Two days in Rome end Nancy, Catherine and Emily's trip to Southern Italy

After our stops in Pompeii and Herculaneum, we refueled at I Re di Napoli in Naples to experience the famous Neapolitan pizza Margherita.   A brief city tour familiarized us with the major sites, which include some impressive castles and fortresses right in the middle of the city.  While Naples doesn’t have the best reputation for tourists given its recent garbage disposal issues (and I am not talking about the kind in your kitchen sink!), we were pleasantly surprised by the city and wished we had allotted more time there to explore.  Alas, we hopped the train back to Rome for our final two nights.

Rome is one of my favorite large cities in the world.  The fact that you can be walking down a random nondescript street, round a corner and bump into ancient ruins is just beyond cool.  This time of the year it is covered in Christmas lights and decorations making it all that much more magical.  We didn’t have much time so we decided to try a hotel located right by the main train station, the Termini, so that we could walk on arrival and easily access the metro system to explore the city.  The Hotel Diocleziano is refreshingly modern in this ancient city.  It opened only three years ago and offers a fully equipped fitness center and wireless internet for no additional charge.  The room rates are reasonable and while the windows offer no view to speak of, the rooms are comfortable and perfectly suitable for a short stay in the center of the city.

We couldn’t leave Rome without stopping in to check on our other favorite hotels.  A visit to the Hotel De Russie  confirmed it is still the best hotel in Rome.  Its location just off the Piazza del Popolo and down the street (a street packed with some of the best shopping in Rome mind you!) from the Spanish Steps.  The breathtaking oasis of a courtyard just off the main lobby is super romantic.  For those of us who can’t afford the Russie but love that location, the Hotel Valadier is just around the corner.  They offer a range of room types and rates, although the 5th floor bamboo rooms are definitely what we would recommend based on their recent renovations and updated bathrooms.
As for what to see and do in Rome, this time we focused mostly on Christmas shopping. The Ferrari store on the Via Tomacelli is always a good bet for gifts for the men in our lives.  Every major (and minor) Italian designer has an outfit in the area surrounding the Spanish Steps.  Furla has gorgeous purses at relatively reasonable prices. 
We always love a stop at the Piazza di Spagna location of Babington’s Tea Room for a cup of tea and a break from shopping.  When it comes time for dessert, nothing beats a Tartufo from Tre Scalini on the Piazza Navona.  It doesn’t matter how cold it is outside we can always justify this chocolate pastry, ice cream filled whipped creamed topped dessert.  It is half price if you buy it at the counter and take it to go.  A seat at one of their popular tables on the Piazza will cost you regardless of the time of year. 

Our favorite meal in Rome was at the popular local family style restaurant Colline Emiliane(no website). For decades locals have been eating at this small, family-run restaurant located near the Trevi Fountain serving classic Italian comfort food.  It feels like you are dining in someone’s home.  It is small and intimate with friendly servers.  I definitely would suggest a reservation due to the small size of the dining room.  They serve only classic Emilian dishes, there are no sea food options on the menu so if you are not into meat and potatoes, this is not for you.  The Spaghetti Bolognese and homemade raviolis were excellent!

I could go on and on about Italy….  If you would like more information or need assistance planning your next big Italian adventure, please don’t hesitate to contact me at emily.verheyen@aladdintravel.com or 336-499-6705.

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