There’s a bit of a theme happening on the blog of late. Reminiscing not only about my travels with my family but of a time when I personally changed. 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 on what to see in Rome. This post is all about my time in Rome and how I remember it. However, as with all my travel experiences, I am happy to share the things I loved.
Personally, I love Italy. I have yet to visit a place that I didn’t like. Admittedly there is still so much to explore! We had spent five days in Orvieto prior to Rome and it was going to be hard to beat. And Venice had captured my heart too.
I have found that people seem to be divided on their opinions of Rome. Either they love it or they hate it. Very few seem to sit in the middle.
But one thing I have found is that you should never go to a place, or avoid it, because of someone else’s opinion.
What makes a place unique for us individually is not beautiful scenery, or famous sights or historical interests, but your connection and experience. Your stories come from the people you meet, things that you do, interactions you have, or something as simple as the food you eat.
For me, Rome will always be a special place that took me on 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 more, to visit the sites that I missed and to take my time venturing into laneways and neighbourhoods.
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 beautiful stories woven around my kids, the locals and food. And maybe, if I visit again, it will seem different, a place from a different time, just 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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Staying in Campo de’ Fiori
We stayed in an apartment in Campo de’ Fiori. I loved it there. It felt safe, and friendly and easy. I am a lover of slow travel and this suited me perfectly. Five days (which it could have been more) just to explore Rome.
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 medieval times 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 and of course, there was a healthy supply of tacky t-shirts for my son to buy (and he did, spending all his pocket money) and tea towels, and whatever else tacky tourists can buy. It really is rather embarrassing what made it into our luggage.
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.
Markets at Campo de’ Fiori
I can take or leave visiting churches. I know, I can hear you gasping!
But when I travel I might visit one or two but that’s it. The Pantheon is different. the kids loved it too. They went scouting around for the drain holes in the floor. Good luck to anyone that got in their way!
I look forward to visiting Rome again and taking my time there, without a family in tow.
I loved the circular building with its domed roof and Oculus allowing the light to stream in. The Pantheon was originally built as a Temple to all gods and the building that stands today was built in 120 AD by Emperor Hadrian. In 609 it was transformed from a Pagan Temple into a church thereby saving it from being destroyed. Today it is still a church, but known by most people as the Pantheon.
And it’s free to visit. Another bonus!
The Roman Forum and Colosseum
The Roman Forum was fascinating. I had printed a Rick Steves’ self-guided tour and it was great. giving insight to the various places in the Forum and also information on Palatine Hill. I enjoyed the Roman Forum more than the Colosseum.
Although next time if the budget allows I might book a guided tour to see more of it.
Many people forgo the Roman Forum, I highly recommend it. You purchase a combo ticket anyway, may as well use it.
Palantine Hill – Roman Forum
The Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica
We also visited St Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican. We had a great guide, but I think by that time after 2 1/2 months of travelling we were over tours. I’m glad I went, but in no hurry to go again.
St Peter’s Basilica
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. I think it will be beautiful in the early morning light.
We spent five days in Rome. My mornings were spent gathering breakfast items from markets and bakery. There was a bakery that made mouthwatering slices by the slab. You just chose how much you wanted.
When I ordered a decadent ricotta slice, it was delivered to me in a huge chunk cut.
So naughty, but so good. We quickly developed the habit of picking something different each morning.
There was a fully equipped kitchen in our apartment that made meal preparation a dream. With two kids it cut down on costs and was convenient. The supermarket was only a couple of streets away, and I enjoyed visiting there daily too. Yep, there’s that thing again with supermarkets and me.
I made Caesar salads with roasted chicken, created antipasto platters for light evening meals instead of going out to eat. There was bruschetta with toppings of not only tomato and basil but roasted eggplant and tapenade too. Yum!
Restaurants and Cafes
If we wanted to eat out there was a myriad of restaurants and cafes encompassing the square where we sat people watching.
Or I spent pleasant afternoons sipping a coffee or wine, at one of the café bars, catching up on all things online using the free wifi.
My favourite restaurant was not in the main area, but one of the side streets close to our apartment. We ate there a couple of times, and it was delicious both times.
The first time we ate there was 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 sun became exhausting, and the kids desperately needed a bathroom. Not typically 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. They were divine. Sadly I didn’t take any photos!
I had one child that would try anything. She was great trying new things. And the other who was fussy. Hated change and didn’t like trying anything new. But surprisingly 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 stay in an apartment, my dream is to go back and spoil myself with a stay in the Hotel Campo de’ Fiori, indulging in wine on their rooftop terrace and watching the sun go down before heading out for dinner at my favourite restaurant.
There is a good choice of apartments on Airbnb in Campo de Fiori and its surrounding areas (if you use this link you will receive a credit off your first stay). 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 choices.
It’s lovely at the end of a long day to be able to sit and relax in your own place.
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 glassmaker who made beautiful figurines and jewellery. I spoke no Italian; he spoke limited English. But it was a friendly exchange and a delightful experience.
So much so that my son and I returned another day. He was 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.
Sitting in the café bar that afternoon a friendly voice greeted me as they walked in. My friend the glassmaker!
My daughter and I spent time wandering past shops and window shopping, our eyes occasionally caught by something 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.
So you can say what you want about Rome. For me, it was a magical experience and one I would like to experience again.
My life has changed a lot since then. Has Rome?
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