Deciding to spend New Years in the Italian capital, Rome, was one of the best things that happened to us in 2017.
After spending months in back home in Australia organising Tim’s visa to re-enter the UK, as soon as we returned, I checked out the different flight deals and booked holidays with the cheapest flights I could find. One being Lisbon in November, and the other, Rome for late December.
At the time I didn’t really know what Rome as a city did for New Years, but I just didn’t care. I had been dying to go back to Italy ever since I spent two months there travelling around and studying fashion, events and PR over four years ago. Tim had never been to Italy before, but he had spent our three and a bit years relationship with me chat, chat, chatting about my love affair with the stunning country, so he’s been keen to find out what I’ve been on about for so long. So, I booked the flights to Rome on a whim, but I knew we’d have a magical time.
We flew from Manchester Airport to Ciampino Airport in the early morning of the 30th December and arrived just in time for breakfast at 10.30am. We chose to stay close to the Vatican in the boutique hotel, Relais Vatican View, which was surprisingly affordable even though it was peak season (about £400 for four nights).
Rome is a super easy city to navigate, and from the Vatican, nearly every main tourist site is less than an hours walk away, so it’s a fantastic place to be based.
Whenever we go away anywhere we always prefer to walk. Over the four days we were in Rome, we walked, walked and walked. We didn’t take public transport once, only when we were heading to and from the airport.
Not only did we end up walking off all the glorious food we ate, we felt amazing, and probably became quite fit too. Over the few days we were there we walked nearly 100,000 steps….hello tight buns!
In Italy, where it’s food and wine heaven, you’d be crazy to say no to all the yumminess, so walking everywhere also made us feel less guilty about everything we ate, and yes we ate a lot. Literally, there was a day we drank a litre of wine, two gelatos, a pasta dish each, pastries, veggie lasagne, aubergine parmigiana, caprese salad, baked artichokes, and more…but give me a break, it was so worth it, and we did walk over 21,000 steps that day.
Of course, you can’t go to Rome and not visit the beautiful sites. From the Colosseum, Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and of course, the Vatican. Despite the touristy crowds, these sites are really worth seeing.
However, there was one place where the tourists beat us, and that was the Vatican. Although we walked around St Peter’s Basilica, the lines to get into (even at 8.30am) went around the whole Basilica, they were huge! This also went for the Vatican Museum where we were told there would be about a two hour wait. We therefore decided we would leave the visiting to another time. I think the crowds were so massive as we visited Rome during a peak time and the Vatican was closed on the 1st January, so there would have been a rush to over the other days.
Although each of our days in Rome were incredible, New Years Eve was so much fun. After a little bit of walking around the streets of Rome during the day, we stopped for lunch at I Vascelleri, a local favourite in an area in Trastevere, about a 20-40 minute walk from the Vatican.
I enjoyed a delightful plate of Cacio e Pepe, which is a traditional dish in southern Italy and consists of pasta, percino cheese and pepper, and it’s delicious comfort food heaven. Tim opted for the Carbonara, which was his meal of choice on the trip (he now says ‘you don’t know carbonara until you’ve actually tasted the Italian kind’), and we shared a yummy bowl of panzanella, which is probably best described as bruschetta in a bowl, it’s incredible! We of course, sipped on a bottle of Chianti, and left the restaurant full, happy and ready to explore some more.
We walked to the Colosseum and watched the sunset, which was such a magical moment.
Then we were on a mission to find a gelato store. Although unfortunately the gelato store was closed, BUT we found a cute little wine bar instead who were in the middle of their aperitivo hour. We sat inside the cosy little spot and enjoyed a few glasses of chianti and a divine cheese platter and discussed what we were going to do for the rest of the evening.
We decided to just go with the flow, which was the best thing we could have done. After our little aperitivo time, we walked towards a street which had a couple more wine bars, of which were heaving. Deciding not to wait around for a place, we walked up to the XX piazza, which was full of local Italians, sipping wine on the streets and eating and relaxing at the restaurants. It was a gem of a find so we decided to take a look around.
We stumbled across a modern looking pizza shop, of which I was a little hesitant to go inside, thinking it was perhaps a tourist trap. However, as soon as we spotted the many Italians there, we knew we had come to the right spot. The pizza was not a traditional type of pizza though, it was like a strange pastry type of pizza, hard to explain, but it was delicious nonetheless and I recommend you stop off there for a quick bite.
After our little pizza break, we walked back to the piazza where we found a cool wine bar with a few groups of Italians standing out the front drinking wine, so we decided to go inside. It was a tiny little place, which almost looked like a small corner newsagents, with magazines and newspapers stored on one side of the wall. The bar man was hilarious and taught me how to say Aperol correctly. My Aussie twang made me say it completely wrong in his books apparently! The pronunciation schooling was worth it however, as the spritz which was the MOST delicious spritz I’ve ever tasted.
With our drinks we stood outside and embraced the relaxed, fun and excitable vibe. It was really one of the best moments of the night and we felt like we were just like local.
After a few more drinks and ordering an Aperol spritz to go…most ingenious thing to do, we decided to walk back to out hotel and enjoy the fireworks from the hotel’s rooftop. We had been tossing up about whether we stay at the Colosseum to watch the fireworks from there, but as the hotel was about a 40 minute walk away, we decided we’d be better off going back earlier and watching them from there. This ended up being the best decision as we were away from the crowds and were able to watch the fireworks on a private rooftop. It was pure magic.
If you’re planning to head to Rome for New Years, or any big city for that matter, I’d totally recommend going with the flow and letting your night naturally fall into place. Sometimes if you have too many high expectations, your night may not live up and you end up disappointed. We had the best new years we’ve ever had, and it was an incredible way to bring in 2018.
Party outfits perfect for Rome: