The Eternal City, to which all roads lead. And to which train tracks from Florence lead. And from which the airports give me a migraine. Just kidding. Sort of.
It's no secret that I'm not crazy about Rome. I could write a love story to Florence (actually, I have - my first novel), but there is no love lost between me and dear Roma. But maybe third time's the charm - I actually had a really good time here with B. We slathered on the sunscreen, obsessively drank water, and somehow managed to survive the scorching August heat. Disclaimer: Please ignore the glistening sweat and nasty, slicked-back hair. These are not pretty pictures. Forgive us.
We may not be models, but we do know how to have a good time. So when in Rome, do as the Stevensons do.
Where to Stay
1 // Grey & White B&B // Honestly, this one all came down to cost, and for once we're grateful we're on a budget. This was a great find. It was about 80 euros for the night and came with breakfast included. It is a tiny place - only three rooms in what is presumably a refurbished apartment - but it's absolutely adorable. We stayed in the White Room, and it more than suited our needs. The bed was comfy, the room was dark, and the AC worked like a charm, which was a huge relief after my last trip to Rome. Monica and Gianluca were welcoming and accommodating. Our flight to Athens didn't leave until 9:00 at night, and they were willing to hold our luggage all day and give us a key to the outer door so that we could come and go. My apologies for not taking any pictures of the place. Hit up the Web site for details.
The location was also phenomenal, but only if, like us, you're of a certain mindset. It's very near Roma Termini, which is not the fanciest neighborhood in Rome by a long shot. However, it's super convenient. Almost all Rome transportation centers around the train station: long-distance trains, the metro, the central bus station, the airport trains and shuttles, and the various Hop-On, Hop-Off buses. Getting around was so easy, luggage-hauling was minimal, and we didn't spend a penny on cab fare in Rome. Everything was right there. If, say, you're honeymooning in Rome I wouldn't recommend the area, but if you're just traveling and want to see the sights, stay near the train station.
What to Do
Where to Eat/Not to Eat
3 // For overpriced and sub-par food // The train station area is a great place to stay. It is not a great place to eat. It is the exact opposite of a great place to eat. Everything is ridiculously touristy, and the quality is abysmal. On our second day in Rome we ate a late lunch at Ristorante Imperium out of sheer convenience - we'd finished touring for the day, but we needed to eat before getting our luggage and heading to the airport. Frankly, we'd have been better off going to the fruit stand. The wine was just meh and the food was very...industrial. Think cafeteria food, Italian-style. Do your homework before you eat. If you need to take a bus or metro somewhere, suck it up and do it. It's better than being hungry and stranded in Ciampino Airport for 6 hours with nothing but a mediocre caprese focaccia in your stomach.
4 // For good gelato and bad service // To try to make up for our aforementioned sucky meal and to celebrate our last hoorah in Italy, I wanted gelato. Luckily(ish), we found L'Orso Bianco, very near Grey & White B&B and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore. My pistachio gelato was on point, and B's "caramel" gelato that actually turned out to be cookie butter was divine. But the girl serving us acted like it was a severe sacrifice to have to scoop us each up a tiny cup of gelato. The horror! (What exactly is she getting paid for?). When we went to pay, she acted like we were idiots because we didn't give her exact change. Side note: we did deal with this in Greece, but this was the only time it's ever happened to us anywhere else in Europe. She was on the phone by the time we left. At least the gelato was good. And cold.
Tips and Tricks
1// The Palantine Hill, Forum, and Colisseum are all on one ticket. Something like 12.50 euros gets you into all three places. Start at the Palantine Hill. I think there were maybe two families ahead of us in line. We bought our ticket, breezed right through, explored Palantine Hill, glimpsed the Forum, and then walked straight into the Colisseum bypassing the (HUGE) ticket line. I don't do lines (don't they know how lucky they are to have us visit?!), so I was so grateful to B for figuring this out. Do not start at the Colisseum. Even if you're not interested in the Palantine Hill or Forum, just buy your ticket and enter the sites there. You don't want to waste your trip standing in line in the hot sun.
5// To get to Ciampino airport, take the TerraVision bus but do not buy your tickets at the TR stand (and don't buy them online, either). You'll have to wait in a huge line, and as I think we've already covered, I don't do lines. Buy your ticket at one of the tabacs in the train station, and then go to the TerraVision stand to get your "boarding pass." You can bypass the entire queue waiting for tickets, grab your boarding pass, and head for the next bus. And be sure to do all of this well in advance of when you actually need to leave. We showed up around 5:00ish and were told the next available bus was at 6:30. We were actually able to get on the 5:30 bus, even though we weren't in any kind of hurry. But do not count on that happening! Missed flight = very bad day.
Thoughts on Rome? Corrections, questions, experiences you'd like to share? I'm not shy. Hit me up in the comments section. I love to hear from y'all.
XOXO, ciao, and onward to Greece!
E & B