When (I Was) in Rome Pt. 1

Here’s what happened during my recent city break to Rome, a city famous for its historical monuments  and striking architecture – not forgetting its delicious food!

After a long day of travelling, I was excited to land at Fiumicino Airport for what promised to be a fun-filled three-day city break in Rome with my friend and former roommate Lucy.

Our first task was to find our way from the airport to our hotel – Hotel Columbia – situated in the heart of the historic centre of Rome, between the Opera House and the last bastion of the Diocletian Baths, and just a 10-minute walk from the city’s main railway station Roma Termini.

Unsurprisingly, there were plenty of trains, taxis and buses going from the airport to Termini every 10-20 minutes. One of the cheapest options though was a shuttle bus service provided by a company called T.A.M.

An open return cost us just €8 each and, joining the queue at a time when the airport was relatively quiet, it wasn’t long before we were on our way.

tam

The walk from Termini to our hotel was pretty straightforward. We looked at our map just once, only to find that we were already on the road we needed to be on. And, before long, we’d arrived at our hotel.

Admittedly, Hotel Columbia isn’t much to look at from the outside. Inside, however, it’s simply charming. The reception was painted a rich terracotta colour, the desk was made from dark wood and marble, and gold fittings and paintings decorated the room. A plush sofa also stood in the corner of the room for guests to sit down and relax while they wait.

We were greeted by a male receptionist who was incredibly friendly and helpful. During the check-in process he told us about the hotel’s rules, how to connect to the wifi, and when and where breakfast was served, among more. He also gave us a map of Rome, and circled both the hotel and the city’s most popular attractions.

Our room was just as charming and had everything we needed, including a wardrobe, safe and private bathroom. There were extra pillows, blankets, a hairdryer and shower products complimentary of the hotel too.

It was about five o’clock by the time we’d settled into our room and, not wanting to waste a second of the short time we had in Rome, we left the hotel in search of somewhere to eat.

We headed towards the Piazza di Spagna, knowing that it was especially close to our hotel. The square is also home to the Spanish Steps, which we arrived at after a 15-minute walk. Unfortunately, the steps were sectioned off but I was still able to see them and imagine what a lively meeting place it must have been for some of the city’s most famous artists and writers many years ago.

There were so many restaurants to choose from in the side streets off of Piazza di Spagna. We settled on a traditional pastaria restaurant, which boasted pretty views of the hustle and bustle around us, good service and even better food – all at a reasonable price.

hotel-columbia-rooftop

hotel-columbia-rooftop-2

We started our second day bright and early, heading to the hotel’s rooftop terrace for a lovely breakfast around eight. The waitress was lovely, making sure we had everything we needed and even taking a few photographs of the two of us at the table. The breakfast spread, meanwhile, was amazing, with everything from cereal to fruit to pastries.

colosseum

colosseum-2

After breakfast we headed straight to the Colosseum, which again was just a short walk away. The Colosseum hadn’t long opened by the time we got there, so we only had to wait about 20 minutes before going in.

I was in complete awe from the time I entered the Colosseum to the time I left it. The sheer size and scale of it is so dramatic, and it’s simply crazy to remember what took place there.

From the Colosseum we walked across the street to the Roman Forum. The Forum used to be marsh land until different people began building on it, transforming it into a bevy of different things over the years, including a political meeting place and market. What’s left there now is the most eclectic mix of monuments from different times in history.

forum

Palentine Hill, meanwhile, provided a calming respite from the crowd of people weaving their way through the Forum – not to mention offered the most amazing views over the Forum and beyond.

It was lunchtime by the time we got out of the Forum, so we searched for somewhere to grab a bite to eat before continuing with our day. We found a small cafe down one of the side streets close to the Colosseum that sold THE biggest slices of pizza for just €3. Needless to say, it hit the spot!

From there, we walked to Trevi Fountain to make our wishes. As busy as it was, it wasn’t overwhelming or too pushy. Most people there were happily sat around the outside of the fountain while the rest were calmly waiting to take their photo in front of it.

trevi-fountain

The Pantheon was up next. Wow – what a huge and beautiful place! The roof was beautifully domed and let in the most stunning light. The walls, meanwhile, were decorated with murals and statues remembering Italian kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I as well as the famous Renaissance painter Raphael and his fiancée.

We made our way back to our hotel to change for dinner around five. After all of the walking we’d done, we wanted to stay close to our hotel to eat. We ended up having a brilliant meal at a wine bar and restaurant called La Fontana al Viminale, located next door to our hotel.

la-fontana

The restaurant’s décor was very traditional – classy rustic, almost – and the walls were fitted with wall-to-wall shelves of wine and spirits. I had a cheese and spinach ravioli for main and a tasty lemon sorbet for dessert. The atmosphere, service and food were all great.

After paying the bill, we went back to our room and fell asleep with 25,000 steps under our belt!

Related posts:

Feel free to get in touch for any advice about visiting Rome. Or, share your own experiences below – I’d love to hear them!

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