Roaming Around Rome – Day 2

After an exhausting first day of hitting all the sites in Rome, we had another full day.  Our sleeper train to Sicily didn’t leave until 11pm so we had a lot of time to fill.   Side note, I have a separate post about the night train experience.

We treated ourselves to a bit of a sleep in i.e. we got up around 830, instead of 6 as we had been for the last 3 days!  We had a lovely breakfast in our hotel, cappuccinos, local meats and cheese and fresh bread.

We sadly checked out and left our bags with the hotel to start our second day of seeing the sites!

Our big planned adventure for the day was the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Forum.  We bought time entry tickets months before to skip the long line.  Do this! Seriously! The line up to get in the Colosseum was crazy long! Your timed ticket is good for entry into any of the 3 sites at that time, and you can visit the other ones in the same 24 hours.

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Next up was Palatine Hill, a much more chill experience.  Much more room to wander without other people jammed in your space.  TIP: Palatine Hill has the shortest entry line – It seems like people skip Palatine Hill, and only do the Colosseum and Roman Forum if they’re short on time.  And once you’re in, you can effortlessly pop into the Forum without having to go back outside and wait in yet another line.

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And finally, we ended with a visit to the Roman Forum.

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All in, I think we spent about 3 hours wandering all 3 sites, with most of our time spent in Palatine Hill.  We really enjoyed it the most and that was due to less tourists shoving up into our business.  Oh and the shade!

We worked off our breakfast and were ready to eat, so we headed over to Roscioli for our lunch.  We had made reservations ahead of time, which I strongly recommend you do as well.  It was crazy busy and people were being turned away.  We picked to sit downstairs in the wine cellar, which I think only tourists do, but it was nice to be away from the front door which was super crowded and most likely a very annoying dining experience.

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Shawn enjoying some afternoon vino

Again, this dining pick was courtesy of Katie Parla’s website and I followed her dining instructions.  Get the burrata, some cold cuts perhaps, and pasta.  Avoid the mains.

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Over ordered again!

We both had a pasta dish.  Shawn got the matriciana o amatriciana, a delightful pork and tomato pasta with a bit of kick, and I had the insanely decadant raviolo di coda e pecorinola, a ravioli filled with oxtail and cheese in a foie gras sauce.  They were both so incredible.

We were way too stuffed for dessert, but they gave us little cookies with a chocolate dipping sauce to finish us off!

We decided we needed to walk lunch off, so we wandered our way through the streets to the spanish steps, tried to sit on them in the shade and rest, but were yelled at by the cops and had to keep moving.

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We hit 22,000 steps by the early evening, and still had 4 hours to kill before we could get to our night train! So more walking, through the shady Villa Borghese, before heading back down towards our hotel.
Treated ourselves to a few spritzes, and some sitting in a cute bar near our hotel trying to kill time.  I think that ends up being the one downside about catching a night train, trying to fill your day with activities, and then wanting to just sit somewhere comfortable!

We finally grabbed our bags from our hotel, bought some big bottle waters for the train ride and on our way to Termini found another cute wine bar with nice outside seating. We had a few glasses of wine and some brushetta. IMG_1074

Our train left at 11pm, so we got to Termini for 10 pm, passed through security to get on our track, and the train actually showed up on time! An actual night train miracle.

So long Roma, it was a busy 32 hours, but we had so much fun!

Roaming Around Rome – Day 1

In only 32 hours!

Not ideal, but since we seem to find ourselves in Europe quite often, we figured it would be a good first taste for Shawn, and I had been once before.

We arrived mid-afternoon after a 3 hour train ride from Milan.  It was HOT.   We schleped our bags the 20 minutes from Termini to our hotel, Residenza Torre Colonna Rome – which just happened to be in a 15th century guard tower! Essentially right next door to the Alter of the Fatherland and the Roman Forum!

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Residenza Torre Colonna Rome

The Residenza Torre Colonna Rome was a delight.  Its a boutique hotel so there are only 5 rooms total, each room is an entire floor of the tower.  And the customer service was out of this world.  I had indicated on our reservation that we were traveling around Europe for Shawn’s 50th, so they had a bottle of prosecco waiting for us!  And suggested we enjoy it on the roof. OVERLOOKING THE FREAKING ALTER OF THE FATHERLAND!

