Last week we came home from a lovely holiday in Rome. It was so wonderful to be back there. Last time was on our honeymoon 14 years ago! Here are just a few snapshots from our trip. If you want to see more, I shared pictures and video in my Instagram stories.
I have been to Rome several times but there are still loads of things I haven’t seen. One of them was Ostia Antica, which was the harbour town of Ancient Rome, at the mouth of the Tiber. It did not disappoint. On the contrary! It was everything and more than I had imagined.
If you have any interest in Ancient Rome, and you find yourself in current day Rome, I would highly recommend a visit to Ostia Antica. In some ways Ostia is more impressive than Pompeii, although without the volcanic eruption backstory. Ostia is about half an hour by train from the Porta San Paolo station. By comparison, a train ride to Naples from Rome is minimum 1 hour 15 plus the 40 minutes from Naples to the Pompeii site.
If you want to see everything at Ostia, plan for several hours. It is a very large site. Ideally, you’d probably need about five hours to see it all. Wear sensible and comfortable shoes. Learn from my mistake: I wore sandals that were not comfortable on the uneven surface of the ancient Roman roads. Bring plenty of water and snacks, there is very limited options to buy refreshments on site.
Be aware that if going there by public transport, you will need to cross a road via a bridge (no ramps). I’m not sure if there is a way to cross it without the bridge.
The site itself is not great if you have mobility issues. It is mainly dirt paths and cobbled ancient Roman roads.
When we came back from Ostia Antica, we needed to go to the shops and on the way there, we passed by an ice cream shop. Since we were hot and tired we obviously stopped to have ice cream. A very good decision! :-)
My flavour of choice is limone, lemon. So fresh and delicious!
Another item on my wish list was to visit the Trastevere area. I may have been there one evening 25 years ago, but I don’t remember it. It was a January evening so it was dark and there was beer involved soo I’m not even sure if we did go to Trastevere or if it was somewhere else…
Trastevere is pretty! I could easily have spent a whole day there sketching. In the end I only did a quick sketch in Santa Maria in Trastevere.
I think I’ll do a sketch of this pretty street from the photo. In fact, I think I’m going to do a bunch of sketches from photos. :-)
Speaking of sketching, here’s a sketch I did of Sant’ Agnese in Agone in Piazza Navona. It was really lovely sitting there, just soaking up the atmosphere of the place. Even if you are not a sketcher, I can very much recommend just sitting somewhere and taking it all in.
I tend to want to rush from one place to another when I’m on holiday (and there are lots of things to see and do) but sketching forces me to slow down. Tony is also good at making me slow down. :-)
One evening we went to Piazza del Quirinale to see the sunset over St Peter’s but the sunset was kind of boring. Afterwards we went to Piazza Venezia and walked along Via dei Fori Imperiali towards the Colosseum. On both sides of the road you can see ruins of ancient forums. Parts of it was beautifully lit, especially Hadrian’s Forum. It was very beautiful against the ink blue sky.
I really wanted to go in the Pantheon but the first time* we went there they were only letting you in if you have pre-booked, which we hadn’t. So instead we sat at a café in the square and something to drink and I did some sketching.
You very much pay for the view in these places, but once in a while it’s ok to do that. All part of the tourist experience!
*The second time we attempted a visit inside Pantheon, there was a queue going right across the piazza so we gave up on going inside. There seemed to be more queues for various things this time than last time we were in Rome (similar time of year). Not sure why…
We had a bit of rain but that doesn’t make the city any less pretty. Just wear sensible clothes and all will be well. But be prepared that some of the buses leak. :-D
One morning when it was raining quite a lot, we donned our rain ponchos and took the bus a couple of stops to have brunch at 100%Bio near Porta San Paolo. They have vegan cornetti, Italian croissants, which were delicious. It was really nice to sit there for a while and enjoy our brunch and not rush off to somewhere else.
We stayed in a flat just around the corner from Piazza Testaccio and it was a really lovely place to stay. It is slightly off the beaten tourist track so it felt more like being in a small Italian town. Locals eating at the restaurants and kids playing the piazza. Several little supermarkets in the area. But well served by buses so it was quick and easy to get to the tourist areas and to the Termini station.
Speaking of public transportation. If you are in Rome for a week, and you plan on making good use of the public transportation, it is worth buying a Carta Integrata Settimanale (CIS) or integrated weekly card.
It costs 24 Euro and you can use it for pretty much all means of public transportation within Rome. A single ticket costs 1.50 Euro. This can also be used on all transportation, but only lasts for 100 minutes, So if you plan on taking the bus/metro a lot, the CIS is worth it. We even used it to take the train to Ostia Antica.
One of my favourite things to do, when travelling, is to wander the local supermarkets. You can learn so much about people from what kind of foods they eat.
The layout of the supermarkets were interesting too. A couple of the shops near Piazza Testaccio were really surprising. From the outside they looked really small but once inside they were like warrens of food etc. One small room leading to the next, stuffed full of fresh fruit and veg, biscuits, olive oil. Counters with cheese and fresh bread. Which you could buy by weight or maybe half a loaf. A room jam packed with all kinds of pasta and bread sticks.
Even if you are staying in a hotel and not cooking your own food, I highly recommend having a little wander in the local food shops. :-)
More sketching. Again in Piazza Navona. It really is a beautiful place. :-)
One of my favourite things to observe is the shop signs. Some of them are really old. Some of them are perhaps not old, but they have interesting font types. This one, around the corner from Campo de’ Fiori, is really beautiful.
I took a bunch of pictures of shop signs. Not as many as I would have liked but there is a fine balance between how many pictures I would like to take and Tony abandoning me to my shop sign picture taking fate. :-D
For our anniversary dinner we went to a restaurant/café called Origano. It is right next to the Sant’ Andrea della Valle church. We had seen it on HappyCow (vegan food app). The first time we went there, the pizza oven wasn’t ready so that time I had vegan spaghetti carbonara which was delicious. But for our anniversary I wanted pizza. And oh my. That pizza was delicious. So delicious I almost had tears in my eyes. :-)
I have to admit that I was a bit worried about the eating out situation in Rome. This was our first trip there since I became vegan. I wasn’t so much worried about finding food in restaurants that was vegan, a lot of Italian dishes are vegan. But the combination of me being vegan and Tony not liking pizza or pasta (I know, going to Italy and not liking those is kinda crazy!) it would be a bit more work to find somewhere to eat. But it all worked out in the end. And we did make a fair few meals ‘at home’. :-)
On our last evening in Rome we decided to give the sunset view from Piazza del Quirinale another go and it did not disappoint, look at that! It was a nice way to end our trip. I really hope it doesn’t take another 14 years until we go back to Rome. It is one of my favourite places… :-)