So, we are back! And my blog is active again, as you can see from the frequency intensity of my previous posts 🙂 🙂 🙂
We have been busy this summer – spending some quality time with grandparents in Paris, celebrating the 98th birthday of great grandpa, and… drum rolls please… a week in Rome. We had a blast!
Since this is our first time to Rome, we had so much to explore, and a few mishaps.
So here are a few notes to keep in mind next time we are back 😉
1. Where to stay and Which transportation mode to take?
Hotels in Rome are outrageously expensive. A tiny room in a meh three-star hotel near the Colosseum costs 200 euro a night, and the only place we could open our suitcase is on the bed (arggggg…!) My advice: use airbnb instead. We had a large apartment with two bedrooms, one kitchen, one bathroom, and a balcony for a fraction of the cost. On top of that, it’s a stone throw from Cavour metro stop, and 15-min walk from Colosseum. Every box is checked!
Depending on your departing city, there are several budget airlines to Rome Fiumicino Airport. We use EasyJet from Paris and were super happy with it.
Taxi between the airport and Rome has a fixed fee of 48 euros. You will need to go out of the airport and there is a line of airport taxis waiting. There are some groups of people with taxi badges inside the airport – do NOT go with them, which I almost did. They will try to scam you into their taxis for higher prices.
Within the city, taxi is very reasonable compared to D.C. Between attraction sites, we pay only 6-8 euros per ride.
Public transportation is efficient and cheap. AND the kids love it! One trip costs 1.5 euros. Children under 10 go for free.
Download Google Maps on your phone and activate the GPS. Wherever we went, we used Google Maps to walk us to the nearest bus stop, anticipate waiting time, deciding which route to take, etc. Buses are run with 10-15 minute intervals. Metros are a few mins apart. Super fast.
Another plus side: we also got a city tour just by sitting on the bus.
One thing to keep in mind though: the bus rarely has bus stop signals. Thus, you won’t be able to know which stop it is approaching. You will need to keep an eye on your Google Maps and/or check with the locals. They are very friendly, especially with kids, and very enthusiastic to help you out.
2. What to pack for your daily trip?
If you travel in July and August, it will be super hot. The temperature can shot up to 36 degree Celsius. So, water is important. I mean PURE water, not beer or margarita or juice. I know, the photo is misleading 😉
Besides the usual stuffs (cash, credit cards, ID, hats, sunglasses,…) our backpack always has:
- A big bottle of water. You can refill it in any fountain around Rome.
- A small package of snack or cookies. The kids will thank you.
- Phone portable battery charger (if you are like me, you will use the phone a lot: tripadvisor, yelp, google maps, you name it).
- Sunscreen cream
- Small changes. The kids will want to throw some in the fountain. There are LOTS of fountain in Rome, and you don’t want to depart with your beloved 1-euro coins.
ALWAYS keep guard of your valuables. I wore a tiny bag which can store my phone, cash, credit cards and ID. When needed, the bag can be put under my T-shirt. Rome is swamped with pickpockets, especially around attraction sites. Once in Bocca della Verita, they opened my backpack but didn’t take anything.
Do NOT bring a stroller if you can avoid it. Cobber-stones roads, no elevators, no street ramps, tightly parked cars, crowded sites,… Should I go on?
3. Where to eat?
As much as I love to cook, we didn’t cook in Rome. Of course not. We tried many different restaurants in Rome, mostly based on Yelp and TripAdvisor. Some super highly-rated restaurants (La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali near Colosseum, Da Enzo al 29 in Trastevere) turned out to be very average. Others are way beyond expectation!!
All restaurants do not have high chairs. So, it’ll be a challenge if you travel with infants. Get ready to be messy 😉
Below is our absolute favorites:
Da Francesco (Pantheon/Campo de Flori/Navona neighborhood)
We love this tiny restaurant so much that we came back to the neighbor hood just for it. The pizza and pasta are phenomenon. Prices are super reasonable, between 10-12 euros per main dish. And they adore kids! Plus: the kids can watch how their pizza is made on spot. The only down side is it can get very crowded, so do get there early.
Right around the corner of Da Francesco is my best gelateria in Rome: Frigidarium! You have to try their saffron and pistachio flavor. If I revisit Rome again, this will be my one and only gelato spot. There is a water spout a block away (toward Corso Vittorio Emanuele II road) to refill water and wash your hands after the yummy treat.
La Prosciutteria Trastevere (Trastevere neighborhood)
Cold cuts and prosciutto are mouth-watering. They don’t have restaurant license, so you will have to order at the counter, and serve yourself. We planned to have a pre-dinner here and headed to another restaurant in the neighborhood but ended up stay here the entire time. We had a large plateau with a large selection of meats, cheese, crostini, a glass of wine, and a cold beer for about 30 euros. You can find the menu here. Same as in Da Francesco, this place is tiny, and filled up very quickly.
Dilla (Spanish Steps neighborhood)
This is one of a few restaurants in Rome that offer great salads. Surprise! I didn’t know Roman don’t like vegetable (given what I observed from the menus). The kids love their grilled juicy half-chicken and pasta. I enjoyed my goat cheese salad tremendously. Hubby guarded his cold-cut plateau like a dragon guarded his castle so I assume the dish was great. The prices are on the expensive side. Main dishes cost between 15-25 euros.
4. How about shopping?
Well, shopping was not on our list, but we couldn’t help but stumble on these two treasures.
Pinocchietto Shop (Fontana di Trevi neighborhood)
The kids each had 5 euros to spend. But I ended up subsidizing quite a lot. Lesson learnt: while the kids may fail the financial management test, their negotiation skill is superb!!!
Essenzialmente Laura (Navona neighborhood)
We saw this shop when walking down Via dei Coronari toward the Vatican. My husband and I just wanted to “have a look” because the place smelled heavenly. They had so many different fragrances, ranging from pure floral essences like lavender and rose to deep warm woody fragrances like amber and sandalwood.
My husband wanted something citrus, so our sale assistant introduced us to Tangerino, a combination of mandarin and lemon leaves which give a sweet-bitter mixture. Of course my dear hubby had to exclaim: “Oh my god, that’s totally my wife. I can’t take it!” He’s lucky that we’ve been married for a decade.
We still walked out with two heavy bags, and my hubby still in one piece.
Oh, and goodbye L’Occitane!