The next stop on our trip was Rome.  And what a city!  I couldn’t get over how cosmopolitan and commercial it was while still being home to so many ancient ruins and historical structures.  One part of me was excited to get my shopping on, while the other part wanted to soak in all the history.  Luckily, we were able to do both!

Rome2
We took the local train from Sorrento to Naples and then the Eurail from Naples to Rome.  I think the total trip was under two hours.  Upon checking into our hotel and relaxing for 30 minutes, we made our way over to the Trevi Fountain area for dinner.  We wanted to get to bed a little early because the next couple of days were going to be full of sightseeing…and LOTS of walking.

WHERE WE STAYED

We stayed at Hotel Stendhal which is centrally located and close to restaurants, shops, and train stations.  Again, the concierge was super helpful and friendly.  However, this hotel was much smaller than the last one.  Our room was almost half the size.  But I can’t complain because everything was super clean (as you can tell that was the #1 priority for me).  I think they even changed our sheets twice in one day.  The breakfast buffet here wasn’t filled with as much variety, especially for vegetarians who wanted more than carbs.  But we…ok fine, I…made it work!

WHAT WE DID (for all of the major sites, you have to buy your tickets in advance or book tours because the lines are incredibly long if you don’t)

Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill – We booked a special Dark Rome Tour of these three things beforehand.  It was special because it included both underground Colosseum and ‘third tier’ level access.  IT. WAS. AMAZING.  Vishnu and I couldn’t get over the fact that we were finally seeing all the things we learned about so many years ago in our World History classes.  To be honest, it didn’t all come crashing back to me, so I’m glad we had a tour guide to explain everything to us and even provide some lesser known insight.

The Colosseum was obviously grander than life.  I could not get over how well preserved it is.  The underground level was interesting but made me a little sad for all the animals and people who awaited their potential deaths down there.  And the view from the third tier was unbelievable.  It was quite a special moment!

Rome_Colosseum
The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill were also fun to see and explore.  I’d forgotten that Palatine Hill is believed to the birthplace of Rome.  Crazy!  Walking around, you can just imagine what life was like all those years ago.

Rome1
Vatican City – We booked an afternoon tour of Vatican City through Viator and were thankful that we did.  We learned more than we would have walking around on our own.  In fact, before entering the Sistine Chapel, our guide gave us a detailed explanation of each panel and how it all pieced together.  It made the actual experience of seeing it super emotional (for me at least).  We also got to explore one exhibit of the Vatican Museum.  Vishnu wishes we had the opportunity to see more, but like he put it, you’d need days to see everything.  And finally, the final stop of our tour brought us to St. Peter’s Basilica where we used Rick Steves to provide us with all the details.  And it was just as beautiful and grand as you’d imagine it to be!  Seeing Michelangelo’s La Pieta also made me tear up.  I was a hot mess!

Vatican City 1

Vatican City 2
This brings me to a random but somewhat related point.  I am in love with Michelangelo and his work.  I’ve never been an art lover…more of an appreciator.  But after seeing and learning about so much of his work, I have a new found respect for him.  I mean, we all know he was nothing short of a genius, but actually seeing what he created and knowing he did so much of it in his [early] twenties…there are just no words.  Our guides kept telling us that he wasn’t a pleasant man to look at, but all I could think about was how beautiful his mind was!  It’s insane!

La Pieta_Michaelangelo
Heart of Rome walk – My friend Shelly told me about the Heart of Rome walk – a walk through the city that includes various Piazzas, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, etc.  We did this on our last full day in Rome using a Rick Steves’ map to guide us.

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Rome_Pantheon1
Borghese Gardens – Vishnu wanted to walk through the gardens on our last morning in Rome, so we woke up early, ate breakfast, and made our way over.  There are a number of statues to see and even a bike rental station.  I wish we had more time because that is something I would’ve loved to do!

Borghese Gardens

WHERE WE ATE (that was notable)

MaccheroniWe ended up eating here twice.  The first night we went for dinner and ordered two of the most mentioned dishes from all the reviews we read – pasta carbonara and cacio e pepe (spaghetti with a goat cheese and pepper sauce).  We also ordered a couple of salads.  I’m glad we did that because the pasta dishes were a bit underwhelming.  Personally, they didn’t live up to all the Trip Advisor and Yelp hype!  After rereading some of the reviews, Vishnu decided that he wanted to give the restaurant another chance, so we went back for lunch.  And this time we ordered what we thought sounded good – gnocchi gorgonzola for Vishnu and pasta arrabbiata for me.  And both dishes were delicious!  We also ordered a cheese plate to share, which went great with the house wine!

