We’ve all dreamt about seeing the iconic Colosseum (or at least I have); and wondered what it would be like to walk amongst the history of the Roman Forum, eat some real good tiramisu and maybe sip on a Chianti at one of the many patio restaurants.
My dream came true when I was able to use United’s excursionist perk and connect the dots from Switzerland to Italy, and catch a flight home without paying a dime (if you’re not sure what I am talking about check out my post on this). Hotels in Rome can be booked a myriad of ways from Marriot, IHG, Hilton, Hyatt, Chase, Amex, etc. the list goes on and on. I stayed at the Hotel Grifo not far from the action of the Colloseum and Roman Forum for only 9,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, including breakfast per night. So by utilizing points for rooms and my flights, I was set to explore.
Europe’s train system is also phenomenal compared to what I am used to stateside, so it opened up the door to save my flights for the most expensive routings and to get home—sigh. But enough about that let’s talk about Rome and how cheap it can be on points. If you use your points for the flights and room that leaves you some spending money to enjoy all the finer things in life such as food, drinks, tacky souvenirs and experiences.
Some of my top favorite experiences and recommendations would be to see the Vatican, but don’t wait in that line! Dark Rome offers skip the line Vatican tours to see the Sistine Chapel (think Michelangelo and angels), St. Peter’s Basilica (golden sculptures by Bernini and so much history) and the papal crypts (because why not?). This specific tour as well as many other combo tours are a great way to avoid the standard lines waiting to get into the museums and other attractions. Make sure to use your favorite travel card to book these as you’ll earn bonus points for the travel category on cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and many others.
Another neat tour I was able to do because I hadn’t gone broke getting to Rome, was the Capuchin Monk tour and the Priscilla Catacombs beneath Rome. City Wonders hosted this tour and did a phenomenal job covering the history of the Capuchin monks in Rome and their final resting place below the monastery. They were so well preserved you could go down the stairs and see thousands of skulls and a few remaining mummified bodies. After that we went to the Priscilla Catacombs on the outskirts of Rome, and headed underground to see where the Christians would secretly bury their dead in the early days of Christianity, as well as the first known fresco of Mary and Jesus. It was all surreal to be surrounded by that much history, and you could do it to :).
If Angels and Demons is your thing, you could visit the Castel St. Angelo and see not only a movie set but one of the oldest fortresses still standing in Rome. The bridges and street meandering is also not to be missed and is completely free! If you’re looking for an amazing tiramisu make sure to check out Two Size Tiramisu on Via del Governo-not too far from the Piazza Navona. I can’t even begin to describe all the wonderful food, including street food you can find in and around Rome- so you’ll have to go check it out for yourself.
Others sites not to miss are the tourist areas of Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, walk down Via Cavour and see all the shops, Via Nazionale has shopping and leads straight to the metro system to get around quicker. Pro-tip-check out the Roma Card so that you don’t have to pay for each individual attraction if you plan on exploring a few of them. It also includes public transportation for the days you buy. My personal favorite though was just walking around until I couldn’t any longer. Don’t forget to email me with any points or booking questions you have so we can get you out there!