We landed in Fiumicino airport at 6 pm, after a 2 hour flight from Gatwick, and got our luggage fairly quickly. After going through customs, we followed the signs towards the train to get to the Leonardo da Vinci Express. This train is express from the airport to Termini station, which is the central station in Rome. The train lasts about 30 minutes and departs every 30 minutes and costs €14 per person. There are automated ticket machines at the platform (you can choose from several different languages) where tickets can be purchased. Using this type of train (run by Trenitalia), the ticket must be validated before you get on the train or you will be fined up to €200. The areas where you can validate (convalidare) are yellow boxes that are on the train platform. The ticket is inserted into the machine and a faint stamp and a partial hole punch are the validation stamps so one cannot reuse a ticket or try to ride for free. The train filled up rather quickly, but we had gotten on early and had secured seats that could accommodate our luggage.
At 7:45 pm, we pulled into Termini and caught the Metro (Line A) from Termini to Spagna. Before getting on the Metro, we had to purchase tickets, which are available at every station from an automated ticket machine (cost: €1.50 per person). Tip: Before leaving the US, we printed out a Rome Metro map and put it in our travel binder. Last trip, I downloaded a free Rome Metro app that works without using data but the system in Rome is relatively simplistic (only two lines, A and B), particularly compared to London, Paris, and NYC, so I felt that it was sufficient to just check the map on the wall at the Metro station. We had also planned out routes ahead of time and considered the Metro stops we would be using. I realize this is a little “Type A,” but it helps us to figure out timing as well as the best way to not get lost!
After arriving at the Spagna station (also home base during our last trip), we took the exit towards the Piazza de Spagna. We chose Hotel Mozart based on location and reviews, but mostly because we were able to book a stay in one of the hotel-owned apartments. I have always wanted to live in Rome, and staying in an apartment at least gets me slightly closer to realizing that dream. We considered using a service such as Airbnb or VRBO, but once we found the hotel-owned apartment for a good price (and not having to worry about meeting the property owner, security, or even cleaning), we were happy with our choice. The location of the apartment on via de Ripetta was the reason behind our choice for that particular property. During our last trip to Rome, we had stayed relatively close by and the location is central to the majority of the sites we had planned to visit in Rome.
The hotel itself is located just off the via del Corso, right by the Spanish Steps (Piazza de Spagna). After checking in, a hotel staff member walked us to the apartment two blocks away from the hotel and showed us around. The apartment building is lovely and secure, with a small open courtyard and an elevator. Our apartment was on the 2nd floor and the stairs easily accessed the apartment also. The apartment was spacious and more than adequate for the two of us. There was a fairly large en suite bathroom and a separate living room and dining area.
The kitchen was pretty well equipped, with a 4 burner electric stove, a toaster oven, and a dishwasher. The hotel supplied pots, pans, plates, glasses, mugs and cutlery as well as some dishwashing detergent.
We would have been happy to stay in the apartment and crash, but we were starving and had planned to go to one of my favorite restaurants from our first trip to Rome called La Buca di Ripetta, which was just down the block from the apartment (and truthfully one of the reasons the apartment’s location was so appealing to me). Since we were unsure what time we would arrive and check in, we did not make reservations and just banked on being able to get a table. Thankfully, we were right. The restaurant was almost to capacity but there was a table available. We ordered an antipasti of fritti misti (mixed fried vegetables) and my husband had bacala (fried cod) while I went right for pasta and had linguine with pesto, cherry tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella, a variation on my favorite dish I had there last visit. We also had a contorno (side dish) of cicoria (chicory) to get some type of vegetable into our diet (since I’m not sure the last time we ate anything green…). The meal was good, not great, but we were just over the moon excited to be in Rome.
We finished dinner and headed over to get dessert–gelato (duh) at San Crispino. We had never been to that particular gelateria before but had read wonderful reviews on Fodor’s and TripAdvisor so we couldn’t pass it up for our first night. It did not disappoint–the flavors were unique and sumptuous. I had their standard flavor, “il gelato di San Crispino,” a honey-based cream flavor as well as the walnut with dried fig, which was amazing. My husband had whiskey flavor and the gelato di San Crispino. We savored our gelato as we walked the few steps to the Pantheon and took in the majestic building at night, our favorite time to wander about Rome. The steps of the piazza della Rotonda became our living room as we lounged in front of the Pantheon, people-watched, and finished our gelato.
After dessert, we walked to the Piazza Navona, my favorite Roman piazza, and then over toward the Trevi Fountain, which was unfortunately drained and covered in scaffolding for a deep cleaning. Bellies full of delicious Italian food and hearts full of Rome, we made our way back to our beautiful appartamento.