Until this past trip to Italy, Rome had never been my favorite city. Far from it, actually. I studied abroad in Florence in college, and – being Southern Italian myself – much preferred the Amalfi Coast or Sicily.

But, with Rome as our final stop on our Mediterranean cruise, I decided to embrace the fact that we’d have about 24  hours there, and book a lovely little B&B in an area that I hadn’t really explored before. It was a game changer. And this is how I finally fell in love with Rome…

24 Hours in Rome | travel guide from coco kelley

No matter where you travel in the world, I strongly believe that where you stay has a major impact on your experience. It’s like once you find your ‘people’ (or your neighborhood) you suddenly feel like you could stay in this foreign place for the rest of your life. Well, on this trip, I definitely found my place.

The Hotel: Casa Fabbrini the alley way leading to our B&B was the most charming hidden spot | Rome travel guide from coco kelley the reception area with quirky wallpaper at Casa Fabbrinin B&B | Rome travel guide from coco kelley

Tucked away in this little alley just off some of the main Via del Corso, lies this gem of a B&B. I had found it after hours of searching online prior to our trip in my quest to find the most charming place in Rome that was still centrally located. I think I succeeded.

Family owned, and simply, but perfectly decorated, Casa Fabbrini truly does feel like you’re arriving into someone’s home…

the light-filled hallway at Casa Fabbrini in Rome | travel guide via coco kelley the bedrooms at casa fabbrinin B&B | rome travel guide from coco kelley

Up the stairs (yes, they’ll help you with your baggage) are the simple rooms. Ours had a small balcony that looked out onto a inner shared courtyard where (wait for it…) you could hear opera being practiced at the conservatory next door. Swoon.

the dining room at Casa Fabbrini | Rome travel guide from cocokelley the living room at Casa Fabbrini in Rome | travel guide from coco kelley
Another floor up were the common areas where a lovely little kitchen greeted guests with homemade pastries for breakfast that stayed out all day to enjoy, and of course an espresso machine. There was also a sweet little living room area for reading or relaxing.

Thanks to its tucked away location, the hotel was completely quiet and with all the basic amenities we couldn’t have asked for a better spot. What I didn’t realize is how much I would love the neighborhood…

The Lunch Spot: Dilla

wandering the side streets of Rome | travel guide from coco kelley

Our hotel selection had plopped us right in the midst of this charming district right by the Spanish Steps, south of the Borghese Gardens, east of Vatican City and north of the Trevi Fountain. If you’ve ever been to Rome, that should help give you a small idea of where we landed. We did a little loop of our new neighborhood and decided to spend the next three (yes, THREE!) hours dining at a place called Dilla.

dilla restaurant | Rome travel guide from coco kelley

charcuterie board at Dilla restaurant | Rome travel guide from coco kelley

To say this was a good choice would be the understatement of the year. In fact, we made friends with an American who was dining there who lives half the year in Rome and the other half in Los Angeles, and he said it’s his favorite spot in the whole city. Well, now it might be mine too. Over a bottle of rosé and three courses, we watched the table next to us fill up and empty more than a few times as we delighted in the food of Rome.

the interior of Dilla restaurant in Rome | travel guide via coco kelley

pesto meatballs at Dilla in Rome | via coco kelley

caccio e pepe and pesto gnocci at Dilla | Rome travel guide from coco kelley

Christy, my travel buddy, opted for the classic caccio e pepe, while I had to test out the gnocci. When in Rome!! (Yes, we said that like 50 times while we were there). We were so full after this meal, that we decided we had to walk around the rest of the day just to digest. And so we did.

Roaming Through Rome

shopping in Rome - Alberto Moresco | via coco kelley

Shopping: Shopping in any major city in Italy is something you have to take seriously. Fashion here does not mess around. Seeing as we only had 24 hours in Rome, we weren’t really looking to spend time making purchases, but the shops around the Spanish Steps did provide pretty much everything we needed to drool over. From Zara to Alberta Ferretti, it had it all, including some smaller local shops with lovely wares.

Where I did end up shopping was on the Via del Governo where vintage stores boasted amazing Pucci-esque dresses – I mean, just imagine what vintage clothing shopping in Italy looks like, and you can picture the heaven that it is. I bought a rad dress from Vestiti Usati Cinzia, which will no doubt make its blog debut soon.

vatican city | rome travel guide via coco kelley

Tourist Stops: While I was happy to avoid some of the main places we’d been before, Christy kind of insisted that we head to Vatican City, and I’m glad she did. While the Trevi Fountain is pretty cool, and the Pantheon is definitely a favorite, there’s just something so magnificently massive about the Vatican. It’s hard to comprehend. Plus, it made for a nice long jaunt through the city. My only regret is that we didn’t get to the Borghese Gardens and the museums which would have been a whole other day in itself.

cute signage in rome | via coco kelley

Wanderings: So, we got lost like five times in Rome. Which is fine, because that’s kind of how I like to discover cities, and when you have an agenda, sometimes you miss out on the adventure and that whole feeling of stumbling upon some dreamy boutique or the best gelato place that you’ll never remember the name of. Or, in this case, this area where all the shops and restaurants’ names were carved out of wood in this adorable style that I can’t get over. While it did mean that we didn’t get back to our hotel until nearly 10pm and then had to hunt for dinner (we ended up eating just down the street at Hosteria del Mercato), knowing that we had made the most of our one day there was the best feeling we could have asked for. And now? I can’t wait to go back and do it all again!

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