A Roman Holiday – Introduction


This past August, my husband and I were able to take a week off for the Eid holiday. We decided, the process being the equivalent of throwing a dart at the map, to head to Italy for a Roman Holiday.

We’ve been to a number of cities in Italy before – Milan, Florence, Naples and Venice. This time we wanted a completely different experience to add to the fact that this was the only time in the year that we could celebrate our anniversary. What resulted was an amazing five days at a friend’s family home in Calabria (Southern Italy) followed by two days in Rome.

Holiday in Calabria Italy

Beautiful view of Calabria in Southern Italy, surrounded by olive trees.

Holiday in Calabria Italy

Beaches and pristine waters in Calabria, Southern Italy

Figuring out how to get to Calabria was a bit of a hassle. The two choices were to travel by FlyDubai to Catania and take a 4-hour train to Calabria, or fly Emirates to Rome and take a highspeed 3.5-hour train to Calabria.

At that time, FlyDubai had just merged its frequent flyer programme with Emirates and were working out a few kinks. Even though FlyDubai is a low-cost carrier, the redemption rate of Emirates Skywards Miles on the admittedly cheap FlyDubai flight was outrageous. It turned out to be better for us to redeem our Skywards Miles on the direct Emirates flight to Rome. My husband’s frequent work trips in the GCC region generally bulk up our Skywards account. However, lately, he hasn’t been flying too often and so our tickets were a cash + miles combination redemption.

Vatican Rome Italy

We climbed the 551 steps to the top of the Vatican dome for this view of Rome!

With our Dubai – Rome tickets in hand, I started to explore our train options. The trains in Italy are notoriously often late, but the intercity flights pushed us uncomfortably close to our holiday budget. We decided to travel by Trenitalia, the rail company that features high-speed trains (200-250 km/hr) and are generally on time. Honestly, it’s better to buy online in advance to score a better discount or a special promotion. When I booked our tickets, I managed to get us 2-for-1 tickets on one leg of the journey. So, the onward journey ended up costing €76 for two tickets while our return cost us €152.

Our two nights in Rome were courtesy our SPG  Marriott Rewards points. Fun fact: Ajay and Shipra had visited us in Dubai last year, and Ajay introduced me to the Emirates NBD SPG credit card.  We continued to accumulate SPG points through our household expenses through the year.

Westin Excelsior Rome Italy

We stayed at the Westin Excelsior, Rome courtesy our SPG points

In this trip report, I will review the lounges and the hotels we stayed in, along with some of the other stuff we did along the way. So stick around and read up my first trip report on LiveFromALounge.

Bottomline

All in all, our one-week Italian getaway was just what the doctor ordered. Too often, we get so stuck in the daily routines that we forget to check-in with each other. Plus, I learnt how to make pasta from an Italian grandmother so that really was the cherry on top!

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