Two months ago, for the second time since 2010, we visited the Historic & Magnificent City of Rome in Beautiful Italy!! (You can read about our first Rome experience here)
Obviously, the legend is true that says if you throw a coin into Trevi Fountain (which we did in 2010) your return to Rome is assured. 🙂
For this trip, Rome was the starting point for our “Black Sea” Cruise with Crystal Cruises so we figured since we enjoyed our day’s visit so much in 2010 during our Mediterranean Cruise that we’d stay and explore a little while longer this time so we gave ourselves 5 nights before we set sail…
…Perfect!! 1 day to get over our long flight, 3 to explore the city and 1 to rest up before our Cruise.
**Note** We recommend you stay in Rome 3 nights minimum to give yourself a day for the Colosseum/Roman Forum area, a day for the St. Peter’s Basilica/Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel area and some time to stroll around the “Heart of Rome” checking out Campo Di Fiori, Piazza Novana, The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, etc.
So, did we enjoy our 2nd visit to Rome as much as the 1st?
(Want to see our pics & video from our time in Rome? If so, then visit here)
What a fascinating city! And as we were here longer this time not only did we see the city’s highlights & famous tourist spots but we also got to get lost in some cool areas where locals hang out, we rode the metro, enjoyed some quiet areas of the city and of course enjoyed all the amazing food Italy is known for.
With all that time in Rome (whose historic center is on the UNESCO World Heritage List) this trip we have some great stuff to share with you to best prepare you for your trip to Rome.
…3 Things you Must Do Before a Visit To Rome:
- Get a money belt that tuck inside your pants and a front facing carry pack to protect your valuables while on excursions… Rome is by no means a violent city but it’s rampant when it comes to petty theft like pick-pocketing & of course we don’t want to see you fall victim.
- If arriving prior to a cruise & spending some time in the city, arrange a private car from the airport to Rome City Center where your hotel will be which will take approximately 40 to 45 minutes and cost approx 50 Euros… so many people mess around with the train, shuttle buses, etc. to save a few dollars but only end up wasting valuable site-seeing time.
- Get a map before you arrive and familiarize yourself with the city and the top sites you will want to visit so again, you’re not wasting valuable time once there. See our previous blog on Top Sites in Rome to help you out.
Things to Always Remember While In Rome:
1. Rome can be brutal (hot & busy) if you don’t plan well. Be sure to account for siestas (those cherished afternoon naps that the smart cultures take :-)) and pace yourself. Your time in Rome will be much better remembered and cherished if you do.
2. As mentioned earlier, THEFT is real in Rome. Protect your valuables!! Even better, don’t wear valuables in public and make yourself a target.
3. Bring/carry tissue for bathroom breaks just in case as not all bathrooms over there are stocked like we’re used to back home… Nancy say’s jokingly, “that’s what a bra is for!”. 🙂
The Skinny on Hotels:
Hotels in Rome are costly. Even a rated 2 star city center hotel can cost you $200-300 per night, but don’t let that stop you! It’s costly for a reason- Rome is worth every penny to be a tourist in.
To find a hotel in Rome?
If you are flying over a few days early for your Cruise (which, as we talk about here, we encourage so you don’t mess up your embarkation day, as flights can be unpredictable and can cause you to miss your cruise), we like to use “Trip Advisor” to choose a hotel by seeing which hotels are ranked the highest by real people…
We will usually compare a few of those top Rome rated hotels, by entering the dates we need accommodation for and clicking specifics of what we want in a hotel (wifi, air-conditioning, the area we are most interested in staying etc) and then Voila available hotels will pop up with pricing, so you can easily compare and choose the best one for you.
Note: The top sites to visit in Rome are quite spread out, so this is why we are not recommending a particular area to stay. Best to base your hotel choice on star ratings & price that equal best value.
BUT, If you are looking for more nightlife with lots of dining options, people watching & energy we would recommend staying near the Pantheon/Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna)/Trevi Fountain/Piazza Navona area for that kind of entertainment.
Best Colosseum Experience:
No doubt you’ll want to spend the 12 Euros per person to enter the Colosseum, Palantine Hill & the Roman Forum but also make sure to purchase, for 1.5 Euros more, the ticket to enter the underground area in the Colosseum. You can purchase them at: The Underground Tour… see this quick video about it. It’s worth it to see the area where the animals and gladiators were kept before the shows began. FYI, you can also purchase a guided Underground tour as well which we also recommend.