It was really hard to leave this.  We could have spent the next 32 hours just chilling in this hotel.  But, we had things to see.  I decided to give Shawn a world of wind tour of Rome.  As many sites as we could see in 32 hours.  And, I kind of killed it.

First up, obvs, the Alter of the Fatherland, since it was right next door.

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Then a stroll down to Largo di Torre Argentina, where Julius Caesar was murdered all those years ago.

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I think my favourite part about Italy is you’ll be walking down a modern street in a major city and then BOOM, this amazing piece of history is right there.  And then turn another corner and BOOM, more history!

Next up was the Pantheon, my absolute favourite to visit in Rome. IMG_0979

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We made a brief stop in Piazza Navona to try and see the fountains, too many other tourists.  So a quick stop for amazing gelato from Grom (get the pistachio!) and we were back on the move.

Headed over the Ponte Sant’Angelo to get eyes on the Castel Sant’Angelo.  Since I’m an atheist, Castel Sant’Angelo and the Vatican don’t tick a lot of boxes for me.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re gorgeous.   But, not my jam. And this area seems to be swarming with the scam tricksters who are constantly trying to get you to buy something or have you let your guard down for 5 seconds so they can steal all your shit.

So we went, and saw and then escaped as quick as can be, with all our belongings still intact.

And headed down to the Tiber for a stroll towards the Trastevere neighbourhood.

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Come on, how GORGEOUS is this city?!

Keep in mind, we banged all this out in around 2.5 hours.  Rome is so insanely walkable.  Another reason I love this city so much.  We were actually early heading to our dinner reservation in the most southern part of the Trastevere neighbourhood.  So we walked into a bar across the street, enjoyed some spritzes and waited for them to open… only to discover there had been a family emergency and they were closed.

Now what? Well I follow Katie Parla on instagram and used her restaurant suggestions on her website to book this now closed restaurant, so I hoped back on her site and looked for places in the neighbourhood over – Testaccio, a more working class neighbourhood, but one that would be on our way back towards our hotel.

And, like usual, her recommendation did not disappoint! We ended up choosing Piatto Romano, for a more roman dining experience.

That’s local wild greens in an olive oil dressing, rabbit with sauteed broccolini, black garlic pasta and a tiramisu.  We were stuffed! It was fantastic.  We got a carafe of house red, and it turned out to be a very reasonably priced meal.  If you’re in Rome and looking for a delicious meal, head to Piatto Romano!

We continued our walk home by heading back to the Tiber and following it towards the hotel.  We ended up passing by more ruins and the gorgeous Teatro Marcello.  We also learned that the ruins are loved by rats at night.  All of them were swarming with rodents! Bleh!

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We finished our day’s adventure passing by the Alter of the Fatherland, and briefly checking out the Trajan forum from above before crashing into our beds.  In total we did 24,695 steps!

EuropeanFive0

My lovely, wonderful Shawn turned 50 this October so we (ok me) decided what better way to celebrate than to tour around Europe for 3 weeks. You know, cause I need a reason to visit…

We hashtagged the entire trip on Instagram with #europeanfive0 so feel free to catch up there as well as the accompanying posts.

We covered a fair amount of ground and I answered a lot of questions I had before we left. So maybe this blog can help some other traveller out?

Or it’ll be an everlasting testament to our best 3 week holiday.

This is our itinerary:

Paris – 1 day

Zurich and Chur – 1 day

Tirano and Milan – 1 day

Rome – 1.5 days

Sicily – 4 days

Malta – 10 days

Our goal was to fly into Paris and then train all the way to Sicily, ferry to Malta and then fly Malta-Paris-Home.

We ended up flying Paris to Zurich as the flight was substantially cheaper than the train. We also flew from Catania, Sicily to Malta as the ferries get cancelled if the waves are more than around 6 ft and we didn’t want to take that chance. Turns out we could have ferried as the weather was perfect the day we were to leave, but Ryan Air was really cheap and surprisingly on time.