Detailed Travel Guide
I’ve been wanting to go to Italy for the longest time, over twenty years. I’m currently 41 and from the time I was 19 years old, I’ve had this big Mediterranean trip planned out which include Italy, Greece, Turkey and Crete but hey, life happens. Fast forward to November 2019 BC ~ Before COVID-19, Black Friday to be exact when the only thing on my agenda that day was scooping up great travel deals. To my delight Norwegian Air who boasts affordable à la cheap flights to Europe from New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seatle, Chicago, Denver, Austin, Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale had mouth dropping round trip flights from the aforementioned US cities to Rome-Fiumicino (FCO) airport for $200.00! I’d heard of Norwegian Air having previously been on a Norwegian cruise to the Bahamas where I had a stellar time but before getting ahead of myself and booking this flight, I had to run a Google search on the aircraft and read the reviews. Norwegian Air had good review after good review which sold me. Upon booking my flight came the fun part, forming my itinerary. I’m a Type A personality and did not waste any time in sorting out an itinerary that combined a good balance of experiences, tours, art, culture and food. I took to Instagram and Pinterest saving Italy related content out the wazoo, I was hyped. Still excited as I reminisce on the process leading up to the day of my trip, Sunday, February 16th. Oooh let’s talk about the flight experience. Oh my goodness, what an amazing flight. It was a non-stop night flight departing New York JFK airport at 9:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on Sunday, February 16, 2020 (4:00 AM Monday morning, Central European Time (CET)) and arriving at FCO airport at 11:00 AM Central European Time (CET) on Monday, February 17th. From the flight crew to the clean and spacious aircraft, everything ran smoothly on the flight.
Once I boarded the flight and settled in, I plugged in my ear plugs and went to sleep for a good five hours before waking up for the duration of the flight. My flight landed at FCO airport on schedule and once I cleared customs which only took about 15 minutes, I was ready to get rolling, the perks of traveling by carry-on.
Before leaving the airport I decided to change over some currency, Italy uses the Euro (€). I changed out $100 US dollars just to have some cash on hand and because I was hungry. I’d get more money later on, as needed, directly from ATM machines for the best exchange rate. From my research and as an FYI for you, hardly any of the local businesses accept credit cards so you’re gonna need to have cash on hand.
It was now time for me to leave the airport and make my way to my Airbnb located in the Rome city center, 5 minutes from the Colosseum. The FCO airport is approximately 20 miles from the center of Rome. Depending on the mode of transportation (train, bus, taxi) and time of day, it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour to reach the center of the city. I chose to take the Leonardo Express train which cost 14€. The Leonardo Express is a Trenitalia train connecting FCO airport with the main train station in Rome, Termini – the only place in the city where the primary metro lines, Metro lines A and B cross. The third metro line, line C is currently undergoing major reconstruction scheduled to be completed in 2023.
Purchase tickets for the Leonardo Express train at the FCO train station (within the airport) – from automated ticket machines or manned agent window, (the machines accept credit card). Be sure to validate (date and time stamp) your ticket by punching it in one of the little green and white oval machines located on the platform area before boarding the train, I can’t stress this enough, you could be fined up to 100€ if your ticket is not validated. You may also buy your train ticket online by using the Trenitalia website however take note that these tickets come pre-validated with a 4-hour travel window so there’s a risk that they could expire if your flight gets delayed.
Exploring during the day…
I wanted to see as much as possible without over exerting myself so I created an itinerary that allotted time for rest which was no issue cause Italians don’t play when it comes to riposo pomeridiano (afternoon rest).
My primary mode of getting around Italy was walking, using the bus and metro to get around Rome and using Trenitalia Frecciarossa, high-speed train to go from Rome to Naples and Florence.
You’ll want to plan ahead particularly for museums you want to checkout. Don’t make the mistake of rushing to go to a museum on a Monday since all of Rome’s public museums are closed on that day. Instead, plan to visit other attractions around the city on that day to make the most of your visit. In addition, restaurants tend to close in the afternoon, riposo pomeridiano (siesta) then open back up in the evening. Look to have a sit down dinner around 9:00 PM and don’t expect speedy service, each course takes time.
I purchased museum tickets online directly from the museums, booked free walking tours through New Rome Free Tour , paid tours through The Roman Guy, part of The TOUR guy family, the leading provider of incredible tours and authentic experiences throughout Europe and other unique activities such as a cooking class and light painting photoshoot through Airbnb experiences.
Plan to walk a lot!
Every day in Italy is literally leg day so wear comfortable shoes. Italy has lots of cobblestone streets which have no mercy, they will in deed wreak havoc on your legs and feet.
Keep up your strength
Eat, drink and eat some more – breakfast, lunch and dinner, and a snack or two in between meals…
Explore at night…
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and are inspired to explore Italy once there’s a handle on COVID-19 and travel restrictions have been lifted; feel free to reach out to me for further recommendations.
Til next time, walk good.