Rome, Italy is a place I have been dreaming to visit since my high school years. In January, 2014, that dream became a reality. After my normal extensive traveling research and a few weeks of teaching myself Italian I was set for my Roman adventure.
Day 1 – Upon arriving I noticed how unattractive the arrivals area of the airport was. Cold and grey looking, it matched Rome’s rainy winter weather. I decided that taking a shuttle van was a better way to get to the hotel then the train. Although Romans have some scary driving skills, the driver was awesome, almost taking us on a tour and letting us know what we were looking at as we passed by the Coliseum and such.
The hotel was situated smack dab in between Piazza Di Spagna where the Spanish Steps are located and the Fontana Di Trevi. This is a great place to stay because there are restaurants and shops everywhere with people who speak English very well. I did get to use a good deal of Italian though, so that didn’t go to waste.
Rome is a walk at your own risk kind of place. New York jay walking has nothing on Romans who jay walks. You have to just walk and hope the cars decide to stop. After a great dinner at some “off the beaten path” restaurant, I had to get to an authentic gelato.
As I walked into Blue Ice, I was greeted with Elvis Crespo music. I thought I was going to hear some Italian music or something. Instead I got Merengue. I enjoyed the music and my mint chocolate chip gelato, tasted amazing. We continued to walk around and saw the Trevi Fountain and a few beautiful churches.
Day 2 – Getting up at 6:30am when your jett lagged is really hard, but I had tickets to head to the Vatican. They hand out free tickets to hear the blessing given by the Pope. It only took a few stops on the train and a short walk to get to the Vatican.
It was an amazing experience sitting out there with people from all over the world. The Pope was pretty cool. He got in his little Pope Mobile and went around the entire square waving at people, kissing babies, taking pictures, and more before giving the blessing. It began to rain, so I was glad I came prepared with an umbrella. The blessing took awhile because it was in many different languages.
Afterwards, a tour of the Vatican was in order. Paying for a tour was worth it. It was pouring rain, so standing on very long lines to get into different parts of the Vatican wouldn’t have been a very fun thing to do. The lines were extremely long and wrapped around buildings. There are apparently a million things to see in hundreds of rooms in the Vatican, so besides not having to stand on the lines it is great to know what exactly you’re looking at with a tour guide.
Although we didn’t head into every room in the Vatican we saw a great deal. Since you are not supposed to talk in the Sistine Chapel and you can’t, by any means, take a picture in there, they talk to you about it and what to look for before the tour even begins. Once in there, many people attempted to take pictures, but the guards watch you like a hawk as they yell out “No Photos!” It was a beautiful sight to see. You had a choice at the end of the tour to either stay inside and walk around on your own or head directly to Saint Peter’s Basillica.
After walking around St. Peter’s Basillica, which is gorgeous, we saw the changing of the guards. Most people would only expect that in London, but the Pope has Swiss guards who put on a bit of a show as they change one guard for another.
After all that walking around, everyone was starving. Although it was very important to find a place to eat, the main thing that helped pick the place to eat was the fact that they had free wi-fi. I was a little skeptical about this place at first since a man approached me on the street. My Italian really came into play here since he didn’t speak English, but the key words I heard were free wi-fi and cheap food. So we headed to some off the beaten path restaurant, Hostaria-Pizzeria da Zi Adele al Farinone.
That was the best decision since I not only got my free wifi to communicate with the world, but I had the most amazing pizza. I ordered Quattro Formaggi (Four Cheese.) Very thin crust, best pizza I have ever eaten. The staff in there was very friendly too.
After eating we took a cab ride over to Piazza Novana. It was gorgeous with more notable fountains. I was in search of finding the Pantheon. After some walking and picture-taking, I finally found it. Beautiful building. Sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the shops and colorful buildings in the neighborhood.
After exploring the Pantheon, we began to walk towards the Fontana di Trevi since I knew that wasn’t too far from the hotel. While walking back there was a pretty café where you could sit outside. The twinkling lights and the heat lamps made it comfortable. The host recommended some Roman hot chocolate. It was a huge glass of rich hot chocolate with three cookies and it was simply amazing.
Day 3 – Last day, but not the least as we were headed to the Coliseum. On the way there we had to transfer trains at the Termini and the coolest train that was reminiscent of New York in the 80’s came by for us to board. A few minutes later we were directly across the street from the Coliseum. It was such a sight to see despite the scaffolding that was on it.
There weren’t any long lines to get in. We decided to go on a 2 for 1 tour. Now this is where the tour can be a hit or miss. We took the tour and while I love history and it was great hearing about what went on and how, the woman stood in one place. It became a bit boring and most people began to wonder away to take pictures. That was not worth the money. It would have been worth more if I found a guide to take me down to where they used to keep the animals and such.
The next tour of the Roman Forum and the Palatine Hill was worth the money. The tour guide was very informative and even more importantly, entertaining. Standing there and walking around where Rome was said to have first began was the one of the most amazing experiences of the entire trip. The tour guide also had pictures on hand of Rome then verses now. Showing us what things used to look like exactly where we were standing.
After walking around for hours in awe, I thought it would be a good time to leave. It was going to rain and walking around ruins with huge rocks and dirt wouldn’t be to fun once the rain began. Of course dinner was in order as well. We went to a great restaurant near Piazza Di Spagna called Tamara Wine Bar. While there I had to get tiramisu for dessert.
It was an amazing trip. We saw so much for our 3 days in Rome. I can’t wait to go back!