Ever since someone said to us, “Italy is my country and Rome is my city”, we had an interest in visiting Rome! We had been looking for flight deals for close to a year so we could afford to take our parents along to a city they had also dreamed about visiting. After nearly a year of not having any luck, Tara found an airfare sale to Europe that fit within our budget and date range. We were both thrilled our plans worked out and we were all able to jointly experience this magical place.
We grew up Catholic and our father is still practicing. Since Rome contains so many places that are historically important to the Catholic faith, we spent much of our time exploring them. We talked to locals, took tours given by archeologists and history professors, walked and walked some more -Oh & Yes! We ate! If you’re planning to visit Rome in the future, which we highly encourage, we hope our itinerary provides you with some inspiration.
After a not so fun flight on a cramped Delta/KLM plane, we landed bright and early in the morning – around 6:00 AM in Amsterdam. We only had an hour layover, so we spent most of our time standing in line at customs. It was inconvenient at the time, but it was nice once we landed in Rome 2 hours later. All we had to do once we landed was grab our checked baggage and walk through the non-declare door.
Our host had offered to arrange transportation from the airport to the apartment, but we declined and decided to get our own. We were so tired though that instead of waiting in line, we went with the first ride offer we received, which was a non-official taxi. After a super fast ride, that we were told would be twice as long, we arrived intact at our apartment where we had arranged to stay the week. Since we arrived so early in Rome, it was hours before our official check in time. Our host was gracious enough to meet us at the apartment and assist us with our luggage up to the apartment. We paid the city tax and he gave us a short overview of the apartment and neighborhood, recommendations and answered our questions.
Our dad wanted to attend a mass in Italian, so our host suggested we visit the church he grew up in that was in very close to the apartment. The church we attended is named Basilica of San Clemente. It’s a minor Basilica dedicated to Pope Clement I (d.99 AD).
We were greeted warmly at the door even though mass had already began and quickly found seats in the back. Although the service was in Italian, my parents familiarity with Latin, found it easy to follow along. After it concluded, we stayed with a few other curious ones to explore the main sanctuary.
There was a sign that said no pictures, so I just sneaked this photo of the area we were sitting in just for our own memories. And although Tara and I hadn’t attended mass since we were teens, we found it to be a fascinating experience.
We all wished we had planned for a return visit to explore the Bascilica more in depth. For just 10 Euro, one can tour both the 4th Century church the current Basilica was built on top of and the 1st Century shrine of Mithras.
After exploring some, were hungry and ready to find somewhere to eat. After asking for suggestions, we walked down the street and were immediately seated at a table at Valore Ristorante Pizzeria.
It was my first time trying an Italian pizza. What can I say? I was a bit shocked at their enormous size!! It’s the size of a normal American medium size pizza that I usually share with 2 or 3 other people. Evidently, Tara knew this but didn’t think to say anything before we both ordered. So, we both had huge pizzas to attempt to tackle. If you’re looking for good sausage pizza though, this is one of the places to come.
Obviously Tara’s mind was not so much on the food, as she was overtaken by her excitement of being able to drink some good Italian wine.
I mean she just looks so happy with that glass on wine. Just not sure she could look more sleepy…haha!
We even got to enjoy some entertainment for a few minutes when a traveling musician stopped in. He was really accommodating when I wanted to take his picture. He saw my camera and immediately came to our table. We stayed for probably 20-30 minutes in the restaurant playing for tips before moving on.
Once we finished our lunch, we decided to walk some calories off by going to find place to purchase a metro pass . We took the advice we received from our VRBO host and walked to the Colosseum metro station (Colosseo) where we found a tabaccoist stand. We purchased a 7 day pass for each of us for €24 each. the metro in Rome is very easy to use, comes often, and is efficient for most places we needed to go.
The area around Colosseo station is very busy. There are vendors vying for the attention of every tourists to buy visitor passes and other trinkets. It was also the first time we would walk by the Colosseum. We saw 2 armed military officers (anti-terrorism forces) with heavy machinery outside. At the time we were unfamiliar with these people and their role so we didn’t take any pictures. We were unaware at the time that we would see them virtually at every other site we visited during our stay.
On our walk back to our apartment on Via Labicana, we saw a site that caught our attention. We stopped to look around and found out it was Ludus Magnus, or the Great Gladitorial Training School. The school had 2 levels, one an arena. The part visible on Via Labicana are the partially excavated gladiator cells that use to be in the northeast part of the training arena.
After spending a few minutes looking at the ruins, we continued the few blocks back to our apartment for the night.
We spent the rest of the night unpacking, talking about what our first day was like -oh, & discovering the unexpected-my dad’s backpack was missing. His backpack had his medications in it, so that was quite a shock. We figured he lost it at some point between getting out of the taxi we took to the apartment and waiting to be let in. It served as a reminder for everyone to remind each other to stay aware at all times, especially in crowded places.
Lessons Learned from Day 1:
Official Taxi’s should only charge 48 Euro from Fiumicino Airport to the city center and 30 Euro from Ciampino airport. Here’s a list of official taxi fares in Rome. The hassle of haggling for that price though, that’s another story!
Pay attention to the taxi company you take in case you leave things in the taxi. It’s true of anywhere, but especially in a foreign company when you’re not familiar with the companies.
There is no minimum drinking age in Italy, though 16 is the age one can drink wine/beer in public.
Restaurant tipping: Our host told us that if the bill is 113 Euro to round up to 117 Euro and it served us well.