Travel Diaries // How I Spent 3 Days In Rome

Fun fact about me: I'm half Italian. 
Not really sure how "fun" that is, but it is a fact! While I don't have any real connection to Italy itself, I have always wanted to visit the country - specifically Rome.

Pictures of the Colosseum, footage of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck on a vespa in Roman Holiday, that Mary-Kate and Ashley movie - I Loved them all but When In Rome was the perfect blend of cheese and can-I-just-be-an-Olsen-twin-already, wasn't it?!

Maybe my desire to visit Rome stemmed from wanting to know that half of myself a little better and feel a connection, or maybe it had always just been down to Hollywood making it look so wanderlusty, but either way, it had long been on my travel bucket list. 

A few years ago Matt and I booked a trip to Venice, which was beautiful and so much fun, but it just didn't fulfil my Italian adventure fantasy in the way I had hoped. So, with the big 3-0 approaching and a literal ache to visit Rome, I decided I wanted to wake up on my 30th birthday in the one city I had always dreamed of visiting. Gotta hand it to Matt, he booked a little getaway and made it happen for me, and it was actually everything. Today I'm sharing how we spent those three days with you -  yes it's a year late but I think we all know I'm not exactly the most disciplined blogger okay!

I apologise if this one is a tad too long, but I wanted to include all the sights we saw and a bit of detail so it's really useful to anyone planning a visit. If you're just interested in seeing what I got up to, you can skim read and just look at all the pictures - again, I've included a lot because Rome is bellissimo!

We arrived late in the evening - later than planned after boarding the wrong train and ending up in a random town in the middle of nowhere, before finally finding the right train and making it into the city, and to our apartment. After checking in we went on the hunt for food and just a few doors down from our apartment discovered a cute little cocktail bar that served vegan burgers - win! We were pretty tired but I had to see the Colosseum - there was no way I could be in Rome and not immediately go! Walking towards it in the evening darkness, all lit up, was a feeling I don't think I could even try to explain - it was literally a dream come true, and so beautiful. We headed back to the apartment to get an early-ish night, excited for the full day of exploring ahead.

Day One

Our first full day in Rome started at sunrise. We walked to the Spanish Steps first to snap a few photos without the hundreds of tourists you can usually expect at a more reasonable hour, and sit to eat our breakfast. Turns out you can't eat on the steps so be warned. After being filled in by a local, we grabbed our coffee and pastry and walked down the steps where I spotted a Tiffany & Co store. If you know me personally, you'll know that Breakfast at Tiffany's is my favourite movie of all time and I have always hoped to one day have an opportunity to recreate that famous opening scene. And then I did. So of course I enlisted Matt take a few snaps for Insta!

Next we weaved our way through the streets, snapping pretty alleys and buildings on our way to the Vatican Museum. Top travel tip: make sure you book your tour of the museum online before you go. We were let right in when it reached our time slot but there was a long queue of people trying to buy tickets on the day - not ideal in the summer heat!

Our tour started with a brief history of the Vatican and Michelangelo's masterpiece, then took us around the grounds, including the Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica. Another travel tip: wear good walking shoes in Rome! We walked more than 36 miles over the course of our trip.

Leaving the Vatican, we walked a different route back to the city centre, passing the Sant'Angelo Castle and bridge. We then headed to Piazza Navona where we grabbed a tub of gelato (when in Rome!) before stealing a peek inside the Pantheon as the sun started to set.

Day Two

Another super early start to the day so we could get some tourist-free shots of the Trevi Fountain.  We were really lucky to be the only people there until a few more showed up, but they kept to themselves and we each had a side of the fountain. Top travel tip: I highly recommend trying to see the big sights early in the morning, before the bulk of tourists are up and about. We walked back past the fountain later that evening and it was heaving - I could barely see the fountain! Going early also meant we were able to get close and toss a coin in - legend says that if you do you're certain to return to Rome some day. Yes please! (And yes, I did learn that in the MK&A film, and no, I'm not even a tiny bit embarrassed!)

