For someone who lives in London, I should have seen a lot of more of Europe. Many of my friends who have moved to London from further afield have not hesitated to take advantage of Europe ‘on our doorstep’ and it got me thinking it was about time I did too. So it was decided, Italy would be next on my European hit list and I would see, do and eat as much as I could in one week. My itinerary was as follows: 3 days in Rome, a morning in Naples, an afternoon in Pompeii, a day in Sorrento and then the last two days in Positano. I’m the first to admit that I’m not the most organised of travellers so with little time to waste and a very rough plan, I was ready to go.
The first thing I will mention is the the question of where to stay. If, like me, you hardly spend any time in the hotel and are just after something affordable, clean and basic then it is not essential to stay right in the centre as it is likely that you’ll still need to use the metro anyway (it’s super cheap and very quick). I stayed in San Giovanni which was a 20-minute walk from the Colosseum and less than 5 minutes from the metro station which connected me to everywhere I needed to be within a few minutes.
The Colosseum and the Roman Forum – There are two options. Either plan in advance and buy tickets on the internet or just turn up and see what the deal is. I chose the latter and managed to get onto a guided tour of both the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. The tour costs 30 euros and includes queue jump which is well worth it. The knowledgeable guides were fantastic at providing both historical context and useful information about the ancient ruins. The guides stand outside the Colosseum advertising the tours and are able to get you in within 10 minutes.
Free tours – There are a number of free tours available which allow you to really familiarise yourself with the city. These should be booked a couple of weeks in advance as availability is limited and it’s a good idea to do these on the first or second day of your trip. I decided to do the New Rome Free Tour which is a 2-hour guided tour on foot around some of the most famous landmarks around the city. These include the Church of St. Ignatius, the Pantheon, the Marcus Aurelius Column and many other tucked away landmarks before ending up at the Trevi Fountain.
What I ate:
As I spent most of my time walking around Rome, I often got peckish and wanted something quick and tasty for lunch. Thankfully, you’re never too far from a slice of pizza. I sampled a few different types while I was in Rome (although I was trying to save myself for Naples with little success). Orsini Pizza which is located on Magna Grecia (near the B&B that I was staying at) offered delicious pizza sold by the kilogram. Crispy and toasted on the outside, and soft and brioche like on the inside, it made for the perfect lunch on-the-go. Fresh tomatoes, generous chunks of mozzarella and fresh basil were all that were needed for complete perfection.
With so many restaurants lining the streets of Rome, a recommendation or two is always useful and this one came from our walking tour guide. L’archetto is located just a few minutes away from Fountain di Trevi on Via dell’Archetto. Outdoor seating accommodates those who like to dine al fresco and take in the lively surrounding atmosphere. The expansive menu holds around 6 pages dedicated to spaghetti dishes so decision-making skills are vital here. To start I had bruschetta with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil and for the main I had the Boscaiola which consisted of sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes and cheese. Simple, classic food made with fresh ingredients means that this restaurant was a sure winner. The spaghetti was cooked to perfection (al dente of course) and looked like it had come straight from the pan and onto the plate – just as pasta should be! It was also very reasonable with the majority of the spaghetti dishes coming in at under 10 euros.
Rome was everything I expected – beautiful, chaotic and overflowing with historical culture. Many people will ask why I didn’t visit the Vatican – I actually ran out of time and there were so many other things I wanted to see (plus it gives me an excuse to come back). If this is something you are keen to do then I’ve been told a full day is needed for the full experience. You don’t need to be overly organised when visiting Rome but it’s good to draw up a brief itinerary of everything you want to do as you won’t want to miss a thing! Next stop: Naples and Pompeii.