Our Italian honeymoon came full circle in Rome—we landed in Italy’s capital at 7 AM and spent one full day exploring before heading off to Cinque Terre. But after our whirlwind travels around the country, we headed back to Rome for another two days filled with bowls of carbonara, cacio e pepe and Roman history. Read on for my guide to Rome!
After we landed, we were picked up at the airport by a service arranged through our hotel, Hotel Nerva. Zach and I pride ourselves on being able to navigate anywhere, but I have to admit after an eight and a half hour flight with little to no sleep we were zombies, so being greeted at baggage claim was a much-needed welcome.
Thankfully, our plan to stay awake worked flawlessly. Because we arrived remarkably early our room wasn’t ready yet. I had packed everything we needed for Day 1 in our carry-on, so we changed in the lobby bathroom and immediately set out for a busy morning of sightseeing—the ideal way to stay awake.
In just four hours, we walked as many miles, stopping only for urgent espresso breaks. Our first sight was the Trevi Fountain, followed by the Spanish Steps.
I was especially excited to see the Spanish Steps, mostly in thanks to their role in the movie The Talented Mr. Ripley. (Cate Blanchett and Gwyneth Paltrow are the ultimate style icons in that one, am I right?) Once you climb to the top, the view over Rome is breathtaking.
From there, we went up even more hills and stairs (our legs got a serious workout) to the Borghese Gardens, for another gorgeous view of the city.
When our room was ready, it was time for phase 2 of the no jet lag plan—siesta. By this point it was early afternoon and we were exhausted, so sinking into our bed and napping was a welcome reprieve. We only allowed ourselves one hour of sleep though, then we hit the road to the Colosseum and the Roman Forum.
Seeing the ruins in person was an unreal experience. I think that New York is old, until you walk through the Colosseum and realize it is almost 2,000 years old.
The Roman Forum is even older, and home to some of the most ancient structures and statues, with some dating as far back as 7th century BC. Walking down the Via Sacra is surreal, when you think that this street is where the Roman Empire was born. Julius Caesar is even buried here!
What’s needed most after a long day of history? Pizza and a jug of wine. Zach and I stopped in at La Gallina Bianca for just that, plus a heaping bowl of carbonara to share.
After two weeks of traveling, we returned to Rome for some more ancient history. We visited the Pantheon and walked across the Tiber to Vatican City.
The Vatican is a must-see, but proceed with caution. A timed ticket here is essential, as even at 9:30 AM the non-reserved ticket line wrapped from the museum entrance, around the block and almost to St. Peter’s Square. Zach and I usually avoid tour guides as we like to explore on our own, but the Vatican is where I wish we had signed up for a tour. It’s slightly confusing, but if you go at it alone the main thing to remember is this: once you get through the ticket line and up the stairs, go left. Left will start you on the walk through the museum halls, to the Sistine Chapel and finally to St. Peter’s Basilica. The Vatican itself was positively packed, as the majority of the tourists are in large groups, so it’s impossible to get around. There’s no real way to see the Vatican’s highlights quickly, so hang on the edges of a group and eavesdrop.
We did not realize that in order to see the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s you have to visit every section of the museum so settle in. Our favorite room was the Gallery of Maps (above).
Leaving the Vatican, we were hot and tired, so it was high time to fortify ourselves with pizza from Pizzaria da Baffetto, a Rick Steves recommendation and a must-visit. Arrive as soon as they open at noon and bring cash … by the time we left at 12:45 all the tables were full. Even if it’s hot, sit inside as close to the pizza oven as you can get—it’s worth it to watch the pizza-making process.
After two weeks of sightseeing, we were ready to just lay low. We decided not to feel guilty about taking a long, midday siesta in the heat of the day (it’s vacation!) before setting out in the early evening to explore the Trastevere neighborhood. We ate one last cone of gelato and one final plate of amatriciana before heading back to the Airbnb to pack for our return home.
I couldn’t be happier that we honeymooned in Italy … what’s not to love? We had romantic beaches and vineyards, tons of exploring and even more wine.