The Roman leg of my tour was kicked off the Italian way.....on the back of a vintage Vespa hanging on for dear life as my tour guide/Italian firefighter, Georgio showed me the best of Rome. For a few hours I was Audrey Hepburn and Georgio was Gregory Peck. Zipping in and out of Rome's traffic.....up to St Peter's Square, stopped by the Mouth of Truth, around and around the colosseum and even grabbed a quick bite in Trastevere! This was probably one of the best city tours I've been on as I was really part of the city and I got to experience so much more than I would on a hop on hop off bus or even a car. Traveling via Vespa allowed us to get up close and personal to all of the sights with little hassle. It amazes me how I basically entrusted my life to a complete stranger in a foreign country. Honestly, I felt a pang of guilt as I had a boyfriend back home and this felt kinda like a date. An exhilarating, spur of the moment hot date in a romantic city with a perfect stranger. Well as they say....."While in Rome......"Ahhhh la vita dolce!
If you are preparing for your first journey to Roma, I'm sure you are planning to visit the Roman Greats such as the Colosseum, the ruins, the Pantheon and the Vatican. However, I have a few additional suggestions for you to consider...
Accommodations: If you are going to be there longer than 3 days, I suggest renting an apartment. Having an apartment allows you to "travel like a local" a bit more and really immerse yourself in the culture. I rented an apartment in the Prati area walking distance from the Vatican. Renting an apartment really enhanced my experience. I rented my apartment via Homeaway.com. I suggest renting an apartment that has plenty of reviews.
What to eat: Eat in the Jewish Quarters! I was lucky enough to be in Rome during artichoke season so I was able to experience fried artichokes. My favorite restaurant was located in "my neighborhood", Prati. It is called Cacio e Pepe and it is FANTASTIC! The carbonara was incredible! Good service, reasonable prices and a wonderful local vibe! Via Giuseppe Avezzana, 11, 00195 Roma, Italy
Where to shop: Tons of places to shop of course. I enjoyed the selection of shops near the Spanish steps.
Must do tour: If you are staying in Rome more than a few days I suggest taking a break from the big city and booking a "Day Trip to Tuscany". I booked my tour through Viator but I'm sure there are other options. On this tour we took a plush coach to the Tuscany countryside. We had walking tours in at least two small Tuscan towns, visited a church where we were lucky enough to witness the monks doing their afternoon prayers and finally we had lunch and wine tasting on a Tuscan farm. This tour was another highlight on my Italian tour. I even ordered wine to be shipped after the tasting. It's pricey but worth it and makes great gifts for people back home.
Coffee Culture: When you are leaving the Pantheon, you may want a little caffeinated pick me up. I suggest caffé Tazza D'oro! Best espresso I had in Roma!
Beware: I didn't have any issues with being a victim of crime but keep your wits about you like you would in any large metropolitan city.
La Boca Della Verita` (the mouth of truth)