It goes a little something like this…“I hear that I don't really need to spend much time in Rome, so we can skip it."
To an Italy fanatic...this hits me like a ton of bricks....and I hear it all. the. stinkin'. time. People treat this historical mecca like a layover on their way to the Renaissance filled town of Florence, the majestic coast of Amalfi, or the vineyard touting area of Tuscany. But Rome? It gets snubbed as if it wasn't the creator of the newspaper, concrete, welfare systems, roads, bridges, and bound books...y'all...books!
My immediate reaction? Well, my immediate reaction is stifled by my professionalism, but my internal dialogue is screaming, "well, then you are hanging out with the wrong people!" But that's not nice...or fair, for that matter. In fact, I was NOT a fan of this bustling city on my first pass either. While I love historical places, I am not one to "geek out" on the history alone. I travel to "feel" a place- not to memorize information. So hit me with a ruins tour...cool, but take me to a market filled with locals pedaling spices and letting me taste the oil from their family's recent olive harvest - well, HOT damn, I'm in!
So we are here to plead Rome's case a bit, and share why that we encourage our clients to consider a minimum of three nights to get the full feel of this city that is constantly fighting to find the balance of an ancient and modern world.
Feature Hotel: Hotel Indigo Rome - St. George
First off, your hotel plays a BIG role in your experience! What I mean by this more than cushy pillows and fancy Nespresso machines (although, those don't hurt) is the LOCATION of the hotel. On my recent trip to Rome, I was on the hunt to find a hotel that provided a respite from the hubbub while echoing the style of the city. I FOUND IT! This was my fourth time to Rome, and I confidently can say that I have found my new base. Forgive my quick tangent to explain my love affair with this hotel, while I outline the highlights:
This is tucked into the "real" Rome- you won't be bumping into tourists, but you will be walking passed artisanal shops, wine bars with locals pouring on the sidewalks, and a quick jaunt away from Piazza Farnese and Campo di'Fiori, where you can find every carb that you ever wished for.
History is alive within the building! There are stones within the lobby that date back to the same age as the Colosseum- potentially taken from the exact same quarry!
The breakfast. Ok...ok..so by breakfast, I mean the Prosecco and a croissant, but there are MANY more options that a less lushy visitor would want to indulge in. There are cheeses, meats, honeycomb, pastries of every kind, juices, pizza (for. real) and more! Plus, their cappuccinos can rival any in the city.
Spa-aaahhhh. In the bottom floor of this hotel holds an intimate spa that offers treatments, a jacuzzi pool, sauna and steam room to sweat out all that gelato.
Lastly...and the pièce de résistance. The rooftop! Terra cotta as far as the eye can see and a rooftop worthy of skipping your scheduled tour and spending the day sipping rosé.
And now back to the city as a whole...why add those extra nights onto your Rome itinerary?
Because one day is not enough in any big city! Would you assume that you could see all of New York in a single 24 hours? Times Square does not summarize the numerous boroughs of such an expansive place. Rome is just the same. The Roman Ruins and Colosseum are in one nook of the city- a very busy nook, at that. In that same area is one of the biggest intersections in the city...full of honking and monstrous buildings that seem to remove all personalization out of the experience, and therefore making the intimacy of the other Italian towns quite contrasting.
So where do you start? Well, we suggest sectioning your trip out by neighborhood. Don't try and cover ALL the ground in one day, and definitely don't try to hit every monument, ruin and church without stopping for a minute to "feel" where you are.
Regola: This is where I call "home" from now on! You will find Hotel Indigo nestled into this area right on Via Giulia - one of the most important (and elegant) streets of the city! This street was commissioned by Pope Julius II and was designed in 1508 by the same architect that was working on the Vatican. This street is very popular for the ever-so-common "passegiata."
Trastevere: This funky and bohemian area is chock-a-bock full of cafes, coffee shops, artist galleries, and youthful events. This is across the river from the main area of Rome, and therefore there immediately is more space to explore and wander. While you're over in the area, take a hike up Janiculum Hill for one of the most incredible panoramic scenes that you'll ever lay eyes on!
Testaccio: One word....YUM. Not only is this area HUGE for traditional Roman food (cacio e pepe, osso buco, and the hot spot "Trapezzino"), but this area has a TON of history, including a pyramid- literally an ancient pyramid. It almost looks like it got lost on it's way to the desert, and in some ways, it kind of did! I encourage everyone to head towards this neighborhood built on a hill of pots and learn all about how this area has been shaped over time.
Of course there are more...but we know you don't have all day to hear us yammer on...we're just trying to make a dad-gum point here!
So, onto HOW to see/eat/experience it all without devoting your entire trip to Rome! Here are our favorite guided options to help you hit the high points and free up some time to wander aimlessly:
EasItaly: This company can tailor and create practically ANY Rome tour that you can dream up! Do you....Want to have a private guide throughout the ruins? Easy! Want to ride bikes outside the city center to the catacombs? They've got you covered. I always get asked, what would YOU do if this was your trip? Hands down- I would ask this company to get creative to make my Rome dreams come true!
City Wonders Early Access Tour: While we haven't touched on the Vatican here, you'd be remiss in skipping out on a visit to the Papal state. This company offers an early access tour that allows you to beat the crowds and potentially be the first person to step into the Sistine Chapel for the day. What I also love about this tour is that you are done by 9 AM...perfect time to head to Campo di' Fiori to people watch and enjoy a nice cup of espresso.
Eating Italy Testaccio Twilight Stroll: A night out in Rome starts with apertivos- and so does this tour! You'll be guided to a local wine shop, and given introductory cocktail to hear a bit about the area before venturing on a gastronomic journey. You'll hear about the history of the area, and taste things that you'll be talking about for years to come.
ScooteRoma Vespa Tours: Talk about LEGIT! What Romans think is a normal commute is thrilling to this tourist. ScooteRoma guides can zip you through the main sights and the back streets of the city to cover the most ground and in the most authentic way possible.