I have taken so long getting around to this post that it has now been 6 months since Rob and I were in Rome, Italy. That being said, many of the little details I intended to capture in my post about Rome now elude me, so I’ve had to review my photos and piece our days back together. Fortunately, we have plenty of photo evidence showing what we did/saw/ate each day! Here goes:
Roma day 1:
We arrived in Termini station (the public transit hub) in Rome mid-afternoon on Monday, October 8 after a long morning of travel from Positano. After grabbing a slice of pizza at a counter (which totally reminded me a of a case from law school), we hopped on a local metro line from Termini to our new digs in San Pietro (very close to the Vatican). There was a miscommunication with the apartment owner, Luca, about our arrival time, but he let us in shortly after arrival. Another Airbnb success!
After settling into our new place, we walked around the neighborhood a bit and were happy to find a terrific supermarket right across the street and an awesome little restaurant down the street that had cases of mini desserts (yessss!). There was also a restaurant located downstairs which is where we decided to eat. Pizza and some amazing lasagna… and of course drinks.
Roma day 2:
Our first full day in Rome was just that… full! There is so much to see in Rome it can be overwhelming, but the Colosseum was an obvious place to start. On our walk to the nearby metro stop, waiting to cross a street, an Italian guy turned to me and started spouting off a few sentences in Italian. I responded with an “inglese, sorry”… to which he responded (in English), “sorry, you seem Italian!” Needless to say, I took that as a huge compliment! Totally proud of my blending-in abilities. :o)
We took the metro to the Colosseo stop and proceeded to inundate ourselves with ancient ruins. You can see the Colosseum as soon as you exit the metro stop (it’s literally across the street and huge. It’s so strange to think that many Italians pass these ancient ruins daily and probably don’t bat an eye. We headed first to the Roman Forum (or intended to), but got a bit turned around and ended up in the Bascilica di Santa Maria Nova, which was a neat church we wandered into. We then continued to gawk at the Arch of Constantine and then spent hours wandering through the Roman Forum. The Roman Forum was not my favorite. Although you can get a sliver of what amazing structures must have existed in the area at one point, very little is still in tact, so it takes quite an imagination (something which I generally lack). Definitely worth seeing, but also definitely not my favorite site. We then proceeded to the Colosseum. On the way there, we saw one of the funniest sites of the trip. Everywhere throughout Rome there are street vendors illegally selling their wares. Think, Prada and Louis Vuitton knock-offs being sold in NYC. The vendors either carried their wares, or had a very simple display set up (for instance, a sheet laid out with jewelry thereon). Whenever the “polizia” would come near, you would see dozens of vendors grab their wares and book it like their life depended on it (and maybe it did, because the police would confiscate the wares). It was seriously one of the funniest things! Maybe you had to be there…
Anyway, back to the Colosseum. In my opinion, the Colosseum was much more magnificent than the Roman Forum. Granted, it’s much more in tact, so it takes less imagination to picture it in all of its glory, which may well have been the reason. We also picked up an audio tour (literally an ipod with headphones) and it was fun to hear about some of the history while walking through.
By the time we got through the Colosseum we were super hungry and tired. We grabbed a bite on our way back to the apartment and took a much deserved nap. We awoke a few hours later, refreshed, and ready for a bit more exploring.
First stop, Piazza di Spagna to see the Spanish Steps. It was dark by the time we arrived, but the piazza and steps were well lit and it was a beautiful evening. So romantic! A partner from my firm (who grew up in Italy and visits every year) recommended Ristorante Caffe Ciampini as a great place for an aperitif (pre-dinner drink) located near the top of the Spanish Steps. It was perfect, and we basically had the whole place to ourselves!
After drinks and a few complimentary snacks, we made our way to the Trevi Fountain — which I was even more excited to see than the Spanish Steps! I was so excited I forgot to make a wish the first time I threw in a coin! I remembered the second time around!
We ended our day with some late dinner (pizza obviously), and headed back to our place in San Pietro.
Roma day 3:
The next morning on our way to the metro, we were pleasantly surprised with a bunch of vendors set up on our street selling all sorts of wares. From flowers, to clothing, there were all sorts of items to peruse. We did some browsing on our way to catch the metro back to the Trevi Fountain. We wanted to check it out during the day to snap a few more pics (and toss in a few more coins)! Next on the list was Trajan’s column followed by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and then the Pantheon. The Pantheon is one of the best-preserved of all Roman buildings and really quite magnificent.
We headed to Piazza Navona and checked out the Four Rivers Fountain and scoped out a place for lunch. We settled on Tre Scalini, a fancy little restaurant right on the piazza and the home of the Tartufo! Delish – and a great view of the piazza!
