Fav 5 Travel Guides are a short list of the best things I've found to do, see, eat, or drink in a particular location. This guide is for Rome, Italy.
Look no further for more posts about International Travel and a Fav 5 Travel Guide for Naples, Italy.
Visiting Italy has been a dream of mine for my entire life. I finally touched down in the motherland in 2014. It was my very first trip abroad and Bryce and I were celebrating our honeymoon!
Our first stop was, of course, Rome. We were both new to international travel and we were so proud to have planned the whole trip ourselves. We spent 4 days in Rome and absolutely fell in love with the city.
Spoiler alert: We love Rome so much we'd go back again just two years later.
Our next and second stop would be Napoli, or Naples, Italy.
The city is magical. It's huge and saturated with architecture, art, shopping, food, wine, and entertainment. The ancient streets and sidewalks of stone are enchanting and the glamorous Italian women effortlessly gliding down them in high heels will mesmerize you. The street side restaurants will call you in and prove to you that slowing down and enjoying life the Italian way is worth every cent you spent to get there. A trip to Rome will change your life.
This Fav 5 Travel Guide highlights the very best of our visit to Rome. It's especially helpful for new travelers and first time visitors to Europe, Italy, or Rome.
1. The Palm Gallery Hotel
We stayed at the Palm Gallery Hotel. It's a real gem!
Location: The hotel is located in a quiet, calm, and beautiful neighborhood in Rome. It's an 11 - 13 minute drive from the airport and a 40 minute walk to the Spanish Steps. The location was perfect for us as first time and scrappy travelers: there are bus stops all around and a tram station nearby. We loved getting to know the area, walking around in search of restaurants and taking in the sights of the neighboring buildings and streets.
Staff: The Palm Gallery front office is always staffed and the team couldn't be more helpful or nice. (I'm still Facebook friends with one of our buddies from our visit in 2014!) They'll help you navigate the city, let you use their bug spray, give you recommendations for where to eat, help you learn a word or phrase in Italian, and get you a taxi to your next destination.
Breakfast: Perhaps the best part of the Palm Gallery is the amazing breakfast each morning. There are more types of tea and juice than I've ever seen in my life. You can chose from several meats and cheeses, fresh fruits, prepared hot breakfast items, pastries, and more. You can order custom espresso drinks and omelettes. It's all included when you stay at the hotel and the selection is a little bit different every day. Each morning we'd feast on the Palm Gallery breakfast and then explore the city until we got hungry for lunch or gelato. This is where I fell in LOVE with cappuccino and my life will never be the same.
Patio, Drinks, Snacks: The Palm Gallery has a great patio where we'd hang out every night while waiting for the appropriate dinner time to roll around. (Don't think your American appetite will be eating at 5 or 6 pm, you're in Europe and dinner should be at 8 or 9 pm.) Relaxing on a patio in a neighborhood in Rome is amazing, as is, but made even better with drinks and snacks. Of course the beers and glasses of wine will be added to your tab but you'll be surprised to see that each drink comes with a little snack. This is where we first had taralli - little crackers made of pasta dough!
Room: The rooms are all themed from another travel destination. There are huge windows and amazing fresh air breezes. Our first floor room was great and we encountered our first bidet - welcome to Europe.
Since we visited the Palm Galley Hotel has added a POOL!
2. The Colosseum
The colosseum, or colloseo, was the first and most important thing see on our Rome bucket list.
As you approach the colosseum you can feel the energy building. You'll set eyes on the HUGE and beautiful ancient stadium you'll be in total shock. The closer you'll get the more the whole thing comes to life. There are tourists buzzing around taking photos, vendors trying to sell you water bottles, and "gladiators" ready to pose with you.
We bought the Roma Pass to maximize our time in Rome. The pass has several levels and prices based on how much time you have to spend. It includes admission to museums and serves as a bus pass. I'd recommend this to anyone who's new to Rome! The colosseum is included and there's a shorter line for Roma Pass visitors.
We visited in the early morning and spent at least an hour inside the colosseum touring all around, up and down, and through the museum. It's wild to think of our modern NFL stadiums in contrast to the colosseum in terms of when they were built and the varying activities bringing in the crowds! It's crazy and amazing to be able to explore such an old and historic venue.
3. House of the Owls
Using the Roma Pass we also visited Casino Nobile and House of the Owls, or Casino Delle Civette. These attractions were just a few minutes walk from the Palm Gallery Hotel.
There are so many museums and historic sites to see. At some point you may feel some museum fatigue after viewing so many ruins, sculptures, and paintings.
We toured the Casino Nobile first. It's a gorgeous mansion and property and it's where Mussolini lived during WWII. Tucked behind the formal home you'll stumble upon the House of the Owls. This will snap you out of your museum fatigue and delight you with it's charm, colors, and quirky creativity!
The House of the Owls is the oddest and cutest little house. It's modeled after a Swiss Cabin and filled with colorful stained glass windows. My favorite part is the ceiling in the master bedroom. There are dainty stars on the dark blue ceiling, a dramatic circle of bats, and a hanging chandelier overhead.
I'd never seen anything like the House of the Owls before my visit and still haven't since!
4. Holy Stairs
In my hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania we have a little Catholic Church that has Holy Stairs. Holy Stairs are a staircase that lead to an altar. You climb the stairs on your knees, one at a time and slowly, praying on your way up. I'd gone to the Holy Stairs in Pittsburgh twice, first with my Grandfather as a kid and again with my entire class in high school.
The Holy Stairs in Rome, called Scala Sancta, are said to have been those ascended by Jesus on his way to be judge by Pontus Pilot. They were given a great upgrade just this year. Nobody knew about the Holy Stairs in Rome when we visited! We set out to find them and told the taxi driver to take us to the church across the street.
I covered my shoulders and braved the stairs myself. It was such a Catholic lesson in sacrifice to take each of the 28 stairs on your knees. It HURT and there was no way to escape, I can't imagine going back down or standing up to leave. Once you're underway you've got to keep going. I was unsure of the actual protocol and prayed for someone or something different on each stair.
The funny part was the fast lane! On the far right there were tiny and old Italian women speeding up the stairs while the rest of us slowly and awkwardly trudged up the stairs and took breaks.
No doubt you'll want to visit the Vatican City, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica while you're in Rome, especially if you are or grew up Catholic. The Holy Stairs were my favorite and most memorable experience in Rome!
5. Italian Produce Stands
Something is different about the fruits and vegetables in Italy. They're fresher, more beautiful, more perfect, and just BETTER.
Between museum visits and Roman meals we stumbled upon many produce stands. You'll see three-tiered towers of freshly sliced coconuts, nuts and seeds for snacking, and even little water faucets to rinse your fruit before you take a bite.
At the best produce stand we found, tucked between busy streets in Rome, I found figs. AHHH! What a rite of passage to go back to the country of my Great Grandparents and eat my favorite fruit, the namesake of this blog, and the food I shared with my Pap in his yard and with my Great Grandmother in her nursing home.
Thank you for joining me for this visit to Roma! Please share this post with anyone who's heading to Rome and save it for your own adventures.
We later visited more cities in Italy and, as mentioned, came back to Rome again just two years later. I hope to recap all of those travels soon!
Hello, I'm Angela.
Figs and Flights is all about traveling near and far & eating great food both at home and away.
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