Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Weekends in Rome with The Roman Guy

Italy is one of my favourite places to visit and in the past few years I've fallen even more in love with it. February seemed like the perfect time for an Italian pick me up to blast away those Winter Blues, so my friend and I decided to book a long weekend trip to Rome.

This would be my third visit to the Eternal City - read about what I learned on my first trip here. I was excited to return and for what I would discover this time around.

Arriving in Rome is a sensory experience - the sound of Vespa motors fills the air, leaden with History and memories of grandeur. The Italian passion and style exudes from every crevice- you can see it with every couple in the street; the well-dressed elderly man; the pizza maker busy at work in the window and the avenues and streets of expensive boutiques. Designer stores sit right next to tiny little cafes, launderettes, bars and quirky leather goods shops.

There is so much to take in and people watching is part of the charm of this city. On our first day, we arrived at our Air BnB - Ivan Camillo's The White Inn, located in the San Giovanni area. Ivan and his wife greeted us and could not have been more helpful, suggesting lots of local places for us to check out. The apartment itself was beautiful and had everything we could need - even a little outdoor terrace which is unheard of in Rome!

We were starving so headed out to grab some lunch - authentic local pasta and a trattoria just down the street. We knew it was legit since there was no menu - only a specials board in Italian! Fully fed and watered we headed for a wander round town, past the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Venezia and Via Del Corso.

We finished our evening with some aperitivo in a little bar just off Piazza Venezia - the staff were really friendly and even offered us another glass of prosecco on the house when we left!

On Saturday, we had an early rise for our tour of the Vatican Museums. We booked the Privileged Entry tour with The Roman Guy, which turned out to be an excellent decision! Our guide, Jovita, greeted us at a little cafe just outside the entrance. She gave us ample time to have our breakfast of espresso and cornetti, which gave us the energy we needed. 

Being one of the first groups to enter the Vatican meant we were able to wander the halls with no-one else around. Experiencing the Sistine Chapel in absolute silence (it is forbidden to converse inside) with only a handful of other people around is indescribably wonderful. 

Jovita was an excellent guide and made our tour even more special - not only was she incredibly knowledgeable and was able to explain everything to us well, answering every question - she filled the tour with stories and anecdotes to spark our interest and imagination. 

The three hours seemed to fly by and soon we were at our final destination - St. Peter's Basilica. Nothing can prepare you for the sheer scale of the place - the biggest in the world. It's a breathtaking way to end a tour which I'll never forget.

After our culture-filled morning, we had a slightly lazier afternoon- the sun was shining so we sat outside lunching at Da Francesco - highly recommended by our local foodie Lorna. Afterwards we enjoyed an espresso at the famous Sant'Eustachio Caffe - the best coffee in Rome (I can testify this is true...) and later a gelato in the sunshine, overlooking the ruins at Torre Argentina (famously speculated as the site of Julius Caesar's murder - now a home for lots of stray cats!)

On Saturday evening, we headed to Trastevere to meet Lorna. She took us to the excellent Grazia & Graziella, where we sat outside and sipped on our Aperol Spritzes before enjoying a delicious dinner. Afterwards, we wandered around lively streets of Trastevere and headed for some cocktails at Pimm's Good, where we danced to the blues band that were playing.

Our first two days in Rome were busy but so much fun. Thank you to Lorna and The Roman Guy for everything. Check back for my next blog about our Sunday wine tour in Frascati!

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