Italy in Review: Travel Tips from Mia

August 1, 2017

This post comes to us from Mia Winfree who is from Oklahoma State University. Mia is an Environmental Sciences major, studying in Rome, Italy.

Here are a few of my favorites from Rome.  Below, I have showcased my favorite monument I visited, a place to get fabulous gelato, the best sunset view, an excellent place to travel to for a weekend, and the best gallery I visited.  Take notes and enjoy!

Spanish Steps

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The Spanish Steps are absolutely beautiful. When my mom visited, we spent every night at the steps.  They became a staple in our nightly routine.  Not only are the steps beautiful but just as you step-off the last one, you will be greeted by a giant Bernini fountain, great for photos and relaxing.  The Spanish Steps are surrounded by an abundance of shops, hidden museums, gorgeous cathedrals, and an endless amount of scenic Italian restaurants. The steps are for anyone and everyone so grab your best pair of trainers and get to steppin’!

Best time to go: On a nice night, just after sunset. It may be a little crowded but the weather will be perfect and the ancient streetlights help to set the scene for a beautiful night.

Favorite museum in the area: If you wander down the steps and take a sharp left at the bottom, you will find the Keats-Shelley Museum.  This tiny, hidden attraction will transport you away from the crowds outside and into the Romantic Era.  Inside, you can peer into the lives of many Romantic poets and even see the bedroom and final dwelling space of John Keats.

Pro Tip: Visit one of the nearby cafes to get a panini and a cold beverage. You can take it and sit near the fountain where you can watch people waltz up and down the moonlit stairs. AND, if you’re lucky, maybe you can enjoy the music of a local street performer as well.


Giolitti is a very well-known gelato shop located just steps away from the Pantheon.  It is the perfect place to stop to get out of the sun and enjoy a refreshing, decently priced treat!

Where: Via Degli Uffici del Vicario 40, 00144 Rome, Italy

Best time to go: The shop is open from 7am to 1am and it generally always has a bit of a crowd but the staff is efficient and the small wait is worth the brilliant gelato you will get in return. Enjoy some of Rome’s most famous gelato as you take in the sights and sounds of the cobblestone streets around you.

Favorite Flavor: Oreo + a small scoop of chocolate combined

Fontana dell’Acqua Paola

This fountain is absolutely breathtaking. I stumbled upon it by mistake and its beautiful architecture and cool water made it a regular stop for me. Not only is this fountain almost like a scene from a postcard, but if you turn to face away from it, you will get a view of Rome’s entire skyline.

Best time to go: SUNSET! Watch the sun set over the rooftops and skyline of the Eternal City. This hidden spot is the perfect place to cool-off and escapes the crowds of the bustling neighborhood below.

Location: Via Garibaldi, 00153 Roma, Italy. This hidden treasure is just a small hike up from the streets of Trastevere and the view is worth every step.

Fun Fact: In the 2015 film Spectre, James Bond drives by this fountain is one of his legendary car chases through Rome.

Florence is located just north of Rome and it is one of Italy’s must-sees. Florence is filled with history and you will see new architectural feats in every direction you look. Not only does it have some of the best leather you can find, its size also makes for the perfect weekend getaway to explore and relax in.

How to get there: If you depart from Rome’s main station, Termini, you can get to Florence in just under two hours. Tickets range from about 40€ to 50€. Grab your best duffle bag and a good friend and you have the perfect weekend escape!

Must sees: The famous Florence leather market: an incredible amount of cheap, good quality leather. This is the perfect place to get gifts, souvenirs, and tokens for family and friends.

The Duomo: One of Florence’s most famous attractions. The design and colors of this masterpiece will take your breath away.

The top of The Tower of Palazzo Vecchio: The climb to the top is not for the weak of heart. It it made up of over 200 steps but with each step, you get closer and closer to one of the best views of Florence. Make the climb and don’t forget your camera!

Food Recommendation: When in Florence, you have to try the world-famous Florentine steak. Ask the concierge in your hotel lobby and I am sure they would be happy to advise you on the best place to try this Florentine delicacy. After enjoying what might be a pricey night out, take some time to do something free – exploring the city! While perusing the local shops, stop for a snack at I Due Fratellini. This small sandwich shop is located in the heart of the city and it is home to some of the best on-the-go sandwiches you’ll ever have. Sandwiches range from about €4 to €6 and options are endless AND delicious.

Galleria Borghese

Best time to go: The museum is open Sunday through Saturday (excluding Monday) from 9am to 7pm. On a weekday in the early morning. This time seems to be the least crowded and gives you ample room to view each of Bernini’s sculptures and the fabulous paintings that coat the walls of the large galleries. After visiting the gallery, spend some time exploring the beautiful park outside as well. This is the perfect place for a nice picnic or to enjoy peaceful music.

Favorite sculpture: The sculpture above that captures the struggle between love and death with Aphrodite and Adonis. This sculpture showcases some of Bernini’s best work. There is so much detail within each inch of the piece. You can even see Adonis’ fingers gripping the thigh of the struggling Aphrodite. You could explore this museum for hours and still see something new with each visit. This is one of Rome’s MUST-sees.

Price: Tickets are approximately €15, depending on what features you want in your visit. Affordable and worth the price! When you purchase tickets, you will be assigned a specific time slot to visit the museum so be sure to get there at least 15 minutes before your slot. Prices may vary if you decide to get a guided tour instead. You can’t go wrong with either option. Get lost within the gallery’s walls and relax!


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