City Break to Rome and Florence

When they say ‘Rome ruins your shoes’ they really do mean that: the city is full of small, cobblestone streets that lead you to the most delightful Pizza Forno’s or Gelato shops. The ancient city is the perfect blend of modern and old – you could be walking down a street lined with luxury boutiques and suddenly you are standing in front of the 2000-year-old Pantheon. Getting around Rome was easy – the city is very walkable, despite the cobbled streets, and we found walking around was the best way to discover little Pizza places, homemade Italian pasta dishes and the best Gelato you’ll ever have! Rome is also known for its Electric scooters and Bikes you can rent at a moment’s notice – just download the apps on your phone and away you go!

Visiting the Colosseum is certainly a highlight and a must-do whilst in Rome. The magnificent building looms above the city and pulls in millions of tourists each year.  You have the option of turning up on the day and queuing for a ticket, but this could take hours, instead I highly recommend pre-booking your tour beforehand to ensure you get the best experience. There are many different types of tickets but if you’re interested in the Colosseum, it is best to buy a skip-the-queue 3 in 1 ticket that grants you access to the Forum, Palatine Hill and Colosseum with a guided tour. We did a small-group version of this with 6 people and it was amazing. Our guide was so knowledgeable and showed us the most stunning viewpoints of the Colosseum where we could take tourist-free photos!  There is a lot of walking involved when exploring Rome and most tours let you know how accessible they are beforehand. For a tour that requires a lot less walking, we would recommend purchasing a ticket for just Colosseum entry.

The other main sight-seeing highlights of Rome that are all within walking distance of each other are the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps. Since you can easily walk between these spots, and to many hotels in the Monti area, we used one of our days to walk around this part of the city and see these three sights. The Trevi Fountain can be a bit of a tourist-trap so I recommend getting there really early or much later in the evening (you’ll see it lit up then too) if you would rather a much less crowed experience. From the Trevi Fountain it is an easy walk to the Pantheon that will take you through the beautiful, cobbled streets of Rome. You will be passing plenty of Gelato shops so be sure to stop and buy one – trust me, you won’t regret it. Giolitti was out favourite, it was so good in fact that we made a point to return there every day! The Limoncello Gelato is unbeatable! The Pantheon seems to appear out of nowhere – one minute you’re walking past modern Gelato shops and Pizza places and the next you are standing before a massive ancient building. We recommend sitting and having a drink or a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants surrounding the Pantheon and taking in the sight of it. When you’re done, have a wander round inside (it’s free) and see the stunning coffered ceiling that has made the building so famous!

The Spanish Steps are quite a walk away from the Pantheon (around 45 minutes) but walking through the city is a great way to spot things you would otherwise miss. The quaint cobbled alleyways, the cute little shops, and amazing views as you climb up and down the hills of Rome. Next to the Spanish Steps is plenty of shopping, though mostly luxury, so be sure to take a look inside the fabulous boutiques.

Rome’s other biggest attraction is of course the Vatican City. With amazing architecture, history, and beauty the Vatican is a must-see when in Rome. Again, purchasing tickets beforehand is essential to avoid long lines and wait times. There is also a chance booking will be full for that day if you leave it to the last minute. Whilst on your Palatine Hill tour be sure to look out for the one spot where the trees are clipped just so that between them you can see St. Pauls Basilica – this makes for an excellent photo spot!

Whilst in Italy Rome we decided to take a day trip to Florence – Italy’s excellent train system would get us there in around 90 minutes. Florence is a medieval city full of beautiful architecture and excellent coffee. The city was extremely walkable – we didn’t use one taxi – and we were able to walk around the whole city centre before making our way up to Piazzale Michelangelo. The view out over the city from here was stunning and since we made this trip on February 14th, it was actually very romantic. For an even better view, after taking in the amazing sight of The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, you can walk up a few more steps to the San Miniato al Monte – a Basilica that stands at one of the highest points in the city. The view from here is magnificent.

The Tuscan hills fell away once again to the city of Rome as we arrived back with one more day in the city. We spent that evening in the lively Trastevere area of Rome where they serve you your pasta dish still in the frying pan! There are plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants to explore by night and cute caffes by day here.

Rome is a fantastic European city break with so much to do and see – you could spend 2 nights or an entire week here and still find more to do, see and eat!