I would be remiss if I skipped right over Rome and only blogged about my love for Florence, without ever mentioning how beautiful Vatican City is, along with a few other memorable sites and moments in Rome, so I’ll start there.
But first, let me tell you a little bit more about my traveling style. If you’ve ever visited my Facebook / Instagram pages https://www.facebook.com/noirtraveltea/ / https://www.instagram.com/noirtraveltea/ or read any of my blogs, you know that while I like to fully immerse myself in the culture of the city/country that I’m visiting; I like beginning and ending my day in a nice hotel or AirBnB. The primary reasons I look for 4-5 star accommodation (USA rating standards) is as a solo traveler if, for any reason, I’m uncomfortable out at night, tired and don’t feel like venturing far away or if the weather is not conducive to going out, the hotels that I choose have various amenities that allow me to continue having a good time, i.e., a restaurant, bar, gym, etc. And, I like to feel at home when I’m abroad; therefore, I don’t lodge anywhere abroad that I wouldn’t stay overnight, at home. My living/sleeping arrangements should closely resemble my daily life at home.
For the most part, when I travel solo I only look for hotels central to main attractions and although this was not a solo trip, Trastevere came so highly recommended that it seemed like an obvious choice, and the listing had all of the buzz words that I would look for in a prime location.
- The apartment is located in the heart of the historical center of Roma: “Trastevere
- The strategic location benefits of an easy access by walk to all the main attractions as Piazza Venezia, Trevi’s fountain, Via Del Corso, The Spanish Steps, Colosseum, the Jewish Ghetto and so on.
- Using the stairs inside the flat you will get to the first floor where you will find a double bedroom.
So… let’s stop right there.
I’m usually pretty good at catching the “small print”, but I’d say this host went out of his way to be misleading in describing the interior of the apartment because for the same price we could’ve stayed in an “actual” two bedroom apartment. The photos in his listing included several shots of “a” bedroom, with different bedspreads (one bed with a sheer canopy and one without), suggesting two different beds and conveniently there’s no space in “double bed*room” and more to the point it was listed as two bedrooms. FACT: it was a studio apartment with a crawl space. Calling the first floor anything other than a crawl space is laughable. It’s a crawl space with a bed in it, where if you’re taller than me (5’3) you should plan to duck or you’ll hit your head on the ceiling.
The first pic is what they advertised, the second one was reality. The photo filter on the floor was either amazing or the unit was brand new when they took the pic because the floor was filthy and the tiles were dingy, and what’s described as one of the two bedrooms is really the kitchen/bathroom/living room. The host handn’t even left linen out for the sofa bed because he assumed we were sharing the “double bedroom” in the attic. As he scrounged around for extra linen he blamed everyone, the photographer, the listing agent, etc; but himself, for the discrepancies. So for four nights I was a good sport and took the sofa bed. My traveling companion was a lot taller than me, her legs would’ve hung off the sofa. Definitely not how I planned to start my Italy journey off and although it didn’t take much to improve from here, the Florence and Venice AirBnB’s came all the way through, so this didn’t completely ruin my experience.
Moving right along… It may be walking distance to each of the above listed locations if you’re planning to stay in Rome for a few weeks, but if you’re only there for four days and you plan to spend any time at any of the locations, catch a taxi, or you’ll only make it to one or two places each day. Trastevere is centrally located, but saying it’s walking distance is a stretch.
After a quick shower & change of clothes; which was quite refreshing after a 10 hr journey from the USA > Milan > Rome; we immediately set out to walk to the Colosseum. Many of the reviews, and a colleague, highly recommended the night tour because of how pretty the Colosseum and the ruins are when bathed in night lights; but the further we walked from our apartment the sketchier the neighborhoods got and night was falling fast, so we turned around and went back.
