First Impressions of Rome: Vini Vidi Amavi

First Impressions of Rome: Veni Vidi Amavi


It’s hard not to be impressed with Rome. Italy’s capital is a crazy, chaotic, sprawling city with nearly 3,000 years of architecture and art on display.

History is all around you. When you stand amidst the ancient ruins of one of the world’s most important archeological sites, The Roman Forum, in the exact spot that Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March in 44 B.C., you can’t help but feel the power of the former Roman Empire.

If it’s your first time visiting the Eternal City, by all means, go see the Forum, the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps. You’ll be awestruck. And if you only have one day, you’re going to need to prioritize. Rome in two days is better, but you’ll still have to hustle.

(If you’re still in the planning stages for your first trip to Italy, check out this 10-day itinerary for inspiration.)

First Impressions of Rome: Veni Vidi Amavi

But being impressed isn’t the same as being in love.

The love part comes after you get the sightseeing out of the way. At least for me, it did. Once I stopped standing in lines and dodging the street peddlers who were hell-bent on selling me a selfie stick, the romance kicked in. Sitting on a park bench in Villa Borghese watching a puppet show while enjoying a picnic lunch, or sipping a beautifully garnished bellini on a rooftop terrace admiring the sun setting over the city. These are the moments that stay with you long after the journey has ended.

First Impressions of Rome: Veni Vidi Amavi

And then, of course, there’s the food!

Pizza al Taglio that is cut with scissors and sold by weight. Banana chocolate Tiramisu. Flaky araogosta pastries with a cup of cappuccino with foam so thick you’ll eat it with a spoon. Pasta dishes, like carbonara and cacio e pepe, that will blow your mind. How can a dish with so few ingredients be so complex?

First Impressions of Rome: Veni Vidi Amavi

Of course, there is also plenty of horrible food sold in tourist traps all over the city. But don’t worry. I’ve got your back with my self-guided food tour that will help you find the good stuff!

Top Tips for Your Trip to Rome

Where to Stay

When in Rome, I stay at The Inn at the Spanish Steps. The location is perfect – right above the luxury shops on Via Dei Condotti and literally steps from the famous Spanish Steps. It is exactly where I want to be!

While not a 5-star, the service is remarkably good at this luxury boutique hotel. And it has the character and quirks (like a vintage lift) I’ve come to expect from properties associated with Small Luxury Hotels of the World. It also has a lovely rooftop terrace perfect for enjoying an aperitivo after a long day of sightseeing.

Bonus:  the oldest cafe in Rome, the Antico Caffe Greco is right next door! A latte will set you back about 9 euro but consider it the price of admission to a Roman institution.

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Essential Rome Experiences

My only regret when touring Rome was not upgrading to a private viewing of the Sistine Chapel. Instead, I stood shoulder to shoulder with 2,000 strangers, unable to see my toes, barely able to breathe, and just a heartbeat away from a full-blown panic attack. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough!

If you only splurge on one thing in Rome, let it be a VIP Small Group Tour of the Vatican and Sistine Chapel with Viator. After the doors close to the public, you’ll have 30 minutes inside this incredible (and empty!) chapel. You’ll also get to skip all the lines and see secret spots like the Room of Gold plus classic sites like Raphael’s Rooms, before ending with a Sistine Chapel after-hours visit — 30 minutes just for your group of 15 people. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Day Trips from Rome

When you need a break from the crowds and chaos of Rome, escape with one of many Rome day trips. Popular day tours from Rome include exploring the ruins of Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, making a trip to Tivoli to see Hadrian’s Villa, and taking a gleaming high-speed boat to the island of Capri where you can sip limoncello and visit the world-famous Blue Grotto.

If you’d rather explore on your own, you can hop a train to the nearby medieval town of Zagarolo and explore the ancient city of Palestrina.


More posts about Rome


  • I am a mom of 2 who travels a lot for work (I work in the event/conference/tradeshow industry). I grew up  and currently live in Northern California.

2 thoughts on “First Impressions of Rome: Vini Vidi Amavi

  1. Murissa says:

    I visited Rome back in 2010 and it was my first European city ever. My first time leaving North America ever.
    I found it too chaotic for my taste but we only had 4 days and frankly we tried to see everything you’re supposed to see during your first time to Rome. Basically, we did everything we weren’t supposed to do because we were new at this traveling thing. We waited in long lines, we ate at touristy places, we didn’t know how to manoeuvre such a sprawling city. But then we arrived in Florence where we learned how to enjoy everything and settled into the Italian dolce far niente.

    Now, 8 years later, I would love to go back with everything I have learned over my years of traveling. I think I would be able to fall in love or at least enjoy the city much more that I did the first time.

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