Next in our honeymoon series, we take you to the magical city of Rome, where gladiators reigned and gelato is king.
Rome is an amazing place to spend a honeymoon – grooms love the culture and history of the ruins and brides adore the shopping, food, museums, and cultural opportunities found nowhere else in the world.
Non-stop flights into Rome are easy to come by. American Airlines operates non-stop flights from Chicago, Delta from Atlanta and New York, Continental from Newark, and US Airways from Philadelphia. Alitalia also offers multiple non-stop flights from the States. Rome is very easily accessible via any major airport in Europe. You’ll arrive into the Fiumicino Airport. Clear customs, grab your luggage, and head for the train station. Trenitalia will take you directly into the Termini Station in the heart of the city.
I highly recommend the Inn at the Spanish Steps for its location and ambiance. It’s in a very affluent area of the city, at the heart of the shopping district, right off of Via Condotti. Additonally, there is a Metro stop very conveniently located to the Spanish Steps. Rome is a walking city, so you won’t use the Metro very often; however, you’ll need to for one of your most important stops on my tour, the Vatican (I’ll discuss later). The Spanish Steps area is also only about a 5 minute walk from the Trevi Fountain and Pantheon.
If your wedding left you searching for a more budget-friendly option for the honeymoon, trust me, you’re not alone. Staying in the Termini area, while a bit more of a hike from the attractions, is much more wallet-friendly. I personally have stayed at the Scott House Hotel, and while it definitely wouldn’t pass for luxury (think Days Inn) it’s convenient, clean, and easy on the euros.
Middle-of-the-road readers should look for this gem: the Navona Garden Suites. I have never stayed here but Trip Advisor readers give it supurb reviews. And the location by the Piazza Navona is excellent!
You must eat:
GELATO. And loads of it. Preferably at Giolitti, located very near the Pantheon on Via Uffici del Vicario. Ask your hotel for a tourist map, or pick up one of my favorites, the Map Easy of Rome – it’s clearly labeled if you can follow the winding streets!
Pasta. And loads of it. Every single place is fantastic. Seriously. I don’t remember the name of it, but some of the best bolognese I have ever had was in a little trattoria right by the Pantheon. Turn around so the Pantheon is at your back, you’ll see a building with restaurant fronts straight ahead of you. It’s the one that will be on the far left.
This is only one girl’s opinion, but Rome isn’t a culinary mecca for non-Italian food. I’ve found it best to stick to what they know best, because, well, YUM.
Do not miss seeing:
St. Peter’s and the Vatican Museums. I can’t imagine that this wasn’t already at the top or close to the top of your list, but if it wasn’t, it should be. You’ll need to budget a whole, very tiring but worth it day for this excursion. And be prepared to wait in line. St. Peter’s is *the* most gorgeous church I have ever seen. Not only is there amazing architecture but amazing artwork. Michelangelo’s La Pieta is in the basilica and obviously the Vatican Museums house some of the most treasured works of art in the world, including several Dali paintings and of course the Sistene Chapel. Things you need to know: 1) no shorts and no bare shoulders to enter St. Peter’s. 2) if all you’re interested in is seeing the Sistene Chapel, get interested in everything else very quickly because you must walk through the entire museum to finish your tour in the Chapel. This can be a long and slow process, but is completely worth it in the end. 3) If you’re only going to the Museums (I’m not sure why you would but I’ll roll with you here) do not walk through St. Peter’s courtyard – it will only add 20 minutes to your walking time. 4) get there early. Trust me on this one. You do not want to wait in the lines for two hours. I’ve done it. It isn’t fun. Staying by a Metro stop is incredibly helpful for this journey, the A (red) line stop Ottaviano-S.Pietro is your most direct route to either the basilica or the museums.
The Colosseum and the Roman Forum. A relatively easy walk from the Spanish Steps (or you can take the B (blue) Metro line to the Colosseo stop), this is the first stop for most tourists in their Rome visit. It’s gorgeous and feels very magical. I highly recommend purchasing the audio guide for the Colosseum and bringing a guide book as you walk through the Forum because each ruin tells a story and it’s so much more interesting to know what you’re seeing. Your Colosseum ticket also gets you admission to the Palatine Hill next door. If you have on your walking shoes, I recommend taking the hike – the views are outstanding and you can look out onto the Circus Maximus, close your eyes, and imagine the chariot races.
The Trevi Fountain. You’ll walk here because it isn’t convenient to any Metro stop. But it is within easy walking distance to the Pantheon, which is also an essential visiting spot! So combine these two gorgeous attractions and go at night – it’s busy and romantic and the sights of these fantastic monuments all lit up is something everyone should see. Throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain and wish for your return to Rome!
If you have time, I highly recommend:
Castel Sant’Angelo, a fortress and castle protecting Vatican City. Those that have read Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons are familiar with this structure, and it’s just such an interesting place to see. I also recommend either the walking tour or the audio tour for this attraction.
The Borghese Gallery is excellent, if you haven’t already gotten your fill of art! Lots of gorgeous works from Raphael, Titian, and Bernini are on display.
Walk through the Trastevere neighborhood for a slice of local flavor. Great restaurants, street entertainment, and beautiful winding streets await!
Things you need to know:
- Rome is notorious for pickpockets – be VERY careful on the subways. I’ve never had any issues but know many people who have.
- Wear your walking shoes! You’ll need them.
- Hotels are very expensive but food is not. Splurge a little and stay in a nice area of town that’s convenient to the major sites, you won’t regret it, because ….
- The Metro system doesn’t get you very many places you need to go. You will use it perhaps for the Colosseum and the Vatican but I’m betting that is all.
- Rome is a perfect jump-off spot for train travel throughout Italy. Florence and Venice are both roughly two hours away (don’t worry, your Florence and Venice honeymoons will be coming soon in our series) and the Amalfi Coast and Pompeii are direct train travel southward from the Eternal City.
- Don’t expect to find a local bagel shop, a patisserie, or a Starbucks. If your hotel does not serve breakfast, I recommend finding a grocery store to purchase some goodies for your room.
- Any church (not just St. Peter’s) will require pants or skirts below the knee and not allow sleeveless attire. It’s best to just keep a cardigan with you, as Rome can be sweltering, so you probably want to wear sleeveless!
- Best be careful if you are an August honeymoon as the local inhabitents tend to close up shop so you might miss out on that perfect little enclave serving amazing lasagna. Tourism is changing this, but I myself have been disappointed to find places closed.Enjoy your visit to one of the most romantic and beautiful cities on earth (and don’t forget to throw that penny)!E.