Travel: Venice Evenings (+ Italy Holiday Tips)

One of the things I loved most about Venice was the evenings. Unlike Rome (which was always busy), the evenings in Venice were so tranquil and relaxing. We spent them lingering over our food, drinking plenty of wine, and on one unforgettable evening we watching the sun set over the sea. Beautiful memories, ones which I doubt I will forget.

 photo Venice at Night 6_zps3qbpvnc2.jpg photo Venice at Night 5_zpsnrpnmjd4.jpg photo Venice at Night 4_zpsr7jdiozq.jpg photo Venice at Night 3_zpsziodxu0c.jpg photo Venice at Night 2_zpsy6k1c8fw.jpgIt’s now been nearly two months since we set out on our trip (time has seriously flown by!), and we’ve had chance to reflect on our planning, what we missed out on, what we should have done. Of course, this is the perfect opportunity for me to type up some advice and get it out to you. So here goes, my top tips for planning an Italian holiday to Rome or Venice…

Budget

Make sure you budget, both for the trip itself (flights, hotels, transfers) and spending money. We found Rome was wonderfully cheap once all tickets had been bought. Venice not so much!

 photo Venice at Night 1_zpshlq4muva.jpgPlan

If you have a few attractions you want to see, it definitely pays to book in advance. In Rome, queues for the Vatican were at least three hours long, and probably similar for the Colosseum. Buy in advance people!

With Venice, the one thing that probably tops everyone’s’ to-do list is a gondola ride, and rightly so. Yet be careful about planning this. Find a starting point which doesn’t mean your time is just spent on the Grand Canal, and budget accordingly. These gondola rides don’t come cheap!

Make Your Own Lunch

This is something I can’t stress enough. I don’t mean going to the nearest supermarket and grabbing packets and crisps and biscuits (just no!), but go to a supermarket with a good selection of fresh produce and build your own sandwiches. On frugal days we picked up rolls, salami and fruit (coming in at €4 for the two of us), on splurge days we grabbed ciabatta, speck ham and mozzarella alongside cherries (coming in at a bank-robbing €6 for two). You’re still getting the Italian experience, but at a fraction of the price of restaurants.

Italian supermarkets are just superb. Ask the bread man what is freshest, ask the woman at the cheese counter what she recommends to go with your meat – we discovered a fab creamy cheese that was a little like a firmer mozzarella. Ask what meat the assistant likes best, watch what the locals pick. Everything is so, so fresh – and it’s just a much nicer experience than your standard UK Sainsbury’s trip!

 photo Castel SantAngelo 11_zps0mnc2bsp.jpgResearch Restaurants

I never want to waste money on a bad meal, so I will always have a search on Trip Advisor before going somewhere. For our first night in each place we went with guidance from our hotel – and both were fine. We dedicated a bit of time the next day to wandering around and looking at menus, before researching during siesta time.

It definitely pays off – the restaurant we visited on our second night in Venice was so good we returned the next night!

Pack Sensibly

Likelihood is you will be doing a LOT of walking, so make sure you are prepared. If you are going in the summer also beware that comfortable shoes may not be so comfortable in the heat – I definitely regretted not taking plasters out and about with me! I would also recommend taking waterproof clothing – read this post to find out why..

Water fountains are pretty common along most streets, so take bottle out and about with you. Restaurants charge for water in Italy so make the most of whatever free water you can find – save the money for wine!
 photo Colesseum 15_zpsbcxci9yt.jpg

Have you ever been to Italy?

