Friday, 18 March 2016

When In Rome: Tips and Tricks from my Valentines Weekend Away.

* I realise I am a month behind schedule, but I have been crazy busy recently and so have only just found the time to write this :) I hope you enjoy, please comment / like and share if you do! x


For my Boyfriend's 21st birthday, I decided to pull out all the stops and book us a long weekend away in Rome to watch the Six Nations game, Italy vs England. The game happened to fall on Valentine's Day so all in all I felt it was a good excuse to spend some money.

Our flights were booked so that we could make a long weekend out of the trip; with our outbound flight leaving Heathrow in the early hours of the morning on Friday 12th February and our return flight leaving Fuicimo Airport late Monday night (15th) - admittedly, we did both have to miss some of university to fly either side of the weekend but it was definitely worth it!

Before flying out to Rome, we had researched the main tourist attractions and the best ways to get around, which resulted in us each pre-booking an Omnia Vatican travel pass. Although £80 (which did seem very expensive!), the pass promised to allow us free entry and queue jumps to main tourist attractions such as The Vatican and Colosseum, which would have normally been 30 euros each. It also gave us free access to all transport links such as the metro and tramlines, in addition to unlimited use of the hop-on, hop-off travel bus, which would also have been around 30 euros had we booked it separately. Overall I am undecided as to whether the Omnia pass was good value for money or not: the Omnia pass collection point itself took us what felt like a lifetime to find, as did the hop-on, hop-off bus stop; however the pass did allow us free entry to main attractions and let us queue jump extremely long lines of people and free transport access - all of which were extremely useful!

On day one (Friday 12th), unfortunately we arrived to rain and therefore having checked into our hotel around lunchtime, we decided to promptly head towards the nearest pizzeria (food being a main event on our weekend agenda). After experiencing our first genuine Italian pizza and pasta dish, we decided to take a trip around Rome on the hop-on, hop-off bus in order to get our bearings of the city. This was a really good way to map out the city whilst seeing a few sights! Unfortunately it was fairly chilly on the top deck as it was open cover, however it did allow for great visibility and photo opportunities. We didn't hop on and off, deciding to journey the whole trip on the bus as we knew we would be walking to the main attractions by foot over the coming days - all in all, the journey took us around an hour and a half. In the evening we chose to stay close to our hotel and went for dinner in a lovely restaurant nearby.

On day two (Saturday 13th), we decided to visit the Vatican and the Vatican museum. Although we thought that this would only take a couple of hours, these activities actually ended up taking us the whole day due to the sheer scale of both, not to mention the endless queues (although the Omnia Vatican pass did help significantly with this!) Despite not being everyone's cup of tea, I would definitely advise you to visit the Vatican as the architecture and design genuinely is really amazing - the cafe sells huge slices of pizza, too. The day we went to the Vatican was actually a really bright, sunny day so it was a bit of a shame as we were inside for most of the time; therefore if you can, I would definitely try and plan your visit to the Vatican for when the weather isn't meant to be as good.

On day three (Valentines Day), we decided to visit the Colosseum in the morning as the rugby started in the afternoon. The queues for the Colosseum were extensive, therefore it was nice having our Omnia pass as we had pre-paid and therefore were allowed queue jump. The Colosseum was probably the attraction that  I most wanted o see; and it definitely did not disappoint. Audio guides were available for those who wanted to learn about its' history, but as we found out, there were plenty of information boards dotted around and I personally think these were plenty. After we had finished taking photos, we used our Omnia pass to grab the metro to the Olimpia Stadium. The Six Nations was the first live sporting match had ever watched; so this was pretty exciting - made even better by the fact that we had surprisingly good seats, there was cheap alcohol and England won. After the game we went out for dinner and drinks (pomegranate mojitos are the bomb) at a really nice restaurant.

On our last day (Monday 15th), we decided to get our shop on as the previous days had been focused on sightseeing and buying the odd souvenir magnet. Turns out, Rome's shopping district is great; although pretty expensive too... at first, all we could seem to find were the likes of Chanel and Louis Vuitton; but eventually we found a few more student-budget shops like Zara and Mango (both of which I purchased coats from, oops). After we were shopped out, we took the metro to the main train station and from there, took a train directly back to Fiumicino airport (unlike a lot of European airports, this airport was actually very nice and well equipped with a range of shops and restaurants), ready for our flight home.

Top Tips:
  • Make sure to pre-plan the attractions you want to see - especially if you are only visiting for a short stay as there are so many amazing things to look at! I would definitely say that the Vatican and Colosseum should be on your main agenda. 
  • Invest in a decent travel guide - unfortunately, Adam forgot our travel guide which made it extremely difficult to navigate around the city! I would recommend the Lonely Planet Pocket-Guide to Rome. 
  • Take your time finding the perfect restaurant - one of the best things about Italy is the food so make sure you scout out the best - and only the best, restaurant or cafe to wine and dine in. 
  • Purchase an Omnia Vatican pass / metro pass -overall I would recommend an Omnia pass as it gives you access to so many things, and it's nice having pre-paid for all of your attractions and transport. However if you don't want to purchase an Omnia pass, I would 100% recommend buying a metro pass as this is the easiest and fastest way to travel across the city; and it's not very expensive either.
  • Don't waste money on taxis - Apart from buying a metro pass, definitely do not pay for a taxi - especially when traveling to and from the airport. Inside of the airport is a direct link to the railway which operates an express train to and from the city center - this is definitely the cheapest option and is honestly a lot easier than you may expect.
  • Remember your camera! - there are so many great attractions, you will be kicking yourself if you can't take any photos. I would also say that a selfie stick is useful for photos in front of large attractions like the Vatican and Colosseum as it can be quite hard to get both yourself and the building in, otherwise. 







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