[After a short drive from Giverny to the Vernon train station (thanks to the baker, previous article), I went to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport and flew to Rome to meet my brother, Dan.]
One of the reasons I returned to Rome was that the Albergo Cesari Hotel, where I stayed with my cousin two years ago, is the perfect base to explore and enjoy this world-class city. In an ideal location between the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, it’s within a short walking distance of many major sights and hidden gems. Albergo Cesari is a family-owned 3-star hotel, meaning it’s comfortable, but not as expensive as more luxurious hotels. Breakfast is served on a lovely rooftop terrace with views of St. Ignatius church.
To get into the groove of a city and to look refreshed after a long flight, I go to a hairdresser the first day for a blow dry. With a hotel recommendation in hand, I set off. After a few missed turns (the streets are windy in that ancient neighborhood), I reached Holly’s (behind the Pantheon next to the elegant Grand Minerva Hotel, which boasts a renowned rooftop restaurant/bar). My hairdresser didn’t speak much English, but there was no problem communicating. Everything was first class (nice shampoo, beautiful setting, offered me an espresso), and the cost was a reasonable 20 euros. [Note: The salon name Holly’s is based on Audrey Hepburn’s character Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s; American cinema is popular in Italy.]
Now, I was ready to take on the town. My brother hadn’t been to Rome before, so we decided to try one of the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tours to get an overview. We walked a few blocks down Via del Corso to Piazza Venezzia (a location where the buses pick up passengers) and had a heck of a time finding the bus stop (it’s behind and to the right as you’re facing the large Monument of Victor Emanuel II (Il Vittoriano). As luck would have it, we happened upon a moving ceremony; dignitaries were laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. [I found out later that Russian President Vladimir Putin laid a wreath there the week before; glad we didn’t run into that security traffic jam.]
I like bus tours to get your bearings, but in Rome the buses don’t drive past many major sights (like the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and Piazza Navona), because they’re in pedestrian areas. You need to get off the bus at least a few blocks away and hope you don’t get lost as you walk to them.
The Trevi Fountain is one of the most iconic sights in Rome. Completed in 1743, the travertine stone looks brand new, thanks to an expensive restoration in 2015. We went there after the bus tour and threw coins in to “guarantee our return to Rome.” Made famous by classic movies like Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, meaning the sweet life, and Roman Holiday (with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck), Fontana di Trevi is always teeming with tourists. More than €3,000 is thrown into the fountain every day; the coins are collected each night and given to an Italian charity. For friends who haven’t been to Rome yet, I brought back ceramic plates depicting the Trevi Fountain, so they could put coins on those in the hopes of ensuring their trip to The Eternal City.
Albergo Cesari Hotel (get the best rate by calling the hotel directly to book a room):
Holly’s Hair Salon: 18 Via dell’Arco della Ciambella, 39 06 6880 4655
Page on this site shows a map of bus routes,
Another bus company that has a few more stops,
Trevi Fountain (here are two sites with useful information):
[Note: These are solely my opinions and experiences. I did not receive any compensation for my comments.]
CAROLINE O’CONNELL is the author of five guidebooks on Paris and southern California, and she has written numerous travel articles covering Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy, among others (website, www.CarolinesTravelTips.com).