I fell totally in love with Rome on my first trip

For some reason, I had never visited Rome before, until one day in September when my partner and I needed to get away. It might sound like a cliché, but I fell completely in love with Rome.


Gita Simonsen

When I first caught a glimpse of Italy out of the plane window, I had to pinch myself a little. It was so green, there were so many quaint houses, and expansive plains. It was simply idyllic. We were to spend four days in Rome. Here's my experience as a first-time tourist in Rome.

Transport from the airport

When you land at Fiumicino Airport, you quickly find that there are literally many roads that lead to Rome. The most affordable way is by train or by metro.  You can also take a fixed price taxi or take one of the minibuses that drive you along with others. I chose the latter and was driven straight to my hotel. 

In general, taking a taxi in Rome is quite easy. Although we mostly walked, it was convenient and quick to book a taxi when we were travelling longer distances.

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The Code Hotel - close to the Spanish steps

Our hotel, The Code Hotel, was located right by the Spanish Steps

Accommodation in the heart of Rome

Since this was our first trip to Rome, we wanted to stay centrally and close to all the sights. We booked a room at The Code Hotel, a relatively new 4-star hotel located right by the Spanish Steps. This turned out to be a very good choice. The hotel was great, the breakfast was good, and we went to absolutely everything from here.

The Spanish Steps, located a stone's throw away, are a hotspot for pictures, romantic moments, and a nice break from walking and shopping. Here, you are rarely alone, as the square is a well-known tourist destination. The street is located at the end of Via Condotti, which houses all the designer stores. They include Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Valentino and Burberry. If nothing else, it's a lovely place for some window shopping.

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Rome - a fantastic food destination

Romantically, I was supposed to meet my partner in Rome.

I was travelling from Norway, and he was coming from Austria. I arrived first and sat down in a lovely little café not far from the hotel. The café offered charming wooden chairs, local Italians chatting at the surrounding tables, and Vespas that drove past constantly. I sat there, enjoying an espresso and some bruschetta. Life felt good. This was the start of a fantastic culinary journey that was to last all weekend.

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Charming Rome

Anywhere you go in Rome, you can find charming cafes and restaurants.

Restaurants in Rome can seem overwhelming, there is so much to choose from, and you don't want to end up in a tourist trap by any means. My advice is to always do some research before you travel, so you don't end up at a place that disappoints you in terms of both price and taste. All the places we ate delivered top notch food and atmosphere, but there are some of the places that deserve some extra credit.

CiPasso - bistro bar 

At CiPasso Bisrot, we had the chance to experience a real Italian bistro bar. When we were there it was not possible to reserve a table, and with 8 tables available it was full when we arrived. The staff set up wooden stools and a small table by the street where we could wait. The wait was actually an experience in itself. We drank delicious wine, ate olives and looked at people tussling in the street. Suddenly there were free tables, where we were soon served really good antipasti. 

Since we were there, they have been mentioned in the Michelin Guide and acquired new premises, and you can now reserve a table. Fortunately, the relaxing vibe remains the same. In the Michelin Guide, they write that it is a modern bistro with a touch of vintage style in the décor. The menu is inspired by Roman traditions, with the occasional imaginative twist, and it serves other more Mediterranean-inspired dishes, all of which show a strong focus on seasonal ingredients. The excellent wine list includes a whole page dedicated to wines by the glass. Friendly and professional service completes the experience.

imageCourtesy / Cipasso restaurant

CiPasso Bistro

Cipasso is a modern bistro with a touch of vintage style in the décor.

Mordi Sandwichouse

In general, my impression is that bakeries and delis in Rome are good at food. The places we happened into for a quick snack delivered the goods, so it's hard to tread completely wrong.

One place we really liked was the Mordi Sandwichhouse. Here, you simply get a great sandwich, and good juice and coffee. Mordi Sandwichhouse also serves delicious panini and pizza. A very simple place, but perfect for those who are strolling around in the streets.


When we first stood outside this restaurant, I looked over at my partner and said "no, I don’t see anything I like here." We then spent about 20 minutes figuring out where to eat instead. We quickly grew hungry and decided to go in anyway. I was ashamed that we didn't go in immediately. I was served the best pasta I've ever tasted in my life. My partner recommended that I try his favourite: Aglio e olio. This is a very simple Italian dish with garlic, olive oil, parsley, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and served, of course, with homemade pasta. So simple, but really so good. This is a small restaurant with seven tables, and it is family run.  The mother is the chef, my father the sous-chef, and their son is the server. It was as nice as it sounds. Suitable for both lunch and dinner.

I was served the best pasta I've ever tasted in my life

imageRainhard Wiesinger / Unsplash

Romantic evening in Rome

A stroll along the Tiber river in the evening is one of the many romantic things to do in Rome. Here you can see Castel Sant'Angelo.

After we had dinner here, we headed back to the hotel. Once again, the cliché hits me — what an incredibly romantic city Rome is.

