A while back I put together a (very long) post about my wonderful weekend in the beautiful city of Rome. I rambled on (and on….and on, sorry!) for a while about how great the place was and reminisced about all the amazing food I consumed. This post is going to be more about tips and places I really enjoyed that I would recommend others to visit. If you have an upcoming visit planned then read on. I like to research a new place before I visit and I would have loved to stumble across a post like this when planning my getaway. So I will get straight to it and I hope the information I have put together will help you plan a successful trip to this beautiful city. (Beware, it is a text-heavy post!)
Transfers To And From The Airport
I had looked into the area of my accommodation and the various travel arrangements available before flying and decided to opt for the train as I was staying a less than 10 min walk from there. The Leonardo Express train (€14 per person). The Leonardo Express is a non-stop service between FCO airport and Rome Termini (the main station). Trains depart every half hour from 6:23 to 23:23, and the trip takes 32 min.
As we strolled out into the arrivals hall we looked for the signs and started to head in the direction of the train. On our way there we were stopped by a delightful (a not at all pushy, which made all the difference as this usually sends me in the opposite direction) energetic, smiley man. His name was Alessio and he was sharply dressed, as most Italians usually are. He asked us if we had travel arrangements planned and I said we were heading for the train. He then offered us a direct transfer with his company, right to our door for only 35 euros. He also said if you prefer to take the train then preceded to tell us the directions to the station, so he gave us complete freedom to choose and didn’t press us at all. His seemed like a great deal to us as we were about to pay 28 euros and then have a 10 minute walk with hand luggage cases and rely on google maps to get us there. So for the sake of spending an extra 7 euros it seemed like a no brainer.
We jumped in his mini bus and arrived at our door after seeing some of the city streets and having snippets of history along the way. He told us we could book him for our return by sending a text (he actually suggested whatsapp, which was better as we could see it had been received and read) a day before traveling back. We did this and it was a colleague that took us back, this time in a mercedes which cost us 40 euros. Admittedly he should have told us it was 5 euros more for our return (due to it being a private car and not a shared mini bus, also our fault for assuming the same return price. Lesson learnt: always ask!) beforehand but nevertheless it was a great service. We left fairly early in the morning so being taken right from our door was nice as we didn’t have to be up super early to get ourselves to the station. Overall his service was superb and apart from not telling us it was slightly more for the private car, I couldn’t fault anything. You can book Alessio by messaging 0039 339 2872733. You can also find him in the arrivals hall as he has a desk but silly me didn’t catch the companies name and I lost my receipt with the details on.
2. Where To Stay
We stayed in a B&B in what turned out to be Rome’s version of china town. There wasn’t anything wrong with the accommodation as such, it served its purpose. However, on returning to Rome I wouldn’t stay there again. It ultimately comes down to preference but we found this particular area wasn’t our favourite. Don’t get me wrong, we stayed right next to one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen (Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore) and at night all lit up it was even more spectacular – an absolute must visit if you are nearby. We also had the cutest little deli/cafe/bakery kind of place on the corner of the end of our road. Their Italian version of a ham & cheese toastie was to die for, being made with mozzarella & prosciutto. Game changer people, total game changer.
We like to walk and explore so in that sense it worked out as we were the opposite side of the city to the majority of the well known tourist attractions. In general though you never really had to walk that far. We could get from our neck of the woods to the other side in 45 mins. It gave us plenty of opportunities to take little back streets and see a lot of the city so in all fairness this wasn’t a huge issue for us.
On the opposite side of the city to where we were staying was an area I had heard lots about, Trasteverre. This is the main reason we wouldn’t stay in the area we did again, simply because we fell in love with Trasteverre.
Having lived in Corfu for many years and being heavily influenced by the Venetians, this felt like a home away from home. The whole vibe was totally different. There was a more relaxed feel, little squares and side streets filled with family run restaurants, each one better than the last. We spent 2 out of our 3 days over this way and boy am I glad I didn’t leave this area till the last day to visit. It has a totally different vibe on this side of the river and it was definitely more us.
