Touring Rome in Four HOT Days

Weather flash: It rained this morning in Rome! I haven’t seen rain for so long! I so enjoyed sitting outside (under an umbrella, of course) at Piazza del Popolo drinking cappuccino while I waited for my hair appointment.

Obelisk of Santa Maria sopra Minerva

My family stayed in Rome for only four days, so my challenge was to put together a tour that covered my top sights. On Tuesday, we ate breakfast at Caffe Farnese and explored the market in Campo de’ Fiori. We rode the 116 bus through Centro Storico, up Via Veneto, and through the Borghese Garden to the end of the line near the top of the Spanish Steps. We walked down the Spanish Steps and headed for lunch at Recafé (insalata Caprese for me, of course). We then zigzagged (literally—right for a block then left for a block) to the Trevi Fountain, stopped at Giolitti (not my favorite) for gelato, ogled the Pantheon inside and out, visited the Obelisk of Santa Maria sopra Minerva—an obelisk standing on a fabulous elephant designed by Bernini (according to Fodor’s Rome, 8th edition, the Romans call it “Il Porcino,” the pig), peeked in the windows of the vestment stores, and overheated but happy, made our way home for naps. We topped the day off with dinner at Osteria la Gensola, where I got to have my own appetizer of scallops in squid ink! We wandered home through the Jewish Ghetto.


Wednesday was Cade’s ninth birthday, so we visited his number one sight request: the Colosseum. We planned to also see Palatine Hill, the Forum, and Capitoline Hill, but it was so hot that we ground to a halt after Palatine Hill, ate lunch, and went home for a nap. This was my first visit to the Colosseum since we’ve lived in Rome. I’d been there before and always intended to go again, but my hip prevented me from climbing the steep steps from October through April, so I held out until my family could join me. We all loved the Colosseum, of course, and with the audio tour, you can almost see the gladiators, the animals, and the 50,000 spectators that watched the gruesome struggles. The Colosseum was built in 72 AD, so it’s nearly 2,000 years old, and it always give me shivers!

For Cade’s birthday dinner Wednesday night, we had pizza at Dar Poeta. Of course we ordered one of Rome’s best desserts, the calzone filled with Nutella and ricotta cheese, and it arrived with one blue candle on the top! So cute! Not surprisingly, everyone LOVED the calzone, and Cade confessed at the end of the trip that it was one of his two favorite desserts in Italy.

On Thursday we went to the Vatican Museums, and then Cade and his dad made the first of their many climbs: the top of the dome of St. Peter’s. We then toured St. Peter’s, spending about an hour taking pictures and enjoying the grandeur. Friday was the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, and I was fascinated to find the bronze Peter decked out in a red robe for the occasion.

Vittorio Emanuel Monument

After breakfast Friday we avoided the heat until 5 p.m., when we climbed and then took the elevator to the top of the Vittorio Emanuel Monument, an enormous expanse of white marble that dominates Rome’s skyline. The locals call it the typewriter or the wedding cake. It’s not my favorite sight in Rome, but the views are fabulous! When I’m lost in Rome and spot the monument, I can always figure out where I am. We ended up in the Jewish Ghetto for dinner and had an early night so we could all pack for Saturday’s trip to Tuscany.

Did my family miss anything? Cade says he wishes he’d seen the Forum. I’m sure they missed other things as well, but they all threw a coin over their shoulder into the Trevi Fountain, which guarantees that they’ll be back!


P.S. to Chris Windheuser, See your pine cone below. Thanks for telling me about it!

Cade used fountains to cool off in Rome

Scallops in squid ink from Osteria la Gensola (sublime!)

Giant bronze pine cone from the 1st or 2nd century in the Court of the Pigna at the Vatican Museum

We were way up in the dome of St. Peter’s

St. Peter’s dome from the roof of St. Peter’s (we all climbed to the roof–Cade and Steve climbed to the top of the dome)

On the roof behind the statues that line the front of St. Peter’s

The Bronze St. Peter on normal days

St. Peter in his red robe

My first successful photo of a Swiss Guard at St. Peter’s!

The Pantheon from the Vittorio Emanuel Monument

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