When In Rome

Editor's Note - In order to catch up on previous travels, I'm putting together reviews of our travels to Italy. This is the stuff that I wanted to know before we left, so I suspect that someone will find it useful.


We spent a total of 6 days in Rome - 3 at the beginning of our trip and 3 more at the end. This turned out to be the perfect amount of time in the city. We saw/did everything we wanted and didn't have to rush.

Where We Stayed

We spent our 2 separate stints in Rome in 2 different apartments offered by The Beehive, a quaint hostel/hotel just east of the train station. Kelly and I cannot say enough great things about The Beehive or their apartments.

The Beehive itself had a cute basement cafe, a friendly staff, a fat cat named Ingmar, a small shaded courtyard, and a 4 Euro happy hour deal that Kelly and I enjoyed twice. Plus, they provide a handy "Beehive Recommends" guide that directs their guests to the best restaurants and activities in Rome. For cheap travelers such as ourselves, the price was reasonable at 70 Euros per night.

The apartments were just west of the train station, a 10/15 minute walk from The Beehive. The nearby neighborhood didn't have much to offer, but that wasn't really a problem - we were just a few minutes away from a Metro stop and a 15 minute walk from the Colosseum.

Each apartment had 3 private rooms with a shared kitchen, bathroom, and common room - with a free web-enabled iMac! The bedrooms were perfectly clean and nattily decorated. Kelly was blown away that they provided homemade organic soaps (as opposed to the normal budget hotel sliver of Borax) and a hair-dryer with a diffuser.

We would stay there again without question.

Where We Ate

We dined at two places of note in Rome, both of which came recommended by the BeeHive guide:

Hosteria Isadoro is on a back street near the Colosseum. We actually ate their twice - on our 2nd night of the trip and again on the last night of our trip. Both times we ordered the "eat pasta until you can't eat anymore" option. The waiters served small plates of pasta that Kelly and I shared and kept bringing them until we said "basta", which means "enough"...which I was only able to remember because it rhymes with "pasta"...and because I knew that I was eating more than "basta pasta".

da Alfredo e Ada not far from the pedestrian bridge south of Castel St. Angelo. It is a true trattoria in the sense that it felt like we were eating in someone's kitchen, in this case my grandmother's kitchen. Ada shuffled around rubbing shoulders and pinching cheeks and her son kept bringing us food and REALLY sweet white wine, made in their vineyard. We both had rotini for primi piata. For 2nd course, Kelly had the beef and potatoes, I had the veal, peas, and spinach. Ada served us sugar cookies to dip in our wine for desert. The food was good, not great - but the experience was definitely pretty amazing.

We also drank tons of water from the public fountains sprinkled throughout the city. We saved a lot of money by refilling our water bottles for free...

What We Did

The obvious stuff - toured the Colosseum and the surrounding sites such as the Forum and Palantine Hill, the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's (one of the best photos of the trip) and numerous other massive cathedrals, Museo Capitolini, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, etc.

Of the tried and true tourist options, I particularly enjoyed Museo Capitolini. It was small and not at all crowded. Plus, it has cool ruins from a huge Constantine statue that reminded me of myself. (I kid!)

The Vatican Museum was an enormous hassle and borderline miserable for the most part. It was so crowded with tour groups that one could hardly move, though the audio guide made it a little easier to momentarily escape from my surroundings. The irritation was all worth it though to see the Raphael rooms and the Sistine Chapel.

Kelly and I were shocked that so many people were able to stand in a sacred and mind-blowingly beautiful site such as the Sistine Chapel and blather on and on as if they were standing on the street corner. I wanted to scream "People! This is the Sistine Effing Chapel! Shut the #$%@ up!", but instead I just stood silently and alternated my reflections on the beauty of the art and all that it symbolizes and the stupid people around me and how much I hate them.

The most non-touristy thing we did in Rome occurred sheerly through a stroke of luck. We were on our way to dinner and came upon a barricaded street with nuns swarming all around. Upon asking someone, we learned that the Pope was about to roll through as a part of the Corpus Christi observance.  We hung around and watched the crowd grow around us.

45 minutes or so later, the procession started.  15 or so minutes after that, the Pope-mobile rolled by 10 feet in front of us.  After the pope rolled by, a swarm of people followed him. In the photo, you can see the church where he performed the blessing in the distance. People were shoulder to shoulder all the way up the street to the piazza and several blocks behind Kelly and me.

We were lucky to stumble upon such memorable experience.