• Jes Bellamy

When in Rome: Your Guide to Visiting Italy



Excuse me while I show my age, but I'm from the Lizzie McGuire generation, and it would be very unlike me not to reference that Italy is "what dreams are made of!" (cheesy…I know). Anyways, after years of imagining this trip, I grabbed my momma, and we had the time of our lives in Italy. We were in Italy for nine days and visited six parts of the beautiful country.

We witnessed it all, from roman ruins, majestic hillsides, and leaning towers. The only parts we didn't visit were Milan and Venice, and that's because we didn't have that many days to do so. So, if you're looking for some inspiration for your own Italian trip, this is for you! With this itinerary, you can get the most out of the beautiful country without entirely exhausting yourself.


When To Go and Weather
The trip took place in April 2022, not a super busy season for Italy, but we still faced some crowds. Summer is when things usually get hectic in Italy. So if you decide to go in the summertime, just know it is blazing hot and crowded. With that, in April, we did face a few showers, however, it was only for a few days. On average, the weather on this trip was between 60 to 75 degrees. Now the question is, would I go in April again? Yes! It was the perfect weather to dress cute but not be drenched in sweat. I also didn’t mind the light showers because it allowed me to wear some cute cardigans. However, I think the perfect time to go to Italy for the best weather is either May or June (just expect crowds).

Hotel

We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard Rome Central Park, which is about 20-30 minutes away from the central part of Rome. We scored big because my mom and I have a timeshare with Marriott and Westin (I highly recommend doing this); therefore, we didn’t have to pay for our hotel. However, if you decide to pay, Hotels in Rome are pricy, especially between April and September. Hotels are also pricier if you stay in the city center. Just remember, the further you stay out of the central part of Rome, the more you have to take a taxi or Uber.


Transportation


During this trip, my mom and I mostly took taxis, which were cost-friendly but more expensive than the trains. You can also take Ubers, but I found taxis to be more affordable. There is also a rideshare app called FREENOW in Italy, where you can call taxis on your phone from wherever you are! Taxis cost between 15 to 30 euros depending on where we were going.

Flight

Flight prices fluctuate throughout the year and are typically higher in the popular seasons, typically from May to August. April is also a popular month, but the rain keeps some people away.

Price

This trip (without flights and hotel) costs around $700 with taxis, tours, food, and souvenirs. We did a lot of tours which hiked the price up a lot. The price will fluctuate based on how much you like to spend money too. My mom and I decided to go all out. That being said, if you are going to Italy for five days or more, expect to come with at least $500.

Full Itinerary
Two days of our trip were dedicated to flying, so we only explored Italy for seven days.
Day 1- Fly into Rome on a PM flight
Day 2- Land in Italy, and explore Rome
Day 3- Colosseum and the Vatican tours
Day 4- Tour to Florence and Pisa
Day 5- Tuscany and wine tour
Day 6- Relax/ explore Rome more
Day 7- Amalfi coast and Pompeii
Day 8- Relax and have dinner in Rome
Day 9- Fly back home
Day 1

We flew from Newark Airport to FCO. Most flights to Europe are in the evening and last about eight to nine hours.

Day 2

We landed in FCO on day two, and getting from FCO to the Hotel was easier than I thought it'd be. At first, I was ready to call an Uber for us to the Hotel, but as we walked out, some people offered rides for $30, which was way cheaper than Uber. At first, I thought it was sketchy and said no, but the driver proved the company to be legit. The driver then brought us to a bigger group of people that he was taking, which made me feel more comfortable. Also, I did pull out Euros at the airport from a safe ATM.


It took about 30 minutes to get to our Hotel. Once there, the check-in was easy, and we relaxed for a bit. My mom wanted to rest more, but as an excited and a bit impatient daughter, I made her get dressed so we could head to central Rome.


From the Hotel, the receptionist called a taxi for us, and he took us to the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. You can find excellent gelato spots, shops, and restaurants in this area. I will warn you, it is extremely crowded in this area but beautiful. Don't forget to make a wish in the fountain. An interesting fact is all the money thrown into the fountain is donated to charities and children's foundations. After strolling around the area, I had my first experience with authentic Italian Pasta (Cacio E Pepe), which I brutally mispronounced while ordering. From there, we walked around more and took a taxi back to the Hotel to rest.
Day 3

One of the first tours we did was called Full-Day Combo: Complete Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel & Colosseum Tour by City Wonders. The tour guides for each of the tours were very professional and very informative. They were probably some of the best tour guides I've ever experienced.

The first part of the tour was the Vatican in the AM; the Vatican is a must-see. This tour lasted for about four hours. I will also say that you're on your feet the whole time, and it is insanely crowded. After the Vatican, you have some time to rest, so we decided to go back to our hotel to change since you need to dress modestly at the Vatican, and we wanted to put on shorter dresses.