Travel: Venice’s Famous Sites & A Gondola Ride

Whilst more a city for wandering and exploring, Venice does have some must-see famous sites scattered about. We spent a day doing most of them – you could definitely spend longer than a day (I’d have loved to explore Doge’s Palace) but we found this was enough. After the chaos of Rome we just wanted to wander!

 photo Famous Sites 9_zpsdqwtxod8.jpg photo Famous Sites 8_zpsygyr3uol.jpg photo Famous Sites 7_zpspasdgjo1.jpg photo Famous Sites 5_zpsginw5pnj.jpg photo Famous Sites 3_zps8pksy204.jpgOne place I really do recommend you take the time to go and see is Murrano. This is a separate little Island, it’s probably around 20 minutes by Vaporetto (which is not a particularly cheap way to get around!), and it’s where pretty much all Murrano glass wear is made. Those little Love Links/Pandora style beads? These are all Murrano glass! Obviously there’s different types. There’s the tacky stuff, stunning glasswear and even the most beautiful modern gallery that we found. It’s well worth taking a wander around, possibly picking up a few bits. Wandering to the left (away from the main street, by-passing the first ‘factory tour’ and walking as far round as you can there’s an excellent little place which does a free demonstration of glassblowing. I was shocked the apprenticeship takes nearly two decades!

The most famous site in Venice is probably St Mark’s square, and whilst it is a lovely site – it’s not as beautiful as the rest of Venice. This was the one place that felt really touristy, and whilst it’s worth a visit I wouldn’t rush here. We did wander around the church, which was absolutely stunning, but didn’t pay to visit the terrace or the museum. Like I said, I would have loved to look around Doge’s Palace, but that’s something we’re saving for our return…

 photo Famous Sites 20_zpsqgncv5fr.jpg photo Famous Sites 18_zpsfzbbqt07.jpg photo Famous Sites 13_zpsehqama1n.jpg photo Famous Sites 12_zpscnyafezo.jpg photo Famous Sites 11_zpsg4oixruj.jpg photo Famous Sites 2_zpsyn30dubt.jpg photo Gondola Ride 3_zps7belq6iq.jpgI’ve already shared our disappointment at the Trevi Fountain renovations, and it seems our luck continued to Venice – the Rialto bridge was also covered in scaffolding. Luckily we managed to catch a glimpse of the uncovered side from our Gondola ride on the last morning…

 photo Wandering in Venice 27_zpsoxd8f6jg.jpgPerhaps not a famous site as such, but one locals were always keen to point out, and that’s a pretty unique clock that can be found in Venice. It’s not exactly easy to tell the time on a clock that has 24 hours!

Having pondered over it for much of the holiday, we decided to splurge on a gondola ride on our last morning. A wonderfully sunny, warm day – it was the perfect weather for a romantic trip. Gondola rides aren’t cheap, but they are government regulated so at least there’s no competitive pricing going on – the flat daytime rate is €80 for thirty minutes. Pricey yes, but one of our only splurges of the holiday.

 photo Gondola Ride 7_zpshtdi8xgy.jpg photo Gondola Ride 5_zpsj25holbf.jpg photo Gondola Ride 8_zpslxm3hxul.jpgWe picked up a gondola on the Grand Canal but away from St Mark’s, a good choice as we were taken through winding passages of the quieter canals. Our gondolier was chatty and friendly, without intruding. He even serenaded us! And insisted we had a quick kiss for a photo…which of course made me giggle!

Venice was just beautiful, but I don’t recommend going on a purely sightseeing trip. You need to take time to wander and explore to get the feel for this place – it’s not somewhere to rush. It’s just beautiful…

Have you ever been to Venice? Where would you recommend visiting?

Travel: Wandering Around Venice

I fell in love with Venice. Completely and utterly head over heels, and I already can’t wait to return. In all honest we found that although there are that many ‘main’ sights to see, there was far too much exploring for just three days. It’s not a place I’d recommend for a short trip!

