Viva Italia – Rome in 4 days for $350
I have been dying to sip Italian prosecco in Italy the whole year and didn’t think I would make it because of work commitments at home, but when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at it! The whole trip was basically planned a week before my girl Wendene, and I went.
The prelude to the trip was that I was feeling homesick; I grew up in the UK from the age of 10, my mum, brother and friends still live there, and I was a moody so and so! My husband noticed and told me I had to book a flight to my other home to see my loved ones and come back energised. I ummed and arred like the true indecisive person I can be, but eventually I agreed. So, it’s a Monday, in between doing errands and I book my flight to the UK, message my girl Wendene who agreed on a trip to Rome and we book that too! When I am really into that something, I put my all into it!
Booking the trip:
For my flights and accommodation deals I usually use expedia.com or lastminute.com because they tend to be the cheapest in my experience. I love that they have the different options for flight only, flight and hotel or hotel only. For Rome I decided to search for hotel and flights together and I found a 3-night 4 full day getaway for $350 each! An absolute steal if you ask me. I scoured through review after review but finally we settled on La Locanda di Piazza del Popolo hotel. Both the price and the reviews saying location was good sold it for us.
Getting to the airport:
Wendene, who lives in the UK was such a great help with this. We booked a long stay car park at Gatwick airport which is where we were departing from. For our 3 and a half days away this cost £52. Another steal if you ask me considering public transport and taxis would have cost more for both of us.
Because of the amazing price we got our trip for we had to just tolerate the fact that we were flying both ways with easyJet. I have heard many a horror story about them and have previously stayed far away but I needed this trip, so I swallowed my pride hehe! Everything went seamlessly when we arrived at the airport, we only had hand luggage and Wendene had printed our boarding passes at home, so we literally had to go through security and that was that. Funniest part of the security check (in hindsight) is the fact I had told Wendene we are only allowed one 20x20cm plastic bag full of liquids, but she ignored my advice and had 3, yes, I said THREE bags! The security officer was having none of it and my poor girl had to get rid of so much product.
Once through security we had our mandatory prosecco before the flight because we were excited AF! Didn’t matter that our flight was at 6.45am. To me, the holiday always begins at the airport! So, we get happily tipsy at Wetherspoons (as one does) and when it’s our time we proceed to the gate where things went south. The easyJet representative on boarding pass duty looked at us and tells us we are only allowed one piece of hand luggage – we both had our suitcases and backpacks. She was extremely rude and didn’t explain things properly, but I told her straight up that I wasn’t impressed with her tone and demeanour. We relented and forced our backpack belongings into our suitcases and went on our merry way because she was not going to ruin the beginning of the trip for us. On the bright side of the whole easyJet experience, the flight was smooth sailing (beside the delay leaving Gatwick) with friendly hostesses and a nice flow of prosecco.
Arriving in Rome:
I barely remember the arrival process because it was so seamless to get through security, EU passport holders literally scan their passports on a machine, and we are through. Plus, the on-flight prosecco maybe has a little to do with it too (don’t judge)!
The Fiumicino airport is so easy to navigate and literally lands you by the train station. In order to be adventurous and save money we decided to use the train and metro to the hotel. The hotel kindly sent through a detailed guide on how to get to the hotel, so it was extremely easy and very cheap! I think we spent 18eruo each to get there. It was also nice to immediately experience Rome and its terrain. The trip to the hotel was so easy and once we reached our station a bit of confusion and google maps, we found our hotel.
The Hotel – La Locanda di Piazza del Popolo:
It was a bit confusing initially because it is located in the same building as apartments and we couldn’t find the reception, but once we had the hang of it, it was perfect. The room came as advertised on Expedia and it was clean and had enough space for both Wendene and I. I am one of those travellers who hates spending a huge amount of money on a nice room that I won’t see my entire holiday because I am out exploring. Another great thing about the hotel which we both discovered is the location! Oh, wow it was just marvellous. We were within 10/15mins walking distance of all the major attractions you would ever want to see in Rome.
The entire trip we used our legs or the metro which was cost effective, good exercise and a convenient way to get to know Rome. On Day 1 we randomly chose to go and see the Spanish steps because we didn’t have a clue where to start after the receptionist gave us a map and gave us seemingly complicated directions of how to get to the attractions! Whilst walking, we found the cutest wine shop and me being me (despite our extreme hunger) decided to drag Wendene into the shop for a gander. It turned out to be marvellous because the shop sold wine too. I had a delicious local white wine and Wendene settled on prosecco. One great thing to add about Rome too is that wherever you go for a drink, they will always give you a free snack to and at this spot along came a cheese plate which was much appreciated!
