Arrive late and make our way to Hotel Capo d’Africa, which is a 5 minute walk from the Colosseum, in our pre-booked pick-up for €75.
We just want something handy and close by for dinner (tasty would be a bonus) so we ask our hotel staff for recommendations (this was the one thing they weren’t so good at). They point us down the road to Papagios and we enjoy an expensive and not so tasty carbonara and seafood spaghetti, partially compensated for by the lovely Montepulciano red.
A quick Moretti nearby and then it’s a good night’s sleep.
With five days to play with, our plan is to do our box ticking over the first three days leaving the last two for relaxing strolling and unexpected sights.
First stop – Ancient Rome. We spend €30 each on a tour of the famous three (which included entry). We were probably ripped off slightly but we got what we wanted out of it, i.e. some good background info and lots of nice pictures. I was particularly impressed with the Forum, wandering down what used to be the main boulevard of this great city.
On finishing around 4 o’clock we take the not so short walk over to Trastevere for a quick visit to a recommended wine bar. We will return to Trastevere for sure, although maybe not to the wine bar.
Dinner that night near our hotel in i Clementini, a lovely family establishment complete with daughter as waitress and grandmother as chief storyteller – lots of locals and great food (fried Roman platter and saltimbocca in particular).
A day of walking – the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps and an evening visit to the (unbelievably crowded) Trevi Fountain. Very enjoyable. We had lunch at Da Tonino just off Piazza Navona after a few drinks lunch time drinks in the Piazza.
Another local dinner, this time at Isadors – nice but not near the top of our Rome dining experiences.
Vatican, and thank God for pre-booked tours as we arrive with seconds to spare but manage to walk straight past 200 metres of queues and security to make our 9a.m. tour by the skin of our teeth.
I am not an art expert by any means so I won’t try and pretend to be such, suffice to say it was a brilliant experience with a brilliant guide. €37 p.p. and the website we used was the one listed in the latest edition of the Rough Guide (name escapes me). We also paid the extra €7 to climb the dome of St. Peters Basilica. Well worth it for the views but give it careful consideration if you’re elderly or unfit or both. It’s steep, claustrophobic and hot.
We strolled back towards central Rome after that and had lunch again at Da Tonino – as you can tell we were very fond of it. They specialise in pasta and man is it tasty and cheap. A primi each was all we needed. With some house wine and a small tip that was a €25 lunch for two not to forget.
After a siesta and drink at our hotel we head to Luzzi’s pizza joint for dinner (again, you guessed it is on our hotel door step). Super cheap, super service and super tasty food. Afterwards it is a €10 taxi across to Trastevere for a night out. This is a great area of Rome, we end up in San Callista square (I think that’s the name anyway) and enjoy a few €1.50 Morettis and the fumes from the nearby student’s weed. Another taxi brings us home after a very enjoyable night.
Day 5 & 6
Wandering and relaxing, including another day time visit to Trastevere, a night out in Campo De Fiori, a 2a.m. visit to Trevi Fountain (pictures so much better at night and also less crowds) and a stroll around Circus Maximus, all very enjoyable.
Eating on days 5 & 6 included Il Gocetto (wine bar – awesome, highly recommended), Taverno Lucifero (very nice, near Campo de Fiori).
Overall thoughts on Rome
- Beautiful, people very friendly.
- Crowded even in September so I can only imagine what July and August are like (i.e. avoid them).
- It pays to do some research on eating out as for all the great places we went to (Luzzi’s, i Clementino, Da Tonino, Taverno Lucifero) I am guessing there are many more serving up frozen pizzas and reheated lasagne.
- Hotel Capo d’Africa was great, staff lovely and breakfasts really great. Location is good too as it is out a bit from the centre but still within walking distance to all major sights (even the Vatican I would imagine if you are fit and have the time!). Plenty of eating options around it as well.
- With 5 days I wouldn’t do any day trips as there is more than enough to keep you busy there for that time. Unless you have a week or more (or have visited previously) I would stick to the city.
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