Tales on Rail: Day 7 – Touring Ancient Rome on Our Last Day in Europe


Our last morning in Florence, we boarded a tram early in the morning to bring us to the Santa Maria Novella station to catch our train to Rome. Trams seem like the easiest way to get around Florence. They are always on time and make frequent trips.

Traveling from Florence to Rome on Italo

Tales on Rail Italo
Italo high-speed train from Florence to Rome

We once again traveled on an Italo train which I was excited about because they are so nice and comfy. I took a quick nap on the train because this European trip is finally catching up to me. I woke up just as we entered into Roma Tiburtina Station.

We took a cab to our hotel and noticed a lot of graffiti around the train station. This seems to be the norm for large cities around the train stations. As we moved on towards our hotel, we began to see how beautiful Rome is. My favorite part was the plentiful orange trees lining the streets.

Arrival at the Westin Excelsior Hotel & Suites in Rome

We pulled into the Westin Excelsior Hotel & Suites and were immediately amazed at how beautiful it is. The lobby and main entrance way is very luxurious with chandeliers and fancy furniture. We took the elevator up to see our rooms (even the elevator was stunning). Exiting the elevator there is an expansive, fancy lounge. We entered the room and were taken back by its chandelier, high ceilings and gorgeous balcony overlooking the city. The bathroom also had a tub as well as a full size enclosed shower which was a site for sore eyes.

Tales on Rail Rome
Michele & Rail Europe colleagues in the Roman bath at the Westin Excelsior Hotel & Suites penthouse

Before we left for our Ancient Rome Tour we were given a tour of the penthouse suite at the Westin. This is the largest suite in Europe at 11,000 square feet. There was an elevator, a large dining room, an entertainment room, a gym, sauna and roman style bath. The paintings and architecture in the suite were amazing. There was also a large wrap around terrace offering great views of Rome. The room goes for a staggering 20,000 euros a night so it is usually occupied by presidents and celebrities.

Lunch time at a local Pizzeria in Rome

Tales on Rail Rome
Prosciutto di Parma and mozzarella sandwich for lunch at local pizzeria in Rome

We walked to the Coliseum and stopped at a local pizzeria for lunch and a drink. The food really hit the spot. I had a prosciutto di Parma and mozzarella sandwich. The bread was a mix between a croissant and a roll. It was delicious and was the perfect vehicle for the flawless meat and cheese. The owner was very hospitable and treated us to Limoncello.

As we walked to the Coliseum, we admired the classic Roman stone work of all of the buildings. We also admired the weather since the sun had come out. No need for jackets on our tour which is great because when we arrived in Rome it was chilly and raining. As we continued towards the Coliseum the ancient ruins began to come into focus. It was gorgeous and there is much more greenery here than in other more modern parts of the city.

The Ancient Rome Tour

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View of the coliseum on the Ancient Rome Tour

We met our tour guide in the shadow of the Coliseum. Unfortunately there was scaffolding on the outside where they are restoring some of the structure – it was still beautiful though. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable on ancient Roman history. He gave us a very thorough background on the ancient Roman times, when the coliseum was in use. He even tried to incorporate everyone in our group into his storytelling, portraying everyone as gladiators and emperors. There were even men outside dressed as gladiators.

As we walked into the Coliseum I was struck with the beauty and history of the amphitheater. I really love how the guide helped us really use our imaginations and experience Ancient Rome rather than just lecture us about it.

After this we walked towards the Pantheon. On the way, the guide pointed out and described all of the ruins and ancient buildings we passed. There were a lot of solicitors on the street in front of the Coliseum. There was even an old man dressed as the pope charging people to take pictures with him. Our tour guide was shocked by this because he had never seen someone “be that bold” and said it was very tasteless.

Tales on Rail Rome
Massive pillars on the exterior of the Pantheon in Rome

Our guide was very excited to show us the Pantheon. He said this is his favorite part of Ancient Rome. The pillars out front are massive and really stand out against the more modern structures around. In Rome you will just be walking around and randomly come across some ruins. It is a surreal experience. The inside of the Pantheon was so beautiful with all of the details, paintings and stone work.

Tales on Rail Rome
View of Trevi Fountain on the Ancient Rome Tour

On our way to the Trevi Fountain we walked through a lot of cute little back alleys with cobblestone streets and gelato shops. I’m sure you could explore this city for months and never see it all. The Trevi fountain was completely full of tourists but was still beautiful. I was able to snap a couple pictures by squeezing through the crowd.

Dinner at the Pizzeria San Marco – Rome

After our tour we went to dinner at the Pizzeria San Marco. The bread was great and hit the spot because we weren’t really fans of the style of bread in Florence. The delicious olive oil they had on the table made it. I had pasta bolognese for my meal. It was perfect, being washed down with a chianti, and exactly what I wanted.

Tales on Rail Rome
Pasta Bolognese for dinner at the Pizzeria San Marco, Rome

This was our last night in Europe together which was very sad. Most of the people in my group are heading back to Chicago and I am going back to New York. I had such a great time and will miss you all! Can’t wait to start planning my next trip to Europe.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Avatar Theresa says:

    I never considered how easy it would be to travel by train in Europe. After reading your entries I think I’m going to give it a try next time.

    1. Avatar John says:

      Bologna is much more convenient. The airprot is easy to get in and out of; it’s the number 3 airprot here in Italy in terms of traffic, so there are a lot of options. If you land in Rome, you would still have 3 to 4 hours on the train to get from the airprot to Bologna (73 euro) to go to Renazzo anyway. There is no train station in Cento or Renazzo di Cento. It would be more convenient to rent a car.

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