The colosseum then began around three pm and lasted another three hours. This leads me to a recommendation of what not to do. If I could go back in time, I would split these tours into two days. It's great being able to see both in one day to save time, but we were genuinely exhausted and mentally over it after them. We even met some fellow nomads who did both tours and they said the same thing. After the colosseum, we went to get dinner in the Monti district, which was recommended by our tour guide because it is packed with bars and restaurants. Here I had the best lasagna I've ever had at Restaurante Pizzeria Imperials.
Day 4
Our next great adventure was a Small-Group Full-Day Trip to Florence and Pisa from Rome (I highly recommend taking a trip to Florence and Pisa). The tour consists of a driver who picks you up at your hotel and drives you to Florence and then Pisa; it's about 2 hours to get to Florence and then another hour to get to Pisa. It's an intimate tour; only about 8 of us were on it.

There were some cons with this tour. To start, the van was not the safest; one of the doors didn't close all the way, which freaked me and others out a bit while on the road. The driver also broke a few rules by driving crazy fast in the rain while on the phone, which is relatively uncommon. Also, this tour doesn't offer a guide through the cities; they just drive you to and from the destinations.

Despite those cons, I don't regret taking a trip to these beautiful cities. The two hours of walking around Florence allowed us to see all the major tourist tractions, have lunch, and take cute pictures. Florence surprised me, and I strongly suggest spending a day or two in Florence as I believe doing just a tour wasn't enough.

Pisa was the star of the tour for sure. It is a small quaint town; the main attraction, of course, is the Tower of Pisa. The tower is a sight to see. However, you must watch out for pickpocketers in this area (along with Florence).


Also, if you must use the restrooms, be prepared to pay a Euro or two to do so. After visiting these sites, the driver takes you back to the hotel, and you get back around six or seven pm.


Day 5
We did another tour called Tuscany Day Trip from Rome including 3-Course Lunch and Wine Tasting, which took us to Montepulciano, a town I had never heard of before going, but definitely my favorite part of the tour. This town is filled with rich history and gives you a taste of a traditional old Italian village. It is also where some scenes from the Twilight movie were filmed! In Tuscany, we also drove through the beautiful hillsides of Italy and had dinner with wine tasting.

After the tasting, we visited another cute little town called Pienza, where I had some desserts. With this tour, you begin early morning and are on a much bigger bus with AC, comfortable seats, and many more people. This tour is long and will take the whole day, but it is well worth it!

What caught my attention when purchasing this tour was, of course, the wine tasting part. However, I will mention that you don't get that much wine, and it's the second to last part of the tour. Also, the food for dinner isn't the best, but it is nice that they feed you. So, all in all, would I do this tour again…yes. But I would grab some more food in one of the beautiful cities we visit.

Day 6

After two days filled with jampacked tours, I thought it would be good to have a relaxing day where we weren’t rushed as much. So, we did exactly that. We first relaxed in the morning, then went to the city center of Rome and visited some impressive tourist attractions. On this day we decided also to take the hop-on hop-off bus to get around, which only cost about 30 euros. I highly recommend taking this bus, even if it's just for a day. It's a great way to see everything without over-exhausting yourself and running out of time.


We decided to have dinner in the same area as the first night, just at a different restaurant. I had the Cacio e Pepe again (I’m telling you, it’s the best). We also did a little souvenir shopping and wine shopping in this area.


Day 7

We took another tour called Small-Group Pompeii and Amalfi Coast Guided Tour with Positano from Rome. This was one of my favorite tours, and let me just say the Amalfi coast is stunning! The Amalfi coast is south of Rome, where you'll see the mountainous parts of Italy. It is so beautiful there that I think the Amalfi coast should be its own trip if you visit Italy; meaning, I wish I had spent a few days there instead of just doing a tour. It is utterly breathtaking.

The tour took us to the most popular part of the coast, Positano; the guide heading there was terrific and very informative about the region. However, we picked the wrong time to go to the coast mainly because of traffic. It was a Sunday, and it was during a holiday weekend, so that cut some of our time there. The scenery there is beautiful. There are narrow streets with charming shops with Italian aesthetics. There are also plenty of restaurants and a picturesque beach where you can relax (I highly suggest grabbing a limoncello spritz while out there; lemons are very popular there)


After visiting the Amalfi coast, we went to Pompeii. I wasn't too excited about this part of the tour, but it was fascinating and informative. Seeing this town that was destroyed by Mount Vesuvius hundreds of years ago was shocking. A strange place for sure.



Day 8

This was a slow day for us. I don’t think we left the hotel all day, but decided to have dinner in a

popular area, where the locals mostly go, called the Travestere district. We ate at the restaurant Otello, and of course, we had more pasta and wine. The area was packed with locals and tourists, with many bars and restaurants to choose from.


Day 9

Head back to the States from FCO!



Overall, this trip was a dream and I will for sure be returning to Italy, next time spending more time in Florence and Amalfi coast. I would also like to mention that most people know some English, but it is not spoken fluently. I found that most drivers we had didn't know much English. Besides that, the food is fantastic and affordable; the only problem I had is how hard the Pasta is cooked, being that they mostly make it al dente. However, after speaking to a tour guide, I learned it is okay to ask them to cook the pasta a bit longer, and they will do it! Other than that, Italy is a vibrant, rich culture that has a lot of old and a bit of new. No matter what you are looking for, you honestly can't go wrong with Italy.