Our trip to Rome was a last-minute decision. And honestly, if it weren’t for the convenient location of the train station near our villa, we probably wouldn’t have bothered. But unfortunately, neither of us was up for driving in Rome’s chaotic and congested streets. Total mayhem!
So train, it is!
Arriving at the central station, Rome Termini, took two hours and fifteen minutes.
Just in time for lunch!
The Termini train station is enormous, not to mention it’s crazy busy. Eventually, we found our way to the taxi stand. We waited in the looong queue, which felt like forever, even worse in the blazing sun. Finally! It was our turn as we hopped into the air-conditioned taxi, relieved to be escaping the heat.
With so many one-way streets and seemingly driving in circles (or at least it felt that way), “didn’t we pass this already?” We both agreed that leaving our rental car in Cortona was the best decision.
After lunch, it was off to the races! As we set off to see as many sites as possible highlighted on our hotel map.
Saint Peters Bascillica
I know this, and it’s not my first rodeo.
It’s a scorcher outside! So, I dressed accordingly. But, wearing shorts is a big no-no if you’re visiting Saint Peter’s Basilica. I had my shoulders covered (also a rule), but she who wears shorts isn’t permitted inside the Basilica. Whoops! And yes, there may have been an eye-roll, seriously??
So, in the meantime, Rob did a quick tour on his own while I waited outside (still trying to negotiate my way inside the Basilica).
The Roman Emperor Hadrian initially commissioned the towering cylindrical building as a mausoleum for himself and his family.
During the 14th century, the popes decided to convert the building into a castle (cuz, why not?), complete with a covered fortified corridor called the Passetto di Borgo. It was used by the popes as an escape route, which connected the castle to St Peter’s Basilica. It’s now a museum.
Besides being one of the prettiest piazzas, it’s also famously known for a scene from Angels and Demons where a cardinal is brutally dumped into the fountain and left for dead. It’s a nail bitter!
Otherwise, it’s filled with restaurants and bars, perfect for enjoying an Aperol and people-watching.
Since I seem to be on a movie theme, Three Coins in a Fountain, Roman Holiday and La Dolce Vita all feature this infamous fountain. But, of course, finding romance seems to be the common thread, drawing crowds year-round.
The myth of the Trevi Fountain is, “If you throw one coin: you will return to Rome. If you throw two coins: you will fall in love with an attractive Italian. If you throw three coins: you will marry the person that you met.”
Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome remains the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome, which in itself is an architectural feat. It’s also one of the best-preserved of all Ancient Roman buildings, largely because it has been in continuous use throughout its history.
It’s also a great spot to enjoy gelato!
After a full day of sightseeing and thousands of steps later, we were overheated and exhausted.
But wait, “there are more shops!”
Time to drag this girl away from the endless selection of boutiques and save for tomorrow’s outing. We need to find our hotel and freshen up for the big event!
La Cena (dinner!)
Where to Stay
Planning a last-minute trip anywhere can be a challenge. But, finding accommodations for one night in bustling Rome was proving to be next to impossible. So, with our phones and laptops, we scoured the popular travel websites the night before our departure, determined to find something half decent. Unfortunately, what we found were ridiculous prices for less-than-average accommodations. WTF?!
So the lesson here is to plan, which is hard to do with last-minute plans. It’s a chicken/egg dilemma. You will ultimately find something. Be prepared to spend $$$$.
With that intel
Our hotel (which will remain nameless) was underwhelming on a quiet street in the Prati neighbourhood. Dull and drab come to mind, “I had no idea there were so many shades of beige!” But— It was clean, and the location was great, a short walk to Saint Peter’s and the Vatican. So at least our less-than-average accommodation had that going for it;)
The streets are filled with lively restaurants and bars, making “where to eat” simple. Although, after a while, most posted menus start to look alike. But remember, you’re in Italy; it’s Italian food only. Carb up! You’ll need it for day two of walking.
We stumbled upon Osteria Nuvolari, a quaint little restaurant serving delicious food just a few blocks from our hotel. I would definitely go back.
The Next Morning
We woke up to more scorching hot temperatures. HOLY HOT!
With a train to catch early afternoon, we got an early start to our day exploring more parts of Rome.
Have you wondered why they’re called the Spanish steps? (Maybe just me?)
The name is a bit confusing; commissioned by the French (Louis XII). So, why not the French steps? In the 17th century, the Spanish embassy was located on the square – ‘Piazza di Spagna’ – at the base of the stairs, hence the name ‘Spanish Steps.’ Who knew?
It was a whirlwind trip to Rome, but it was so much fun, and we felt like we had experienced so much in our 24 hours. Keeping in mind, we’ve both visited here several times before. FYI, one day is not enough for your first visit. The Vatican alone will eat up a day. That said, plan your days wisely and ahead of time so as not to disappoint. And, if you can, try to avoid the hot summer months. It’s a sizzler.
I loved our little adventure to Rome (my urban fix). Taking the train made for an effortless way to travel, and we didn’t miss our car.
I can’t remember if or how many coins I threw into the Trevi fountain, but I know I will definitely be back;)