We stayed at Hotel Residenza Ki which is located about 5 minutes from the Spanish Steps.
Again, if you are a hotel diva it's not for you, but it was perfect for us. It was in a good, safe and central location, it was clean and cheap. Absolutely no competition. I know you could go even cheaper with a hostel, but staying in little hotels like this worked out cheaper for us vs a hostel with a private room (I'm a light sleeper but can tune out KC's snoring, other people might not be so lucky). It also has great reviews. The hotel is adorable and the staff were fabulous. Plus, free breakfast (pastries!). The rooms were large and KC was so stoked that we had AC. Very happy with our choice. It can be a little difficult to find though, if you choose this hotel make sure you read reviews and look at photos and keep an eye out for the green doors.
Again, TripAdvisor should always be your buddy when looking for hotels.
Getting Around & Airport Transfers
Okay. So. Remember how Paris has an awesome metro system? Rome is the opposite. Ha. We did walk the majority of our time, but we caught the metro to the Vatican and back again. We caught it there because we slept in a bit, oops. We caught it back because it was basically monsooning and we didn't feel like walking in that.
The good news is that the metro is cheap, and we didn't have any issues with delays or anything. It's very simple to use because there are only 2 lines. Unfortunately, because Rome is, well, Rome, they have been trying to expand the metro for years but every time they do, they uncover something ancient and they have to stop what they are doing. Or so we were told. Because of this, there are parts of the city that are simply not accessible by metro and you'll need to walk or take a taxi.
As for finding your way around, when we arrived our hotel gave us these maps and circled where we were and where certain things were. Walking around we saw everyone with these maps. They are super handy and it seemed like everyone had them. It was probably some sort of advertisement for a big bus tour or the like, but it served us just fine and it meant that we could wander up and down random streets without getting lost.
Okay, now for airports. I booked both our flights to arrive and depart from the Leonardo Da Vinci airport (FCO). However, 2 days before we were supposed to leave, I received an email from Easy Jet saying that our flight from Paris to Rome had been moved to Ciampino airport (CIA) because of a fire the month or so before. No big deal. CIA is much smaller, we had no issues with our flight, easy peasy. I had already booked our transfers but they were so cheap I was like whatever, I'll buy them again. More on that in a second.
On our flight out of Rome, we left out of FCO. I am not kidding when I tell you that this is without a doubt, the craziest, worst airport I have ever been in (and I have been in a few!). Seriously, I am not even kidding - there were more people in FCO than in the city of Rome itself. It was so disorganised, hard to find anything - we had to ask 5 different people where our flight was supposed to leave from and were told 5 different things. I am sure I'm sounding like a whiny brat right now but I cannot even begin to convey just how crazy this airport was and if you can avoid it, YOU REALLY SHOULD.
Now. Getting to and from the airports, thankfully, is fairly easy and cheap. We used the Rome Airport Bus (Schiaffini).
We caught a bus from CIA to Termini, and then on the way out we took a bus from Termini to FCO. One way is like 4 euro. Very cheap. However, I highly recommend that when you arrive to Termini you catch a taxi immediately. Don't even think about trying to walk to your hotel unless you are staying right near Termini, and in that case, change your hotel. Okay, I might be a little over the top there but Termini was insane and I totally attribute our bad first impression to that station and everything around it. I had my google maps directions printed out but we couldn't figure out where the heck we were (it's huge, we had no idea what side we were on or anything, we couldn't find anything to match the map to find our way) and we ended up catching a taxi for less than 10 euro and got to our hotel in like 10 minutes. So less than 20 euro for the both of us.
When we left, because we were more accustomed to Rome, we caught the metro to Termini and then got on the bus. Super simple and I really recommend doing this.
You can also catch the Leonardo Express from FCO but that is 14 euro a person. From CIA, you'd have to catch a bus to the nearest station and then catch the train into the city center. There are tons of options on Viator for shuttles or private transfers as well. It wasn't cost effective for us to use that option and really, the bus was so simple and cheap.
Things to do
Okay, now that we have that stuff out of the way, lets get to what we did in Rome. We did a lot less in Rome compared to Paris, we had main attractions we wanted to see and then we ended up wandering around a lot of the time.
Italy Eating Tours. Can't recommend this enough. It's a bit expensive, but you get a ton of food, it's a great way to get an idea of the city (or an area you might not necessarily have visited on your own). I think there was about 10 people in our group, all ages (all American except me!) and it was honestly like we were out to dinner with a bunch of friends. I'm sure the wine helped, but I was all about that food. Even if you don't do the tour, get your butt over to Trastevere and walk around, sampling all the food.
|on the left we have the best pizza I have ever eaten and I can't remember where it was from, and a vegetarian version of suppli from the same place which was just fried mashed potato and cheese. yum.|
The Vatican (and the Sistine Chapel & Peter's Basilica) - I feel like this doesn't need to be on a list because most likely everyone will be going anyway, but I just want to reiterate. Even if you are not religious, it's worth it to visit for the history and beauty. We did a tour through Viator and it was well worth it. Crowded as all get out, but worth it. Make sure you are dressed appropriately.
Ancient Rome (the Colosseum, Roman Forum etc) - this was by far my favourite part of Rome. So much history! There are no words. I highly doubt anyone is going to Rome and not seeing the Colosseum, but just in case. We did a tour with Viator again and it was absolutely worth it. Cannot stress it enough, amazing.
Wander around - I know this isn't very helpful, especially if you are a crazy planner like myself, but Rome is such a fabulous city to just wander around and get lost (which you won't with your map!). I had a strict itinerary and ended up just going with the flow way more than I am used to, and we found some amazing gems that way. Seriously, do it.
Shops to shop
There is a ton of good shopping in Rome. There is, of course, all the shops around Piazza di Spagna which were certainly fun to look at but way out of my price range (think Prada, Gucci, D&G, Versace etc). The area on and around Via del Corso was way more my speed (and budget) with shops like H&M, Zara and the Disney store.
Food to eat
All you need in your Rome life is pasta, pizza and gelato. Lots of gelato. Also, I guess you should try some Suppli - I had a vegetarian version and it was delicious. I think the traditional version is made with beef.
Our favourite places where we ate:
Frigidarium - hands down, best place to get gelato. I'm so glad it was recommended a thousand times and I listened. I had other gelato as well, and it was good. This was better.
San Crispino - another good place to get gelato, because you can never have too much gelato.
Likeat - tasty, filling and cheap sandwiches.
Pinsere Roma - the pizza here was ahhhmazing.
Li Rioni - pizza here was so freaking good.
Pastificio - right near our hotel, super cheap. They only serve like 2 pastas a day and there is no seating, but still. It's like 4 euro.
L'Isola della Pizza - this was the absolute best pasta (pictured above) I have ever had in my whole entire life and I would go back to Rome just for this pasta. Yum.
Linking up with the girls for Wanderlust Wednesdays.
I hope this helped if you are planning to go to Rome. Did I leave anything out that you are curious about?