European Travels, Part II! After our Paris adventure, which you can read about here, we made our way to Rome, Italy! It’s taken me a while to get to writing this blog, and to be honest, it’s been a little hard reminiscing over our trip. We miss Europe and all the lovely sights we were able to see!
Well, enough about my post-vacation sorrows…on to Rome!
Roma: The Eternal City – Day One
Our first day in Rome was a short one, unfortunately, due to our plane getting in late in the afternoon. We still made time to explore near our hotel and have our first Gelato! Everything everyone has ever said about gelato is true. It’s magical.
We stopped at a little shop a few streets from the hotel after dinner, called Gelateria Petrini, and fell in love. I chose Nutella and cherry. No regrets.
Now, something we learned while in Europe that nobody ever talked about was that a 3 star hotel in Rome was VASTLY different than a 3 star hotel in Paris. Go for the 4. Just do it. When we walked into our hotel room for the night, I was honestly terrified to even sit on the bed, but I mean…Everybody lived and now we have a tale to tell over our wild hotel adventure in Rome 😂 But really….go for the 4 star.
Day Two: Basilicas, Gateways, and the Colosseum
Since our first day was so short and barely had time for finding dinner and gelato, we made the most of the next day in Rome. We woke up early, mapped out some sights we wanted to check out near the hotel, and got to exploring.
The amazing thing about Rome is it really doesn’t matter where you are in the city, there is always something to see! No matter where we were, we saw cool stuff. It was crazy to me how people just walked (or drove) past all the landmarks without blinking. One wall even had a dog park backed up to it!
There were literally churches everywhere in Rome, and all of them were amazing! We went to see the a few of them before heading back to the hotel, but the one we saw the most of was the Basilica di San Lorenzo fuori le mura. It was small, and not really something you’d take a lot of notice of, but the inside was beautiful as was the cemetery next to it!
Since our tour guide was meeting us after lunch, we made the long trek back to our hotel, picking up some pizza slices on the way (yum)! We used the “I ❤️ Rome” tour company, and it was actually really good! The guide gives you a headset and tells you all about the sites as you walk with them. I can’t remember our guide’s name, but we really enjoyed her!
They picked us up at the hotel and drove us down to the Colosseum to wait as our group all showed up. Some of the people at our hotel were supposed to be on our tour, but apparently didn’t show up at the lobby in time. Always call to double check what time your tour is at, because they don’t wait for you 😂
To be honest, I really don’t know what I was expecting about the Colosseum, but I was totally blown away by its size. It. Is. Massive. It really doesn’t seem possible that people built it so long ago without the aid of modern tools.
The craziest thing to Josh and I was that it was literally just sitting in the middle of an intersection. People just drive by it everyday as if it wasn’t even there! I mean, I guess if you see it every day it might not be a big deal, but I feel like it would be a big deal!
Some of it has obviously fallen down or been ransacked after the fall of Rome, but with some modern help, it’s been very well preserved. Most of the holes in the walls are from people stealing the stone to build their own stuff. Weird, right?
The outside was amazing, but the inside was incredible!
It’s much like today’s football stadium (which is very obviously modeled after the Colosseum). There were five levels, all sorted by social status. The emperor was on floor level, and everyone else went up from the rich in standing to the poorest, and women at the very top. Now, at first thought, you’d think “wow, they put the women up top as the lowest of the low,” but apparently it was more to keep the men from getting into trouble with other people’s wives 😂
The whole thing was amazing. I just couldn’t get enough! We got to enter the bottom level through the entrance gateway for gladiators. One archway was for gladiators to come in, the other was for victors to leave. If you lost (aka died), they took you back out the entrance or “loser’s exit”. The whole experience just made me want to watch the Gladiator movie all over again. Ha!
It’s really just mind boggling to walk through and know that thousands of years ago, people were here celebrating the deaths of hundreds of people in a giant arena. The whole idea is just crazy. Seeing it in person was literally a dream come true, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
The Arch of Constantine
Just outside the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine, which is amazing in and of itself. Like I said in my Paris blog, these arches are all over Europe and I’m obsessed with them!
Obviously this was named after the Emperor Constantine and memorialized his successes. The detail was incredible!
Palatine Hill & the Forum
Next, we got to walk through Palatine Hill and the Forum, which was so cool! It’s basically just a huge area full of ancient Roman architecture left behind. I’ve been fascinated by Rome for as long as I can remember. Being able to see and walk through the ruins was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done. It felt like I was walking through a dream getting to see everything I’ve read about for so long!
The hill looks over the forum, so you get a great view of the gyms, pillars, baths, temples, and arches. You even have an awesome view of the Colosseum from here! Plus the orange trees all over the top of the hill are beautiful!
The “palace” on the hill, isn’t from Ancient Rome, but it’s still pretty cool!
