I wish I could have a bottle full of the feeling I had when flying into Italy. I have always wanted to go, and to not only get a few days with my family there, but to then have a whole week with my husband was an absolute dream come true. Once the plane started getting lower and I set my eyes on the countryside, there was no turning back. Italy has my heart and I may never get it back. Rome is a huge city, like almost 3 Million people kind of huge and that's not including all the tourists. Just like Athens, I think you have to go here if you're visiting Italy. We were able to do so many different things with 3.5 days in Rome which obviously involved a lot of pasta.
Check Out My Video On Rome
Half-Day: Wandering & Eating
We first arrived in Rome around 10:00AM. Once we got to the hotel a couple of us wanted to wander around a bit. I mean, how could we not sprint to a gelato & pizza spot? Within blocks from our hotel (we stayed at the Atlantico Hotel) we stumbled upon a gorgeous church. It was so fun just being able to walk right in and see the most unreal architecture and design work that was put into it. Stunning gold fixtures, beautiful flooring and so many random bits of history. We were going to find out sooner than later that these beautiful churches were scattered all throughout Italy, and we never stopped walking into them. Kirby and I made our way to a late lunch at a side cafe pizza joint. Get ready to see lots of pictures of pizza, gelato and pasta because I swear to you, that is all my diet consisted of.
For dinner, my whole family headed to the famous Piazza Navona area which is a beautiful open center with lots of restaurants, cafes and little shops. Also, lots of people, but hey, when in Rome. Right? We ate at Caffe Nettuno which was my first taste of real Italian pasta, and yep, you guessed it... No turning back form there. Rigatoni is my favorite pasta for red sauce so I made sure to order it at least 5 times in the week and a half I was in Italy. Maybe even 6 or 7... No shame.
First Full Day: Tour of the Vatican & Lots of Wine
We woke up early for the half-day tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. Like I've said before, I'm not a huge tour person nor is my family, but omgggg, I highly recommend setting up a private tour for this. Our guide was amazing and gave us more insight than we could ever have imagined. I learned so much and this was by far my favorite part of Roman history. I'm a very faithful person, but have always had a grey area with the Catholic church because I personally don't believe in some of the "rules" they set forth. Well, if you're anything like me please make this private tour happen in your life. I was blown away at some of the history within the Vatican and Sistine Chapel that you never hear or read about. It made me feel so comfortable with all the beliefs I thought made me stick out from the church. The quilts hanging in some of the hallways were threaded with actual gold, the ceiling paint was still intact and so bright, the statues and living quarters of the Pope gave me chills thinking of the amount of time and history that happened right where I stood. One statue in particular even moved me to tears with the meaning set behind it. Everyone takes something different from this, but even if you're not religious you need to make this a stop while visiting Rome. Side note: Your shoulders can't show when in the chapels and churches so make sure to dress accordingly (no shorts either!).
After seeing the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, the most amazing tour our guide brought us to L'Lsola della Pizza, which was a couple blocks from the there and let me tell you... This was my favorite pizza of the entire trip! It opened over 30 years ago and is still run by the same family. When the 9 of us walked in the servers started showering us with fresh mozzarella appetizers, fresh prosciutto and of course lots of rosè. My favorite thing about Italy is that fact that everywhere you go you get a personalized pizza and it's never cut. You best believe, I finished almost all of my pizzas 🙂 After we finished we roamed around a bit and stumbled upon a sidewalk cafe called Ago e Lillo that had misting water fans so we had to stop (humidity was the death of me). They also had a happy hour special for bubbly rosè so you already know what happened next... Hours of drinking, laughing and chatting about all of our adventures, thus far. Family time in Rome was a dream come true.
That night Kirby and I went on a walk with my Dad and my littlest sister because none of us could sit still (we just get so giddy!) and we really wanted to see the Colosseum lit up at night! We came across some of the coolest streets, alleys and stairways that eventually led us right to the front of it. Boy am I happy we did that. It was so peaceful and grand standing in front of it with no one around you. Highly recommend!
Second Day: Colosseum Tour, Pantheon & Fontana di Trevi
We luckily had the same private tour guide set up for the half-day tour of the Colosseum and loved every minute of it. I know I keep saying this, but seriously the amount of history surrounding this place is crazy. Imagining the fight's that took place inside the Colosseum by the gladiators and the lives that these people were forced to live is mind blowing. Walking through and seeing that people were caged in right next to huge lions only to be killed by those lions the very next day or week was really hard to wrap your head around. Rome never ceased to amaze me. Having the opportunity to walk through the Roman Forum was super cool, and again, mind blowing. After a long morning of walking we were all starving and headed through some alleyways until we stumbled upon Ristorante Cleto, a small Italian cafe filled with Italians (which is obviously a good sign). I got an amazing pizza and Kirby got their signature pasta dish: 7 Sins... Clearly not healthy haha.
Now that we were all stuffed full of yummy food some of the family wanted to head back and nap a bit, but again Kirby and I didn't want to waste anytime and neither did some of the other family members. My dad, oldest brother, youngest sister, Kirby and I went wandering through the streets because we really wanted to get inside the Pantheon. We had actually stumbled across it the first night we arrived, but it was closed to visitors at that time. To be honest, I wasn't super familiar with the Pantheon or any of the history behind it so I didn't really know what to expect. After a very short line (free of charge) we made it in! It was first built as a temple for Gods and is now used as a church. It's the best preserved Ancient Roman monument and is the largest unsupported dome in the world! It's all concrete and has a huge hole in the top. It was crazy thinking that this was made thousands of years ago (like how??) and that rain rarely ever falls through the hole due to how it was designed. Talk about brilliant. We had so much fun messing around snapping pictures and decided to reward our achievements with gelato because duh.
That evening the whole family got dressed up and made our way to the famous Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi), as well as the rest of the tourists in Rome (haha), but seriously this place was packed. It's not that big and it's surrounded with layers of people taking pictures and wishing. Obviously, you need to make it here, but be prepared for crowds. According to ancient history, you need to hold the coin in your right hand and throw it over your left shoulder (to cross your heart). Make sure to get a wish in, babes... You never know the power behind a wish at Trevi Fountain 😉 After we got our wishes in the whole family sat down at a small restaurant called Ristorante "il miraggio" where I ordered more Rigatoni and had the best artichoke appetizer of my life.
Third & Last Day: Roaming Around & River Walk
This was the last day with my whole family in Italy together and the last day with them after two whole weeks! I still can't believe this trip happened and feel so blessed for the memories. A few of us wandered around the Palazzo Navona a bit more and stumbled across the best little alley pizza spot called Cucina Del Teatro where I of course indulged in more pesto pizza and wine. We did some souvenir shopping and made our way back to the hotel to prep for a river walk/bar hopping and to pack up all of our stuff.
The river is definitely something you need to make it to. Not only is the walk next to the river filled with cool little bars and shops, but the neighborhood and streets above the river have such a different vibe than the rest of Rome. We ate at Ristorante Sabatini in Trastevere which was right outside a basilica. It was so yummy and we had the coolest experience of an old Italian man bringing an entire pig leg out and slicing the prosciutto right off of it! Guess what I got for dinner here? Yep... Rigatoni. I'm obsessed. It was such a fun last dinner with my family and I wouldn't trade a moment for anything else.