 photo Wandering in Venice 20_zpsdxirwkyh.jpg photo Wandering in Venice 9_zpslj7ltdqf.jpgOn our first day we were exhausted from the franticness of Rome, and the weather was glorious. After a morning of wandering, getting our bearings and working out how we actually got tickets for water taxis, we decided to put a pause on sight-seeing and head to the beach. The complete opposite end to our hotel, getting to the Lido took around an hour. Word of advice, outside at the back of a Vaporetto is noisy, vibrating and not particularly pleasant. Don’t do it! The Lido itself is an odd beach resort. It’s pretty touristy-seeming, yet the majority of people there were Italians.You have to pay (significantly) for a sunbed or shade, but lockers were €5 for the whole day, returning as much as you like. Unfortunately they also charged for use of the toilets… We just chilled out, lying on the sand, and a fair few dips in the sea. Utter bliss! On our return we came across the cruise ships leaving the port. I have to say it’s a little scary having these beasts steaming towards you whilst you’re in a teeny boat!

 photo Wandering in Venice 13_zpso87ml3xj.jpg photo Wandering in Venice 11_zpsqthfiuna.jpg photo Wandering in Venice 8_zps7z3jnlnb.jpg photo Wandering in Venice 7_zpspqrvnhw4.jpg photo Wandering in Venice 5_zpso0mzj4pk.jpg photo Wandering in Venice 3_zpsk2cuj3si.jpgOur middle day was spent squeezing in the main sights (check in soon to find out more), and our last day was spent doing a LOT of wandering. Definitely not because we were slightly lost…

We walked over hundreds of bridges, and I took a couple of photos at each. I befriended a seagull who sat with us throughout our lunch, dived into several Kiko stores and gawped at all the designer shops.

 photo Wandering in Venice 19_zpsvpyzgtb3.jpg photo Wandering in Venice 4_zpslnfrtr2z.jpgI also managed to get a stunning photo, which reminded me of something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Upon sharing my holiday snaps with my parents we realised – I’d take a picture of the exact same view in the painting in their living room.

 photo Wandering in Venice 22_zpsajxucj4r.jpg photo Wandering in Venice 23_zpsvt3bvuyv.jpg photo Wandering in Venice 26_zpsimfzovex.jpg photo Wandering in Venice 25_zpsst5zibsp.jpg photo Wandering in Venice 24_zpsyjylcjrf.jpg photo Wandering in Venice 18_zps0t8kxozj.jpg photo Wandering in Venice 15_zpsacca5ses.jpgMy favourite area was over the Rialto Bridge from St Marks square. It was a lot quieter, very Italian, and virtually no tourists. This also made it far harder to work out where we were…

Eventually we stumbled across a square, thankfully settling down for a Spritz (bitter, cool and refreshing) and some much-needed carbs. We sat in the dappled shade of a tree reflecting our holiday, wishing we didn’t have to leave, making plans to return.

 photo Wandering in Venice 1_zpsy3c5cynt.jpgI’m thinking of combined Florence and Venice for another trip…so picturesque, I just loved wandering around aimlessly in Venice. Anywhere I can get a litre of with for less than €3 is automatically going in my top 10 list!

Have you ever been to Venice? What was your favourite bit?

Travel: Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo & Personalised Magnums

Not a well talked about place, I’m very grateful to Libby for recommending this place. We sought shelter after the rainstorm, and were there when the sun came out and the paths (and people) literally started to steam as they dried out.

 photo Castel SantAngelo 15_zpssrzt60ty.jpg photo Castel SantAngelo 16_zpscqerwzgr.jpgNot only does the Castel Sant’Angelo provide some of the most stunning views of St Peter’s Basicila, it’s also one of the most interesting castles I’ve visited. It’s not very ‘touristy’, there’s little signs everywhere, you just have to explore. There’s lots of little paths to take, lots of hidden bits to look at.

 photo Castel SantAngelo 1_zps77uzxomp.jpg photo Castel SantAngelo 5_zpsrif66yet.jpg photo Castel SantAngelo 11_zps0mnc2bsp.jpgThis photo was a complete accident – my camera has a touch-screen, and I’d forgotten to take touch-shutter off. It was taking photos at virtually every step I look as the camera moved against me. Turns out it is one of my favourite photos of the trip!