Rome_Pasta
Old Bridge Gelato – This little gelato shop is located right outside of Vatican City.  When we first saw it, there was a long line, so we decided to visit after our tour.  I’m glad we did because the gelato was super creamy and the flavors were on point!

Gelateria Venchi – Outside of Capri, this was the best gelato in Italy.  The fancy exterior almost kept me away, but we decided to venture in and check out the flavors.  When I saw that one of them was a dark chocolate nougat with a caramel, almond, and hazelnut topping, I was sold!  What dreams are made of, people!  This stuff was freaking delicious – so so rich!  In fact, you’ll see in my Florence recap that we found a Venchi there and had it again (same flavor and everything!).

Est, Est, Est – Our Colosseum tour guide mentioned this place when we asked about her favorite pizza place in Rome, so obviously we had to go!  I would say this was one of my favorite pizza experiences in Italy.  The crust isn’t thin and dry, but it’s not a Sicilian crust either. It falls in the middle and is quite delicious.  I decided to go with a plain Margherita and Vishnu went with the Diabolo (Margherita with some kind of spicy meat).  The sauce to cheese ratio was perfect, and the whole experience was quite satisfying!

Rome_ Est Est Est
So that’s Rome in a nutshell.  Next up…Florence!

By Parita

12 thoughts on “Rome, Italy”
  1. Parita – such gorgeous photos!
    I used to be in love with Michelangelo and his work too – ever since I took Art History! I used to drool over his work in much the same way I drool over anything with chocolate and peanut butter! 🙂

  2. Amazing! I completely agree that upon seeing the Colosseum it was just breathtaking! It’s crazy how well preserved so many of those ancient ruins are. That dark tour you took sounds a-ma-zing!! I wish we could have spent more time in Vatican City, but we didn’t have time to wait in line for the Sistine Chapel – it was like three hours or something! I’m so glad you got to see it – I’ve heard it’s one of the most spectacular things in the world to see. Literally!

    I am so excited to read about Florence. REB and I always say that we wished we had done Florence instead of Venice during our honeymoon!

    1. Oh man! That’s a bummer. When did you go? While there were some lines when we went, they moved pretty quickly so I feel like we never had to wait. And YES – the Sistine Chapel was breathtaking! You need to make a special trip to Rome to see it!

  3. Gorgeous again! I’m loving living vicariously through your trip!

    How many nights would you recommend staying in Rome? I definitely want to go but with all the other places on our list I feel like we won’t stay any longer than we have to in order to see all the sights.
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    1. Haha! I’m so glad!

      And I would personally recommend at least two full days in Rome to see everything. You don’t need more than that. We basically had a few hours after we arrived, two full days, and then a few hours on the last morning before we left for Florence. And I feel like that was the perfect amount of time.

  4. This post takes me back to when I was in Rome and makes me want to order pizza for dinner tonight! haha. I can’t decided but I think the Vatican City was probably my favorite spot and then the Colosseum… or maybe the other way around! It’s hard… Rome is full of history and this post just takes me back to it all. So happy that you guys had such a great experience! Can’t wait to hear about Florence!
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    1. Both places were definitely amazing! It’s hard to chose a favorite! Even after being home for over a week, I still can’t believe we saw everything that we did.

    1. So the Trevi fountain is being restored right now, so we didn’t get to see it in all its glory 🙁 But it is beautiful for sure!

  5. I’m so glad I found your blog – I just love reading about your italy trip because I lived in Florence for 6 months and it totally takes me back!
    If you can – definitely climb the tower of the Duomo because it gives you the most amazing view of the city. also get across the Arno and take the hike up to piazzale michelangelo if the weather is nice and check out the Boboli Gardens (take a picnic there). I lived above a restaurant called Il gatto e la volpe which was delicious too! If you like to shop and eat, you’ll enjoy florence. Do not be afraid to wander the streets and explore!
    You’re going to LOVE it!! and you’re making me want to hop on a plane!

    1. hi emily! so glad you found my blog too! and i’m jealous that you got to live in the fabulous city of florence. that must have been an incredible experience!

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