3. Getting Around The City
Our favourite way to explore was by foot and with Google maps there really is no going wrong, you get to see everything along the way which for me is what exploring is all about. There was a really wet day and we had already planned to go over to the other side of the city. With a metro stop right outside our B&B we decided to use that which also would save us getting drenched.
There are a whole range of ticket options available to you such from a short travel time up to a week depending on how long and how often you are planning to use this method of transport. For example an individual ticket for bus, metro, tram and trains inside the municipality of Rome is €1.50 and is valid for 100 minutes, this is best if you are only planning on going from point A to point B and have an alternative return method or will return within 100 minutes. If you will be in Rome for an extended period of time, you can buy a seven day Metro and bus pass (called CIS) for €24.
The breakdown of ticket options is as follows:
- B.I.T. Standard Individual Ticket, valid for one Metro ride or 100 minutes on all buses allowing transfers (changing routes) – €1.50
- 24 Hour Ticket – valid for unlimited metro, bus, and train travel within Rome for 24 hours from validation – €7.00
- 48 Hour Ticket – valid for unlimited metro, bus, and train travel within Rome for 48 hours from validation – €12.50
- 72 Hour Ticket – valid for unlimited metro, bus, and train travel within Rome for 72 hours from validation – €18.00
- C.I.S. Weekly ticket – valid for 7 calendar days – €24.00
When you first purchase a travel pass or ticket it is blank.The travel pass only becomes ‘live‘ after you have validated it, (stamped with the date you first use it). Showing a ticket inspector an unvalidated ticket is no different to having no ticket at all. On the Metro lines the travel pass is automatically validated when you pass through the ticket barriers for the first time (these are yellow boxes that you can’t pass the gates without using so this is really straight forward – there was also a lot of staff around should you need help)
On other modes of transport there is a validating machine inside buses and trams and on the platforms of train stations where it is your responsibility to insert your pass into the machine and get it validated.
Single tickets are valid for 100 minutes from the time stamped on the ticket. On buses and trams you can switch routes within this timespan and on the Metro you can switch Metro trains at Termini Station without going through any ticket barrier. Travel passes are valid from the date stamped on the pass for the number of calendar days of the pass. If you purchase a 3 day pass on a Monday at 2 p.m. it expires on Wednesday at midnight. So this is best if you purchase first thing to get the full 3 day use as even though it is 2pm it counts as the first full day.
The metro is SO simple to follow and we used this a few times. We also used our tickets one evening to get a tram as they were still valid. However I reccommend the metro or bus over tram as this was not only slow….oh so very slow!! It was also a little difficult to find the stop to get on and where we got off was a little furhter out than we would have liked.
On a couple of evenings when we had eaten our bodyweight in delicious Italian cuisine, we found ourselves waddling instead of walking and opted to get an UBER home. Well, we were very pleasantly surprised because not only was it uber-cheap (see what I did there…) compared to London prices that we were used to. It was also pretty swanky! We got picked in a gorgeous mercedes one night (with a wonderful 60 odd year old guy, complete with his wife in the front seat – who gave us a fantastic history of everything we passed along the way.) The next night we were again too lazy to waddle and hailed an uber, to our surprise a shiny Jaguar turned up. We felt quite the VIPs!
4. Where To Eat
Now I’m not going to tell you where to go and eat, as food on my holidays is actually one of my favourite and also one of the most important factors to making (or breaking) the holiday. I will however, tell you where I had some fantastic meals and if you are stuck for ideas then you may want to give them a try.
I previously mentioned the cute little deli come bakery come cafe we used to get our morning snacks from. It is diagonally opposite the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and it is called ‘Pasticeria’. This plce was a little haven, it sold everything! You could grab coffees and selections of small pastries to go or sit in and have toasties like we chose to. They also sell almost every cake imaginable, should your sweet tooth kick in. Further down the end you can also buy hot meals and cooked breakfasts. It wasn’t super cheap but it also wasn’t mega expensive either. We had this 2 out of the 3 mornings there. We grabbed it to go on the journey to the airport too, along with a few little sweet treats as our parting gift to ourselves from Rome.
