Photo by the lovely, Katie Dawes, The Hostel Girl.

Heading to Rome? — {I Have You Covered}

It’s not a secret how much I love Rome. She’s the sister of my dreams and the travel partner of a lifetime. As with any visit, to maximize the goodness of your time in the Eternal City, being in the know is everything.

I’ve been to Rome countless times, but this past time I participated in the #WinterInRome event with some other bloggers. We had some private (fabulous) tours and ate every morsel of goodness Rome has to offer. In any major city, there are any number of tour operators you can choose to show you around. But picking the best of the best, is the key. Follow along below and I’ll show you some must do’s.

Get ready for a whirlwind. We were constantly on the move, packing so much goodness into just a few days. For even more information use #WinterinRome on Instagram and Facebook to see all the posts.

Photo by the lovely, Katie Dawes, The Hostel Girl.

I’ve stayed in many apartments in several neighborhoods in Rome. I’m always interested in new places and experiencing locations (new) to me. This time, I hopped off the Metro at Rome’s Termini Station and walked a couple of blocks to the Beehive Ho(s)tel, a luxury hostel. Owned and operated by Americans Linda and Steve Brenner, the Beehive has a friendly, family atmosphere.

Rooms are simple and clean with fluffy pillows and a cozy bed I gratefully sank into each night. Bonus for me was a reading light and electrical plugins close enough I could easily charge my phone while scrolling in bed. Score!

Sweet little entrance at The Beehive, ready to welcome you.

No need to wander far for breakfast. There’s a tasty vegetarian cafe on site with a full menu and handmade muffins, cookies, and banana bread. Mmmmm. They also have a private garden space for lounging and during pleasant weather for their monthly Storytelling Events, which I try to attend whenever I can. Saturday night during #WinterInRome we all gathered for a solid two hours of hilarious and touching stories.

For my readers, if you are visiting Rome during the months of November through February book with the promo code WoodmanWinterinRome and receive a  5% discount (excluding 31 December and 1 January) on top of the already inexpensive rates in winter at The Beehive.  There’s no expiration date.

We started off with a bang and headed over to the Flaminio neighborhood for a cozy apperitivo + dinner with the ladies from Travel Eat Discover (TED) Rome and BonAppetour. Our hosts, Maria Laura + Amanda + Analisea whipped up a feast and were the perfect hostesses! The excellent wine flowed while we noshed on delectable, handmade tastes for the all the senses.

The Romans know how to lay an inviting table.

Rather than sightseeing your way through a city with little interaction with city natives, BonAppetour is based in local experiences.

Schedule a dinner or a cooking class! Pull up a seat, clink your wine glasses together, and have an outstanding few hours with some lovely locals. It may well be your favorite dining experience of your whole trip!

An aperitif, also known as snack time!

Trastevere which literally means beyond the Tiber, is chockfull of narrow alleys, cobble stone streets and sweet little piazzas. It’s THE quintessential Roman neighborhood. It’s also a serious foodie haven, if you know where to go. Enter the folks from Eating Italy, and their delightful guide, Mimmo.

Mimmo led us throughout Trastevere to nine different spots for a tasty treat at each one. Clearly the people at Eating Italy know where to go AND they know everyone. As we stopped at each location it wasn’t just randomly chose, but lovingly curated from the best of the best.

Mimmo explaining the finer points of Salami.

Lunch time with some deletable cacio e pepe.

Signor Roberto + Family have run Antica Caciara, a Roman institution since 1900.

Suppli, a fried rice ball, one of the greatest street food items, ever.

More than likely family owned + operated, these shops had been in business for generations. At one location Mimmo joked that “Senora Vera” had only been open since the 1970’s and referred to her as a short timer. Vera’s choux pastry buns filled with zabaglione cream were no joking matter, believe me.

This tour is highly recommended. Although I didn’t have an opportunity to try it out, I hear that our guide also has a tram tour that takes your group throughout Rome with wine, food and live music! Dancing in front of the Coliseum to live music gives a whole new meaning to party bus!

We all have an image of Rome in our heads before we visit. In some cases, it’s strolling through wonderfully old ruins with a glass of wine in our hands as we contemplate life. For others, it may be visiting the Roman Forum, and thinking about all the important bits of business conducted by the great Julius Cesar.

My vision — like many others I suspect, was scootering around on a Vespa with a huge smile on my face as I zip past the Colosseum. The wind in my hair, not a care in the world with a cloudless blue sky as the backdrop.

I have gotten my wish. This is what it’s like when you take a tour with Scooteroma. If you’re worried about driving in Rome, don’t be. You’ll be sitting on the back as your personal Vespa driver expertly maneuvers Roman traffic, shows you the sites, AND even helps you with your helmet — all the while telling you how great you’re doing.

Not only did we scooter around in style, but we also checked out some Roman neighborhoods’s off the beaten path + learned a fair amount about the rich street art scene. If it’s art you’re after there’s no need to head into a museum, not with the riches of Rome ready to delight you.

Alessandra explaining the fascinating meaning behind the swirling, intricate layers beneath our feet.

If you’re unsure what a Cosmatesque mosaic is (I know I was), you simply need to look down.

In the 13th century, the Cosmati family comprised of well known artists and architects, created marble masterpieces by mixing two mosaic techniques. The stunning results can be found at your feet as you’re walking through Roman cathedrals and churches.

The intricate patterns on the floor are closely linked to the symbolism carried on to the cathedral ceiling — the two interwoven to tell a story. Not entirely found in Rome, you can also see the work of the Cosmati family as far north as Westminster Abbey in London.

Ascend these stairs to the Sanctum Sanctorum and then drink in the history my friends.

The Sancta Sanctorum was one of the highlights of the tour. Also known as the Holy of the Holies, it was once the Pope’s private chapel. The 13th century bronze doors are still in place complete with some serious locks.

To get up to the chapel you can ascend using The Scala Santa (Holy Stairs), or this alternative set pictured here. The Scala Santa were believed to be transported from Jerusalem and thought to be the stairs Jesus climbed during the trial when he was sentenced to death. Today, the Holy Stairs are encased in protective wood and you must climb on your knees if you wish to ascend.

Or you can take this set and walk up.

Do I have a picture of the Holy Stairs? No I don’t, but you can see one here. I was so enthralled with this tour I didn’t take many pictures. Am I bad ambassador? Maybe. But the lack of photographic evidence speaks for itself. Highly recommended. Contact Personalized Italy for this tour and their other unique offerings in Rome and throughout Italy.

A reassembled fresco dating back more than 2,000 years found originally found in a summer dining room.

The Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, part of the Roman National Museum is steps away from Termini Station and home to an impressive frescoe collection. Originally found in the Villa of Livia, belonging to the wife of Augusta, one of the largest original pieces depicts an ornate garden scene and once adorned a summer dining room. You know how it is, we all need a winter and summer dining room.

The dimensions of the room are an exact replica of the original — it’s an incredibly powerful experience to sit and absorb the scene. Couple this with Patrizia of Context Travel describing daily life in the 1st century, and you truly feel transported.

The Boxer at Rest cast in bronze at the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme museum.

The Boxer at Rest. Cast in bronze, with cuts on his face and a weary expression, his exhaustion is palpable. Cauliflower ear from his latest bought drew my sympathy and I felt a small taste of his pain.

I’m not a huge museum person, but I so enjoyed my time at the Palazzo Massimo with Patrizia guiding us along the way. She wove a tapestry of humanity together divulging the stories behind the sculptures, mosaics and frescoes. On a tight schedule, I truly wasn’t ready to leave the museum, which may have been a first for me.