The next day we took a taxi to the Colosseum during the day and after seeing how far it really was, we were happy with our decision to reroute the night before. The Colosseum certainly earns its reputation as the most popular attraction in Rome, it is majestic! If you are lucky enough to avoid the many peddlers offering selfie sticks, for 3 euros, you can get some amazing shots of the Colosseum and the ruins surrounding it.
Aside from the “average” food that you get in most touristy areas, the all night parties that were really around the corner, but sounded like they were so close that if I opened the front door of our apartment, I could’ve reached out and turned the volume down on the music and shhh’d the audience that was either yelling or singing in sync with the music, and the musty smell that we returned to every time we left the apartment…aside from THAT, every evening ended with the absolute BEST part of being in this area…the GELATO.
After falling in love with gelato in Rome, we tried it in both Florence and Venice. Florence’s gelato was good but Rome WINS hands down.
Coconut, mixed with any flavor, was LIFE!
The personal serenade of “Speak Softly, Love”, the theme song of The Godfather, during our first dinner in Rome, came in a close second.
Having custom shoes made at Di San Giacomo’s shop in Trastevere https://www.facebook.com/Di-San-Giacomo-Sandals-189360421083792/ wasn’t too shabby either.
The best decision I made for this trip was booking a tour for the Vatican City because as we approached the Vatican walls we could see the line wrapped around the corner.
I bet you didn’t know that Vatican City is the smallest country in the world (note to self, look up the flag to add to your countries visited on Instagram). I didn’t know either, until I was researching and planning for this trip. Vatican City State earned its independence from Italy in 1929.
The beauty of having a tour guide was the insight, statistics, myths and facts that she shared along the way, touching on everything from the paintings, sculptures, carvings, the artist, the buildings, the church, the Popes, the gardens and everything else that makes Vatican City as regal as it is AND more important, the ability to skip the lines. However, whether you book a tour or brave the lines there’s no way to avoid the thousands of people trying to walk through the sites all at the same time, once you’re inside.
The tour included:
o The Sistine Chapel, where Michelangelo painted the ceiling frescoes and decorated the altar wall
o Saint Peter’s Square and Basilica, one of the largest churches in the world
o The Vatican Museums
You can view more photos of Vatican City, along with all of the other main attractions, such as Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, etc. at https://www.facebook.com/noirtraveltea/
Pizza, Pasta and Wine
After two days as the typical tourists, we were in search of better food and a more authentic Italian experience. Prior to taking this trip I had read several articles, watched PBS episodes and watched various YouTube videos narrated/authored by Europe’s travel expert, Rick Steves. He was my go-to person on where the locals hung out and where they ate. One of his articles praised a restaurant that was off the beaten path, but only 20 minutes away from Trastevere, so we jumped in a taxi and off we went. The address for the restaurant matched the address in Rick’s article but the name did not, so we were a bit apprehensive that under new management, it may not be as good as Rick had described it to be.
They DELIVERED!! The food at Corner Parioli (IL GUSTO AI PARIOLI) was almost too pretty to eat, but it was delicious and the service was superb. There was no going back at this point, the tourist traps didn’t stand a chance so on day three, at the recommendation of another R. Steves article, we had the best “house Red” and Pizza at Il Corallo.
Rome was everything I expected it to be…architecturally. The ruins of Rome are much more impressive in person than they are in any book or movie, but what I hope you’ll find when you read my blog on Florence and Australia is that no matter how good the food is, how majestic the attractions or landmarks are or how beautiful the landscape is…the people make the city worth repeating. While we didn’t have any bad experiences per say, the people were a bit stoic and not quite as warm and welcoming as Florence, Sydney, Barcelona, Costa Rica, London, just to name a few of my favorite places.
If I were to do this trip all over again, instead of 4 days Rome, 3 days Florence & 2 days Venice; I would do 4 days Florence, 2 days Rome, 2 days Amalfi Coast and a day trip to Venice. My plan is to go more coastal on my next visit to Italy, but Florence will always make the cut.
Stay tuned for Florence.