ITALY: ROME

October 2014

Italy had been on my to-do list for a very long time.

A school friend and I decided to make the trip this year, which was awesome, until we started to think about WHERE in Italy we would go to. Rome was top of my list, I forgot that she hates cities, and hence lives in the countryside in France.

We compromised on that holiday and went to La Rochelle together (August), which was a lovely trip, and also another story!

After the La Rochelle trip, I still felt the need to go to Italy, and for my travel plans not to be foiled because it didn’t work out with someone else – so I booked a trip on my own!

I admit, I was secretly hoping that one of my friends would decide to join me at the time of booking.  At the same time, I was mentally preparing myself for travelling alone.  My biggest question of course – how does one eat dinner alone!?  However, after meeting a couple of cool travelers in Berlin (September) I was really looking forward to having some me-time and doing as I please on holiday!

SATURDAY

I arrived on a Saturday afternoon at Ciampino airport and took the Terravision coach to Termini station (affordable and easy).  From there, I took the Metro towards my hotel.

Hotel – Best Western Hotel President

This was a very nice hotel about a minute from Manzoni Metro stop.

http://www.hotelpresident.com/

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g187791-d203094-Reviews-BEST_WESTERN_Hotel_President-Rome_Lazio.html

Dinner at the local pizza place – MISTAKE!

I decided to wander out and find some local grub.  There weren’t too many restaurants, and I wandered into a little deli style pizza place and eyed up some delicious looking aubergine pizza.  The guy working there was Bengali, we had a little chat and I grabbed a couple of slices and a little bottle of prosecco (prosecco to was down my pizza!) and headed back to the hotel room… where I discovered the base of this pizza was pretty burnt!  Probably not authentic Italian pizza… however, it wasn’t all burnt and the topping of aubergine and cheese (mozzarella?) and the herby tomato sauce was really good.  And I still enjoyed my fine pizza with prosecco dinner.

Pub crawl

Inspired by the cool people I met in Berlin who were travelling alone and went out to a pub crawl, I decided to do the same thing.

http://www.pubcrawlrome.com/

This was a cool organised night out which started with an open bar.  I got talking to quite a few people and spent a lot of the evening with a couple of lovely Australian girls.  Ended up partying until the wee hours…

SUNDAY

I missed the tour that started at nine, as I was dead to the world.  I dragged myself out of bed to get to a tour by midday… and there was no one at the meeting point.  I hung around for 15 minutes before having a leisurely walk back to the hotel.  Luckily this was a very nice walk past the Colosseum and some other fab buildings – I can’t tell you what they were!  There was also a little street market taking place.

I emailed the tour company, who said the tour guide thought the complete group was there so left and I must have just missed them.  I was definitely there AT 12 though… grrrr.  At least it got me out of bed and exploring Rome!  And they did refund the booking fee I had paid.

Lunch at the local pasta place – MISTAKE!

Close to my hotel, I passed a little cafe style restaurant that looked tempting….  I had a seat and ordered a salmon pasta dish with the Chinese waiter.  The pasta dish looked nothing like the glorious picture, and it tasted like crap.  I’m not an especially fussy eater, but I was really tempted to walk out.  I didn’t though, I picked at my food and left soon after.

Lesson was finally learned – find a restaurant run by Italian people!!!

Tour

http://www.newromefreetour.com/

I joined a free tour in the late afternoon led by an Italian guy.  He was obviously very passionate about architecture.  He kept talking about Bernini and Boromini very emphatically, I found myself switching off on the info but enjoying walking around and looking at the awesome buildings and picturesque scenery.  We went into a church which was AMAZING.  I have dabbled with painting – it is time-consuming and hard to get something realistic.  The beauty and skill was so impressive…  We also visited the Trevi Fountain which was under construction at the time, and a whole bunch of other beautiful places.  A good tour overall.

MONDAY

Vatican Tour

I joined a Vatican tour at 10 am:
http://www.romefreewalkingtour.com/
FYI the meeting point ‘the large column, looking at the Spanish steps on your right’ is referring to the circular column outside the Spanish Embassy, not the big pointy thing at the top of the Spanish steps.

I really enjoyed this tour, passed a lot of beautiful places.  We went to the Pantheon – I didn’t realise that’s what it was when I went past it during the tour the day before, which made me realise how much I’d switched off during that!  The tour guide was very engaging and provided good information.  Very handily this ends near the Vatican itself so you’re lined up for the next thing to do.

Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel – buy tickets online in advance!!!

Fortunately a work friend had recommended that I book the tickets online and I’m so glad I did.  I must have walked past at least three hours worth of people queuing around the block – and this was only midday on a Monday!  Seriously, book them:
http://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/do?action=booking&codiceTipoVisita=26&step=2

Hotel – Palazzo Montemartini

I decided to treat myself to a 5* hotel for my last night and I was so excited about this one.  This hotel is AMAZING.  I loved everything about it.  Especially the beautiful spa with pool, jacuzzi and sauna.  I spent nearly two hours chilling out, which was great after all the walking I’d done.   My room was awesome, very modern.

http://www.ragostahotels.com/eng/palazzo_montemartini/home.htm?_ga=1.25332349.1387856999.1414168793

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g187791-d3932268-Reviews-Palazzo_Montemartini-Rome_Lazio.html

Dinner

I met up with the two Australian girls at the Spanish steps, after popping in to Sephora, which I was thrilled to find as it doesn’t exist in London.  We headed to a restaurant that the first tour guide had recommended to us.  Apparently on the ‘pricey’ end, but actually very affordable.  I had the spaghetti with anchovy in butter sauce, and it was delicious.

After that we headed to Giolitti’s for gelato:

http://www.giolitti.it/

Very yummy and generous servings!!  There was no elegant way of consuming a melting gelato on the street…

After dessert, we went back to the hotel for a drink at the bar, which was very classy and pleasant.  I had a great cocktail, freshly made and very fruity.  It was lovely to hang out at this beautiful hotel.  It’s also just a couple of minutes away from Termini station so it was easy for my friends to get a taxi back to their place.

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