A Canadian friend of ours fell in love with a Roman, so when the wedding invite arrived and the location was Rome we booked our flights by the end of the day. Four days and five nights were going to be a whirlwind adventure, but we couldn't wait!
My partner and I prefer to stay in Airbnb properties as we like to immerse ourselves in the culture and live like locals. After the 12 hour journey we arrived early evening to our apartment, a cozy establishment tucked away down a side street near the Spanish Steps - a fantastic location with all major attractions within walking distance. Exhausted, we washed the flight off us, made espresso and headed out for pizza. Look at us assimilating!
(This is the beautiful entrance to our Airbnb. Not from the day we arrived but from the last day when I was finally over my jet lag.)
Our lovely host provided us with a list of recommendations for places to dine, and PizzaRe was at the top. We were not disappointed. It was traditional Italian pizza baked in a wood-fired oven featuring a thin crust, highest quality toppings. We dined here two more times it was that good.
If you are a foodie like me, do your research beforehand. I like to find a few eating options for each area I'll be visiting, I bookmark them in google maps so when my stomach starts to rumble I have great options at my fingertips.
Thanks to jet lag we woke up at 4:30 am. Rather than fight it we got up, had an espresso (of course) and headed past the Spanish Steps onto Pincio Terrace by Villa Borghese - an accessible (and free) viewpoint of the city.
There was something magical about walking the streets of Rome when no one else was awake. Where there were usually hordes of tourists, not a single person was to be seen. The Spanish Steps were only for us, and we watched the sun paint Rome gold at Pincio Terrace.
Realising how lucky we were, we continued our sunrise stroll to the Trevi Fountain. Here we tossed a coin into the fountain and watched an amusing scene as Instagram famous girls and their accompanying teams got their perfectly candid shot.
After a well-needed nap, we ventured out to the Vatican City. Rome is best seen on foot, so we walked the 20 minutes from the Spanish Steps to the start of our tour. By the end of the day, we had a whopping 30,000 steps under our belt!
Buy the skip the line tour, it's more expensive, but it will save you hours. Also, it is a long tour, no food or drink is allowed, and there is no air-conditioning. Plan accordingly.
After the tour, we were starving. I consulted my food map and decided on a sandwich place nearby, Duecento Gradi. It has a short menu of about 10 signature sandwiches that feature Italy's finest meats, cheeses and other assortments, all served on freshly a baked panini. A deliciously cheap eat that you can take out to the park.
Our first day was massive so we scaled it back to do as the Romans do and savour la dolce vita. This was my favourite day of the trip. We slowed down, we ate gelato, we people watched in Piazza Navona, we stumbled upon the Pantheon and enjoyed the simple things.
If you like arancini balls, you will want to grab a quick bite at Supplizio, a hole in the wall restaurant serving the traditional Italian snack, supplì. Located off the main strip and with a line out the door, we knew we were in for a treat.
By day three we were back in tourist mode and headed for the Colesseum.
The Colosseum is the largest and best-preserved amphitheatre from the Roman Empire. To give this iconic attraction justice I would strongly advise getting a guided tour. The tour guides are skilled storytellers and bring the space to life with tales of gladiators, emperors and fights to the death.
Words cannot describe how beautiful this wedding was. Set an hour north of Rome in Castello Odescalchi - a medieval castle perched upon a hill overlooking lake Bracciano - it was a venue that left everyone speechless.
With a few hurting heads in the group day, four was off to a slow start. We decided to meet for lunch at Alfredo alla Scrofa, the birthplace of fettuccine alfredo. After all, some delicious pasta and a crisp pinot grigio shared among friends sounded like a good way to spend the last day in Rome.
This establishment has been around since 1914 and has walls lined with photos of famous singers, artists, actors and politicians, all enjoying their fettuccine alfredo. As it was when the restaurant opened, the dish is served at the table after a waiter tosses the fettuccine in the alfredo sauce.
After reminiscing on an amazing night, we licked our plates clean and decided there was a little room left for some gelato so we grabbed the bill and headed for Giolitti - another Roman institution proudly in the game for 100 years.
And all of sudden it was over. Thankfully I tossed that coin in the Trevi Fountain... I'll be seeing you again Rome.
When the sun is out in Rome, it can get quite hot. I suggest sticking to light colours in linen and silk. Pair them back with comfortable shoes and a bag to fit all your shopping in.
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Renowned for world class wines, pristine coastlines, exhilarating hikes and gourmet food, the Margaret River Region should sit proudly atop your bucket list.