May 28th 2018
Arriving off our early morning flight into Rome we took a shuttle bus transfer to our hotel the 3* Yes Hotel, only to be told it was overbooked for the first night. However, our hotel had set us up in their sister property, 3* Des Artistes around the corner and even transferred us there. Both hotels were a 10 minute walk to the main train station, Termini, where we could pick up the metro.
After stopping for our first taste of true Italian food at a locally recommended restaurant for lunch, we headed out to explore and get our bearings. We took a Free Walking tour which took us past a ton of local sights including the Trevi Fountain! Our guide gave us a few of tips for visiting Rome, my favourite being that you can fill your water bottles from any of the fountains dotted around Rome, as it is all clean spring water.
On our second day we took the metro to Vatican City, where we picked up our pre-paid Omnia and Roma Passes, which gave us fast track entry to the Vatican, 72 hour hop on/hop off bus tour, free entry to 2 museums or sites, reduced entry to large number of others and a 72 hour transport pass for riding the metro and buses. We took a 3 hour guided tour for an additional 8 euro per person and it was very worth it! Our guide was amazing and we learned so much about the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, before being dropped out outside St Mark's Basilica which we were able to explore at our own pace.
With our Omnia passes in hand we caught the hop on/hop off bus tour for a little rest and got our first glance of the Colosseum. The round trip took about an hour and hit all the major sites. We got off at the fortified Castel Sant D'Angelo and used one of our free entry passes. After exploring the various rooms and climbing a lot of stairs we found ourselves on the roof top for a spectacular view of the Vatican and Rome skyline. We then headed back to the Trevi fountain to grab a famed Porchetta sandwich, which we ate on our way to the Spanish Steps. We relaxed on the steps for a little while, people watching and listening to some local music before heading back to the hotel.
On our third morning we headed straight for the Colosseum, where we used our second free entry and picked up another guided tour. After exploring for an hour after our tour we headed to the Palentine and Roman Forum to look through all the ruins. With a quick stop for an ice cream, we headed onwards to the Pantheon Basilica with its open air roof. Remember to bring something to cover your shoulders for when you enter any of the Chapel's or Basilica's.
Feeling in need of a bit of greenery we took the metro to The Villa Bourghese Gardens, where we found the turtle pond. This great green space located near the city centre, had row boats and bicycles to hire. It was a great spot to relax and break away from the crowds before heading for some pizza for dinner and then back to our hotel.
On the fourth and final full day we decided to head down the coast by train to Naples and then onward to Pompeii by the funicular. With a 2 hour guided tour we were given the history of Pompeii and had the highlights of the site pointed out to us and explained. We explored on our own for another couple hours and caught a glimpse of the frozen people and the huge collection of pottery collected from the site by archaeologists during excavation. On our way back to Rome we stopped in Naples for a couple of hours to explore before catching our train back to Rome.
Leaving our hotel behind the following morning, we caught the train from Rome Termini to the airport and headed back to Glasgow with sore feet, a fairly red sunburn and a camera full of great memories.