Red-eye flight from Charlotte Int’l? Check. Our flight from the East Coast was about 9 hours. The husband got a few hours of sleep, but I can rarely manage to sleep on planes– this trip being no exception. We touched down in Rome around 9:30 am, a little hungry, a little nervous, and a lot tired. But when this is one of the first sights you see on the way to the hotel… it’s time to wake up and smile:
We were officially in Rome!
Before leaving the US, we arranged through our hotel to have a car to pick us up at the airport. While this may have cost a few more Euros than just grabbing a taxi or trying to get a bus or the metro, the convenience factor for not having any hassle after getting off a long TransAtlantic flight can NOT be underestimated. Our driver was very friendly and dropped us at the hotel by 11 am. For this leg of the trip, we stayed at the Hotel Raffaello.
The hotel was very centrally located- about a 15 minute walk to the Colosseum and Forum, 5 minutes to Termini train station, 15 minutes to the Trevi Fountain, and about 20 minutes to the Pantheon and Piazza Novena. The service at the hotel was quite good as all of the staff was very friendly and willing to answer any question we had. We had a room on the fifth floor with a private terrace, which was lovely in the evenings. Breakfast was included in the rates at the hotel and the spread was pretty decent- a wide selection of pastries and fruits, some charcuterie and cereals. The cappuccino was nothing to complain about either! Really my only *slight* annoyance with the hotel is that like many hotels in Europe, you must have the room key in the slot at the door to turn on the lights or run the AC. However, you also have to turn in the room key before you leave the hotel each day and pick it up when you return. This means that there is no AC running during the day. The hotel also had controls on how low you could adjust the air once in your room as well. Normally this wouldn’t be a huge issue but since we were visiting Rome during a massive heat wave where the daily temperatures were around 95 degrees, it could definitely get uncomfortable. That said, we enjoyed our stay at Hotel Raffaello and wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again (especially since we’ve decided the next trip will most certainly have to take place in the fall or winter, haha!)
Luckily for us, when we arrived at the hotel, the staff was happy to inform us that our room was ready so we could go ahead and check in. This was AWESOME news! After a shower, we headed out to start exploring the city!
To start, we decided to walk down and see the area of ancient Rome- the Colosseum, the Forum. We knew we had tickets to visit these sites the next day, but wanted to see them from the “outside” and get a feel for the area. We also walked by the Imperial Forums, which were an expansion of the original Forum of the Caesars. Trajan’s markets and Trajan’s column are probably the most prominent features of this area. You can go in and visit the interior of the Imperial Forums, but several of my guidebooks mentioned that it’s not really worth the price of admission, so we simply admired from the outside.
After walking around a bit, we headed up to the Capitoline Museums, which house some of the most iconic and important sculpture from Ancient Rome.
After visiting the museums, we hopped back to the hotel for some much needed rest. Refreshed, we set out for Santa Pressede, which was only a couple blocks from the hotel. Santa Pressede is an 8th century church known for its early mosaics and for housing the supposed remains of the pillar upon which Jesus was flogged during the Passion. It’s a small church, but very lovely.
After having visited Santa Pressede, it was time for an early dinner and an early bed time. For our first meal in Rome, we ate at a small restaurant around the block from the hotel, the Bar Ristorante Esquiline. While this wasn’t the best meal we would eat on the trip, it was tasty and the service was very friendly. We shared 2 bottles of water, one bottle of house wine (which was fruity and light, but good for a hot summer day), and two courses each. The husband started with lasagna then had a roasted lamb dish. I started with bucatini all’amatriciana (pasta with bacon and tomato sauce) followed by a roasted rabbit dish. Everything was pretty good. The waiter also gave us each a small lemon sorbet for dessert. For a touristy area, it really wasn’t bad at all with the total bill being under 70E.
With a short walk back to the hotel, it was time to call it a night. And we were soooo ready for bed by that time. Traveling is exhausting, don’tcha know!
Stay tuned for Day 2: Ancient Rome.