Travel- We flew from Birmingham to Rome Fiumicino. Our flight was at 6.45am meaning we we at BHX at 4.45am. Too early for a drink as you see some people doing but not too early for a yummy breakfast from Giraffe.
At Fiumicino airport we followed the signs to the train station, bought tickets from the self-serve machines and took the train to Roma Termini, the main train station in Rome. It was about half an hour and then twenty minutes walk to our hotel.
Hotel- We stayed at Hotel Dei Borgia, about ten minutes stroll from the Colosseum. We loved Aperitivo in the bar!
Activities- I think to really fit everything in you need to just drop your bags and head out but we were very tired and just wanted to relax, eat our porchetta rolls, read and nap. We headed to a nearby park but it started to rain.
Food- Porchetta rolls from the train station for lunch, then we headed to Grappolo d'Oro for dinner- review coming soon!
Sunglasses: Ray Ban, T-shirt: Oasis
We booked our tickets online, printed at home and then scanned them at the gates to get in- these tickets let you into the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.
It's possible to get a guided tour but we enjoyed just wondering round, reading the signs and getting a feel for ancient Rome.
This little lizard didn't care that he was climbing all over a historic site!
Although much of Palatine Hill is just remnants of what was once there, we got a really good feel for what life was like for important Romans. My favourite part were these arches over a long main street. I could imagine people whispering and plotting in those dark shadows.
Food: For lunch we went to Da Trani near our hotel for pizza and Aperol Spritz. I had Mozarella and Prosciutto- I loved that it didn't have tomato sauce. This was the best pizza I ate in Italy- thin and crispy base topped with tasty, simple ingredients. Can I get one like this in the UK please?
As well as simple and tasty pizzas they also had some crazy combinations (I kept seeing children eating French Fry Pizzas). Check out Edd's frankfurter and egg monstrosity.
In the evening we ate at Urbana 47- review coming soon!
We learnt our lesson, got up early and reached the Colosseum at 9am as it opened. There was already a giant queue to buy tickets but we walked straight in with our pre-booked ones. I highly recommend booking online!
Nothing quite prepares you for seeing the Colosseum. It's so famous, you've seen it so many times in films, on television, in books and magazines. It almost doesn't seem real.
As the holiday went on I found that my floppy hat was both a blessing and a curse. It was necessary to protect my fair head but also made me stand out more as a tourist- people really want you to buy a selfie stick.
Being inside the Colosseum was even more bizarre. We walked all the way round, looked at the pictures and models of what it would have looked like and tried to link those two images in our heads.
There was also a very interesting exhibition inside. It displayed art from the earliest human civilisations and made you consider why people have always wanted to create things- from models of the 'Earth Mother' to pots decorated with images from stories. This display was worth the entrance fee alone. Amazing to be stood in a 2000 year old structure, looking at wonderfully preserved sculptures and pots from long long before that.
After the Colosseum we strolled over to the Pantheon. This was such an interesting building. It was originally a temple for the worship of all gods built around 120AD and was converted into a Christian church 500 years later. So you approach what looks like a temple...
and find yourself in a church with the most amazing ceiling. I could not imagine the time and effort that had gone into it. That skylight is open to the elements and apparently when it rains, the water disappears into almost invisible holes in the floor.
Finally we went to find the Spanish Steps. As everyone will tell you, they are just some lovely steps. Check out my red knees. Get out of the sun Helen!
Food: More delicious porchetta rolls and dinner at Crostaceria Sa Tanca, a Sardinian seafood restaurant where we ate the most wonderful tasting menu for 40 euros each including a bottle of wine. Annoyingly we hadn't taken out cameras but I wish we had as the food was wonderful.
We had two full days in Rome and I definitely felt that there was so much more I could have done. I think it is feasible to fit a lot more into a three night trip if you really plan and don't spend as much time napping, drinking Aperol Spritz and reading as we did.
*Book ahead for the Colosseum and get there early.
*It is possible to have a guided tour of the Colosseum by night- I wish I'd put a bit more effort in and arranged this.
*There are some lovely restaurants doing interesting things at reasonable prices. Do your research- don't just go into the first restaurant you see with red table cloths, unless sub-standard pasta is your thing.
Check back soon for reviews of some of the restaurants I ate in and posts on Florence, Bologna and Venice!