After lunch, we headed to Campo de’ Fiori. We made it just as they were tearing down the market and it seemed like a bit of a mess (not especially impressed, but it could’ve just been our timing). We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Rome seeing various sites, including the Theater of Marcellus and Piazza del Campidoglio. We called it a day a bit early and grabbed pizza and an impressive sampling of mini desserts to take back to the apartment where we caught up on some Downton Abbey (which streamed from an external hard drive connected to our network back home in the states). Oh the wonders of technology!
Roma day 4:
Day 4 was Vatican City day. If you’re not familiar with Vatican City, it a walled enclave within Rome with an area of approximately 110 acres and a population of just over 800. It is the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world. Vatican City was a 5 minute walk from where we were staying, though there are only a few exists/entrances through its big wall, so to get inside took closer to 10 minutes. Our first stop was St. Peter’s Square where the Pope often addresses the masses and where thousands recently gathered for Pope Francis’ inauguration. It’s so cool to see St. Peter’s Square and think – “Hey, I’ve been there!”
We got to St. Peter’s Square just in time for a Roman Catholic Mass. We took it all in for a bit and then our practical sides got the better of us (i.e., if everyone’s at Mass, now would be a perfect time to get into the museums)! We grabbed some sandwiches to eat on the go (which we ate while walking around to the museum) and got into the Vatican Museums without any wait (unless you count waiting for ourselves to finish the sandwiches we just bought) and made our way through some of the greatest museums in the world, displaying works from the immense collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries.
As we worked our way through the museums, each wall, ceiling and statue seemed to be more beautiful than the last. However, the closer we got to the Sistine Chapel, the more packed it got. After a few hours of wandering through the huge halls and various rooms and collections, we made it to the the Sistine Chapel — famous for its architecture and its decoration that was frescoed throughout by Renaissance artists, including a magnificent ceiling by Michelangelo! Although pictures are not allowed in the Sistine Chapel, that does not seem to stop anyone. There are at least 10 guards incessantly scolding people and making them put their cameras away, but you must consider that the chapel itself is generally so packed that each side of you is touching (or almost touching) a different person. For the most part, it would take a few minutes for a guard to even reach you! I may or may not have snapped this pic while taking it all in.
Although the ceiling was beautiful and definitely worth seeing, it was really high, so I think I’d bring binoculars if I visited again. Also, I was very unimpressed with the amount of people in the chapel at once. It was one of the few times in my life where I thought… add a sense of urgency (fire, gun shot, etc…) and this is totally how people get trampled. Irreverent? Perhaps, but I felt a bit like sardines stuffed in a can.
After we made our way through the chapel, we finished our tour of the museums and, pretty exhausted, grabbed some gelato outside of the walls of Vatican City.
St. Peter’s Square – check, Vatican museums – check. It was time for St. Peter’s Bascilica. We re-entered Vatican City, a bit more tired than earlier, but not about to miss a tour of St. Peter’s Basicilica. And then we saw it… the line for the church wrapped almost the entire perimeter of St. Peter’s Square, and not a single file line by any means. Meanwhile, we were standing right near the entrance to the Bascilica (while assessing the ridiculousness of the line) and it did not seem anyone was really paying attention to who was in line and who wasn’t. SO, we may have accidentally/on purpose ended up in line right at the entrance and saved ourselves about four hours. Oops?
We made our way through the beautiful church and then climbed the stairs (the many, many stairs) to the dome of the church where we had a magnificent view of Vatican City and beyond.
Having seen as much of Vatican City as possible in an afternoon, we walked the several blocks “home” and, in typical European style, took a late afternoon nap (OK, so ours was more like early evening, but still…). We got back up in time for a late (in the US)/early (in Europe) dinner. Our LAST dinner in Italy… there was no doubt about what we were getting. Pizza and wine!
Leaving Roma day 5:
By our last day abroad, Rob was pretty ready to head back to the states where things are “easier.” Me, well, I was ready to explore eat pizza, learn italian and take in all the sites for weeks more! The one consolation of packing up and heading to the airport was that we were flying FIRST CLASS the whole way home, thanks to http://www.extrapackofpeanuts.com !
The first leg of our journey home was from Rome to Madrid. A quick flight and we made it to Rome for a few hour layover. Because we were flying first class, we had free access to the airline’s lounge in Madrid. It was seriously baller. There was an open bar, free food and even all sorts of alcohol, drinks and food to go. We may or may not have grabbed a few mini bottles of champagne and a few sodas for the road (or air, rather).
The second leg of our journey was absolutely ridiculous, in a good way. We were seated in first class in seats that could lay completely horizontal, like a bed, for your resting pleasure, with individual televisions and all sorts of free drinks and food. What a great way to end a great trip!
What a fabulous two weeks in Italy! Hoping our 2013 trip to the Netherlands and Belgium will be equally fabulous!!!