Rome. I love Rome. Like Dublin, I have been here before, but it is a city I knew I wanted to revisit, and even after this trip, I know I could come back again, and again, and again. It is absolutely gorgeous and rich with so much history – kind of like Berlin.
We were staying at a hotel right by the Piazza Navona. We had a bit of a hard time finding our accommodations at first, and after we did, it wasn’t quite what we were expecting. It ended up being a great hotel, kind of hidden away in the corner of a back street – quaint, unique, and comfortable. It was small, and we had to climb a cliche, circular staircase to get to our room. The people who worked there brought us our breakfast each morning – chocolate croissants, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, coffee, etc. It was a nice change of pace from the other places we had stayed.
We arrived in the afternoon and decided to just walk around the area we were staying, explore, and have some dinner. We were right next to the Tiber River and just a ten minute walk from Vatican City. We had this really wonderful view from the bridge closest to where we typically crossed. We ate in the square at a place called 4 Fiumi and had a really wonderful waiter. For the rest of the trip, we decided that one of us would order a pasta dish, the other would order a meat dish, and we would split half and half. This is pretty much a prerequisite for anyone planning on having a meal with me.
The next morning we had plans to see the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. We went to the Roman Forum first to get our tickets because we had read the line was much shorter there. Our tickets got us into all three places, so that was nice. What was also nice was that it happened to be the first Sunday of the month, so it was FREE!! This also made the line to get into the Colosseum longer than usual, but it was free, so we didn’t mind. I love the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, more than the Colosseum. Call me totally cheesy, but I find it interesting to put myself in the shoes of the Romans and imagine what life was like during that time. There are also some pretty awesome views from Palatine Hill looking over the city. Don’t get me wrong, the Colosseum is awesome and I also think it is interesting to think about the gladiators and soldiers. Seriously, the history behind all these places – just walking around them only scratches the surface.
We had a quick lunch, pizza and bruschetta, and then made our way to the Museum and Crypt of Capuchin. Real life – this place is creepy. It contains the remains of 3,700 bodies believed to be the Capuchin friars. You can’t take pictures of the crypts, I probably wouldn’t have even if it was allowed. Truly interesting and I am glad we walked through it, but I also think it might be the reason I had trouble sleeping that night. We saw so many bones designed in various art forms.
Afterward, we walked to Piazza del Popolo, where we climbed up to a viewpoint. It was beautiful and another great lookout over the city. Throughout the afternoon, we also walked down the Spanish Steps, made a wish and threw some coins in the Trevi Fountain, and saw the Pantheon. It was a crazy packed day and we were exhausted afterward.
We went to our hotel to rest and then decided we would have a beer and walk around before eating some dinner. It was a relaxing evening, just like the previous night.
Our next day was the Vatican City. We had purchased a full tour that took us through the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Gardens, and St. Peter’s Basilica. I was most looking forward to walking through the Gardens, which belong to the two living popes. There was only one other group in the area so it felt very private. It was beautiful and peaceful. When we went to the Vatican Museums, I started to feel incredibly overwhelmed. There were SO many people there. Summer is the busy season, and Mondays are even worse because the Vatican is closed on Sundays. If you have any kind of claustrophobia, I really would recommend you go during the off season.. if that isn’t possible, then I would really take some time to mentally prepare yourself for the swarms of people. It is exhausting, but it is worth it to see the Sistine Chapel. The place is absolutely magnificent and incredible. There are no pictures allowed – you will just have to go yourself. Or there is Google, I guess.
Like the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica is amazing. It is the largest church in the smallest city. You can actually climb all the way to the Cupola, where there is, yet another view, of the incredible city. It is over 500 steps up, you can take an elevator up part way, but you will still have over 300 steps to take. After our long day, Nic and I decided not to do this.
We had plans to meet up with our friends from California for dinner later that night. We were both looking forward to this, but because all four of us has limited ability to connect with each other, things didn’t quite go as planned. Nic and I ended up having dinner without them. 😦 But, it was at the same place we had dinner our first night in Rome, with the same great waiter. He even treated us to a small glass of champagne while we waited for the table we wanted. Yum!
The California couple was able to find us as we were wrapping up supper and We ended up going for gelato together. The place was called Giolitti and it was quite possible the BEST gelato I have ever had. Two flavors, topped with cream = heaven…. until you lose the cream. Oops!
One of our favorite things about traveling is the people we meet and get to know. It is so much fun to exchange stories and make new friends! It was a great final evening in Europe!
Nic’s take –
I feel like all I’ve done the last two weeks is eat bread.