A Weekend of Walking Miles and Eating Copious Gelato
Before you even step off the plane you need to download the Ulmon Rome app. We don’t know what we would have done without it! It is free to download and works without 3G or Wi-Fi. You can simply type in the place you want to visit and if you turn your location services on, it shows you exactly how you need to get there, although some of the best views and hidden gems can be those that have been accidentally stumbled upon!
We stayed in Rome for 4 nights and 5 days, and felt as though this was the perfect amount of time. We weren’t rushed into trying to fit everything into a couple of days, which would have been difficult as there is so much to see! This also meant we were able to try out lots of different restaurants and cafes… always a good thing.
It’s all about that early start for the sunrise…
Thanks to google, we found that one of the best spots in Rome was Gianicolo Hill, we were very pleased to find out was only a 10 minute walk (plus 30 second panic jog) from our apartment. We set our alarms for 6am giving us enough time to get there and to set up base (TIP: Make sure that your phone/iPad has changed to the right local time, we didn’t realise this and the day before our alarm went off an hour late!). We slightly underestimated how long it would take for us to get there meaning we had to run half the way in order to beat the sun! We have yet to get a tripod for the new camera, so we had to get creative with ways to keep the camera up.
But after an hour or so and many different shots, we finally got a few which we were pretty happy with!
- Set to A/Av Mode
- ISO – 100-200
- Aperture – Smaller the better! (f/8 – f/11)
- Focus – Manual
- Shutter Speed – 1/30 second
- White Balance – Daylight
- Use a Tripod (Or someone small and steady’s head!)
- Use a 2-second timer, so pressing button wont vibrate the camera.
- Shoot in RAW so you can fine tune the exposure post shot, and turn off Image Stabilisation.
At 6.45 the sun rose over downtown Rome, giving us an amazing view of all the landmarks we had seen the day before. We then planned to go up St Peter’s Basilica, as we hate the tourist crowd, we thought that early morning would be the best for beating the queues and annoying tour guides. It says it opens to the public at 8am but we turned up at 7.30am and went straight in. It is €6 to walk up and €8 to use the lift (not as fun), and as much as we would have wished we took the lift halfway up, we always try to get the full experience, even if it does mean a few breaks to get our breath back. (If you have a fear of small spaces or are claustrophobic, we would definitely not recommend the stairs, as they are often only one small person wide!).
After the 500 steps up (which were a nightmare as we were still in warm clothes from the early start) we finally got to the top, and we were pretty much the only ones there, giving us plenty of room to get some amazing pictures. (TIP: make sure you wear clothes to cover the knees and shoulders otherwise you wont get in!). You get an incredible 360 view of Rome and then some. The steps down are considerably easier than the way up, and you can also get some refreshments at the halfway point if you’re struggling!
Here is the view from the top…
If you are looking for having lunch/coffee/wine in the sun and watching the world go buy, the Piazza Navona will hit the spot. Built directly on top of the ruins of the Stadium of Domitian, the square is known as the “Circus Agonalis” or “Competition Arena” as it was used to watch ancient athletic games. Although it is veryexpensive to eat or drink here, this square holds the Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four River), and the Fountain of Neptune. You can even be serenaded by a traditional Italian singer if you wander out in the evening. This square is the kind of place you can sit, drink and talk for hours before you’ve even realised it’s got dark.
We felt as though Rome was split up into convenient sections, for you to visit different parts on different days, to fit everything in and to not have to walk miles and miles each day! The east side of the river is considered ‘Downtown’, which is home to the must seeTrevi Fountain (we went during the day and it was packed, maybe get here early morning?), Spanish Steps(although they were having work done when we went!), The Pantheon, Piazza Navona and loads more.
We decided to get a private tour of the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, which is south-east of the river, and although it was quite expensive, if we hadn’t, we wouldn’t have gained nearly as much information and wouldn’t have appreciated it as much! Our tour guide was also an archaeologist; we definitely got the best person for the job!
More of the sights..
On our last day we had to be out of our apartment for 11am, and with nowhere to hold our bags, we found a very convenient shop ‘Leave Luggage Rome’, a 5 minute walk from the main Piazza Navona square. It allowed us to leave our luggage at a price of €1 an hour, and then even booked a taxi to the airport for us. With the last few hours we went to the Villa Ada Savoia park, where we heard you could rent quadracycle bikes (two seats and four wheels) for €12 an hour, (take ID).
Italian Food, our fave.
The app mentioned before, told us of a gelati shop which sold the “best ice cream in the world” so we went to check it out. With over 20 flavours to choose from we were in ice cream heaven, and I 100% regretted choosing the small cone size after I saw the size of Marks!
We usually try to go to local authentic restaurants wherever we go (who wants to eat English food whilst in Italy?) As all we had eaten so far was pizza, pasta and panini’s, we decided to treat ourselves. We happened to come across an amazing looking grill restaurant called ‘Meat Market’, which had great reviews on Trip Advisor. It had a Shoreditch-like feel to it, with a quirky inside layout and your own form to fill out when building your own burger (at €8 each!). We loved that you could just tick what you wanted, and toppings were free and unlimited! These were by far the best burgers we had ever eaten.
If not purely for the burgers, pizza, and ice cream, we will 100% be returning to the ever so charming, Roma!