City Break to Rome

Ally Case on 27 March 2023
We decided to experience a city break in Rome in March when the weather was cooler, there were less crowds and the prices were lower. We flew from Heathrow on a late flight with British Airways and arrived in Rome in time for a late-night snack and bed, ready to wake up early the following morning and experience this amazing city. We stayed at a lovely 4* hotel, Marcella Royal Hotel, just out of the main centre. This is one of our top seller hotel, it is in an excellent location with a roof top garden, there are lots of local inexpensive restaurants within walking distance and it is a walk away from all the main attractions or it is really easy to get a taxi from right outside the hotel.

On our first morning we headed over to our pre-booked tour of the Colosseum with access to the Gladiator Arena. I would definitely recommending pre-booking a skip the line tour at any time of the year, even if it is quiet, as you do not have to queue. We met our guide just across the road from the Colosseum, this gave us chance to sit in one of the cafes facing the Colosseum and enjoy a cup of coffee with a fantastic view. We avoided the crowds and entered through the back door straight onto the arena floor, this was the most fascinating tour, we learnt all about the history and secrets behind the façade as we followed in the footsteps of those who fought in gladiatorial combat. Our guide was entertaining and engaging as she relayed stories and legends about the various sites. We then explored the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill – it truly was an unmissable experience.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped at the Trevi Fountain…big mistake!! It was 5pm and it was absolutely packed with tourists all taking selfies….quite entertaining though. If you want to see the Trevi Fountain the best time is very early in the morning, set your alarm and venture down before breakfast and you will have the most wonderful view and be able to take your own selfies in relative peace and quiet. We enjoyed a lovely meal on this first night at a local recommended restaurant close to our hotel.

The following day we had a tour booked for the Vatican, Sistine Chapel and the various museums. We walked from our hotel early in the morning towards the Vatican, this took us across the river and into the walled city. We opted for skip the line again and were so pleased because as we rounded the corner to the entrance the queues were very long. We were able to go directly to the Vatican Museum entrance on Viale Vaticano and find our guide. We were all given a headset so that we could hear our guide speak about all the amazing works of art from the Papal collections in the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel. Among the arts are master pieces from Michelangelo, “The Creation of Adam” and “The Last Judgement” in the Sistine Chapel, Rennaissance masters in the Raphael Rooms and Leonardo’s “St Jerome in the Wilderness”….we could have easily spent hours wandering around…but it was so busy!

We had lunch just outside the Vatican and then took a walk to Villa Borghese Gardens which is situated north of the main city. You can visit the Villa Borghese Gallery, again using a skip the line, tour, where you will find a famous collection of sculptures and paintings by Caravaggio, Bernini, Titian and other Italian masters. After exploring the gallery, we had a stroll through the tranquil gardens and enjoyed an ice cream whilst appreciating a view of the city from the Pincian terrace. The gardens cover 80 hectares so wear good walking shoes. You can also hire a rowing boat on the lake. This is a great afternoon our if you plan to travel to Rome with children.

Walking back from Villa Borghese gardens we stopped at the infamous Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo which is very close by and on the way back towards our hotel. There are 135 steps which lead from the Piazzo di Spagna to the French monastery church Trinita dei Monti which was built between 1502-1587. Bit of information if you plan to go in April…… late April Rome celebrates its anniversary and the Spanish Steps are transformed into a sea of azalea flowers.

We had the most wonderful time in Rome and just loved stopping off at the many pavement cafes and having a coffee and pastry, the food in the restaurants was amazing and every corner you take there is something different to marvel at. I would recommend visiting Rome out of season, we visited late March and the weather was sunny and about 18 degrees and there were vert little crowds, it was absolutely perfect.