 photo Castel SantAngelo 12_zpstmkym1kd.jpg photo Castel SantAngelo 2_zpssz8pi5xh.jpg photo Castel SantAngelo 9_zpsmlmdjydf.jpg photo Castel SantAngelo 13_zpsh06xlqio.jpgI peered through a dusty broken window (as a joke) and found the most stunning painting hidden from view behind it. We wandered through stunning, ornately decorated rooms (not expected in a castle!), peeked through arrow holes, and climbed our way up the narrow, winding staircase out to the top. I’m quite glad the thunder had stopped by that point!

 photo Castel SantAngelo 7_zpsp6i3syoj.jpg photo Castel SantAngelo 10_zpsdfsnxxlc.jpg photo Castel SantAngelo 4_zpsvw2pjzpd.jpgI wore one of my favourite summer pieces – a midi skirt with H&M in a burnt-orange colour. Perfect for travelling as it covers knees (a necessity with a lot of places in Italy), and it packs up really small. I threw it on with a black vest top, then had a white shirt over the top as shoulders should also be covered in the Vatican. It proved useful in the rain too…and protected my blistered shoulders very nicely!

 photo Castel SantAngelo 3_zpsrumzjdte.jpgAfter a good few hours in the castle (at €7 for students, less in off-peak months, it’s a bit of a bargain) we wandered along the river, dodging more blimming selfie stick sellers. The above photo isn’t actually blurry – the paths (and people!) were steaming as they dried out from the rain! We were hunting down a place I’d found mentioned on a school friend’s year abroad blog; the Magnum Pleasure Store.

Not exactly Italian, but W is a huge fan of Magnum’s, eating them probably five nights a week.I knew we couldn’t pass up the chance to visit!

 photo Magnum Store 8_zpsyramf92d.jpg photo Magnum Store 6_zpss0a67p0s.jpg photo Magnum Store 5_zpssexfi5ic.jpg photo Magnum Store 4_zpstqkdsiwl.jpgProbably the most expensive Magnum you will ever eat at €4, you choose between a vanilla or chocolate ice-cream filling. It is then dipped in either white, milk or dark chocolate, and scattered with up to three toppings before being finished with a drizzle of more chocolate. Not only is the product yummy, the store is lovely, vibrantly decorated at the front, but quite trendy and ridiculously comfy (and air conditioned!) out back.

 photo Magnum Store 2_zpsbvexvkd4.jpg photo Magnum Store 3_zpsdnzzmfyd.jpgHere’s a challenge for you – guess which one was mine, and which one was W’s! The white one was a chocolate ice-cream, covered in white chocolate (duh), sprinkled with salted caramel, hazelnuts and pretzels, drizzled with dark chocolate. The brown one was a vanilla ice cream dipped in milk chocolate, topped with rose petals, raspberry and brownie pieces, drizzled with white chocolate. So, whose is whose?!

 photo Magnum Store 1_zpsgcusvvws.jpgBoth were damn delicious anyway…

Do you like exploring hidden gems, or do you stick to main tourist attractions? And the most important question – what would you top your magnum with?

Travel: The Vatican City & A Roman Thunderstorm

Alongside the Colosseum this is the most talked about ‘attraction’ in Rome. It’s also another one you have to book a ticket for. It costs no more to book in advance, but you save yourself queueing – and the queue was around three hours long when we arrived at 11am.

 photo Vatican City 16_zpsneexedmf.jpg photo Vatican City 3_zpsirdp39fj.jpg photo Vatican City 4_zpsmhrxkzg0.jpgIt was ridiculously hot and humid that day, and unfortunately that didn’t help us whilst wandering round the museum. By the time we were shepherded into the extremely busy Sistine Chapel we’d both had enough. The crowded room wasn’t somewhere we wanted to spend much time, as beautiful as it was. The whole building was stunning, the detail on the ceilings, the sculptures, the paintings – all just wonderful.

