Rome was a dream of my husbands since he was a kid; The reason we decided to finally bite the bullet and book this trip was because he was turning 40 on Christmas eve so we wanted to celebrate in a big way! It was our last stop on our European trip and was as mind blowing as we had imagined.
I cannot recommend our Airbnb apartment enough( See it here ) It was incredible! It was located right next door to a grocery store and perfect location to walk to the Vatican (and boasts views of the vatican from the upstairs bedroom) The apartment is so well laid out, very safe and luxurious. The host meets you at the apartment and brings a mobile phone for you to use in Rome, and shows you all the points of interest on his maps, good places to eat and anything else you need to know. This was by far our favourite place (did I mention it had 3 bathrooms!) and much cheaper than many nice hotels.
The Vatican - Our first day we headed out to the Vatican to have a look around. I'm not going to lie - my terrorism anxiety was through the roof here. There had already been numerous threats to the Pope and the day we were there, there were around 50 police, civil protection officers, ambulances and more were crowded around which added to my feelings of unrest. It was actually because there was a catholic parade about to start which ended up in the Vatican - we went and watched from the start of the parade and the kids thought it was magic. There were costumes from all of the biblical times aswell as horses, camels, gladiators, and more. It was very cool to watch.
We came back another day and did the Sistine Chapel (which was chaos!) and wandered through the Vatican museum. The Vatican is more my husbands thing so I let him be while I chased the boisterous toddler throughout the museum. BE AWARE - We decided to eat at a cafe outside of the Vatican as we were desperate for a coffee. There wasn't any prices on the sandwiches in the display cabinet but we figured seeing as sandwiches were normally around the $4 mark and hot chocolates around $3, it wouldn't be an expensive lunch. Boy were we wrong ! Around $140 later for 3 paninis, 1 coffee and 2 hot chocolates - and the food was disgusting. I felt like I had just been robbed !!! Always check the prices of food and coffees when your dining around landmarks is my tip of the day !!
Wow what an experience walking through the Roman Forum. So much history its incredible.! We started at the Colosseum and did the audio guided tour with a tour guide which was well worth it. This goes for around 20mins, after which you can wander around and take photos. We didn't pre book the Colosseum tickets and I noticed the line for the people that did was enormous. So being organised doesn't always pay off it seems !
After we headed to a the Baths of Caracalla nearby the Colosseum which was fantastic, still with original pool tiles on the floor and arches still constructed. The roman baths were a public bathing facility and a place where people would come to relax and socialize and were built in the 3rd century AD.
The Roman Forum and Ancient Rome is somewhere you can literally spend days strolling like we did - Having 3 kids in tow we had to stop a lot for food, toilet breaks, and rest breaks so it takes a tad longer. We spent 5 nights in Rome all up and I think this was the perfect amount of time to see what we did. The forum itself has paths marked out as to how hard they are to take prams through which was very helpful, aswell as fresh drinking water fountains and toilets. The kids were beyond fascinated, imagining the lives that lived here all those years ago - and were bewildered at how back in those days, with no cranes and machinery did they build such huge elaborate buildings. It really is such an amazing place.
Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps
What's a trip to Rome without seeing the Trevi Fountain! Whilst it was smaller than I pictured it was still so beautiful! And busy ! We all had a turn at making our wish (my son wished for a pet lion?? Weird kid)
Around the Spanish Steps there are some great pizza and pasta restaurants, aswell as all the high end stores like Bulgari, Amarni, Burberry Fendi and the likes.
I could write all day on Rome as there was so much to see and do, one tip I have is to watch out for gypsy kids - our host from our airbnb warned us that on a lot of the local buses (number 64 specifically) that take you into the landmarks there are gypsy kids who will not hesitate to steal everything you own !
Food - Pizza and Pasta - and more pizza and pasta ! The food in Rome is incredible and so cheap compared to the other cities we had just been like Paris. We were getting entrees, mains, and second mains with drinks and dessert for all of us for around $70. The ambience at the restaurants in January was lovely - lots of fairy lights and heaters. The fruit and vegetable stalls are also a great price, there was one across the road from our airbnb where we were getting bananas and apples in the morning for the days snacks for around $1 AUD.
Transport - We literally walked everywhere in Rome - or took taxis. We never used a bus as the kids were quite happy to walk and the taxis were a great price when their legs had had enough.
Now that we have been to Rome its not somewhere we will probably go again as we have seen most things there are to see. But its such an amazing city and history buffs will be in their element here xx