After my wife and I got married, we each had a trip that we had to do before we had kids; she wanted to go to Japan and I wanted to go to Italy. We have since traveled to both of these places and don’t feel any closer to having kids (Shh, don’t tell our parents). Though we have wanted to do these trips for years, we wanted to be able to do them without too much compromise so we traveled other places until we were able to afford to do our trips the way we wanted. In 2017 we finally found ourselves in stable jobs with actual vacation time.
About 8 months after moving to a new town and beginning new jobs, we had the opportunity to do one of our trips (we meant to do Japan first but moving made us miss cherry blossom season so we postponed) and we packed our bags and visited Italy in September of last year. Our trip began in Rome on September 17th. If you are planning a trip to Italy, I highly recommend travelling in late September to enjoy amazing weather while avoiding the worst of the crowds. Beginning in Rome, we experienced temperatures in the high 20s to low 30s paired with clear sunny days, in fact, we only had rain for part of one evening which we avoided while eating dinner in a cozy little trattoria.
Rome is a fascinating city where it is difficult not to envision what life was like during Roman times. We stayed near the train station and ended up walking to or past the coliseum almost every morning. In Rome it quickly became obvious that it is impossible to walk somewhere without passing amazing monuments, fountains, and ruins. There is so much history in this city.
While staying in Rome, we had a few must see locations: the Coliseum (obviously), the Vatican, and a day trip to Pompeii. There are however countless museums and sites to see which are also worth visiting such as the Spanish steps, Trevi fountain, and the Pantheon. We began with the coliseum and it did not disappoint. Walking through ruins is always fascinating but to visit such a large and elaborate structure that played an enormous role in ancient roman culture, and history in general, is nothing short of amazing. We spent a couple hours exploring the upper levels and looking down on one of the most famous stages of all time. We spent a bit of time trying to find the stairs that would lead down to the people exploring the underground labyrinth below the coliseum to no avail. We could see people down there but couldn’t figure out how to get there. After wandering out the exit hoping to find the way down, we discovered that the only way to explore below the coliseum is to take a certain tour. If I ever make it back to Rome, this is something I will need to do. Rachel and I do not like tours typically, as they never move at a pace that we enjoy. They have caused us to loiter around tourist traps while blitzing past the parts that truly interest us and because of this, we never really looked at tours of the coliseum. However, I am willing to take a tour if it is the only way of seeing the things that interest me. So to anyone that is interested in seeing what lies below the coliseum, be advised that you will need to look at going with a tour group, which honestly did seem to provide interesting information about the coliseum.
After wandering the coliseum we wandered up the hill a few hundred feet and visited the roman forum. The forum is quite large and offers a large space to wander including views of Circus Maximus which really isn’t much to look at (we walked over Circus Maximus and thought it was a large gravel patch at the time). Unless you know some history about the roman forum, it is essentially a very nice walk through some ruins with lots of space to wander (I think we had about 45000 steps that day). The forum is worth a visit, but may not be how you want to spend the whole day.
While in Rome, one of my favorite sites was the pantheon. It is a very interesting building and quite beautiful. In front of the pantheon stand large pillars which were hauled to Rome all the way from Egypt. The interior is filled with beautiful art, and is free to enter. Just make sure you are dressed appropriately as they do tell people to cover up. For women this tends to mean shoulders covered and no short shorts. They don’t seem to have any strictly enforced rules for men, but probably best to avoid tank tops and short shorts as well (if that’s your thing). Rachel got turned away from a cathedral in Venice later in the trip while wearing a tank top and shorts but it wasn’t always consistent as some cathedrals would allow her in wearing the same outfit. So just be aware!
From the pantheon, you can also do a walk to the Spanish steps which passes the Trevi fountain. I think the walk would be worth doing multiple times, but if you are pressed for time, I would recommend grabbing some gelato and doing this walk at night. Trevi fountain is particularly beautiful while lit up and the walk takes you past numerous other fountains that I felt were equally, if not more impressive.
We had a wonderful time in Rome and if given more time would have found countless other activities to do. Rome is definitely a romantic city with beautiful piazzas to wander in the evening. I highly recommend the visit if the opportunity ever arises.