Almost a full two months after we left home to go on our honeymoon, I am FINALLY posting about our experience at our fourth and final destination, Rome. Yay, we’re done! 😂
We were in Rome for four full days, and we chose to stay at Hotel Abruzzi, which was right across from the Pantheon. And I mean, literally right across – this was our amazing view from the hotel room:
It was quite a convenient location as it was a five-minute walk to Piazza Navona (one of its most famous plazas), and a 10 minute walk to the Trevi Fountain. Considering the location, I think it was actually pretty inexpensive to stay here, and I think it’s because it’s a bit noisy due to the proximity to a major landmark. The nights aren’t too bad if you don’t normally have trouble falling asleep; the noise is pretty muted. However, it was pretty noisy in the mornings, and not because of tourists (the area is quite empty until 10am), but because of garbage trucks picking up garbage at 6am from the square and surrounding restaurants every morning. If you can stand the bit of noise at night, the nightlife in that area was quite enjoyable. One night, we stood out in the square for over an hour listening to a busker who came from Montreal. All he had with him was his guitar and his voice, but his talent and wit drew a huge crowd, and all the little kids were evening dancing to his music nonstop. He even sang the song my husband and I danced to for our first dance at our wedding, which was pretty magical.
In terms of attractions, we were most eager to see what Rome is perhaps most well-known for: the Colosseum. We had wanted to purchase tickets that would also allow us entry to the underground area where the animals were kept and the gladiators prepared for their fights, but they sold out ridiculously quickly online, even though we went to buy them as soon as we were allowed! We didn’t end up signing up for any tours ahead of time, but spontaneously joined one for 15 euros each outside the Colosseum. My husband and I thought the tour was decent – we learned more from the guide than we would have going on our own, but it also could have been more in depth. The Colosseum itself did not disappoint. It was completely awe-inspiring, but in a morbid way – can you imagine living in a society where watching people and animals be slain was considered entertainment?
After the Colosseum, we visted the Roman Forum which is just West of the Colosseum and is accessible with the same ticket. The ruins were interesting, and again we appreciated having a guide give us the backstory to what we were looking at, otherwise we would have been completely lost. It was mid-afternoon at this point, and the heat was pretty unbearable, so unfortunately we didn’t stay at the Roman Forum as long as we would have under normal circumstances. After getting our fill of all these ancient Roman ruins, we headed back towards our hotel, where we made a stop at Piazza Navona and then found a place to eat dinner.
Day 2 was dedicated to Vatican City. The area that houses St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican museums is actually considered its own city-state, hence the name. We first visited the museums, before visiting St. Peter’s Basilica.
The museum had some interesting artefacts and Roman sculptures, and while I enjoyed seeing the splendid Raphael rooms, I didn’t find it as good in comparison to all of the other museums we had visited on our trip. The end of the Vatican museum tour culminated in a visit to the Sistine Chapel, which was absolutely packed from end to end with tourists. Because it was a religious place, silence and no photography was expected, and there were employees shushing the crowd every 10 seconds every time the noise level started to rise. By this point, we had seen so many rooms with beautiful interiors of gold trim and painted ceilings throughout the trip that my husband did not find the Sistine Chapel or the ceiling painted by Michaelangelo particularly impressive, but neither of us have a religious background so he also couldn’t fully appreciate or understand what he was looking at, either. I was discreetly listening to an audioguide that I had downloaded onto my phone, and I found it interesting how each small section of the room is a scene that has meaning behind it.
After the Vatican museums, our next stop was St. Peter’s Basilica. The line was enormous, but I would say that we were only in line for half an hour (albeit in the heat with zero shade). We had seen our share of basilicas on this trip, but this one was impressive, both inside and out. I had no idea prior to the trip that St. Peter’s Basilica holds the tombs of many previous Popes, but it was really fascinating to see.
After dinner that evening, we went to visit the Fontana di Trevi, or Trevi Fountain, which was high on my list of things to see – there are so many beautiful fountains across Europe, but this one has always been on my bucket list. It was stunning and very romantic, although the absolutely massive crowds killed the mood
a little a lot. There were also guards blowing their whistles to stop visitors from breaking a rule (usually sitting on the sides of the fountain) – those whistles went off at least once every five seconds! I’m not sure if they still allow people to throw coins into the fountain – we didn’t see anyone throwing coins, but we did see a lot of them in the fountain. Due to the crazy crowd, we decided to go back in the morning when there would be few people and we could see the fountain in daylight. When we went back first thing in the morning, there were only a few people there!
For the last two days in Rome, we didn’t have any set plans so we took it easy. One day was spent exploring the city by foot – we must have walked 10 km that day! We had heard that the public transit in Rome is quite chaotic, so we decided to walk; by this point in the trip, our bodies were so used to walking long distances that it was nothing for us. Our tour took us to a walk along the Tiber River, the Spanish Steps, the Galleria Borghese, and the Piazza del Popolo. We had seriously contemplated buying tickets for the Borghese Museum, by my husband and I were both a little tired of art museums and just wanted to use that time taking in the sights of the city. In the evening, we went back to the Colosseum so that we could see what it looked like in the evening with uplighting.
Our last day was partly spent at Castel Sant’Angelo, which had originally been built as as mausoleum for Emperor Hadrian and his family, but was also formerly used as a fortress for the popes. We really enjoyed our visit there because it wasn’t very crowded, so we got to take our time looking around. Since it was used as a fortress, it also has some pretty awesome views of the city!
Every day we were in Rome, the temperature ranged from 31-35 degrees Celsius, and honestly, a lot of our day was spent trying to find shade. Most of the time we just went back to the hotel in the afternoon to rest and enjoy the A/C in our room, which maybe could be seen as a bit of a waste of time, but I think it kept our crankiness levels down. While I enjoyed Rome, was happy to be able to check off a few sights I’ve always wanted to see, and thought it was really cool how the city was built around all the ancient ruins, it was probably my least favourite out of the four cities we visited. I felt like we could have done with one less day in Rome and spent it in any of the other cities we went to.
Overall, we really loved our location choices for the honeymoon. As we dashed from attraction to attraction and city to city trying to get all of our sightseeing in, we briefly thought that it would have been nice to go on a relaxing honeymoon to a place like Mexico or Hawaii, but we think that Europe was ultimately the better choice for us as a couple, because we enjoy exploring and sightseeing more than we do sitting on the beach.
That concludes my honeymoon blog posts (finally). Have you been to Rome, and if so, what did you think of it?