Hi there, lovelies! Gosh, it feels like a lifetime has gone by since I’ve put together a travel post. Last week, I snuck away to Rome for a few days with my girlfriends and I cannot tell you how much my soul needed it. Travel is something I love so much and I’ve missed it dearly over the last two years as we’ve all weathered the pandemic [and I’ve settled into life in the UK and my new role as partner and mother]. My best friend, Whitney, has been a travel advisor for some time and recently joined an agency that is only going to enhance her ability to serve her clients. So, she asked if I’d be interested in joining her on a trip that would not only allow us both to work but also enjoy quality time together with our friends, Victoria and Sarah Kate. We all had such a great time! I shot quite a few looks for you guys so keep an eye out here on the blog for those but, for today, I thought I’d do a little recap of where we stayed, where we ate, and what I packed for an early Spring trip to the city. I will also answer the questions you sent in about traveling to Rome, specifically, at the end of the post! Enjoy!
Where We Stayed
Where to stay in Rome was one of the most asked questions you guys asked me last week. Honestly, it’s hard to pick the perfect spot when every traveler is different. If you’ve never been to Rome before, though, I’d recommend staying as central as possible on the east side of the Tiber. Accommodations will be more expensive in this area but there are lots of options in terms of price points. Staying central has so many perks! It eliminates the added stress of managing transportation logistics in the mornings and evenings when you’re wanting to get the day started or you’re wanting to get home to rest your feet. It also makes venturing back out into the city for dinner really easy, as well, and it allows you to easily enjoy a bit of a respite when you’re tired midday. Remember, there’s lots to see, you’ll be walking a lot and the heat can add a whole other element to the experience! So, I promise, staying central will be to your benefit.
Okay, here’s where we stayed:
The First Roma Arte
The first two nights we stayed at the The First Arte Roma, a luxury five-star hotel housed in a 19th century palazzo filled with contemporary art and located just a stones throw from Piazza del Popolo and a short walk from the Spanish Steps. The rooms boast a contemporary yet comfortable feel. Our rooms were quite small but, to be fair, you’re not in your room much anyway when you’re visiting a city like Rome. We loved enjoying breakfast on the rooftop each morning. The view is pretty spectacular and would be a great spot for an apertif before an evening out in the Eternal City.
J K Place Rome
For our last evening, we checked into J K Place Roma, a stylish boutique hotel housed in what was once the former school of architecture. I have heard amazing things about their location on Capri so I was really looking forward to our stay here. Walking into the lobby surrounded by beautiful art and perfectly placed furniture, it’s easy to see how it has made Conde Nast Traveler’s Top Hotels in Rome list. The rooms are absolutely stunning with marble bathrooms and four post bed’s but what sold me was the comfort of the mattress. I slept like a baby!
There isn’t anywhere you turn in the hotel that will leave you bored or thinking they could have done more or done better. Everything is ultra chic yet welcoming. We enjoyed apertivo and breakfast in the J.K. Lounge Cafe as well as a cocktail in the lounge and found the service to be incredible. Everyone was so accommodating and friendly! My one wish was that we could have stayed longer! Highly recommend.
Contact Whitney for more information on how she can get you perks on your reservation if any of these interest you!
Where We Ate
If you’re not familiar with etiquette in Italian restaurants, be sure to check out the Italy Travel Guide along with the Travel Diaries within the Guide for different cities. One unique change to this trip was the Green Pass requirement that restaurants hold customers to showing upon entry. It provides proof of vaccination, recovery or negative test result. Find out more information on your country’s government website before you travel.
Here’s a short list of places we ate on this trip and check out my Rome Travel Diary for other restaurant recommendations:
More of a Neapolitan menu than Roman but was delicious for dinner none-the-less. I got Cacio e Pepe and was impressed by not only the taste but the presentation, as well. I won’t spoil it but, trust me, it was absolutely sensational! It was also just around the corner from our hotel so, really, there was nothing NOT to like about this place!
