Flight Centre's Michelle Smith was back in the studio with Mark and Stef on Dubai Eye's The Ticket to talk about this week's hottest deal to Rome. Fresh off the plane from Italy, she spoke sightseeing, hotels and of course, where to find the best gelato in the city! Missed the show? You can listen here or listen live every Monday at 2:30pm.
Italy holds a special place in my heart; it was one of the first countries in Europe I ticked off my list, spending three weeks discovering the countryside with nothing but my backpack & an endless stomach waiting to be filled with gnocchi, pizza and of course, gelato. Returning to Rome five years after I first visited bought with it a twang of nostalgia, but mostly reminded me of what an amazing city Rome is, and one everyone should visit at least once!
Returning to a city for the second time gives you the freedom of not "having" to tick off all of the sights in one visit - you can linger over lunch with a second espresso without rushing to the next thing. It is almost liberating not to visit the sights, in fact!
If you are visiting for the first time, these are the three sights you cannot miss:
One of the most iconic ruins in the city, The Colosseum is an absolute must-do for anyone visiting Rome. Admission will set you back €15 but is well worth the fee and will give you entry to Palatine Hill (home to Caesar's Palace) and the Roman Forum.
Home to the Pope, Vatican City has housed all of his predecessors since 1377! It is no doubt a major draw card for most tourists in the city so my tip is to get in early! Most guidebooks will tell you to buy your ticket to The Vatican Museum which includes the Sistine Chapel - from there you can enter St Peter's Basilica (which does not have an entry fee) without going through another line. My recommendation is to visit St Peter's Basilica when it opens at 8am so you can enjoy it without the headache of big crowds, and then move onto The Vatican Museum. The Vatican Museum will always have a queue no matter what time you get there, whereas, because the majority of tourists will wait to see St Peter's Basilica until after their visit to The Vatican Museum, it is generally quieter and more enjoyable first thing!
One of my favourite monuments in Rome, the Pantheon is an architectural masterpiece and an awe inspiring beauty. The marble floors, imposing Corinthian columns and stunning Roman bronze doors are nothing compared to the concrete dome which is 43.3m high and the same wide. Entry is free to Pantheon, but as it is still a working church be sure to dress respectfully to assure your entry.
Travelling to Rome? Check out the cities top attractions?
You'll have no problem staying refuelled for your long days of sightseeing with some of the best food in the world in Rome! Don't worry, I've done the leg work (and by leg work, I mean copious amount of pizza and pasta consumption) to find the best eats in the city!
Pizza: La Monte Carlo
This no nonsense pizzeria is as authentic as it gets - the rushed and abrupt character of the staff shows you that they mean business, and their business is making really, really good pizza. Don't come to La Monte Carlo for fan fare or fancy trimmings, and if you're thinking of asking for a gluten free base, you've definitely come to the wrong place. Tucked in a charming side street, the waiters will happily bring out more seating to accommodate the seemingly endless influx of diners - an eclectic mix of locals and tourists. They serve pasta, but judging by the tables of Italians, you know pizza is the specialty here. Come for lunch or dinner and you won't be disappointed!
Address: Vicolo Savelli, 13, 00130 Roma, Italy
You know the gelato is good when you only have 48 hours in a city but you manage two trips in that time! Giolitti is an institution in Rome, founded in 1890 by Giuseppe & Bernardina Giolitti, it remains a family owned restaurant to this day. Buy your ticket at the cashier then head over to the counter where a seemingly endless display of flavours meets your tastebuds. My favourite is pistachio and nutella!
Address: Via degli Uffici del Vicario, 40, 00186, Roma, Italy
via @mich_ellesmith on Instagram
Atmosphere: Ai Tre Scalini
You can't miss Ai Tre Scalini on Via Panisperna as the charming Bottiglieria is covered in stunning vines but it is indoors where the unpretentious and endearing atmosphere that hooks you to lingering here for hours. Quintessentially Italian, Ai Tre Scalini is both a regular for locals and tourists alike. The menu is simple and typically Italian, ask your waiter for taralli and olives to munch on while enjoying apperitivo time. Take your nibbles outside like the Italians do and take a perch on the side walk or walk to the fountain and enjoy the sunlight into the early evening. If you're staying for supper, don't expect an over the top menu, the restaurant takes an air of simplicity which concentrates on fresh, locally sourced ingredients that are simple to prepare. We enjoyed a starter of ricotta cheese with truffle honey and lasagne for a main.
Address: Via Panisperna, 251, 00184, Roma, Italy
Visit Ai Tre Scalini for the atmosphere, stay for the locally sourced, farm to table style dining via @mich_ellesmith on Instagram