Rome & a Trip to Tivoli

Rome & a Trip to Tivoli
Rome was our last stop in Italy. To be honest neither of us had very high expectations for Rome. We’d both been before. It’s hot. It’s crowded and you’re always on high alert for pickpockets, bad restaurants, and tourist traps. But we came to meet friends and we’re happy to report that we had great food, kept all our belongings, and bought no souvenirs!  


  • Detour – The Vatican Tour (★)

    Detour is an app that provides self-guided audio tours in various cities across the world. We’ve used Detour in San Francisco, so we thought we’d give it a try in Rome. We actually did 3 Detours – The Vatican, Piazza Venezia, and Campo de’ Fiori. The interface of the app is really smooth, makes it easy to join with friends, and what’s special about the tours are that they take you to places you’d normally never visit. For example the Vatican Detour showed us the Pope’s private train station and even how to get into the Vatican City! We won’t spoil how it’s done, but that was one tour we highly recommend to anyone.  As of this publication, all Detours are free, so get it while you can!
  • St. Peter’s Basilica (★)

    Our Airbnb was right next to the Vatican so it would’ve been a shame not to pay this place a visit. The basilica is free to see and if you get there early, you can avoid most of the crowd.
  • Trevi Fountain (★)

    It has been beautifully renovated recently and looks sparkling clean and beautiful.  It is packed like no other, so mind your bags.  However, people move around fairly quickly so it’s easy to get a spot in the front for a selfie.  Legend has it  that tossing a coin over your shoulder guarantees your return to Rome.  It worked for L since this is her second visit!  The great thing is that all wishing coins go towards combating poverty.. apparently over €1 million coins are thrown in ever year!


  • Cantina e Cucina (★)

    We came here for birthday boy’s dinner since he insisted on cacio e pepe.  This place might have the most positive TripAdvisor reviews ever and it became evident why shortly after we arrived. All the waitresses spoke fluent English, joked with you while you were in line, and gave you a free glass of wine while you waited. We didn’t have to wait too long (try to get here as close to their opening hour), even though our tourist trap senses started to tingle. We had the carciofi (fried artichoke), lasagna, cacio e pepe, and pasta carbonara for dessert 🙂 The pasta was good enough that we had three dishes! You might even get a free shot of lemoncello on your way out.
  • EGG Pasta Fresca (★)

    Our first meal in Rome didn’t disappoint. This restaurant was next door to our Airbnb and is a quick take-out pasta place. We had carbonara, cacio e pepe, pomodoro e basilico, and amatriciana.
  • Salumeria Roscioli (★)

    Reservations for this restaurant are highly recommended as they are always packed. Roscioli used to be a deli but is now more of a upscale, full-fledged restaurant serving Roman specialities. We’d recommend the prosciutto sampler platter (you get to try 3 different types of prosciutto) and you can’t go wrong with any of their pastas.
  • Pinsa ‘mpo (★)

    A pinsa is made from a very specific dough mix that’s said to be easier to digest than traditional doughs. Definitely worth trying when in Rome. This place served up pinsas with various combinations of toppings.

Tivoli Day Trip

Tivoli makes a great day trip from Rome. It’s a quick 1 hour train ride from Rome and home to villas for the rich and famous.  We recommend both Villa d’Este and Hadrian’s Villa, but if you’re short on time we’d pick Villa d’Este since it’s easier to get to and has more to see.  This is one of those day trips where we would probably recommend a guided tour over doing it yourself since Hadrian’s Villa can be a bit tricky to get to with public transportation.  

Villa d’Este (★★★)

Beautiful place to stroll through for a few hours. However, we hated the audioguide (poor sound quality and the plaques will have generally the same information). Work your way quickly through the building itself, and then get to thegardens, which are truly magnificent! One of the key attractions is the Organ Fountain. It’s completely powered by hydraulics. The fountain show plays on a set time table every few hours or so, but for less than 5 minutes. So get there on time!  It is located at the top of the major fountain you see pictured here.  

Hadrian’s Villa (★)

Hadrian’s Villa was built for the Roman emperor Hadrian and its huge!  If you’re in Rome for all the ancient artifacts and architecture, you’ll go bananas here.  There are so many ancient ruins and the nice part is that there aren’t that many people.  It’s a very large park so give yourself at least a couple of hours to explore it.  We almost had a heart attack thinking we would miss our train back to Rome since the public bus took its sweet time, so give yourself plenty of time to get back to the train station!