If you’ve been following along, you know that Dan and I went to Italy with our immediate families over Thanksgiving in 2021. Our trip ended with 72 hours in Rome, after visiting Alba for its White Truffle Festival and Venice. Normally I would not have included Rome on a Northern Italy focused trip, but we love Rome and our last 72 hours ended up being some of the best of the trip! Here is our itinerary if you are considering a similar trip for yourself.
DAY 1 – ARRIVAL VIA FRECCIAROSSA & A FOOD TOUR OF TRASTEVERE
We arrived in Rome via a 3.45 hour train ride from Venice’s Santa Lucia train station on Trenitalia’s fast Frecciarossa train. The ride was easy enough – we brought snacks and drinks and the wifi worked really well (a happy surprise!).
We arrived at Roma Termini in the early afternoon to pouring rain. Great start. After finding our rides, we checked into a fabulous hotel in Rome, Hotel Damaso, which is very close to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. We had no plans until the evening, so everyone had a few hours to do whatever they pleased. Dan, his sister, and I quickly walked to Roscioli’s Al Forno take-away shop for real Roman pizza. We ate it back at hour hotel. And honestly, I think this is the BEST pizza that I have ever had. By the time we finished our pizza, the sun had returned!
I also walked to Mail Boxes, Etc. to pick up two wine shippers to transport some of our wine acquisitions home and stopped to quickly meet by friend Elayne and her family for a drink in Piazza Navona! Both living in the US, Elayne and I have been taking online Italian lessons together since the summer of 2020 and this is the first time we met in person!! Very exciting!
Later that evening, walked about 20 minutes to meet for our Trastevere food tour around 5:00 PM and unfortunately, got caught in the worst possible rain storm. Just while we were walking; it stopped right as we arrived. That was a rough start to the tour. In any case, it turned out ok and didn’t rain any more for the entire tour… We visited about 6 restaurants in Trastevere and tried some really delicious foods.
DAY 2 – TOURING BOTH THE VATICAN & THE COLOSSEUM IN ONE DAY
Our second day in Rome was a big one – touring BOTH the Vatican and the Colosseum in one day, with 8 people…. I am writing an entire detailed post on this, but some highlights are here. We began our day with breakfast at Hotel Damaso. Dan and I largely skipped it to avoid any nonsense before our big day! Right at 7:30, our pre-booked transportation drove us to the Vatican Museums, where we met up with our tour guide. We saw lots in the Vatican Museum, from the Gallery of Maps (my personal favorite), to the Sistine Chapel, to the Pinecone Courtyard, to the part of the museum holding all of the Pope mobiles. We also got in a bit of souvenir shopping!
Post Vatican Museums, we walked to see the outside of St. Peter’s Basilica. Half waited in line to visit St. Peter’s and the other half went to a proper sit down lunch at La Zanzara!
We were picked up promptly at 13:45 and driven to the Colosseum for a guided tour of the Colosseum’s Underground, which just opened in the summer of 2021(!) and the main part of the Colosseum. We Ubered back to the hotel after the Colosseum, literally staying until it closed down at 16:00 (winter hours).
Some rested at the hotel. Others did not. I personally did more shopping and went for a second round of Roscioli Roman pizza… It was THAT good.
I also stopped for a Guinness at the cutest pub, Little Abbey Pub, rated one of the most picturesque pubs in all of Rome! The Guinness at Little Abbey Pub is quality and Dan’s mother was very excited to order a Snakebite, or Guinness mixed with Magners cider.
Tonight’s dinner was an amazing one at one of Bourdain’s favorite Roman spots, Roma Sparita! Dan and I have been here a few times, and its always one of our favorites. We had an amazing meal at Roma Sparita!
DAY 3 – COVID TESTS, SHOPPING, & A WINE DINNER AT ROSCIOLI
Our final full day in Rome began with breakfast pastries and Prosecco at Hotel Damaso, Prosecco provided by Michelle!
After breakfast, we walked by the Pantheon (reservations only during Covid), stopped for some souvenir shopping and eventually made our way to the dreaded go-home Covid tests at Farmacia del Corso. If you want to know more about getting tested in Rome, I wrote all about it here.
Luckily, we all passed and the whole ordeal only took about 30 minutes from start to finish. Our group then departed ways – half to see the Pope give his 30-minute Angelus and the others shopping and the Trevi Fountain! I went with the Trevi crowd, but not before stopping to get Betty a celebratory McDonalds meal for passing her Covid test, LOL.
Next up, Trevi Fountain! I have heard rumors that its empty during Covid, but this was definitely not the case on our Sunday afternoon visit. That being said, we were able to get some decent photos and do some touristy shopping in the area.
The group met back up for lunch at one of Dan’s favorite spots, Caramella in Trastevere. Caramella is a student restaurant that serves excellent Roman fare, as well as some student-friendly favorites (like burgers). Betty skipped out, but I think everyone else loved the lunch. We ordered a mix of pizza, pasta, and cocktails.
The evening progressed into a walk to the Spanish Steps for more shopping, including at my favorite glove maker Sermoneta, and another Guinness at the Little Abbey Pub. This time most of the group joined for the Guinness.
To close out our trip to Rome, we booked a fancy wine pairing dinner at Roscioli! Yes, the same Roscioli from earlier, but this time in a different location. For our dinner, Roscioli paired 8 glasses of wine with small plates of food in its private wine cellar. Very swanky, and a fabulous way to end our Italian vacation!
OUR LOVELY HOTEL, HOTEL DAMASO
As mentioned, our entire group stayed at Hotel Damaso, the same hotel that Dan and I stayed at in September. While not affiliated with any major hotel chain, Hotel Damaso is a lovely boutique hotel just off Campo de’Fiori. Its only a few minutes walk from the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and loads of cute restaurants and bars. It’s about 10 minutes from Trastevere.
Hotel Damaso is decorated adorably, has fast wifi, and an elevator, comes with complimentary breakfast for all guests, and offers an amazing rooftop deck with views all over Rome.
Hotel Damaso can command high prices in high season, but we found great deals in both September and November by booking directly with the hotel. Highly recommend Hotel Damaso.
STEAL OUR TRIP
Hotel Damaso: Piazza della Cancelleria, 62, 00186 Roma RM, Italy.
Trastevere Twilight Food Tour: Our Trastevere food tour.
The Roman Guy: The company we used to tour the Vatican.
Touriks: The company we used to tour the Colosseum Underground.
Caramella: Vicolo Del Cinque, 31 – 00153 – Rome. Open daily 10 – 2h. Casual pizzeria in Trastevere. Lots of young people and students. You probably don’t need a reservation (we’ve never made one), but they can be easily made online (there is a link of their Facebook profile).
Rimessa Roscioli: The wine tasting dinner is at Rimessa Riscoli.