The Roman Forum
When you first walk in, you get to see the Arch of Titus, which depicts the victory of Titus over Jerusalem. There is a giant Menorah carved into the side, so it’s pretty obvious what the topic of the arch is.
Next, you walk through to the temple of Jupiter, the site where they burned the body of Caesar, and several other little important Roman sites!
The sun came out for us right as we were leaving, which was absolutely beautiful.
The Streets of Rome
Okay, so there are tons of things to see all over the streets, but I thought some of the vendors were kind of cool! I loved all the musicians, not so much the crazy people shoving flowers and crap in your hands. They scattered so fast when the polizia would show up 😂
Most of them were really nice, and very talented. Some not as much, but still cool!
We spent the rest of our evening exploring around the forum area and seeing all the cool buildings from different eras in Rome! One of the coolest places was the Piazza Venezia which is close to the hilltop designed by Michelangelo! You can see the “Altar of the Fatherland” where they still keep the fires of Rome burning today!
Fun fact we learned from one of our Uber drivers, this was the square that Mussolini would address the Italian people from during WWII! One of the little side buildings was his office and he would just open the window to talk into the piazza!
Rooftop Dinner at the Colosseum
Our night ended with dinner at a little restaurant called Royal Art Café next to the Colosseum! It was good, and the view was amazing, but we didn’t feel it was as “authentic” Italian as the place we went our first night. I’d recommend going a few streets further into the city if you want a more authentic meal!
Side note, we tried raw oysters this night. Never again. So much cringe.
Day 3: The Vatican, Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps
Josh’s only request the whole vacation was to see the Sistine Chapel, so we set aside our last day to go see it! It did not disappoint, although not being allowed to take any pictures there was a real bummer.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself! We started the tour going through the Vatican museums, which was so cool! We weren’t sure what to expect going into their museums, but we did think it would be more…Catholic. Mostly, it was really cool things from Ancient Rome! Statues, paintings from the Renaissance, and mosaics, etc.
The Hall of Maps
This was probably one of the coolest rooms in the museum part of the Vatican. It was a hall with walls entirely comprised of maps of Italy! The ceiling had so much gold inlay on it, it was crazy!
Next was the Sistine Chapel, which was INCREDIBLE, but obviously I don’t have pictures of that so….on to the next stop.
St. Peter’s Basilica
I’m just going to say, Michelangelo was a genius. I mean, we all know he was, but seeing his works in person was like…wow. The dome and architecture of St. Peter’s was incredible.
Josh and I were both amazed by St. Peter’s. Totally awestruck tourists the whole time we were in there, although a little weirded out by all the popes entombed under the church 😂
Lunch for Two
Okay, so basically the rest of the day was spent equally marching around town to the last sights we wanted to see and eating food. I had searched around that morning and picked places to eat (totally recommend doing this every day you’re on your trip) that were at least within a few streets of our destinations.
For lunch, we stopped at a place called “Spaghetti“. That’s it. Spaghetti. And it was the best pasta we had while in Rome. The bruschetta was also SO delicious, we ate the whole plate. I got a seafood pasta and Josh got spaghetti and meatballs (he had been searching far and wide for this, and surprisingly, up to this point, hadn’t found it). Just writing about it makes me want to go back for more!
This is the oldest, fully standing building from Ancient Rome. It was preserved just because it was turned into a church after the fall of Rome!
Well, if this wasn’t the most amazing fountain I’ve ever seen…we threw our coin in, so I guess we’ll have to see if any wishes come true 😉
The Spanish Steps
Now, these were cool, but so covered in people it was hard to see their beauty. Between the sheer amount of tourists there and the peddlers who were literally SHOVING things into our hands, we just came, saw, and left.
The Final Stops
This was the night we were really dreading just because it meant our adventure was at an end. We walked around the shopping center for a while, until we found the BEST gelato over past the Spanish Steps! It’s called Fatamorgana Corso and SO good! I can’t remember exactly what I got, a scoop of orange something and a scoop of coconut, but it was the best! I wish we could have taken it home!
Our final stop in Rome was a restaurant called Dillà, which was a more modern take on classic Roman dishes! We went a little different route this meal since it was our last and tried out some traditional meals WITHOUT pasta. I had the grilled Polpo (octopus), while Josh had an adventurous steak and potatoes 😂 Both were so delicious, I’d definitely recommend stopping here!
SO Many Things, So Little Time
There was just so much to see in Rome! We both wished we had more time there, and have decided we will go back and see the rest in a few years! I’ll just drop the last of my photos here from around the city before I let you go.
Rome was so beautiful in so many ways. We can’t wait for the day we get to go back! And if you’ve made it through this novel, you are the real MVP.
Questions? Comments? Drop them below!
Until next time!