The cozy and sophisticated atmosphere pairs well with their traditional Roman dishes with a creative twist here at CiPASSO Bistrot. To start, we enjoyed the burrata served on top of a tomato pudding with pesto and anchovies, which sounds like a strange combo but, honestly, it blew our minds! I got the spaghetti and clams for my main, which isn’t something I’d usually recommend [as Rome isn’t known for it’s seafood dishes] but, it was actually quite nice. It was very busy on the evening we went so definitely call ahead for a reservation.
This was a pleasant little surprise tucked away from the chaos of the nearby Piazza Navona. As one of the a filming locations in Eat, Pray, Love, we were kind of nervous but, actually, the food, atmosphere and service were all top notch! We enjoyed artichokes cooked three ways to start and I got Amatriciana. Overall, a really stunning and delicious little gem.
In my opinion, this is a hidden gem and definitely more of a local’s spot located just across the Tiber in the Prati area. They don’t have a menu in English so I felt like we were in for a treat no matter what we ordered! We all got carbonara and devoured every last bit of it. It was absolutely incredible. Pair it with a glass of delicious Montepulciano and you will be in heaven!
The Court is an upscale cocktail bar located at Pallazzo Manfredi, a luxurious 5-star hotel that started as the home of a 17th century noble and boasts Colosseum views. The manager, Matteo Zed, has just returned to Rome after an international career that has taken him from New York City to Japan with this mission of reviving the cocktail culture in the Eternal City. He and his team made us feel more than welcome and the bossanova playlist added that ultra fun vibe to the evening. All in all, we had a great time and I found the juxtaposition of enjoying innovative cocktails [made from modern techniques] while taking in the ancient views of the city to be something not to be missed.
THIS. PLACE. What a little gem. From what Sarah Kate said, it is quite popular amongst tourists and locals!
Basically, a trapizzino is a pizza pocket made out of focaccia and stuffed with different sauces and veggies and / or meats. See more of what they offer HERE but, oh my gosh, do yourself a favor and order one of these for lunch one day if you’re exploring Trastevere. They’re incredible! I got the meatball one and even just thinking about how delicious it was is making my mouth water right now! Incredible. They have a few tables outside to sit but you can also just order at the takeaway counter and eat as you stroll.
Every time I’ve ever come to Italy, I haven’t discriminated against gelato shops [gelatorias?]. I’ll take gelato from anywhere, hah! But, Whitney was quite certain that Giolitti is the absolute best gelato spot in Rome so, I had to see for myself. We still hadn’t made it there by our last day so we made sure to stop on our way back to the hotel to check out. I can now say I get the hype. The number of options was absolutely unreal! Definitely worth a stop, in my opinion!
This spot is one of the top pizza places in Italy and is situated just south of Trastevere in a more ‘local’ area of Rome. Their menu showcases unique takes on some very classic Italian pizzas. We each ordered one and shared. Some we all liked. Some we were not fussed about. I wouldn’t say I was overly impressed but also not utterly disgusted, ya know? Take it or leave it basically.
Answering Your Questions
What area would you recommend staying in?
See the paragraph just underneath the header ‘Where We Stayed’ as I kind of tackled this there but, again, I’d try to find something within your budget in the central bit of Rome. While I’m normally one to encourage the use of the subway system in most major metropolitan cities, I’ve found Rome’s to not be as extensive and / or come as frequently as other cities’ systems and, therefore, can feel like a bit of a pain. That’s just been my personal experience, though. I wouldn’t say I’ve given it as much of a chance as others so maybe don’t hold that much weight to that BUT I do just think, considering most people don’t give Rome much more than a few days, you really want to try and cover as much ground as possible and it’s just easier to do that when you’re in the middle of everything already.
Does Rome seem normal again?
Hard to say as I’ve never been to Rome in February so I didn’t have anything to compare it to. I wouldn’t say I noticed a lot of Americans in and around where we were. It was much quieter than the previous trips I’ve taken to Rome [two in August, one in April] but it’s hard to say why that is. I will say that Wednesday through Friday was pretty quiet but Saturday was much busier. So, I’m thinking things are a little more like normal but I’d be interested to see what it’s like in August.
What are your favorite restaurants in Rome?
