Rome Travel Diary

Walking through the cobblestoned streets and hidden arches of Rome

Of all the places we visited in Italy, Rome had some of the trip's highest highs and lowest lows.

The day we landed in Rome, there was a freak thunderstorm and it poured so hard the buses and subway had stopped running and parts of the city were flash flooded. The crooked cab driver from the airport ripped us off and left us about half a kilometre away from our hotel. We were soaked by the time we arrived. Then to top it off, a leak sprang right over the bed in our room and the storm knocked out the power! This wasn't exactly an auspicious start to the honeymoon, to say the least.

We spent the next two hours sitting on the staircase with all our luggage while the hotel manager tried to find us alternate accommodation and call a cab. Of course, there were no cabs to be had with the storm and public transit not running. We just had to wait out the rain and schlep our stuff to the sister hotel a half hour's walk away. This was all within the first six hours of us being in Italy, by the way, on no sleep, no food, and no coffee, wheeling our carry-on suitcases over cobblestones and walking to our next destination in damp sweaters and wet shoes.

Things picked up after that. The new hotel room was more spacious and newly renovated, and we used the hairdryer to dry off our sweaters and shoes. Food, espresso, and a power nap cheered us up. That night after dinner we strolled the cobblestone streets marveling at the architecture and how different it all felt from home. We tossed a coin into the Trevi fountain and climbed the Spanish steps. Our first night ended with drinks in front of the Pantheon, just like Audrey Hepburn did in Roman Holiday. And for the first time in the hours since we arrived in Italy, I began to feel truly excited about our trip.

Lawrence and I like to look back on that terrible first day in Italy and laugh. There was no real risk to life, limb, personal security, or property, and just enough discomfort to make friends cringe when we tell them what happened. In other words, it's the sort of bad travel experience that makes for a good story afterward. There were a couple of other off-colour experiences (one restaurant that short-changed us, another one that was just plain terrible, rude shop girls in a shoe store), but the charms of the Eternal City more than made up for it.

And there is no denying that the city is beautiful—a city like no other, seducing visitors one perfectly lit monument, piazza, and fountain at a time. We spent a day and a half in Rome before departing for Venice and returned for two more nights before flying home. During that time we walked around aimlessly, stopping only for meals or gelato or aperitivi, and just immersed ourselves in the sights and sounds of Roma.

All of our Rome recommendations are after the photos at the end of this post!

Triton fountain at night in Rome, Italy
Trevi fountain
Roof of the Quattro Fontane church in Rome, Italy
Standing in Piazza Navona
Quiet courtyard
Street art of a woman in a strapless sun dress
Admiring the view of the Tiber River in Rome
Courtyard of Borgo Ripa
Drinking an aperol spritz at Borgo Ripa
Colosseum exterior wall
Roman Forum arch
View of the Colosseum arena floor and underground from the third tier
View of the Colosseum from the third tier
Selfie from the third tier of the Colosseum

Stay

The Floris Hotel was where we were resettled ultimately and we loved it. For a relatively affordable rate you get great service and staff; clean, newly renovated rooms with rainfall showers; and a central location on the bustling Via Nazionale near the Piazza della Repubblica, within walking distance of all the major sights.

Do

Aside from wandering around and admiring how pretty Rome is, we splurged on a special small-group, skip-the-line tour of the Colosseum and Roman Forum including access to the arena floor, underground, and third tier—areas that are off-limits with regular admission. We learned so much from our knowledgeable guides and the experience was worth every penny. You can go to Viator and search for "Colosseum underground tours" to book, but be forewarned: space is limited and these tours fill up fast.

Eat

Trattoria Da Enzo in Trastevere doesn't take reservations and there's often a lineup outside during the dinner rush, but the cacio e pepe is definitely worth the wait. Our other favourite was Osteria dell'Angelo, which was a short walk from the Vatican; the 25 euro fixed price menu includes four courses (appetizers, your choice of pasta and meat courses, cookies and dessert wine) and will leave you stuffed.

Drink

We stumbled upon Borgo Ripa by accident and had to stop for aperitivi. The cocktails are expensive, yes, but you're sipping them in the courtyard of an old palazzo, surrounded by greenery and the soothing sounds of a fountain, and the hustle and bustle of the Roman streets feels miles away.

Shop

If your itinerary doesn't include a stop in Florence, you can still swing by the Roman outpost of the famed Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella to pick up hand creams, soaps, and perfumes made by the oldest pharmacy in the world. You'll also want to make a pit stop at Moreschi—one of the best shoemakers in the country, according to my cobbler—for the sort of Italian leather made-in-Italy shoes that last forever. (I ended up buying bottle-green laceless oxfords.)

4 comments

  1. Wow what a rough start but it all ended well. Love your photos I took a lot of photos in Paris but all street style. I need to take more historical photos next time I go, said that last time but when I went to Versailles I took the wrong lens but I did get to film it. And thanks for all the recommendations.

    Allie of ALLIENYC
    www.allienyc.com

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    1. You're welcome re. the recommendations! I really enjoy taking historical photos, but Europe is also amazing for street style photos as you've discovered already. The Hubs and I didn't snap photos of anyone, but we did surreptitiously admire the impeccably dressed Italian men and women who crossed our paths.

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