Ever since I took Ancient History in 10th grade, I have wanted to go to the Ancient Cities. The opportunity came and Blogger Hubby and I jumped on the chance. We didn’t have many points to use for hotels so we looked for more affordable options for staying in Rome. We were able to use UAL miles to fly Luftansa from Washington Dulles to Rome via Frankfurt. Nothing special about the flight or the food on the flight.
As I have mentioned before, we use Trip Advisor quite a bit so of course we went to them right away to see what was recommended by other travelers. We found a B&B outside of the city that came with great reviews and the cost was 60 Euros (as opposed to paying about 200 Euros in the city). Abitazione Pigneto had an 89% approval rating with Trip Advisor. After a few emails back and forth, we booked this B&B for the days we were in Rome prior to our cruise as well as a few days after our cruise when we would be returning to Rome.
We opted to ask our host Giorgio to pick us up from the airport. We had read on Trip Advisor that he would do this. His fee was much less than hiring a cab. We could have used the train/tram/bus but since we didn’t know where we were going and we would be tired after an overnight flight, we thought it was best to have him pick us up. That was the right decision as he gave us a running commentary as we drove into the city, pointing out different buildings and giving us a mini-history lesson.
The B&B was on the 4th floor of the smallish building. We took the elevator up and was shown our room. It was a small room with a double bed, small television but the best part was that it opened up onto the balcony terrace overlooking the side street that we were on. We also had a shared bathroom that was not a problem whatsoever. We shared it with one other room. The third room in this B&B had their own private bathroom but it didn’t have the balcony access that we did.
We were in the Pigneto section of Rome which is east-southeast of the city, one block from public transportation. This is a true neighborhood that we were in where middle class Italians live. At the top of our short street was a fantastic gelato store – probably the best I’ve had to date! The street behind ours was a farmers market during the day that sold all sorts of produce. Also on this street was a small grocery store where we would buy great bread and cheese to eat and wine to drink on the terrace outside of our room. At night the stalls disappeared and the table and chairs were put out in front of all the cafes so there would be outdoor dining. Truly an authentic Italian neighborhood with lots of restaurants, cafes and people strolling and talking. I knew we would not have this experience in the tourist section of Roma.
Breakfast was not what we were used to in the States, it was a few slices of cheese, meat and dry toast with really good guava juice. Before we would go out, we would speak with Giorgio and he would advise us which bus we needed to take. He also gave us a handout on how to get back to the B&B from various points around the city. As I mentioned before, it was extremely convenient to the tram/buses. It seemed like all the transportation went by or stopped at Termini, which is the huge train station and probably center of transportation in Rome.
We booked a tour with Angel Tours that covered The Forum, The Palatine Hill and finished at the Colosseum. Being part of a tour group you get to skip the long line at the Colosseum – it was well worth the cost of the ticket. Our guide was from England and had just received her Masters degree in Ancient Studies from Oxford. She really made the tour come to life with us as she told us many stories and explained so much to us. I would recommend taking a tour if there are many things that you want to see in the city that you are visiting – you will get so much out of it, more than you would have by just walking around and reading the placards.
After a few days of touring we needed to go to the Port of Civitavecchia to meet our cruise ship. We had several options for getting there (which is about 90 minutes from Rome); we could take the train and then walk from the station to the port entrance or; we could join others and rent a limo to take us or; we could ask Giorgio how much he would charge to take us. The third option is what we went with. It was the least expensive and the most convenient. For the return trip back to the B&B after our cruise, we decided we could take the train from the port and then the tram from Termini back to the B&B since we had become familiar with the transit system.
We had a wonderful cruise and looked forward to our return back to Rome where we toured the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Borghese Gardens. We never got to go inside the Borghese Villa since we did not book tickets online and when we were ready, there were no tickets to be had. Lesson learned – always book tickets online first for popular venues.
There are so many wonderful things to see in Rome. I was completely enthralled with the city and all of the sites. I can’t wait to go again