Help a Reader Travel: Rome

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Welcome to another post of helping a reader travel! As I’ve mentioned before, I have not been to every destination (unfortunately), but do get questions from friends and other blog readers on all sort of travel destination questions. Thus far, we’ve been able to help other readers travel to MauiThe Greek IslandsThe Pacific Coast HighwayArgentinaCosta RicaCape Cod & The IslandsIceland, Geneva, and Canadian Rockies.

So this weeks travel destination includes Rome. I received the following email from reader Barbara:

“I have a work conference in Rome and I am able to tack on three personal days to explore the city. From what I’ve heard, one could ideally have two weeks in Rome so I am not really sure where to start! Any suggestions your readers could give to the must see sites in or outside of Rome would be great. I also need to find a hotel to stay in since this is after the work paid portion of the trip. I am ideally looking to use points for a few of the nights. I have points in most of the major hotel chains along with Chase Ultimate Rewards. Thank you Mrs. Deals for your help!”

This sounds like a great trip and a way to explore a city with flights paid for by someone else! If you’ve been to Rome, let’s help out reader Barbara by commenting below. Also, if you have any upcoming travel where you need some help, feel free to email me at to be a featured “Help a Reader Travel” Monday special. Thanks!

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  1. I’ll let everyone else pile on about the Vatican, Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Pantheon, etc. (which are all great, btw)

    If you want a great meal, be sure to check out Pietro’s on Via dei Pianellari (just north of Piazza Navona). Fantastic food and a great, family-run restaurant atmosphere. Make sure to get one of the dishes with shaved black truffles – they’re not shy with the shaver!

  2. If you go to the Vatican, buy your tickets in advance (and if you want the audio guided tour, buy that in advance too) – we saved a few hours in line by doing that! Also, the Colosseum currently has Underground tours open which allow you below the Colosseum floor and on an upper level that normal tickets don’t get you. Absolutely worth it.

    We visited the Forum, etc, but it was hot with little shade and not that much to see. There is actually an immigration museum up on a hill behind this that is gorgeous fromm the outside (we didn’t go in) but had an amazing view of the city and Forum that was better than being inside. I loved the Trevi Fountain and the fountain in front of the Spanish Steps – really pretty. Piazza Navona was also really neat.

    The subway system in Rome is really easy to use and cheap – we only used it once to get to the Vatican from the train station area bc we walked the rest of the way, but I highly recommend it. That being said, walk as much as you can – it will by far give you the best feel for the city. We were able to fit in a lot in a little time by doing this, and are so glad that we did!

  3. I am going to Rome in a couPle weeks also-keep the comments coming-I would like ideas in real authentic places to eat-not tourist traps-tell me some hidden gems for good food!

    • @Danielle – Great to know, hopefully we’ll be able to get some great ideas for your trip! I love the hidden gems as well and not the touristy stuff.

  4. Spent a week in Rome in apt at Campo De Fiori.- check out daily market there. Try Costanza’s near there, fabulous. Get Gelato any and everywhere! We hired a private guide for ancient Rome tour and well worth it thru The Eyes of Rome tour company. Also check out the basilica di San Clemente, where you can see the layers of Rome and go from 15th century to the 1st Century! Also did a group tour thru the Vatican great use of funds and time. Feel free to ask any questions. enjoy

  5. Best meal I had in Italy, and others I have sent there agree: Il Gabrielo. It’s very near the Spanish Steps. Every dish was incredible. Not a budget place, but not the priciest either. It was a Rick Steves’ splurge recommendation, FWIW, and it lived up to it easily.

    I also highly recommend Context Travel for much more detailed and educational tours of the big sites. They’re also on the expensive side compared to a lot of tour companies, but I thought their tours of Palatine Hill/Coliseum/Forum and the Vatican were much, much better than the standard tour groups. They’re limited to 6 people–and both I have done were just my wife and I and one other couple. All of the guides–they actually call them docents–have a relevant graduate degree and are VERY knowledgeable and can answer just about any question you could possibly have, even the historical-context-behind-the-context type.

  6. Contact the Vatican Excavations office and try to get a spot on the Necropolis Tour that takes you under St. Peter’s. For modern preparation of tradional Roman ingredients, try getting into Glass Hostaria in Trestavere.

  7. Awesome that you’re going to take time to explore the city! Having been there quite a few times, I recommend taking the hop on off bus to hit the major spots.

    Off the beaten path places worth seeting: Santa Maria sopra Minerva (near the Pantheon – one of Michaelangelo’s pieces is here and interesting site in that it was built on top of a temple to the Goddess Minerva; ask a waiter at one of the restaurants near the Panhteon to direct you); Santa Maria della Concezzione dei Cappuchini. It’s near Piazza Barberini. Many years ago, Capuchin monks built shrines using the bones of their dead brethren. Spooky and cool.

    Place to eat: Li Rioni a Santiquattro (it’s near the Colosseum. Here is their Facebook page — )

    Place to stay: It seems your tied to the points you can use, but I highly recommend Hotel Capo d’Africa (also near the Colosseum). I’ve stayed here twice; loved it both times. If you want to be more central, would try their sister hotel Visconti —

    Have a great time! Maybe dealswelike can give us an update on your trip!

  8. We were just in Rome 3 weeks ago and I’m very glad I took one piece of advice of all the other (great) advice we got: Buy tickets in advance for any place that allows it. Vatican and Colosseum especially. We were on a guided tour for both (which wound up being worth every penny) and we passed right by people who were on line for over 2 hours already. You don’t want to waste your time on line when you’re in Rome! (Especially because it’s insanely hot!)
    If you are looking for something off the beaten path and need some alternatives for all those churches, we did the tour of the Jewish Ghetto and it was really fascinating.
    We also learned a very important note about maps in Rome, just because it looks like something intersects on the map, does not mean it does. In fact, we wound up about 100 feet BELOW where we meant to be, looking up at a lovely park from a highway that wound up being over 2 miles long with no place to turn off.
    Oh and, of course, bring good shoes and eat gelato for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

  9. A favorite of ours was the Scavi tour (catacombs under St. Peters). To get reservations, send an email to – or you can fax them at: +39 (06) 6987-3017. They ONLY accept reservation requests in writing – don’t try to call!

  10. This will be my last year to travel most likely. I am trying to figure out the best way to experience Italy, including some of Rome. Food, scenery,art,people! I have time (up to maybe 3-4 weeks, and moderate money) but I don’t think we can drive, nor can I walk enough to do everything I’d like to do.) My husband is Italian heritage but doesn’t speak the language. Almost any time of the year (this year) would be OK.

    I know this is a broad request. Should we travel by cruise on the mediterranean maybe?

  11. Someone mentioned the hop on off bus which is a great way to see all the major sights> We boarded at the Central Station and rode all the way around picking out the places we wanted to visit. Then we rode around a second time and got on and off at the places we had selected. We also recommend the Borghese as it features some of the most beautiful sculptures in the world. You do need to make reservations here

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