Best Kept Rome Tips:
TIP#1: The Roman Forum ruins are a bit tricky to walk as stones and rocks create the uneven pathways to walk about. Its best to wear good supportive walking shoes here so ladies, leave your heels at the Hotel! 🙂
TIP#2: There’s not many decent food options (besides fast food carts) around the Colosseum and Roman Forum but across from the “Victor Emmanuelle Monument” (which is located behind the Forum) there are plenty of restaurants and various food choices.
TIP#3: There are water fountains all over Rome that supply cold fresh water so bring a reusable bottle to fill and drink. No need to buy expensive water here.
TIP #4: Looking for the box store and brand names we are used to in North America? Look again. Mainly local shops here, which make the trip more authentic, which of course is a great thing…we purchased lots of pasta from local shops to bring home in our suitcase. 🙂
TIP #5: Trevi Fountain is one of the busiest places in Rome so be prepared mentally for the crowds before you get there- late night is the BEST time to visit in our opinion as the way the lights bring the water to life is pretty magical!
TIP #6: There’s lots of traffic in Rome and they do NOT stop at crosswalks like we are used to in North America, so here is what to do: Follow locals… when they walk, you walk. OR, if at a sidewalk alone, just step out confidently and slowly when there is a bit of distance for the car to slow down, and they will. It’s easy & you’ll get used to it but if you wait around for someone to stop you’ll be there all day!
What NOT To Miss in Rome:
In addition to our previous blog post about Rome covering “What you must do in Rome” you have to do the “Heart Of Rome Walk”. Between Campo de Fiori (which is a market during the day & great Plaza at night) and the Spanish Steps is a great walk to see many of Rome’s architecture and beauty including Piazza Navona, the famous Trevi Fountain and the spectacular Pantheon which is Nancy’s favorite after the Colosseum. 🙂
Foods Not To Pass Up While In Rome:
The thoughts of fresh Italian food, yummy! 🙂
Make sure to try lots of Pasta, Pizza Margherita, Olives, Prosciutto, Gelato, Panini’s and Nutella… they put it on everything there! If you enjoy any of these foods you will love Rome and it’s plentiful restaurants and markets. We ate pizza till it came out of our ears… as well as all the other foods listed here! So Yummy. 🙂
Vatican City Tips:
Tip 1: The Vatican Museum & The Sistine Chapel is extremely busy & lines up can easily be 1-2hrs or more to get in so no doubt it’s best to Reserve a ticket in advance… you can do so up to 60 days in advance. Like we did, which allowed us to simply walk in at our reserved time, you can reserve it online HERE.
Tip 2: St. Peters Basilica, the greatest church on earth, is a top attraction in Rome. Our suggestion is visit the Vatican Museum 1st as you can then enter the church through a Vatican Museum back entrance which will save you about a 30min walk.
Tip 3: Don’t forget to check out Castel Sant’ Angelo not far from the Vatican. This Fortress was built as a mausoleum in AD130-139, but was also used by former Popes for protection in times of danger. It has a covered passageway which still connects Castel Sant’ Angelo to the Vatican. Great photo op!
Tip 4: Be mentally prepared when in this area as The Vatican Museum & the Sistine Chapel are busy, busy, busy… and hot and crowded. So bring lots of energy and patience with you that day.
Where To Eat in Rome:
Have dinner at Campo de Fioro one evening. It’s a square filled with an outdoor market during the day and at night, turned into street side cafes, restaurants and street performers. At pretty much any of the restaurants the pasta is incredible!…
Then, a few blocks away, take a evening stroll through Piazza Navona which is a bigger square filled with the same as above but also vendors selling local art and such… & right about there will be the perfect time for a Gellato!! 🙂
Well, that’s it from us on Rome after visit # 2… we’ll be sure to head back again soon to get you some more great tips!!
Visit our Rome & Black Sea Cruise photo & video gallery to see more of our pics of Rome.
And to book your next cruise, including maybe a visit to Rome, don’t hesitate to Contact Shawn. He would be delighted to help you plan your next cruise and share many more cruise tips and more of our Rome experiences with you.
We appreciate You.
Nancy & Shawn
Your Trusted Cruise Experts!