A Roman Holiday

Celebrating Papa H's 60th birthday with the effortlessly cool Italians (with pizza).

In charge of planning (obviously), I booked a charming 17th Century Airbnb apartment in Regola, a neighbourhood running parallel to the River Tiber. Walking distance from all the sights, Regola sits just outside the touristy area of Centro Storico and is a lovely area to absorb some local life. Campo de Fiori is at it’s heart — by day it’s an artisanal food market selling Italian specialties and by night the wine bars around the square come alive with a gentle buzz. It was the perfect location to stroll back to after a busy day exploring, enjoying traditional food from one of the family run trattorias.

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Most of Rome is cobblestoned which makes every little street or square seem so quaint. Regola is brimming with small craft shops and boutiques but my favourite neighbourhood continues to be Trastevere — just over the river. Crossing the footbridge Ponte Sisto you can stroll from one neighbourhood to the next in minutes. It’s ever so romantic in the twilight hours with a dreamy sky creating a picture perfect backdrop to St Peter’s Basilica dome, with musicians strumming away (even if you are with your mum).

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Trastevere is cool. It has a bohemian feel — full of artists, street performers and cafe revellers. From young students flocking around the fountain steps, to uber stylish Italians puffing on cigarettes outside a trendy cocktail bar, nobody is out of place, including tourists. Its charming streets tempt exploration, it’s just so picturesque with all the ivy covered buildings. I could live here!

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We had a bit of a mixed bag with weather on our trip, 26 degrees heat and blue skies… then grey clouds and drizzle. Still, we were lucky considering the time of year and last time I’d visited it was the month of August with 37 degree heat, which was just way too hot for a city break. On our morning of rain we didn’t wander too far, thankfully Centro Storico, the ‘central’ area of Rome was just a short stroll away… crammed with sights (and people). Piazza Navona is one of the most loved squares in Rome, with ornate fountains, baroque buildings and colourful street artists. I couldn’t help but look up at all the balconies and wonder who lives there.

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I’m never more happy then when it’s sunny and blue skies made the perfect day for exploring Ancient Rome (ain’t no shelter there!). Who knew some ruins could be so mesmerising? The hub of the Roman Empire, it was like stepping back in time.

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I love the winding streets and incredible food but it goes without saying the city’s showstopper is the Colosseum, the scale is truly mind blowing. Not usually a tour-guide-booking-person, being with the family I was persuaded onto a short 45min educational tour and it was actually really enjoyable immersing ourselves into the history of it all. It was like being on the set of Gladiator.

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The cityscape in Rome is so unique… it has an orange tint, with such a dreamy glow as the sun sets. Not a new build or high rise in sight!

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We’re not really religious folk but a trip to Rome wouldn’t be complete without having a nose around the Vatican. You don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate the grandness of San Pietro square, or admire the marble floors and Renaissance architecture of one of the worlds largest churches. Nope, we didn’t see the Pope.

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Rome is a beauts, chic and effortlessly cool. The warmth, the architecture, the food, the wine! The Eternal city gets a thumbs up from me. Here’s my lowdown:

  • Stay in Trastevere, it’s my fave area
  • Visit MACRO (Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome)
  • You can walk round St Peter’s Basilica for free
  • Dodge the Colosseum queue by purchasing your ticket from Roman Forum 😉
  • The metro is limited so we did most on foot, but download Citymapper for live bus info
  • North of the city is Villa Borghese, beautiful gardens well worth a visit
  • In the summer, floating bars pop up all down the River Tiber
  • Pigneto is an edgy but up-and-coming district with some great restaurants
  • Bar del Fico… for the love of Aperitivo
  • & eat gelato everyday.

Ciao!