Oh gosh, that’s tough! There are so many good ones! But, I’ll go with Taverna Trilussa, a taverna in Trastevere that I went to in 2016 and I still dream of the pasta I got. I don’t remember what it was because it was a family menu so it was authentic and unique but absolutely delicious! Find more restaurant roc’s in THIS post and above!
How long is the travel day from London to Rome?
It’s pretty short! I left my house at 7:15am and I believe we landed in Rome at 1:30pm [which is 12:30pm in London]. I’m not trying to rub it in [as I know many of you reading are in the States] but it’s honestly so nice considering I’m used to those long haul flights and have taken many so believe me, I get it!
How are the COVID restrictions traveling to & from the UK?
Honestly, it wasn’t bad. I got a C19 test a few days prior and took it right at the 24 hour mark and followed the instructions to get my certificate. I filled out the Euro PLF form and took a screenshot of the QR code if they wanted to see it at the airport [they didn’t because you upload it to the airline prior to check-in] and have my proof of vaccination on my phone so, it seems like a lot but it wasn’t. Check-in was really easy.
Do you have to show a vaccination card to go into stores or dine at restaurants?
All restaurants, yes! We didn’t go into a ton of shops so I’m trying to remember if the sunglass shop we went into asked us. I’m pretty sure they did. So, yes, they are definitely big on that! For those of us here in the UK, it’s really easy because our NHS app allows us to save our pass to our Apple wallet.
What is a must-do / must-see while in Rome?
This trip taught me that a MUST DO is to not go to Rome in the thick of the Summer. I’ve never truly enjoyed my time in Rome in August. It is way too hot — there’s so much dark stone around you and the sun is so strong so the heat can feel so unbearable! So, my must do is go during the off or shoulder season if possible!
Another must do / must see is the Trevi fountain in both the early morning and evening. It’s just … the best. The square that it’s in is small and it’s obviously one of the most popular sites so get. up. early!! like, early early … and go see it before the crowds and before the light bleaches it out and makes photos really bright and unflattering. Trust.
Everything else is wrapped up in THIS post.
What is your favorite time of day in Rome?
That’s hard … I’m so not a morning person, unless I’m traveling, because I do NOT like crowds and, in a city like Rome, crowds are unavoidable. My way of dealing is by sitting at a charming trattoria and enjoying pasta, a wine or spritz, and people watching while taking in the beauty of the city. So, I try to see as much as I can in the mornings and I find that so enjoyable.
But, the light at sunset [and on into dusk] in Rome just enhances the beauty of the city. It truly is breathtaking so, I’d say it’s a pretty even tie between the two.
How did you meet the girls you went with?
Oh gosh, get a coffee or a cup of tea because there’s a lot to say here, ha!
Sarah Kate and I went to college together and lived together for a short time in 2009? 2010? She has such a sweet soul and an adventurous and spontaneous spirit. Life has taken us to quite a few different places over the last 12 years but we always touch base when we can. She lived in Rome for awhile after college and met her husband there. They lived in Chicago for awhile then moved to Naples, where he is from, and started a family. She was the first person I experienced Italy with in 2016 [we went to Verona and Bologna] so, yeah! That’s a little bit about SK 🙂
Victoria is English and Greek — born in England but, actually, was raised in Dubai. We met in 2016 in London when I was living there from August to December and needed a photographer to shoot for the blog. I shot with a few photographers and they were all lovely but I wouldn’t say I ‘clicked’ with any and I wasn’t super keen on any of their photography. Victoria was the last one I had made plans to shoot with so I was really nervous but, it turns out, we instantly hit it off and spent an hour talking about nothing and everything before we even shot one photo. It was an instant friendship and one that has deepened over the years as we set out to travel together in the years that followed in an effort to see the world ourselves but also encourage others to get out and see it themselves. We both believe that we only become better versions of ourselves when we see how others live outside of where we’re from. She and I have traveled to so many beautiful places together since we first met. It’s hard to believe it’ll be six years in August. If you explore a lot of the travel guide section of the blog, many of the photos were taken by her.
