vincoli
✔️Colosseum joint ticket with
✔️Circus massimus
✔️Trevi- might not have been restored
✔️Piazza novona
✔️Piazza colonna
✔️Spanish steps
❌St Agnes
❌Open air trastevere market
✔️Vatican- need tickets for museums
✔️Sistine chapel
✔️St. Peter's basilica
✔️Basilica sta Maria sopra Minerva
✔️Piazza di monte cotorio
✔️Marco Aurelio
✔️Cappucine church
✔️Borghese gardens- rented a surrey and rode around the public gardens as we had not purchased tickets in advance to see the private gardens

Surrey in Borghese Gardens

Not surprisingly, the ❌ were items we weren't able to see, and the ✔️ were the places we were able to explore. If we passed something that wasn't on the list, or saw it on our downloaded TripAdvisor guide (see previous post for my recommendation here) we added it to the list so we could remember everything we encountered during the whirlwind visit.

Places to drink and dine:

KmZero- By far the best find of our trip. Ryan has always been skilled at finding the best hidden gem restaurants and bars to try and he did not disappoint in Rome. We found this small bar one street over from us with all locally sourced products. We ordered a meat and cheese board, let them know we didn't have any allergies or aversions and they produced the most beautiful assortment. We were so impressed that we ordered a second board, choosing to pass on a dinner we had previously planned. For wine, we picked an $8 bottle from their shelves (which was the middle- range for price options) and opened it with dinner. This was one of the highlights of our entire trip.
Gorgeous meat and cheese boards

Bar San Calisto- A friend had recommended this bar and it just so happened that it was located in Trastevere as well and I'm so glad we were able to check it out. You first pay at the register and then go to the bar and hand over your ticket for your drink then head into the street to enjoy. It was so adorable and cheap and the perfect place for a nightcap!
Bar San Calisto on the right
Gilt City does Aperol Sprtiz

Things to Do:
Since there is so much history in Rome, it's hard to pick what here is can't miss so I'll speak to some of our highlights.

Forum and Colosseum- these are located next to each other and were really fascinating with their sheer size and extensive history. It also didn't hurt that we went on a "first Sunday" of the month, when entry was free. The Forum was so large that it never felt overly crowded and we were able to stop and spend time in the areas we wanted. I didn't feel like we needed a guided tour as we had limited time dedicated to spend there but if you had all day, a tour guide could only enhance the experience.
Roman ruins in the Forum
Vatican- We didn't plan ahead like we should have and were not able to get tickets in advance (online ticket sales stop 48 hours ahead of desired date.) Day-of lines can stretch for hours so we decided to pay for a guided tour that would get us in the door relatively quickly. While the tour itself helped to move us through the large property with bits of information, the time it saved us to get to the front was the true value here. And the Sistine Chapel was really as moving as I expected, if not more. Definitely worth making the trip for that alone.
Vatican Ceiling
Pantheon- We came here three times during our visit since it's very easy to walk in, around and out of and no more than a few minutes are needed inside after you've visited once.

Pantheon Ceiling

Churches and Piazzas- We decided to stop in to as many churches as we could and would go out of our way to walk by and into them. Each had it's own unique characteristics and being able to see such a wide range helped us understand the culture and history. We also drank from/ dipped our head into as many piazza fountains as we could find which helped us beat the heat!

St Maria in Trastevere Basilica

Piazza Colonna
Piazza Novana

Our time here was short but very sweet and I would only recommend that anyone visiting stay for longer than 2.5 days!

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