 photo Vatican City 5_zpse5lknpi5.jpg photo Vatican City 6_zps7nbkrhjs.jpg photo Vatican City 7_zps5m29o3vg.jpg photo Vatican City 8_zpsbfarvgum.jpg photo Vatican City 9_zpscvt2uqsz.jpg photo Vatican City 10_zps8prspohy.jpg photo Vatican City 12_zps49m9qu4m.jpgPhotos weren’t allowed in many areas, and they were very strict about that – I saw one woman escorted out, having had her camera examined and the offending photos deleted. All my photos were taken in areas where photography was permitted, but they don’t show the beauty of the place. It really has to be seen, and I wouldn’t recommend a trip to Rome without visiting!

My top advice? Take lots of water if visiting in warmer months! It’s a long walk round, there’s no way to by-pass bits, and nowhere to really stop off. On that note, go to the toilet beforehand too…

 photo Vatican City 2_zpscaseqaqy.jpg photo Vatican City 13_zpsevrwmlfm.jpg photo Vatican City 15_zpsccut2pw7.jpgWe also sat in the lush gardens to relax a little, before struggling to find our way out!

 photo Vatican City 14_zpsl5ixorcf.jpg photo Vatican City 17_zpswq0withk.jpgWe headed towards St Peter’s Basilica, but the queue was snaking along and seemed a good hour long – there doesn’t seem to be a fast-track for this. We decided to give it a miss and settled down in the shade (a good choice!) to eat a packed lunch and watch the most stunning clouds roll in…

 photo Vatican City 18_zpspzpmusbn.jpg photo Vatican City 22_zpstul8zw5w.jpg photo Vatican City 20_zpsn4myghps.jpg photo Vatican City 21_zps03zkf8qx.jpg photo Vatican City 23_zpsipjzvmyg.jpgThen lightening lit up the now dark sky, thunder exploded, and the rain came down. I’ve never seen rain like it, within five minutes roads were flooded. The queue evaporated, the thousands heading towards the shelter we had previous had to ourselves. Rain blew up, the selfie-stick sellers rain to their cars, returning with ponchos and umbrellas!

The rain began to slow, we made a run for it…only to have to press ourselves against a wall in a vain attempt to shelter again.

 photo Vatican City 19_zps5qut9lqg.jpgA stunning thunderstorm, spectacular to watch…though I was glad I was not up at the top of the basilica’s dome! It was fascinating to experience such a quick change in weather – my photos of the square and the Vatican gardens were taken at most 20 minutes apart.

Have you been to Rome? Did you go to the Vatican?

Review: The Perfect Sandwich @ Pane & Vino, Rome

Seriously, the BEST sandwich I’ve ever eaten!

I stumbled across this place on Trip Advisor in advance of our holiday, but swiftly forgot about it until the receptionist recommended it. A two minute walk away, rumbling bellies and tired feet made this perfect.

 photo Pane amp Vino 1_zpscnrzwfax.jpg photo Pane amp Vino 4_zpst4inyj2s.jpgFabio was the perfect host, recommending places to go and things to see (indeed he was the person telling us to look through the keyhole!). Nothing seemed too much trouble, and he clearly loved his job. He told us all about the ingredients, talked us through the combinations, told us how fresh everything was, told us his favourites.

The first day we both went for the first option on the menu, a ciabatta filled with prosciutto, mozzarella, and rocket, finished with a drizzle of olive oil.

 photo Pane amp Vino 8_zpskndgxra6.jpg photo Pane amp Vino 5_zpsjsq8p4di.jpg photo Pane amp Vino 2_zpsht0zmrlp.jpgThe mozzarella was fresh that day, oh so creamy, and a little rnny like the ever-trendy burrata. The prosciutto sliced in front of us. Melting soft, full of flavour, good fat marbling and plenty of it. The rocket was obviously fresh and added a good pepperiness, the olive oil adding a bit of lubrication. It was a whopper of a sandwich, and utterly delicious. If only all sandwiches were like this!

