Rome, known as the Eternal City, is the capital city of Italy, and was once the center of power in the region, when the Roman Empire was at its height around 117 CE, during which time the Roman Empire spanned from Spain up into parts of the United Kingdom, all the way over into what is now modern day Turkey and parts of the Middle East, and down into Northern Africa, as far as Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco. The city where Roman Mythology was created, and the city that surrounds the heart of the Catholic Church, Vatican City, Rome has been a major world power for nearly 3,000 years. Visiting this ancient city gave us the opportunity to see things we’d previously only read about in history books, like the Roman Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, and many other ancient historical sites. Whether you’re a history buff, a fan of ancient architecture, or just looking for a beautiful European city to visit, Rome has something for absolutely everyone, and is easy to navigate, making it one of my favorite places I’ve ever been.
I’ve studied a little Italian on my own and could read the signs and menus, but we could get around easily even without my basic Italian knowledge, because most signs were in both Italian and English, and every restaurant we went to asked if we’d prefer to speak in English or Italian, and they all had English menus. If you’re nervous about visiting a country that speaks a language other than English, bringing along an Italian phrase book and dictionary should be more than enough to get by. When we encountered other travelers or people who spoke Italian, they were more than happy to practice their English with us, so as with anywhere, ask politely if people are willing to speak English with you, and you should have no troubles getting what you need and finding your way around. If all else fails, find a map in English (ask your hotel’s concierge), and plan your route ahead of time. Just about everything in Rome can be seen on foot if you have a sturdy pair of walking shoes and a full day to dedicate to sight seeing!
When to Visit & What to Wear
Rome rarely sees temperatures below 50º F / 10º C nor do temperatures often surpass 80ºF / 27º C, which means that there’s never a bad time to visit. When we were here in April, it was a bit chilly in the morning, and by mid day it was comfortable enough to wear a sundress and tights.
Most people in Rome wore plain colored clothes in neutrals like browns, whites, and blacks, as well as blues and greens. I never saw Italian people wearing neon colors, loud patterns (other than navy and white stripes), nor did I see anyone who was from the area wearing flip flops. Many Italian women wore sundresses and light sweaters or shawls with sandals, and the men typically wore button up shirts and khakis. Some historical sites will not allow men or women inside if their shoulders or knees are exposed, so if it’s hot enough to wear shorts, I recommend bringing a pair of pants or tights with you and a light jacket or sweater so that you can see the inside of the incredible churches and museums that have dress codes.
We saw almost the entire city, on foot, in three days, and it wouldn’t have been possible without good walking shoes and thick socks. If you enjoy sightseeing or photography, or just like going at your own pace and want to save money, skip the tours you’ll see signs everywhere for and go on foot. You may miss out on tour guide’s insights to the area, but Rome is a fantastic city to explore independently, because there is so much to see and learn that by going around outside of a tour group ensures you can see whatever you want and spend as much time as you’d like at each spot.
Where to Stay
We loved staying at the Starhotels Metropole Roma near Termini Station. Our room was beautiful and had a great view of the area, everything was clean and elegant, plus it was conveniently located a 6 minute walk around the corner from Termini Station, which is the train station we arrived in from Venice. The Trevi Fountain, The staff spoke English and were very willing to help us put together the perfect itinerary for our stay in Rome, plus they helped us ensure we wouldn’t get lost or miss out on any of the sites. We had everything we needed at our hotel, and our room was silent, we couldn’t hear anyone else coming or going inside the hotel.
What to See in Rome
Stay tuned for our full 3 day itinerary to see how we were able to see everything we wanted in Rome and Vatican City on foot, without wasting time, getting lost, paying for tours, or missing anything! Below are some of the things we saw, and they were absolutely stunning.
Before your visit, if you’re interested in archaeology and history, do a google search for active archaeological digs in the city (there are always many digs happening simultaneously). Some dig sites will have free tours available. We went to a dig where they were unearthing brass, copper, and gold horse and chariot statues they believed were likely commissioned by Cleopatra for Julius Caesar, which was absolutely incredible!
Arch of Constantine
Arco di Tito
Castel Sant’ Angelo (St. Angelo’s Castle) aka Hadrian’s Mausoleum
Fontona de la Barcaccia
Fontana dei Fiumi
Monumento a Vittorio Emanuele II aka Altare de la Patria
Piazza dei Tribunali
Piazza del Popolo
San Giovanni dei Fiorentini
The Spanish Steps
Villa Borghese & Gardens
Where to Eat
Crab Ristorante (Upscale Seafood and Pasta)
Fa-bío Organics (Organic Salads, Organic Wraps and Sandwhiches)
Il Granet Restaurant & Terraces (Gorgeous outdoor seating spot, perfect for dinner)
Mirabelle (Beautiful dining with award-winning dishes and an incredible view of the city, pasta, meat, seafood, and vegetarian and gluten free options)
Rome Cavalieri Pergola at Waldorf Astoria (Upscale dining with an incredible view of the city)
Day Trips from Rome
I hope you have the opportunity to visit Rome, at least once in your life, because it is truly a classic vacation destination, full of history, incredible architecture, and impossibly delicious food.
Explore the World with Me:
Complete Traveler’s Guides: Baden-Baden, Germany | Beverly Hills | Carmel, IN | Chicago| Colmar, France | Grand Rapids, MI | Greenland | Heidelberg, Germany | New Orleans | New York City | Niagara Falls | Querétaro | Rome | Toronto| Traverse City, MI | Tucson | Tulum | Vatican City | Venice |
Luxury Hotels of the World: Amway Grand Plaza: Grand Rapids | Casa de la Marquesa: Querétaro | Der Kleine Prinz: Baden-Baden | Grand Hotel: Mackinac Island | Hotel Monteleon: New Orleans | Radisson Blu Aqua: Chicago | SchlossHotel HugenPoet: Essen | Titanic Chaussee: Berlin | Townsend Hotel: Birmingham| Weber’s Boutique Hotel: Ann Arbor | Zamna: Tulum |
Luxury Restaurants of the World: Barrel Back: Walloon Lake | Hinoki & the Bird: LA | Kin Toh Treehouse in the Jungle: Tulum | Kitchen Table: Tulum | Ladurée Paris | Matcha Mama: Tulum | Prost Wine Bar & Charcuterie | The Real Coconut:Tulum | Rosa Negra: Tulum | Sushi Grand: Mackinac Island | What to eat Grand Hotel Mackinac Island | 10 Best Places to Grab a Drink on Mackinac Island | 15 Best Places to Eat in Grand Rapids | 20 Best Places to Eat in Tulum | 50 Best Places to Eat in Michigan |
Festivals, Landmarks, Museums, & Adventures: Art Gallery of Ontario | Anila Quayyum Intersections | Castles in Schwarzwald (Black Forest Germany) | Detroit Institute of Arts | Exploring the Mayan Ruins of Tulum | Heidelberg Castle | Mountain Climbing in the Black Forest | New York Fashion Week | NYFW rewardStyle Rooftop Party | Roman Colosseum | Snorkeling Inside Gran Cenote Tulum | Toronto’s Castle: Casa Loma | Pyramids of Cobá | Tulip Time Festival in Holland | Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors |