A Day Around the Colosseum

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Visiting the Colosseum can be a bit of an overwhelming process, especially for a first-timer! Needing to get tickets in advance, debating whether to join a tour, navigating the crowds, finding food after… there’s a lot to consider! Fortunately, I have visited this historical landmark once before, and I had a few tricks up my sleeve. When I knew that this was something my boyfriend and I wanted to explore, it was a no brainer to stay nearby at the Palazzo Manfredi — the hotel with the best view of the Colosseum in Rome, and so close that you’re literally neighbors with the old training quarters with gladiators. How cool is that?!

We started our morning with a tasty breakfast, and as you can see by the photos, an even more appealing view. No question this is exactly how you want to start your day in Rome!

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After we were fueled up and ready to go, it was time to get our tickets. Luckily, we visited Rome in January, meaning smaller crowds during the slow season. Normally, I would suggest getting your tickets as far in advance as possible, but we were able to book same day with the helpful concierge team a our hotel. They printed the tickets our for us and we were able to skip the line upon entry. If you have an upcoming stay, I would advise reaching out to your hotel to have them book the tickets for you, as they know which options are best.

Once inside, you’ll notice that the arena floor is still under a massive renovation, while the top levels have been opened up to the public for the first time. This may hinder your ability to take unobstructed photos of certain parts of the landmark, but watching the renovation is pretty interesting! However, if this bothers you, you may be waiting some time until you can see the Colosseum as it used to be. In fact, it looks like they’re going to rebuild the arena floor to bring it back to it’s original glory. Not sure how I feel about this development, but it is imminent.

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While you’re meandering around, you’ll see groups of people on tours, often called ‘gladiator tours,’ or something similar. I have a love-hate relationship with tours; I think they’re a good idea for some and a bad idea for others. I typically fall in the latter group, especially when there are swarms of tour guides around wherever you’re visiting. In that vein, be sure to steer clear of those soliciting right outside of the Colosseum. They are typically a rip-off, and you’re better off booking your tour in advance with the recommendation of your concierge. If you’re rocking that AirBnB life, and keen on getting guided around the arena, I would check out these TripAdvisor reviews for the best options.

One thing to keep in mind that stinks about visiting the Colosseum, especially in the high season, is that you can’t spend as much time as you’d like wandering the columns. Your ticket is assigned with an entry and exit time to ensure that the halls don’t get too crowded. To that end, a tour may be a good idea. Knowing that your time is limited will definitely be the decision-maker for those of you visiting in the near future.

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If you’re lucky enough to score a late morning/early afternoon session at the Colosseum, that means you can enjoy lunch at Aroma in the Palazzo Manfredi when you’re done. If you claim to be a lover of fine dining like myself, this multi-course lunch will be right up your alley. Scroll down to see just a few of my favorite courses, including an apple dessert that still comes to me in daydreams, and wasn’t really an apple at all. If you are lucky enough to score a reservation, be sure to get the wine pairings – their wine program is impressive, and some of the funkier selections really surprised the palette and made for an even more adventurous dining experience.

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Fourteen (yes, fourteen!) courses later, I found myself in culinary bliss. To walk off lunch, I encourage you to take a stroll through Monti, stopping at the shops on Via Urbana, like LOL, and find your way back to the Colosseum just in time for an epic sunset. Finish your night kicking your feet up in the tub at the Palazzo Manfredi, and you’ve had yourself a perfect day!

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Why It’s Worth It To Stay in the Heart of Rome

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For the first night in Rome, it was important for me to stay in Center City. Why? Well, this being my second time staying in Rome for more than a day, I knew that I wanted to be out the door and walking distance to some of my favorite landmarks around the city. One of the biggest faux pas I see first time Rome-goers make is staying too far outside of the city, and ending up spending more on taxis getting to where they want to go, than their actual hotel room. Because of this, I ended up choosing the DOM Hotel, which is a intimate, 18 guest room property on historic Via Giulia. This former Claretian monestary, now chic boutique hotel, honors its history, while integrating modern design and art, like three original Andy Warhol lithographs.

The rooms are pretty spacious considering where you’re staying in the city, and in such a historical building. A jack and jill bathroom includes a spacious shower, and the high ceilings open up the room tremendously. Additionally, the hotel boasts a rooftop, which I’m sure is quite busy come summertime, looking down at one of the many squares in the Campo de’ Fiori neighborhood.

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Our plan for the first morning in the city was to eat a big breakfast, go to the furthest point we wanted to see that day, and work our way back to the hotel in time to freshen up for dinner at our favorite Roman spot – Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina.

Ultimately, I wanted to start our morning with an Audrey Hepburn moment on the Spanish Steps. Who doesn’t?! We took an Uber from our hotel to the top of the steps, but you can definitely walk along the Tiber River to start your morning, burn off your breakfast, and wait for your espresso (or tea for me) to kick in! From the Spanish Steps, we went to Caffè Greco – an 18th century cafe where Keats & Byron drank coffee at the marble tables. I highly recommend grabbing a hot chocolate and the panna cotta.

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After enjoying a sweet treat and a historic reprieve, it’s time to head to the Trevi Fountain. Fun fact: €3,000 are thrown in the Trevi Fountain daily! The coins are collected by the city and donated to charity. Head all the way down to the bottom right-hand side of the fountain for the most unobstructed view for a photo. Afterward, we walked to the Pantheon – it only takes ten minutes or so. If you have a hankering for amazing antipasti, grab lunch at famous Armando al Pantheon. Be sure to make reservations in advance, as they fill up quickly for the day. If you don’t make a res in time, you can also head to Pietro al Pantheon where they have some pretty big portions, tasty pasta, and fun decor to play I-spy with while you wait for your next course.

Finally, we took an obligatory stroll through the Piazzo Navona before heading back to the DOM Hotel. Unfortunately, we got caught in the rain, so didn’t get any photos, but it is a beautiful Piazza, and one of the most popular in the city. Once back in the hotel, the concierge gave us a few stellar recommendations for dinner. As mentioned earlier in this post, Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina ended up being our favorite dinner in Rome, and we were so grateful to the hotel team for pointing us in the right direction.

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At the risk of completely gushing about this restaurant, I’m sharing just a few of the highlights: The service was top notch. The cocktail program & wine list was beyond impressive. And, the food…. well let’s just say, we went back a second time during our five days in Rome it was that good. I recommend starting with the traditional tuna and artichokes, then enjoying the best cacio e pepe I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting, and finishing with their tiramisu.

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Staying in the heart of City Center is definitely the move (at least for a portion of your trip), especially if you’re looking to see a lot of the hard-hitting sites. Because the DOM Hotel is so close to many of the iconic destinations in Rome, this is the perfect property to start and end your day. There are so many other cute shops, restaurants, and Instagrammable buildings to see, but I feel like this is a great first full day in the city, and recommend following a similar itinerary, particularly if it is your first time in The Eternal City.