We tried to replicate it whilst in Venice, buying the ingredients (minus rocket and oil) for lunches and did a pretty good job, but I’ve not had a sandwich as satisfying since.

 photo PaneampVino2_zps7drvrugt.jpgOn our last morning in Rome we decided to grab a sandwich between us, to take on the train. We went with Fabio’s favourite, a combination of speck ham, truffled cheese and more rocket. Definitely an easier sandwich to eat, especially if taking away – and although not quite as good as the first I certainly enjoyed it. Again the meat was sliced in front of us, amazingly fresh and clean flavoured. The cheese was also sliced in front of us, and was creamy, strongly cheesy and lightly truffle-y. I’m not usually a fan of cheese (other than mozzarella) with bread but this was delicious!

 photo Pane amp Vino 11_zpstlonhtlh.jpg photo Pane amp Vino 9_zpswhrlozid.jpg photo Pane amp Vino 3_zpsizdw64wn.jpgAt €6 for a sandwich (some hot options are a little more), this place is a hidden gem. A stone’s throw away from the Colosseum it’s a calm oasis away from tourists providing damn good food and cheap wine (which smelt great, though we didn’t sample).

My only regret is that I doubt we will return to Rome, as I’m desperate for a prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich!

What’s your favourite sandwich filling?

Travel: The Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

Probably the most iconic site in Rome, the Colosseum was high on my list of places to visit. It turned out our hotel was a 3 minute walk away so we saw quite a bit of it! I have early morning photos, shots from walking around inside, afternoon photos, sunset photos, nighttime photos. An awful lot of photos of this place!

 photo Colesseum 1_zpsucxzgqzv.jpg photo Colesseum 14_zpsltsghcvs.jpgWe booked tickets online, and I highly recommend you do so as the queue for ‘reserved tickets’ is so much quicker. It actually looks a lot longer than the other queue when you first get there – quite disheartening but I’d say the other queue must have been a couple of hours long. We were in there within 20 minutes! I would advise against paying a premium for ‘skip the line’ tickets as these don’t seem to actually exist – there are two queues, one for reserved tickets, one for buying tickets.

 photo Colesseum 11_zps2wjkkima.jpg photo Colesseum 10_zps4fa9pqis.jpg photo Colesseum 9_zpswkd9wpxm.jpg photo Colesseum 8_zpskqwycbpm.jpg photo Colesseum 7_zpsiiroghtx.jpg photo Colesseum 5_zpsxlbfbutg.jpg photo Colesseum 4_zpsgwpkcmbp.jpgIn all honesty, if the ticket price just included the Colosseum I wouldn’t say it was hugely worth it unless you have a specific interest in Roman ruins. It’s a stunning bit of architecture, don’t get me wrong, but I think you can get that impression without heading inside. We did enjoy exploring though, and some bits were very interesting – for instance the pretty modern lift system used fr hoisting the ‘wild beasts’ into the arena.

If you do go and visit, though, do one thing for me? Don’t take a selfie stick! They drove me mad on this holiday as so many people spent their time with their backs to the scenery taking selfies. And don’t get me started on the street sellers who have clearly cottoned onto this…

 photo Colesseum 17_zpsiumahfdn.jpg photo Colesseum 16_zpsumty9c9q.jpg photo Colesseum 15_zpsbcxci9yt.jpg photo Colesseum 12_zpsfwyzxvwv.jpgPhotos really don’t show the true scale of the Colosseum – it’s absolutely huge, and a really stunning bit of history. It looks especially wonderful approaching sunset, and I’m so grateful to have caught this on our final evening in Rome.

Now for photo’s not including the Colosseum! I’m willing to bet there are hundreds of tourists every day who visit the Colosseum and have no clue that their ticket also give entry to another site only 200 yards away. A site which, in my opinion, is far more interesting too!

 photo Roman Forum amp Palatine Hill 11_zpsiktpruuy.jpg photo Roman Forum amp Palatine Hill 10_zpsaoemnryh.jpg photo Roman Forum amp Palatine Hill 9_zpsojgjhjqt.jpg photo Roman Forum amp Palatine Hill 6_zpsmpww7kdz.jpgThe Forum & Palatine Hill is a pretty massive site, filled with various ruins and some pretty intact structures.

 photo Roman Forum amp Palatine Hill 12_zps7y3hd4r6.jpg photo Roman Forum amp Palatine Hill 8_zpsdvhxcuo9.jpg photo Roman Forum amp Palatine Hill 7_zpsiepqtmli.jpg photo Roman Forum amp Palatine Hill 1_zps3rwgvptc.jpgThere are viewing platforms offering stunning views over Rome, shady gardens to wander through, and it’s pretty easy to accidentally tag along to a guided tour too!

 photo Roman Forum amp Palatine Hill 5_zpscbei21xj.jpg photo Roman Forum amp Palatine Hill 4_zpsg6cw5nj8.jpg photo Roman Forum amp Palatine Hill 3_zpsboiqxrmf.jpgThere’s also a pretty interesting museum included in the ticket price, filled with various artefacts that have been dug up. The sign posts dotted around are short, fact-filled and quite amusing – I was pretty impressed at the Roman toilet structure!

 photo Roman Forum amp Palatine Hill 2_zpsqdyignjx.jpgHave you ever been to Rome? What was your favourite site?

Travel: Retrome Colosseum Garden

I’m sure you must have noticed (I may have mentioned once or twice!) that I’ve recently been away in Italy. Myself and W visited Rome and Venice and as we were on a bit of a restricted budget I thought I’d review our hotels.

 photo Retrome 7_zpsb4jhiqeo.jpgI absolutely loved our accommodation in Rome. Clean, quirky, and in a pretty great location. We were just three minutes walk away from the Colosseum, and within easy reach of the main train station, but it was in a very quiet residential street.

 photo Retrome 13_zpsk7erzju1.jpg photo Retrome 14_zps3kqzsh7w.jpgRetrome Colosseum Garden is actually a not-quite-hotel, not-really-apartments sort of place. Set up in a residential building, they own a few floors, with a reception set up in a little building out back. The reception is only open at certain times so check-in needs to be arranged in advance – but with our arrival in Rome timed at midday this wasn’t a problem for us. Our room wasn’t qute ready on arrival but we were offered drinks, given a verbal tour of the local area, recommendations of places to eat and a well-needed sit down. The reception area is pretty cool too!

 photo Retrome 10_zpsvm8zvhjk.jpg photo Retrome 2_zpswh9hl7lr.jpg photo Retrome 4_zpsbkbk4gsl.jpgOur room was quite spacious, minimal in terms of furniture, cool retro decorations and a floor that hurt your eyes in the morning (I did love it though!). The bathroom was teeny tiny and the one little let-down of the place – that and only having four coat hangers.

 photo Retrome 5_zps2wzrmlyk.jpg photo Retrome 1_zpswnlratnm.jpgThe bed was spectacularly comfy, and huge. Definitely plenty of space! Both the mattress and pillows were memory foam, ensuring a fabulous night’s sleep…when we hadn’t overindulged with too much food and wine.

 photo Retrome 3_zpslrfac4vz.jpgThe room was equipped with a smart TV, enabling instant messaging to the staff if we needed anything, as well as facebook access, maps, games and standard TV channels. I developed a bit of a thing for the Italian version of MTV!

 photo 2015-06-21 09.54.20_zpsiv4qjitv.jpg photo Retrome 9_zpsrhmizy0a.jpg photo Retrome 8_zpsfoqo9mlx.jpgBreakfast was €7 per person, via purchase of a voucher to be redeemed in a local cafe. We did the first day and, whilst it was great value, we found that it just gave way too much food. The next days we went to the cafe and just purchased what we felt like – which ended up coming to less than €5 for the two of us. Where can I get a €0.80 cappuccino in the UK?! We weren’t too impressed to find out that this cafe doesn’t open on a Sunday morning (glad we didn’t purchase a voucher!), but no matter – we popped to the supermarket, found some little pastries, and retired to Retrome’s terrace along with fresh milk (I never worked out how to use the coffee machine) and fruit.Turned out the pastries were full of nutella, crispy, and absolutely delicious!

