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There’s a bit of a theme happening on the blog of late. A reminiscing of not only my travels with my family but of a time that I changed a lot. Came into my own so to speak. It is a time I will never forget and will always be grateful for. Travel has given me a lot.
This article is not going to be a guide or a recommendation of what to see in Rome. This is all about my time in Rome and how I remember it.
I find there are divided camps about Rome and what people think about it. Some who love it and some who hate it. I guess that is true of most places, rarely are people indifferent.
But one thing I have come to find is that you should never go to a place, or avoid it, on someone else’s opinion. What makes a place special is not the beautiful scenery, or the famous sights or the historical interests, but the personal connections you make with a place. The stories you create by the people that you meet, the things that you do, the interactions you have, or even something as simple as the food you eat. It is quite simply about the time you spend and the quality of that time.
For me, Rome will always be a special place that took me on small adventures with my children, a time when I was changing (and my life as I knew it was changing) and they still wanted to spend time with me.
I liked Rome and would happily go back and explore some more, to take in some of the sites that I missed. But more than liking Rome itself, it was the “experience” of Rome that I cherish. When I think of Rome, I think of a series of wonderful stories woven around my kids, the locals and food. And maybe, if I visit again, it will seem like a totally different place in a different time, simply because all the elements have changed.
So if someone says you shouldn’t visit a place based on their experience, follow your own heart. Because you just never know the story that may be waiting for you.
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Campo de Fiori
We stayed in an apartment in Campo de Fiori. I loved it there. It felt safe, and friendly and easy.
Campo de Fiori is located south of Piazza Navona. It is a rectangular square and has been the scene of lively events and executions. Since the 1800’s a market has been held here. A bustling affair filled with an array of food, clothes, homewares and more. I bought prosciutto, fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese (drooling right now!) and of course, there was a healthy supply of tacky t-shirts for the boy to buy (and he did, spending all his pocket money) and tea towels, and whatever else tacky tourists can buy. SSShhhh don’t tell anyone we were buying tacky tourist stuff, it’s rather embarrassing what came home in those bags.
From Campo de Fiori we walked the long way to the Roman Forum and Colosseum, we explored the nearby Piazza Navona and the Parthenon and Trevi Fountain plus other sites. It was the perfect place from which to explore the city.
We spent five days here. My mornings were spent gathering breakfast items from markets and bakery. There was this amazing bakery that sold their slices and pastries by the slab. So when I ordered a decadent ricotta slice, it was delivered to me in a huge chunk cut from the slab. So naughty, but so good. We got into the habit of going each morning and picking something different. (Crying right now because I can no longer eat this kind of thing).
We had a fully equipped kitchen which made meal preparation a dream, and with two kids it certainly cut down on costs and was convenient. The supermarket was only a couple of streets away and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting there. Yep, there’s that thing again with me and supermarkets.
I made Caesar salads including roasted chicken, antipasto platters when we felt like a light evening meal, bruschetta with toppings of not only tomato and basil, t roasted eggplant and tapenades. I loved it.
Read More: One Day in Cortona, Italy
Restaurants and Cafes
If we wanted to eat out there was a myriad of restaurants and cafes encompassing the square where you could sit and watch the passing passegiata. I love people watching. So interesting!
Or you could spend a pleasant afternoon sipping a coffee or wine at one of the café bars, catching up on all things online using the free wifi, and then sit back and relax.
The restaurant I loved the most though was not in the main area but up one of the side streets where our apartment was. We ate there a couple of times and it did not disappoint.
The first time we ate there was by accident, by way of a thank you for letting the kids use their bathroom. We had arrived in Rome earlier than expected, and the phone calls I made to the number for the owner were answered by a drunk man, his brother apparently. So my message of our early arrival didn’t get through.
Waiting for a couple of hours in the hot Italian sun became exhausting and the kids started to jump up and down in need of a bathroom. Not normally something they do for visitors, but the young waiter at the restaurant could see we were desperate and let us in.
The apartment was only a couple of doors down so I decided to take the kids back for lunch. And what a treat it was. I ordered the zucchini flowers which were deep fried and stuffed with anchovies and ricotta cheese. OMG! They were divine. Sadly I didn't take any photos!
I had one child that would try anything and everything, she was such a delight to travel with. And the other who was fussy. Hated change and really didn’t like trying anything new. But strangely he did try this. And to this day he talks about those zucchini flowers. We tried other restaurants in the main area and they were a total disappointment. So we came back here for dinner on another night as well.
Where to Stay
Although my preference is to usually stay in an apartment, my dream is to go back and spoil myself with a stay in the Hotel Campo de Fiori, indulging in a wine on their rooftop terrace and watching the sun go down before heading out for dinner at my favourite restaurant. You can find the Hotel Campo de Fiori, and others Rome Hotels at Booking.com and see the top ratings and reviews they have.
There is a good choice of apartments on Airbnb in Campo de Fiori and its surrounding areas. If I were staying for more than a few days this would be my choice. I love to cook for myself and I need to cater for food intolerances. My own kitchen gives me a lot of choice. And it is so nice at the end of a long day to be able to sit and relax in your own place.
Sightseeing & Shopping
Shops opened and closed on different days. I found no rhyme or reason and just went with it. One particular morning my son and I decided to go for a walk and came across a glass blower who made beautiful figurines and jewellery. I spoke no Italian, he spoke limited English. But it was a friendly exchange and a more than delightful experience.
So much so that my son and I returned another day. He was so happy to see us again that he gave my son a small glass figurine and I bought gifts to bring home and a beautiful glass butterfly for myself. It was such a pleasant experience and a wonderful time spent with my son.
Sitting in the café bar that afternoon a friendly voice greeted me as they walked in. My friend the glassblower!
My daughter and I spent hours wandering the shops and window shopping, our eyes occasionally hooked by something we saw on display.
I bought my favourite dress of all time in a store not far from our apartment, teamed it with a beautiful pair of shoes and went back the next day to buy another one in a different colour.
The kids and I also enjoyed visiting the Parthenon. They went scouting around for the drain holes in the floor. Good luck to anyone that got in their way!
And we also visited St Peters and the Vatican. We had a great guide but I think by that time after 2. 5 months of travelling we were all over tours. I’m glad we saw the Trevi Fountain but next time I will go in the early morning so I can enjoy it in peace, without the crowds.
So you can say what you want about Rome. For me, it was a magical experience and one I would like to have again. I wonder what next tie will be like? My life has certainly changed a lot, has Rome?
Cindy Reid is the founder of Travel Charm. Cindy has travelled extensively both personally and with her groups. She has now combined her love of art, food and travel and hosts Painting Trips to Europe and continues to explore and roam in Australia.