Welcome back to the destination of the week, each week we will highlight a popular destination and give you all the information and first-hand recommendations you need to have an amazing holiday there.
This week you told us that the next destination should be Rome, Italy. Don't forget to join in on our Instagram polls @tysontrails to let us know which places you would like to see next!
Rome is a special place for us, we loved it so much that we decided to name our child after the city! We have visited Rome twice now, once back in 2016 as a couple and then in August 2020 as a family. Both times offered different experiences, the first visit we did lots of the main attractions and the second lots of exploring and eating - mainly due to visiting during the Covid pandemic and attractions being shut. However, we had a great time during both our stays and would go back in a heartbeat.
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Time difference: GMT +1 hour and during BST there is no difference
Flight time: London to Rome is around 2 and a half hours
British Embassy: +39 06 4220 0001 (https://www.gov.uk/world/organisations/british-embassy-rome) Via Venti Settembre, 80A, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
Emergency services: Ambulance - 118 Fire - 115 Police - 113
Important local laws in Rome
Rome is considered a safe place for tourists to visit, like most large cities petty theft such as pickpocketing and bag snatching is around. You can lessen any chances of this by staying aware of your surroundings especially when travelling on public transport or crowded areas. There are a couple of local laws that you must follow when in Rome to avoid any fines or punishments -
By law, you must be able to show some form of id at all times. A copy of your passport on a phone will be accepted but I also carry a second form of photo ID. The police will normally ask for your full passport if you are stopped while driving so carry this in the car when driving.
Train and bus tickets must be scanned or stamped in a ticket machine before you start a journey. Machines are normally outside the stop or in the entrance hall officials patrol public transport and will issue an on the spot fine of 100 to 500 euros (reduced to 50 euros if paid immediately) if you haven't.
In Rome, restaurants must display a menu outside the restaurant, only charge for bread if the customer specifically requests it, inform the customer of the prices being charged before he/she orders, give a proper receipt and not make any cover charge (coperto).
Many major cities in Europe including Rome charge 'city tax' for tourists. The tax is paid to hotels directly and is usually not included in any pre-paid hotel rooms or holiday packages it will be paid on top of this when there. The charge usually depends on the star rating of the hotel and often hotels ask for payment of this tax in cash.
Best time to visit Rome
We have only visited Rome in the summer months which can get very hot and dry, average temperatures can reach 31 degrees in the day and when we were just there in 2020 it was around 35 degrees every day which can make walking around a little uncomfortable so be prepared for lots of ice cream and drink stops. Winters are much colder and can drop to around 10-13 degrees. Spring and Autumn are the ideal times to visit when it isn't too hot or too cold and makes getting out a lot easier.
What to pack
There is no fixed dress code when visiting Rome but the most useful packing tip is to pack comfortable clothes and shoes, dress as you would in any city. We did a lot of walking in Rome so a good pair of comfortable shoes or trainers are advisable. Rome is also a great place for dressing up, there are some amazing restraunts here so pack a few nice outfits if you plan on getting out at night.
Things to see and do
Colosseum - Lets get the obvious one out of the way; have you even been to Rome if you haven't visited the colosseum? Rome's biggest attraction and probably the most iconic landmark of the city it is just as spectacular in real life. As the biggest amphitheatre in the world it could originally seat around 50,000 people attending the brutal games, every day they could see up to 10,000 animals killed. Outside you can get some amazing photos and I highly recommend going at sunset for that golden glow! Entrance tickets can be brought in advance or on the day and there are options for guided tours or headphone tours that are self guided.
Pantheon - The Roman Pantheon is one of the best preserved and influential buildings in Rome. It was originally built as a temple to all the Gods and is a great place to explore, been more so as it has free entrance and no tickets are required.
Spanish Steps - This was actually Romans favourite place and we came here every evening for some ice cream. The Spanish Steps are a set of steps, climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti church at the top. It is such a beautiful place and for kids its so fun, there is a fountain (Barcaccia Fountain) at the base where you can fill water bottles and horse drawn carriages offering rides; we didn't go on but the drivers are happy for the kids to come see the horses.
Trevi Fountain - The last obvious tourist place is the Trevi Fountain, it can get quite busy here so watch for little ones but its a great place for the family to visit. Every day around 3000 Euros are tossed into the fountain! We obviously contributed to that as it would only be right, the legend is that by throwing coins into the fountain you are going to return to Rome.. lets see! we also found a really lovely bar right next to it for some Spritz; it was quite overpriced but the ambiance was great and Roman fell asleep in his pram so we treated ourselves.
Where to eat
There are so many amazing place to eat in Rome, I will start off with one of our favourite's.
Hard Rock Cafe - whenever we visit somewhere that has one we always visit its like our tradition so of course we headed straight here for dinner. They had a great kids eat free offer which really weighs up the cost if you are eating as a family, and we also arrived in happy hour so wine was BOGOF!
Another great place we found was a tiny local patisserie right by our hotel called Riccardo Taliani Banqueting that had the most amazing selection of cakes and coffees, the highlight for us was that most of the cakes where gluuten free which meant Roy had a massive selection to choose from as opposed to his normal 1 lemon polenta cake option.
If you are looking for something with a great view but not too pricey then Ristoro della salutes is a great find, sitting right opposite the colosseum and serving up some amazing Italian dishes!
How to get around
There are lots of options for travelling around Rome, the train connections from other cities is one of the best way to travel around Italy and Termini station is right in the heart of Rome. There are lots of metro stations dotted around making it very easy to navigate the landmarks. Walking is another great way of getting around, most things are around 15-20 minutes from each other however we found Rome in areas can be very steep so just be prapared for the uphill walk back. Taxi's are widely available as well as Uber and are a great way for getting around quickly.
Where to stay
Budget - Al Viminale Hill Inn & Hotel
This was the hotel we stayed at on our most recent trip, It was a great base and had everything we needed, they are set as an apartment block with your own studio and then they had shared kitchen facilities which we didn't expect but that saved us loads on coffee with the free nespresso machine! We had a local store opposite us which was really handy and lots of small restaurants. When we booked it was one of the cheapest rooms we could find and we were really impressed with what we got for our money.
Mid-Range - Hotel Raffaello
A lovely 3 star hotel right in the centre of Rome, just a 5 minute walk to the metro station and 10 minutes to both Termini station and the Colosseum. Set on a quiet street but right in the heart of everything, all the rooms are decorated in a traditional Italian style. Breakfast is available and you have access to 24 hour tea and coffee in the lounge.
Luxury - Baglioni Hotel Regina
A beautiful hotel situated in one of the best areas of Rome, a stones throw from the the Villa Borghese, Piazza di Spagna and Via Condotti, the famous fashion street. The hotel offers it's guests a Spa as well as a lounge and restaurant serving quality dishes. Rooms are sophisticated and stylish offering an escape from the city.