Friendly staff, a clean and central base, and something slightly different, I really would recommend this hotel. And definitely for the price – in total the cost came to £220 for 3 nights (two people) which is an absolute bargain, especially in June!

Have your ever been to Rome? Do you like quirky hotels or something more traditional? 

Travel: Wandering Around Rome

Rome was a strange place. I loved exploring bits and pieces, but I wouldn’t want to return. It’s the kind of place where there’s the main sites to see, but not much beyond that. It’s not like I didn’t love the city, but I just can’t see myself returning.

 photo Wandering in Rome 2_zpsotah0zvt.jpgNow, this is the first of many posts about my holiday. I took a massive 711 photos in the week we were away (although 53 of those were because I’d not turned screen-tap capture off…there’s many of the floor!). I’m obviously not going to show off allllllllll the photos, but a good few of them. Plus it means I can live out my holiday as long as possible.

 photo Wandering in Rome 23_zpse3m4srxa.jpg photo Wandering in Rome 22_zpsfhyhwzfs.jpgAfter arriving, napping and reviving ourselves (I don’t do early mornings!) we headed out into the evening sun. We were a three minute walk from the Colosseum so nearby some of the most beautiful anicent ruins and structures.

Our first full day in Rome was spent at the Colosseum (full dedicated post coming up!), then wandering around the Ancient area of the city before hitting up the Forum and Palatine Hill (again, another post).

 photo Wandering in Rome 4_zpswe0d8b0g.jpg photo Wandering in Rome 5_zpstlx9efy0.jpg photo Wandering in Rome 6_zpsliug6tqp.jpgWe took the recommendations of a local and headed away from the bustle, up a seemingly residential road before taking a lane through the middle of a rose garden. Unfortunately the actual gardens closed a few days before and the roses were looking past their best, but I still managed to snap a few shots. We continued up the slight incline, stopping to admire a lovely intimate Italian wedding on the way.

 photo Wandering in Rome 8_zps1uof0ap4.jpg photo Wandering in Rome 9_zpsa3vllz7l.jpg photo Wandering in Rome 10_zpsbxdotmso.jpgReaching what seemed like a carpark, we were pretty sure Fabio was barking mad as he told us to go to a door and peer through the keyhole. Turns out he isn’t mad! We then wandered round the corner to a little park, took in the view, filled our water bottle (I loved that water foundations are so widely available in Italy!) and rested in the shade…discovering my shoulders were quietly blistering under their blanket of SPF50. Damn.

 photo Wandering in Rome 17_zpsb50auhjp.jpg photo Wandering in Rome 18_zpsxewz1wwi.jpg photo Wandering in Rome 19_zpsbrbq0quy.jpg photo Wandering in Rome 21_zpsqj0hpabh.jpgThe next day was our ‘religious’ day, visiting the Vatican City, avoiding selfie stick sellers, exploring the castle and generally seeing the other side of town. We got the metro there and walked back – my biggest tip is not to buy a sightseeing bus ticket as they are SO expensive, most places are walkable, and the metro is only €1.50 per journey anyway. After avoiding the rain we wandered along the river, passing some stunning buildings.

 photo Wandering in Rome 20_zpshuqxcuma.jpgOur walk back centred around finding the Trevi Foundation. Quite frankly, we shouldn’t have bothered! We’re only glad we didn’t get up early the next day to find it…

Have you been to Rome? What did you think of the city?