We walked across the bridges and looked at the carvings on the buildings. The streets were filled with cosy strung up lights and the sound of infectious laughter echoed over the cobblestones. We stopped by a random restaurant with a lovely patio and ordered a good bottle of red wine. We stayed there for a long time and had a long-awaited chat about absolutely nothing, which made time fly. We were interrupted by some raindrops and not long afterwards the sky opened up. Believe it or not, it made the night even better. It was still hot outside, so we laughed and went back to the hotel with a pleasant buzz from the wine.

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Antiques and vintage shopping

Rome has so many charming streets. The plants climb up the buildings, and there are beautiful sculptures and paintings along the walls on completely random streets. It was extra-cosy to walk around the streets where there were antique and vintage shops.

My partner is very keen on art and antique artefacts, so we found our way to Via dei Coronari, a street known for just that. There were lots of cute little shops packed with treasures, and the people who worked there really knew their stuff. Prices ranged from 10 euros to 20,000 euros, and those who worked there knew absolutely everything. There were statues in bronze, marble, glass, and a bunch of paintings stacked gently but tightly. We felt we were entering an adventure filled with old paintings, books, and clocks. It was like travelling back in time.

imageGabriella Clare Marino / Unsplash

Antiques shopping in Rome

Via dei Coronari is a street known for Antiques shopping.

On the side street of Via dei Coronari, you'll find Via del Governo Vecchio, the best street for vintage shopping. Here you will find vintage treasures from Celine, Gucci, Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Hermes, and more. I found a handsome red jacket from Burberry for 50 euros.

The tourist attractions we visited

We decided to stick to the famous places on our first trip to Rome, and I stand by that choice. We are both interested in history, especially spectacular stories. Rome has plenty to offer here.

The Colosseum

Can one visit Rome without seeing the Colosseum? Our answer, in any case, was no. The easiest thing is to buy a ticket in advance, so you don't have to queue and pay extra fees. As soon as we were near the Colosseum, we were stopped many times by ticket sellers. They sold packages of guided tours, and access to several of the museums at around 30 euros per person. We stayed away from guided tours as they are not really our thing, but we still bought ‘skip-the-line’ tickets from a man outside the Colosseum. It sounds a bit risky, but it wasn't that much more expensive, and we took our chances, so we skipped the long queue that lasted an hour and a half. The dodgy seller wasn't really that dodgy, but a local with a pretty heavy accent. He wanted to visit Norway, and we gave him tips on where to stop on the road if he made the trip.

The Colosseum was a powerful experience. I'm a big fan of reading up on the tourist attractions in advance, so you don't just wander around getting bored. It's strange to think about what actually happened there. The Roman Empire is incredibly fascinating.  So, this was where thousands of people were slaughtered, for the entertainment of the elite and the citizens. Exotic animals were brought in, jungle sculptures erected, and alcohol was consumed at the side lines. By the way, a sports arena as efficient as the Colosseum has never been created. An arena that seats over 70,000 spectators was emptied in just 15 minutes.

imageMatteo del Piano / Unsplash

Matteo del Piano / Unsplash

You can`t visit Rome for the first time and not see Colosseum.

Santa Maria Maggiore (The Basilica of St. Mary Major)

This church is quite centrally located in Rome and is definitely worth a visit. I was actually more impressed by it than St. Peter's Basilica. The art, statues and rooms were absolutely amazing. This is the largest church in Rome dedicated solely to the Virgin Mary.

St. Peter's Basilica

St. Peter's Basilica is the second-largest church in the world. That in itself is reason enough to see it, as everything is so incredibly huge. As soon as we stepped foot in Vatican City, it felt like we were entering a different era. Right into the Roman Empire. Everything is so big, detailed and beautiful.

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The Pantheon

We strolled to both the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain in the evenings. There was then a completely different and calmer atmosphere than during the day — very romantic indeed. My partner and I laid on the ground under the pillars of the Pantheon, admiring the building and its massive proportions. No one seemed to care that we were lying there, looking up.

The Trevi Fountain

It's quite charming to wish for things, and to almost believe that the coin I'm throwing in here can lead to something. We walked past the fountain several times over the weekend, but we stopped properly once. There were couples here making a wish while throwing coins in the fountain at the same time, a girl sitting and painting, and a bunch of people taking selfies.

It's a truly beautiful fountain, with unique decorations. The coins thrown into the fountain are donated to the Catholic aid organisation Caritas. They are used to fund free food for poor families, accommodation for migrants, soup kitchens, and other good causes. It’s therefore not just a waste of money, and you can wish for something nice with a good conscience.

Just pack your bags and go

The best thing about Rome, in my opinion, is that you can wander around for hours looking at the people and buildings, eating lots of tasty ice cream and food, and, not least, sampling lots of delicious wine.

Whether you're on a girls' trip, a lad's trip or a romantic weekend, I think the city has something for everyone whether it's your first time there or if you've been to Rome before. Next time I go, I'm going to stop by the Vatican Museums and go to vintage shops.