As more people started to arrive at the fountain, we made our way to Campo di Fioro where we browsed the market stalls, picking up some Italian landmark shaped pasta and a big cup of fruit for breakfast, which we sat and ate in the gorgeous morning sunshine. We then dipped into a little cafe and ordered an espresso, which we stood and drank at the counter just like the Italians do. Other than us it was all Italian business men in suits getting their morning fix before heading to work. The city really does have such a lovely vibe in the morning if you can get out early enough to make the most of it. 

From there, we headed over to Largo di Torre Argentina, which rumour has it is where Ceasar was killed - I have no idea if there's any truth in this! It's essentially a little, cordoned off area of temple ruins right in the middle of a busy junction and the juxtaposition of those old ruins with hustle and bustle of the modern city is amazing. The reason I was so keen to visit is because it's also home to Rome's stray cats. It's incredible what they're doing for those kitties so if you get a chance, do go down into the shelter and meet them. You can't actually go into the ruins where most of the cats are, but you can spot the cats from the edges (which was a bit emotional as some were missing legs or tails or ears), and some come to the top to meet you. This little guy wanted his belly rubbed and wouldn't let me leave for ages. I wanted to take him home with us so bad!

Across the road we found a little church which we decided to duck into and I'm so pleased we did. Top travel tip: pop into any and all churches you find because they're all spectacular once inside. 

Heading back to the South of the city, we grabbed a couple of Marinara pizzas from a local takeaway and sat right in front of the Colosseum. The pizza was absolutely delicious and doughy, the sun was warm on our faces, and the Colosseo looked picture-perfect as a postcard. There's a little cafe across the street where we then grabbed an outside table, ordered a couple of glasses of wine and a bowl of olives, and enjoyed a respite with the most beautiful view. Talk about a view made for the 'Gram. This was by far the best lunch stop I've ever had. Bellissimo! 

When we felt sufficiently rested, and maybe slightly tipsy, we decided to go hunt down the Bocca Della Vita, aka the Mouth Of Truth from Roman Holiday. It featured in the scene where Gregory Peck puts his hand into the mouth and pretends it's bitten off. Legend says that if you put your hand in and you're lying, the mouth will bite your hand off. Matt and I came back with both hands in tact - phew!

From here we headed up to Giardino degli Aranci (aka, the Orange Garden) which offered stunning views across the city and the most delicious sweet citrus fragrance. We could have sat there for hours enjoying those views and the warmth of the sun.

Day Three

My 30th birthday. I woke up in Rome, to a room filled with balloons, banners and a bottle of my favourite Veuve Clicquot - Matt did great at surprising me and making me feel super special! And after breakfast, he'd planned a full day of sight-seeing for me, which started with a tour of the Colosseum. 

Top travel tip: book online in advance. Again, you can expect v long queues if you try to purchase on the day, so it just makes more sense to book before you go. And make sure you get a ticket that includes the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.

With our pre-purchased tickets we were able to head straight inside and have a little wander around the ground level, taking a few photos before joining our tour at our chosen time slot. Definitely join the tour because you get to see far more, including the top level and the tunnels below where the gladiators lived.

It was an odd feeling to be stood inside the Colosseum. It's a structure I associate with Rome so I felt happy to finally be there and it is truly beautiful and pretty amazing that they were able to build something like this way back then. But, learning more about the lives of the gladiators and the animals forced to fight, and how this structure was used for a very strange form of 'entertainment' was really upsetting. If you're heading to Rome, definitely add the Colosseum to your must-see list to get a close-up view and learn more about the history of it.

When we left the Colosseum we walked to the Palatine Hill entrance and strolled through the grounds where there's lots of Roman ruins. At the top you reach the Roman Forum which is a big area full of old temple ruins.

After three long days on our feet, we went for an early supper and birthday drinks, and then crashed at our apartment before leaving for the airport first thing the following morning.

Rome is a really awesome city, packed with history, culture and beauty. It's truly something special and I hope you all get a chance to visit some day, if you haven't already!

I haven't spoke much about food because I'd like to put together a separate (shorter!) post all about eating vegan in this wonderful city - let me know if you'd be interested in reading that?

If you've been to Rome, is there anything you'd add to this for someone planning their own trip? And if you're planning on visiting soon, I hope this post has given you a few ideas to get your own itinerary started.

Much love,

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