We went to Italy! First and foremost, Italy was amazing and if you haven’t gone yet, you need too! Italy is rich in history, art and culture! The architecture is beautiful and there is so much to see!
We went for 9 days during Labor Day weekend, stayed in Rome and took day trips to Pisa, Capri, Pompeii, Venice and Florence! We saw so many sites, ate lots of Italian food and walked 6-12 miles each day! (Ha!)
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In this post, I’ll share with you where we stayed, what we did and helpful tips! If you plan to visit Rome, I hope this post will help you with your future travel plans.
Where We Stayed:
We stayed at Monti Palace Hotel, which is in the Monti neighborhood of Rome.
- I picked this hotel because it’s in a great location, has air conditioning and has an elevator.
- It is a 10-minute walk from Roma Termini train station and a 10-minute walk from the Colosseum.
- The metro is a few steps away so you can take the train anywhere you want in Rome.
- The bathrooms are updated and modern.
- Across the street from the hotel is a grocery store which also sells wine, beer and liquor.
- The rooms are small.
- The hotel advertises a rooftop, however, it was closed during our time of stay.
Monti Neighborhood Fun Facts:
- In Ancient Rome, Monti was home to the red-light district.
- Julius Caesar lived in Monti before becoming Pontificus Maximus.
- “Monti” translates to “mountains” in English.
- Monti was home to four of the seven famous hills that made up Rome.
- Tip: If you make a right out of the Monti Palace hotel and go down the street you’ll see these steps across the street, this is a short cut to the Colosseum.
What We Did:
Day 1 in Rome:
On the day we arrived, we checked in at the hotel and then went to Roma Termini to buy all our train tickets. If you’re planning on taking day trips and haven’t bought your tickets on line, I recommend you do this first.
We then walked around and took in all of what Rome has to offer. We saw the fountains, monuments and even went to the Trastevere for aperitivos and food.
The video above was taken at Freni e Frizioni which is located in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome.
- With the purchase of a drink (€6), you get a small plate of food.
- They offer a buffet which is mainly vegetarian and includes pastas, salads, chickpea dishes, quinoa dishes and so on.
- Most of the restaurants in the Trastevere offer this.
Day 2 in Rome:
We had two tours scheduled on our second day in Rome! We took a tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica this was a skip-the-line 4-hour tour which began at 8:15AM and ended around noon.
Vatican Museum Entrance
Vatican Museum Spiral Staircase
St. Peter’s Basilica
St. Peter’s Square
Fountains of St. Peters Square
We then took the Metro to the Colosseum where we ate lunch and rested up for our next skip-the-line tour Premium Colosseum Tour with Roman Forum & Palatine Hill.
Colosseum Fun Facts:
- The Colosseum fits up to 50,000 spectators.
- All Ancient Romans had free entry and were fed throughout the spectacles.
- The Colosseum only took 10 years to build starting at 70 AD using over 60,000 Jewish slaves.
- The Colosseum floor was filled with sand which would help dry up the blood, however, the blood dripped down to the underground.
- There were 36 trap doors which unleashed the monsters (tigers, lions, elephants, hippos, etc).
- Over 500,000 people lost their lives and over a million wild animals were killed.
- Most of the damage you see today has been from earthquakes of 847 AD and 1231 AD.
- The area beneath the Colosseum was called the Hypogeum (underground). The underground consisted of two-levels of tunnels and 32 animal pens. It had 80 vertical shafts which provided instant access to the arena for animals.
- They used Olive Oil lamps to light up the underground of the Colosseum which caused a lot of smoke.
The Arch of Constantine
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
Top Free Rome Attractions:
Trevi Fountain – legend has it if you toss a coin into the fountain with your right hand over your right shoulder you will return to Rome!
- Constructed in 19BC to supply water for the Roman baths.
- The water from the fountain comes from Salone Springs about 14 miles outside of Rome.
- The central figure in the fountain is Neptune, god of sea. He is riding a chariot in the shape of a shell that is pulled by two sea horses. One horse is calm and the other is enraged, each symbolize the moods of the sea.
- The statue on the left symbolizes Abundance and the statue on the right symbolizes Health.
- Trevi comes from tre vie which means three roads. Three roads lead to the Trevi Fountain.
- 3,000 Euros are thrown into the fountain each day and are collected each night. The money is donated to Rome’s poor.
Pantheon: Entrance is free but we arrived too late, nonetheless admire it from the square.
Here are some Fun Facts:
- Pantheon is a Greek word and means “honor all Gods” and was built as a temple to to all Gods.