The rest of our favourite meals were over in Trastevere. We found all of these by simply wandering down numerous backstreets and browsing menus. They are all on google maps so just typing in the name will get you there with no problems.
Papa Re was a little taverna style restaurant and what made us go in was the fact that there was so many locals inside. In my opinion, if it’s good enough for a local then it’s good enough for me. My boyfriend and I always tend to pick a mixture of small plates, him being Greek and myself living in Corfu it’s pretty much how we eat every meal. For us we like to have a choice dishes, it’s the best way to try a wide range of local cuisine. One of our more favouried dishes from here was called ‘suppli’ which is balls of rice usually mixed with cheese and a tomato based sauce (sometimes included is minced meat but this is not as common) coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried. They were to die for! We ordered one portion which was 3 rice balls about the size of a lime each. They were that good that we very nearly ordered another portion but then we realised our eyes were probably bigger than our bellies so we refrained. This particular restaurant they just bought out what ever was ready first, which again we are used to back in Greece but I actually prefer it this way as you really get to try and savour each dish. The other delicious plate of the night was the ‘Saltimboca’ which was two portions of meat (pork) covered in ham and cooked in a white wine sauce. You can check out their menu on their website.
Carlo Menta was a lovely little lunch spot we found. This place actually looked pretty basic but again, sometimes these end up being the better places. Keeping it simple and focusing on the food. It was actually fairly busy but we spotted locals and tourists alike so we opted to go in and try it out. We got in just at the right time as shortly after a queue started to form outside. It was more of a sit, enjoy your meal but don’t hang around so the next table could be seated kind of place. We didn’t mind this though as it was just a lunch stop. We liked to take more time over our dinners but fitting in all the sight seeing meant we didn’t want to while away lots of time over lunch. Here we enjoyed a selection of cheeses, salt-cured beef, prosciutto bruschetta and other traditional Italian nibbles. We also had a litre and a half of wine to share so left a little on the merry side. It certainly made the bus ride on the way home fun. This was a really enjoyable meal, it wasn’t the absolute best meal we had but we polished off all the food and it was a very reasonable price. I would certainly visit again.
My final and by far favourite meal that I will indulge in telling you about is the last meal we had in Rome on our final night…..the last
suppli supper if you will.
We found ourselves doing our usual back street wandering and came across a row of 4 small restaurants in a row. We walked along browsing each menu for some dishes we liked the sound of. Suddenly a few sporadic raindrops turned into a torrential downpour and whilst on the last menu agreeing it sounded lovely and probably most to our liking we were halfway through the door before we got even more soaked. I think the rain was secretly a sign in getting us to pick this particular place as it was not just the best meal we had in Rome but one of my favourite by far on any holiday.
The decor was super cosy, exposed brick walls with low ceilings, dimly lit and real wooden beams running the length of the small space. The tables were close together each with a red glass bottle & candle stick. This might sound silly but it felt like a stereotypical Italian restaurant that you see in a romantic film. A perfect little date spot.
After saying less than 3 words (water please) he suddenly came out with the words ‘You’re from Greece and you’re from London’. We were stunned at how he reached this conclusion with the simple order of some water! He told us he was good with accents and we had a little laugh, at his what can only be described as a super-talent, he proceeded to then take our order….which was almost 1 of everything on the menu. We went ALL out.
The two favourites of this meal was 1) the meatballs, oh the meatballs, they were beyond divine. I am a huge meatball fan and these were probably the best I have ever had in my life. They were huge for starters, approx the size of my fist and there was 2 in a dish with homemade tomato sauce. This is what bread was made for!
I hope all the information I have provided will help you in any way with your Rome planning. There is probably bits I have missed out so if you think of any questions about anything Rome related then shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer as best I can. I thought the subjects I have covered are the most important that we could have done with knowing before our trip.
Have a fabulous time and if you haven’t been to Rome yet…..Get booked & GO! It’s a truly wonderful place to visit!