Preparing for a trip to Rome

Everyone keeps telling me how beautiful Rome is. And I am not doubting this. But I can’t really comment on it. I have never been (yes I can’t quite believe I am saying that either)… well actually not true. I have been twice(ish).

I took a flight to and from Rome last year for a meeting nearby, however other than the airport and train station I have not seen a thing, so it does not count.

The other time I was just two years old… so again, probably not really worth counting…Since I can’t remember a thing (although some faded photos exist as proof).

Don’t get me wrong, I have been to Italy before… just not to Rome… well actually not just Rome… I’ve also never been to Venice, Milan or Sicily… to name just a few.

Somehow the husband was never keen on visiting Italy, so we’ve neglected it for quite some time.

But what is not to love about Italy? Sunshine, pasta, gelato, espresso and red wine. What could possibly go wrong? (well other than one being on a calorie controlled low carb diet…)

In June we went for a couple of days to Bologna, as our niece was studying there at the time. And really enjoyed it.

So when it came to deciding on the destination for our late summer trip, we eventually decided on Rome (not an easy one this time… somehow the choice of destinations ranged from a cottage in Cornwall to a trip to Canada and the Niagara falls… how we settled on Rome I can’t quite recall).

So six nights in Rome it will be… hopefully with still a high chance of decent sunshine. Just three weeks to go.

As always, preparation is key. You want to make sure you get the most out of Rome and its sights.

How to prepare for your Rome trip (or any city trip really)

  •  Get a travel guide and make a list of all the things you want to see.
  • Check the websites and get your tickets well in advance (which usually gives you the best price and also guaranteed entrance if things get busy).
  • Check insider tips, so you don’t just walk the beaten track and see the main attractions.
  • Check restaurant recommendations for the best local cuisine
  • Download apps for public transport and sightseeing
  • Check if any interesting plays, concerts or events are on during your stay
  • Work out how best to get from the airport to the hotel and from the hotel to anywhere else and what ticket is required.

So far so good. All the best intentions. And it sure sounds as if I know what I am doing…

But this is where reality kicks in and hits hard.

How I actually prepare for my Rome trip (and any other city trip)

  • I will buy a travel guide or two (in addition to the two already sitting on my night stand, which I picked up at my parents last month…. However they are 10 years old (the guides, not my parents obviously) and probably a little out of date)… but then I will run out of time and won’t actually read them. Or skim through them during the flight… as usual. I will however carry them all around Rome, so by the time we come back, they will look well used… even if I didn’t get past page three.
  • I will totally forget to check and book any tickets upfront, to frantically do that the minute we arrive in Rome.
  • Once hungry we will desperately check Tripadvisor to work out where to go for food… to then completely ignore the recommendation and go for the first thing we fancy (or first thing in sight, as by then we are starving and crumpy).
  • I will change my location on CityMapper to Rome, so that it can hopefully help me get around (if Rome is on CityMapper that is, which I haven’t check yet… obviously … so fingers crossed).
  • The one thing I will check (probably before my flight, waiting at Heathrow) is how to get from the airport to the hotel…. Even though there is a high chance the answer is ‘just take a cab’.

So you see, I totally fail preparing for any city trip. Despite the best intentions. I count down the days until I go on holiday, but at the same time it will come as a total surprise and I will be completely unprepared. Every single time. Without fail.

So please help me out of my misery.  Any recommendations for Rome?

Where to go, what to see, where to eat?   H  E  L  P

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  1. Monik

    Rome is not an easy one to get the head around! A little preparation should be done especially if you want to see the coliseum from the inside, the Vatican museum and the Sistine chapel, catacombs, just to name a couple you definitely will fail to get in to without a pre booked ticket! The queuing can take you up to a whole day without guarantee to get inside. If you are keen just to see the Vatican basilica then you queue ( of course) from the St. Peter’s square and can get in within an hour ish. Be prepared to have to leave sharp things and hazards behind. Also do wear appropriate clothing! You don’t want to upset the pope right? If you plan a visit on the Sunday you might be lucky and can see the pope stepping out to his balcony around 10 ish (as far as I remember) to bless all the people gathering around the square.
    Modern architecture must see are definitely the Zaha Hadid museum of modern art also called MAXXI and the parco Della musica by Renzo Piano. Just to name a couple.
    Whatever you choose to see, make sure you plan it a bit ahead, because many of these destinations are a bit apart from each a good pre planned day is essential.
    One thing you don’t need to worry about: food! Wherever you go you are able to find good food and good ice-cream.;)
    But make sure that for tours like to the outer skirt destinations you have a little snack in your bag. Sometimes it happened to me that I ended up somewhere and there was no supermarket and no restaurant near by! For example the MAXXI has only snacks like sandwiches, very expensive and average…
    make sure you count in the trevi fountain, Spanish stairs, piazza Venezia, foro Romano And pantheon! And there is many more but only naming a few. Most of them are central and you might just ‘bump’ into them. Make sure you wonder around.:)
    Best ice cream: near the pantheon is a huge ice cream shop, it wasn’t as popular as it is now but it’s still fantastic with all different flavours and made the proper way of gelato. You won’t miss it!
    So so much more to share but I wish you a fantastic time and just go with the flow if it comes to the worst – basically too overwhelming for the first time!
    Nice movies to get into the mood: angels and Deamons, eat pray love, the belly of an architect.

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