- It is the best preserved Ancient Roman monument!
- In 609 AD, the Pantheon was the first pagan temple to be turned into a church which saved it from becoming destroyed during the Middle Ages.
- The eye of the Pantheon is called the oculus and the dome was the largest in the world for 1300 years!
- The Pantheon contains the tombs of Raphael and several other Italian Kings and poets.
- In front of the Pantheon is the Fountain of the Pantheon.
Fountain of the Pantheon
Piazza Navona: home to street artists and beautiful fountains.
Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (the Fountain of Four Rivers) Fun Facts:
- The Romans did not want this fountain built during this time because Italy was in the grip of a sever famine and people could barely support their families.
- In September 1648, protesting writers inscribed “We don’t want Obelisks and Fountains! It’s bread we want. Bread, bread, bread!”
- The fountain was originally made to serve as a source of potable water before indoor plumbing was invented.
- This fountain features an Egyptian obelisk and each figure represents four major rivers that run through four major continents during the 1600s: Nile, Ganges, Danube and Plate.
- The obelisk is 52 feet tall.
Chiesa di Sant’Agnese in Agone (Church of St. Agnes in Agony) Fun Facts:
- The tomb of Pope Innocent X is here who commissioned the church and the Fountain of the Four Rivers be built.
- This church has one of the best ceiling’s in all of Rome.
- Admission is free.
- Dress code is required.
Fontana del Moro (Moor Fountain):
- Moor is also known as African.
- The African is standing in a conch shell, wrestling a dolphin, surrounded by four Tritons.
Spanish Steps Fun Facts:
- There are exactly 135 steps and the steps are the widest stairway in all of Europe!
- The Spanish steps were designed by an Italian architect and financed by a French diplomat.
- The Spanish steps are in the middle of Rome’s shopping district which is why you’ll see so many designer shops!
- The Spanish Steps were built to link the Trinità dei Monti church that was under patronage of the king of France with the Spanish square below.
- At the lower end of the stairs, you’ll find Fontana della Barcaccia (Fountain of the Old Boat) it is a sinking ship that is based off of a folk legend.
- The legend is said that a fishing boat was carried all the way to this exact spot during a massive flood of the Tiber River in the 16th century.
- Several of the 200-year-old steps were chipped and scuffed when a drunken driver drove down them in 2007. He was arrested.
- English poet John Keats lived and died in the house that is at the corner on the right of the steps.
- On March 20, 1986, the first McDonalds restaurant opened near the steps.
Largo di Torre Argentina Fun Facts:
- Located in the old neighborhood of Campo Marzio which is close to the Pantheon, Piazza Navona and Camp de’ Fiori.
- On March 15 44 BC, Julius Caesar was stabbed to death at this very location.
- Cats are popular in this area and were known to Romans as a sacred animal. The cats came from Egypt.
Piazza Venezia Fun Facts:
- Piazza Venezia is Rome’s largest round-a-bout and there are four major roads that meet in the piazza.
- The Vittoriano (The Wedding Cake) – is the most notable monument and comes from the name of Italy’s first king, Victorio Emanuele II of Savoy.
- The Horses are gigantic at 10 meters long and 12 meters tall! Dinner parties were hosted inside the horses belly!
- Eternal Fire and the tomb of an unknown soldier is a symbol of all the unidentified deaths of WWI.
- Palazzo Venezia is one of the oldest Renaissance buildings in Rome constructed between (1455-1464).
- Mussolini had his office inside and from the palace’s balcony shouted his speeches to the crowds.
Tips When Visiting Rome:
- Bring a Brita water bottle with you. There are public water fountains all throughout Rome. The water is safe to drink and you’ll get thirsty walking around. I recommend you bring a Brita water bottle with you because some areas of Rome may be highly chlorinated.
- Cover your shoulders and knees if you want to tour religious sites including the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and Capuchin Crypt.
- Beware of street vendors. When visiting the Colosseum and other touristy locations, beware of street vendors who want to give you a free gift. Do not take anything from these vendors because nothing is free. Also, beware of street artists who dress up, if they see you take a picture of them they will demand money!
- Use ATM’s for cash. There are ATM’s all over Rome so if you need to get some cash use the ATM’s in Rome.
- Public Display of Alcohol. Yes, you can drink wine, beers and cocktails in the streets of Italy! You’ll see take away stations near the Trevi fountain and other touristy locations!
I hope this travel post will help you when you want to visit Rome! Stay tuned for more travel diaries on Pisa, Capri, Venice and Florence!