Whitney is originally from Nashville. Her and I’s story is so long and confusing but, basically, we were in the same sorority but at different university’s. The president’s of our respective chapter’s met at a conference and put us in touch to exchange ideas about t-shirts because we had the super important role as t-shirt chair. Since it was 2006, I’m pretty sure the way they did that was through Facebook as that was like the “IT” social media platform and where everyone was connecting. We sent through a few different ideas but that was kind of it. But, I think since we stayed friends on Facebook, we also connected and followed each other on Instagram when that became a thing. Over the years, we had been friendly in that we would like each other’s status’s from time to time or photos we would post. She had been with her boyfriend for about seven years so I remember liking their posts every so often. Anyway, the year after IG became a thing [2012?], I went to Nashville to visit some girlfriends and Whitney reached out to see if I wanted to get together. I agreed to go to brunch and was kind of nervous because we hadn’t actually, like, met in person. This was before meeting people you’ve met online was a thing but we were connected through legitimate sources so I was like ‘surely, she’s normal and this will be fine’. Ha, it was … obviously being that now she’s my best friend. But, yeah! Breakfast went fine but, even after that, we didn’t talk all the time or anything. Basically, a few months later, her and her boyfriend broke up out of nowhere and we texted about how she was doing. Turns out, we were both going to be in New York at the same time so we met up there for a drink. I threw out the offer for her to come down and visit being that her friend group and his were so interconnected — I thought it might be nice for her to get away for a weekend although I didn’t really expect her to say yes but, she did! And, that’s basically how our friendship evolved and deepened. Through travel. And, from there, our lives have weirded run very parallel. God has almost given us each other for this last season in life and I am confident many more to come.
Wow. That was so long but yeah, that pretty much explains it. OH! But how do they all know each other ….
I introduced Whitney and Sarah Kate back in like 2015 when me and Whit were in Chicago for a conference and SK was living there with her husband [after they lived in Rome but before they settled down in Naples]. In the years that followed and SK was still in Chicago, Whit would reach out to get together as she has family in Chicago and would visit the city often so they got to know each other quite well. Then, I introduced Victoria and Whitney in 2016 as Whit was in and out of London while I was living there. And, in 2019, when Whitney did her first Atlas Adventures trip in Tuscany, she asked Victoria to take photos for the trip and asked Sarah Kate to come up from Naples [where they had moved to by then] to be a part of the trip as she knows the language, area, and quite a bit about wine, as well, which is a big part of that area of Italy. So, yeah, the girls all knew each other outside of just how I know them.
Sip wine in a new city or go explore the sites?
Why not do both?? The gals and I have been known to get a bottle of wine and our reusable mugs [or get plastic cups] and do a little sip and see. My personal favorite way to see a city 😉
What coats & shoes did you take?
I took my camel wrap coat [currently on sale!] and my beige coatigan [similar | similar]. The sun was so warm and nice during the day that we really only needed them early in the morning and the evenings. For footwear, I brought two pairs of loafers [ONE | TWO], a pair of sneakers [just ordered these in Lightsand, which would match the first similar coatigan option I shared above] and a pair of heeled booties [for dinner although they were actually pretty comfortable to walk around in and kept my feet warm]. I brought a pair of wedges but I would not recommend wedges for anyone wanting to actually SEE Rome comfortably. I basically brought them to complete Spring looks as inspo for you guys so ignore those 🙂
What is the best way to find the nicest budget-friendly hotels in Rome?
Oh goodness. I’m probably not the best person to answer this as I haven’t ever been the one to arrange accommodation on a trip to Rome [Whitney arranged these hotels through her work; I stayed at a friend of a friends’ apartment one time, and I think I was offered a stay somewhere on my other trip] so I don’t have enough experience to provide a strong answer for you but this article looks like a good place to start — at least that’s where I’d start if I was looking.
Not a question but would love a roundup of the outfits you wore the whole time!
I shot six looks while we were in Rome so be sure to keep an eye out here on the blog because they will be coming your way very soon! It’s been a minute since I’ve been able to shoot content and have content to use so I don’t want to just do a roundup. I want to be able to create content and helpful resources around them for you guys. Promise, they’ll all be up soon but, in the meantime, here’s a little roundup of some of the pieces I packed!
Okay, I think that’s it, you guys! Thank you so much for stopping by! I can’t wait to share the outfits from this trip! Be sure to stay tuned to the blog next week! xo.