Rome wasn’t built in a day, and just for reference, you definitely can NOT see it in a day either!
I’ve been fortunate enough to go to Rome three times in the last 3 years and each time I’ve seen something that I did not see the first time. Each stay was about 3-5 days, which is perfect for Rome, the longer the better!
Top Hits and Tips according to me!
- Twilight Trastevere Food Tour by Eating Italy
- Papal Audience (Wednesday)
- Hit the Colosseum first thing in the Morning!
- Hop on Hop off Bus Tour
- Eat all the gelato, but make sure it is REAL Gelato!
I’ll break these down below!
The Twilight Trastevere Food Tour was something that my friend and I stumbled upon on my 3rd trip to Rome. We wanted to do something outside the normal “Vatican, Colosseum, Bus Tour” touristy stuff and a Food tour seemed to be just the thing! It’s a 4 Hour walking tour that includes pizza and pasta, Roman street food, meats and cheeses, and amazing wine in a secret cellar – its history will blow you away. Do NOT eat before you go on this tour! You’ll want to be hungry as they are going to feed you SO MUCH food! All of which is Delicious! It’s not the cheapest tour you will find, but it was well worth the money!
You can book the tour here if you’d like!
The Papal Audience takes place on Wednesdays and surprisingly is FREE to attend! Do not pay to see this! I have seen travel sites offer tours to this event and asking you to pay around 20-40 Euro for a FREE event!! The one thing you DO need to do is reserve your tickets! You can do that here to make sure you are all set for your trip! This is one of those things that I feel like you just HAVE to do! How cool is it to be like “Yeah, I saw the Pope while I was in Rome.” Be warned, people go NUTS when the Pope comes out (but not in a Black Friday waiting for a Playstation kind of way).
So what is a Papal Audience? Also called the General Audience, this is when the Holy Father addresses the crowd, usually in different languages. It’s not a mass but the Pope gives a speech, followed by prayers, a homily, and some singing.
The Pope may bless babies that people hold up for him (if you want him to bless yours, you need to get close, which means getting there very early.)
At the end of the ceremony, the Pope will bless religious articles you have with you. If you have arrived in Rome with a rosary or bible or other object that you want blessed, bring it with you. Or, you can buy these objects in many places in Rome, especially around the Vatican, and certainly inside the Vatican gift shop.
The whole thing lasts around 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
So you want to see the Colosseum but hate the idea of waiting in a huge line? Then get there about 20 minutes prior to Opening! Seriously, on my 2nd trip to Rome, but husband and I decided that we wanted to see the Colosseum, but didn’t want to wait in the August heat for it. We walked from our hotel in the early hours of the morning, and got in the queue. We were maybe 5 people deep when the doors opened. What was the best part of being one of the first people in that day? My pictures are not Flooded with strangers!! It’s a weird thing to be excited about, I know… but how often to we imagine that perfect shot of the Attraction we are seeing, only to have all our photos flooded with other tourists? And lets be real, I am no good at photoshop. Another great option for a shorter wait time, is the Roma Pass! Roma Pass holders have a separate line that tends to be shorter than the general public’s. Plus you get a ton of other benefits from the Roma Pass. You can read about those here.
Hop on Hop off (HOHO) bus tours are a staple to almost any European city. You will find people “for” them or “against” them, but 90% of the time… I’m all for it! It’s a good way to get your bearings around the city, where everything is etc. You also get a tour packed full with some basic information. And the best part, you can sit on the 2nd story of a double decker bus. My first trip to Rome, we some how ended up with the Ciao Roma Bus tour. I DO NOT recommend this tour! I’m not sure why, but it just felt cheap… very cheap. I usually try to go with the CitySightseeing brand bus tours. I feel like they have a standard to uphold since they have buses in so many different cities. If you’re trying to get from point A to B, sometimes these buses are not the quickest way to do that. However, if you like to leisurely ride around on the bus and still hit the hot spots, they are perfect.
And lastly, GELATO! No trip to Italy is complete without this creamy dessert! I’m pretty sure that while on vacation in Italy, it is an unspoken rule that you must have Gelato at LEAST once daily (maybe twice). My favorite combo? Chocolate and Pistachio! But if you’re not sure which you like, try them all! You can ask to taste the flavors before you purchase! Try to stick to proper “real” Gelato! How can you tell the difference between “real” Gelato and the tourist trap stuff? Here are some helpful hints I found from TravelDudes.org!
1. Evaluate the color:
Natural ingredients are NOT neon colored. Neither is real gelato. Look for soft, muted colors, especially in the Pistachio, Mint, and Banana flavors. Pistachio should be an earthy green, Mint should be white, and Banana should be whitish-grey. And if you see one that is BRIGHT blue names Facebook…. it’s probably a fake. (Yes, I’ve really seen that)
2. Look at the shape:
If the gelato is arranged in huge mounds above the top of the metal tubs, then it is fake. The reason it can hold this shape is that it has a much higher percentage of air, made possible using chemical stabilizers. So if you want a richer, more flavorful experience, and don’t want to pay for air (which you can get anywhere else for free) then go for something less globular.
3. Last and most obvious:
If you see stacks of cement-like bags behind the counter labeled with the names of different flavors like fragola, menta, and mandorla, than you are in the middle of a crime scene- the crime is known simply as “gelato fraud.”
I hope you have enjoyed this microscopic bit of my Rome travels and tips! Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any specific questions about my trips!
Until next time! Ciao!
**Please note that I am NOT a Professional and all opinions are my own and I highly suggest everyone does a little research on their own before traveling to decide what attractions and itineraries work best for you and your travel buddies.