A Packed 72 Hours Hitting Rome’s Highlights!

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.

I love Rome!


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!).

The BEST train snacks.- Yonkers! Kind of like cheetos but much better. We paired this from some of our wine purchases at Alba’s White Truffle Festival (pro tip – bring your own glasses & wine opener).

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!

Roscioli Al Forno pizza. This is traditional “Roman” pizza, but to the size you want. The left hand square is Mozzarella in Carrozza.

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!

The sun returns to Rome.

An Aperol Spritz on Piazza Navona con Elayne.

Elayne and I on Piazza Navaon!!

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.

Cookies at Biscotti Innocenti in Trastevere.

A butcher on our food tour.

The BEST pork!


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!

I Musei Vaticani.

Gorgeous views from the Vatican museum.

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!

St. Peter’s!

La Zanzara lunch stop.

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).

Views of the Underground.

Us at the Colosseum.

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.

Round 2. I even convinced Michelle to have some.

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.

The adorable Little Abbey Pub decked our for Christmas.

A good pour of Guinness.

Joanne and her half Snakebite.

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!

Jewish Fried Artichoke, a Roman staple.

Pasta alla Gricia! One of Rome’s four famous pastas!

Mushroom and sausage pizza. I cannot go to Roma Sparita without having this pizza. Luckily, some people in my part were able to help out with finishing it.


Our final full day in Rome began with breakfast pastries and Prosecco at Hotel Damaso, Prosecco provided by Michelle!

Breakfast pastries, or pasticcini in Italian!

A mask and Prosecco. A typical travel day in Italy in 2021.

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.

A slightly rainy walk to the Pantheon. The drizzle quickly cleared up.

The Covid testing tent outside Farmacia del Corso.

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.

One cannot beat McDonalds fries, even in Italy.

Tony and Betty celebrating with some hot chocolate and fries.

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.

Fall foliage holding out in Rome.


Tony and Michelle enjoying a cocktail.

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.

Wine en route to the Spanish Steps.

Christmas decor.

Spanish Steps.

Square around the Spanish Steps.

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!

Wine dinner pairing at Roscioli.

Cacio e pepe.


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.

Loving the interior decor at Hotel Damaso.

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.

Dan and me on Hotel Damaso’s rooftop in September 2021. The roof was open in November, and we did sneak in a pre-dinner drink one evening!

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.


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.

Roma Sparita: Piazza di Santa Cecilia, 24, 00153 Roma RM, Italy.  12h30 – 14h30, 19h30 – 12h. Closed for 2 weeks every August. Recommended to reserve in advance here. or by calling +39 06 580 0757.

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.




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