OE Travel: Rome


Where we stayed

JK Place Roma in the heart of the city just next to the Spanish Steps. Opened in 2013 this super stylish hotel set within a 17th century building is the work of top architect Michele Bonan.

With its eclectic mix of contemporary furniture, abstract art and antique statues, it captures Roman style perfectly.

Our room had a gorgeous four-poster bed and a beautiful marble bathroom. The breakfast was outstanding and the concierge was super switched on.

We also loved flopping on the super comfy sofas in the lobby to enjoy a cuppa when we got back from a long day’s sightseeing.

By day

We hired a private tour guide to show us around some of the city’s highlights. Instead of waiting in long queues and listening to a standard recorded tour though a headset, we had our own personal art historian walk us through ancient Rome and the Coliseum, explaining in fantastic detail the history of the buildings and architecture along with the backstory to the Empire, the city and it’s impact on the world.

The tour lasted just over two hours and we asked countless questions all of which our amazing guide Michaela elaborated on in such great detail that we left her feeling as it we had truly stepped back in time.

We booked her again for the following day to take us around the Vatican and it was equally fantastic.

Short of arranging an audience with the Pope himself, our guide couldn’t have made the experience any better. We whizzed through the barriers (she knew all the staff) and avoided the queues as she took us straight to the Vatican’s highlights, commenting on the significance of certain architecture and paintings as we went.

Talking is forbidden in the Sistine Chapel, so before we entered Michaela produced her ipad and talked us through every aspect of the art work inside and Michelangelo’s Last Supper. This meant that when we saw it in person we could simply stand back and marvel with a clear understanding of what we were looking at.

For an art history lover these tours were a delight and I would highly recommend them to anyone who wants a real insight into the city.

There are many more tours to choose from but we felt these two were a great starting point. Just make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes!

By night

After drinks in the hotel’s super slick bar we headed to Roscioli, a fashionable little spot near Campo di’ Fiori. A relaxed deli-like feel and wonderful, authentic Italian food in the heart of  Rome’s nightlife.

On the Saturday evening we opted for Aroma one of Rome’s best restaurants. Michelin starred, the food was as beautiful and delicious as you would expect. But what makes this place so special is it’s location on a pretty, intimate roof top terrace overlooking the Coliseum. As the lights of the city twinkled against the imposing silloette of the famous landmark, we agreed that it was a spectacular setting and incredibly romantic. Though every so often I did feel like there was something spooky watching us from one of the famous arches opposite but that could just have been the wine!

Must see

The view from the dome at the top of St Peter’s Basilica. So worth climbing what felt like a million steps

We loved

Strolling through the gardens of the Villa Borghese on our last day. Rome’s equivalent to Hyde Park, it has lots of lovely paths to wander along. We found a shady spot amongst the pine trees and lay in in the grass eating pistachio ice cream in the warm breeze. It was heavenly.

Perfect for

Anyone with a love of art history and beautiful architecture. Yes there are great shops and lots of lovely restaurants to enjoy, but the most important thing to do in Rome is try to understand it’s past. Once you grasp the history of the city, with all its struggles, you truly appreciate Rome.

When to go

We went in May. Not too hot yet or too crowded. I would imagine July and August would be the worst time to visit.

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