SECRET ESCAPE FROM ROME

My friends were in town for a visit and I had only two and a half days to show them around the city I was now a resident of. I was leaving for my own vacation to Spain just 3 days after their arrival so not the best timing on their part, but I welcomed the challenge. That week also marked the beginning of Rome’s dreaded summer temperatures, which had been climbing to new levels with each passing day.

It was their first time visiting Rome - and Italy in general- so the pressure was on for me to take them around to all of the best tourist (and not so tourist) sights. We had an action-packed day planned, hoping to visit all of the must-see sights in Rome. We started with the Colosseum and Roman Forum which was just a short walk from where they were staying in Monti. Despite being in such close proximity, we found ourselves completely drenched by the time we reached the Colosseum entrance. Luckily the tour we had booked included a visit to the underground portion, which provided us some much appreciated shade. But we knew it was only a temporary relief, since the next stop on the tour was the entirely out-in-the open Roman Forum.

My friends loved every minute of the tour, minus the temperatures which were becoming unbearable at this point in the day. It was around 1pm so we splurged on a nice (read: air-conditioned) lunch nearby so we could escape the heat and figure out our new game plan.

We still had to visit the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Campo de’Fiori and the Trevi Fountain, but there was no way I was going to subject them (nor myself) to a full day of touring around outside.

I had to improvise.

I would take them around the rest of the monuments after dinner. This was in my opinion, one of the best things to do in Rome.  Witnessing the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona after sunset is an essential part to any itinerary. You avoid the sun (and crowds) and are actually able to enjoy the sights fairly intimately. And seeing these structures lit up at night with the seagulls flying overhead is something magical.

I was pleased with myself for a total of two minutes before I realized I still hadn’t figured out what we were going to do that next day. So after lunch, I found somewhere for us to continue my research while  my friends enjoyed their first-ever Aperol Spritz. I was already doing a good job if I was able to introduce this refreshingly wonderful beverage into their lives.

I wanted to plan something good for them. I thought long and hard and finally, I was inspired. I always thought more clearly after consuming my first spritz of the day. We would go to Tivoli!

Located outside of the city center, temperatures could be 5-10 degrees cooler. But aside from that fact, a day in Tivoli would be a beautiful and unique experience for my visiting friends.

I knew I had made the right decision when I stepped outside of my apartment that second day. It was already in the 80’s – and not even 9am! Usually you can take the train from Termini Station but given the hot and humid weather, I sought professional help. I booked a day trip to Tivoli with Eden Walks, which includes a guided tour AND car transportation to and fro. An air-conditioned ride was the only way to go in this heat. And definitely worth the money.

The Roman Countryside is something you must experience first-hand. Tivoli, Hadrian’s Villa, and Villa d’Este is an undiscovered area full of little ancient ruins and a deep history. And the grounds are serene and exquisite. It’s a shame more people don’t know more about it. But perhaps that’s what makes it so special.

After a few hours of exploring the ancient architecture, sculptures, pools and gardens, it was time for lunch. A friend of mine had recommended this restaurant I had wanted to try out. Using only the freshest, local ingredients, the menu changes by the minute. But everything served out of their tiny kitchen is as delicious as it is healthy. Angolino di Mirko Ristorante, is run by two Italian sisters – so a truly authentic dining experience that I knew my friends would appreciate.

By dinner time we were back in Rome, still full from lunch. But we of course had room in our stomachs for a few outdoor drinks in Monti square – another authentically, local Roman experience for my friends.

As we enjoyed our cool beverages and some people watching, we reflected on the wonderful day we spent together. Not only did we manage to escape the city heat, we also explored the off-the-beaten path of the Roman country side. And we ate a feast fit for Hadrian himself.

It had been the perfect day – trip without the hassle. Mission accomplished!