What to do:
Depending on the kind of person you are and what you want to experience, there is so much information currently on the internet. I searched out what we particularly wanted to do. and we tailored our trip to that. For us, it was a chilled eating and drinking holiday whilst seeing the sights, but we were not going to stress ourselves to wake up at 6am on the hunt for an attraction. Be honest with yourself and your travel companions to make life easier when you’re on holiday and not create tension.
Day one – As mentioned earlier, day one was an introduction to Rome day to ease ourselves into the trip and the new attractions. We found the Spanish steps, did our tourist bit of taking photos then went for lunch at one of the restaurants close by. There is an abundance of restaurants for people to choose from. One piece of advice that I read on the internet and that turned out to be useful is not to dine at restaurants with menus that have pictures of the food on there, and also not to fall for the overzealous waiting staff outside restaurants trying to pull you in.
A bar I would recommend anyone to visit is Chez Moi, again we found it on google maps and it turned out to be such a delight. A chic bar with elegant lighting, music and wine
Day 2 – Wine Tasting in Frascati – I personally believe that any trip to Italy would not be complete with a visit to a vineyard and thankfully Rome catered to my needs in a small town just outside of Rome called Frascati. When scouring the net for a vineyard to visit there was lots of companies offering wine tours ranging in different prices. None of them appealed to me until I saw the Minardi Family Estate website. You book directly through them and pay 55euro each for a tour of Frascati with a guide, a visit to the oldest bakery in town and a stop at the local Tavern. From there you head to the family owned vineyard and have a tour which is then ended with a delicious 3 course lunch with their wine of course. It was such a treat and it really is the highlight of the trip.
Getting to Frascati from Rome termini station is easy, the trip costs approximately 5euro return and is 25mins away. Once we were back in Rome, we had the most delicious dinner at a place called Café Monti which is minutes away from the Termini station. I would recommend booking in advance because it is packed. Food was delicious and full of flavour!
Day 3 – After our hectic day of wine tasting and probably too many aperol spritz each day 3 was a slow day! We left our hotel at 10am and slowly decided to walk to see Trevvi fountain with barely a clue how to get there., We had the general gist of where we needed to go but luckily we found a tour group and Wendene cleverly suggested that if we follow them we would be probably end up at the fountain….and she was 100% correct! Bonus is we didn’t have to pay a dime for the tour hehe! Trevvi fountain blew me away, the architecture is stunning and perfect. Only downside is the masses of tourists trying to get pictures and generally just being everywhere. Next time I go to a famous city I will go during off peak season to take in the sights nicely.
We also saw the Colosseum and Altare della Patria which were also stunning pieces of architecture. In the evening we went to Piazza Novana based off our friend’s advice who had before and the restaurant she suggested for us called Bernini was amazing. Piazza Novana is a square with many restaurants and entertainment so the vibe is cool too. My seafood pasta was divine as was the bruschetta starter, I don’t know what is in the tomatoes in Italy, but they are the best!
Day 4 – Our last day in beautiful Rome! A trip to see the Vatican was a must so we checked out of the hotel, left our bags with the hotel and took the train to the town which the Vatican is in. As soon as we got out of the metro station, we met and Italian American woman who was selling guided tour with gate pass for 45euro each. Ordinarily I would have queued myself to get in for cheaper, but the queues were absolutely ridiculous, and my patience levels were on zero. We went along on this guided tour which I personally wouldn’t recommend unless you’re really into guided tours and want to hear an over 2hrs long tour about artefacts in the Vatican museum and basically everything you pass on the way. The fact that the Vatican was filled to the brim with tourists made me want to run out! The museum itself and the beautiful history is worth seeing, but again go at nonpeak time if you want to make the most of your experience. Also, by doing the tour by yourself you determine the amount spent in the museum and St Peters square and pick your favourite areas.
Wendene and I abandoned the tour halfway and went for some delicious pizza and a local beer which was more up our street! The rest of our day was spent at a street café people watching and enjoying our last few Roman drinks before leaving. I also managed to get some cute work shirts for my husband in a local Italian shop which was a plus too!
All in all, my Rome experience was fantastic, and I would highly recommend the trip to anyone!