The last third of our trip to Italy was Roma! I think we were most excited for Rome because we had multiple tours planned - we knew we were going to really see things. Plus, I mean, Rome is probably the tourist capital of Italy besides Milan (it's like coming to Orlando for Disney) - so of course I was a bit giddy for this one. At first I thought it would be nearly impossible to see Rome in 3 days, but it can be done.
And let me tell you - from eyeball's perspective - pictures that you will see simply do not do any justice. There was some construction going on at this time, so you might see yellow cranes and construction areas in some photographs, but literally as I took every picture I was saying to myself, "Wow, these pictures look like crap compared to what I'm actually seeing with my eyes!" So that's saying something.
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when in rome -
see it all in 3 days
Day 1 (arrival day):
It's funny because I vaguely remember the train ride from Florence to Rome. But I do remember that cab ride into the city - which was absolutely frightening, to say the least. It's just like in the movies, or New York City on ecstasy - cab drivers drive like maniacs! I remember looking over at my husband thinking, "We're going to die...and if we don't die - someone else is going to die!" There was a handful of times I thought we were going to run over or into someone in the crowded streets.
Phew. But we made it - taking the short walk down a narrow alley, or strip rather, to our Hotel - Albergo Cesari. I remember we passed the Pantheon on our way to, bags in hand and all - we were so excited! We picked this Hotel place for one reason: location. It was smack dab in the middle of it all. But let me brag a bit about our rooftop view from the hotel - that served the biggest breakfast each morning, and cocktails in the evening.
It was noon by the time we settled in and we were ready to tackle the rest of the day. Starving, and dedicated to dining right this time around - where we sat outside for lunch at the Caffe Da Claudia with a killer front row seat of the Pantheon. It was the first time I'd ever had Carbonara, and it was delicious. That and of course I had a cappuccino.
The one thing I didn't realize is how awful I had packed for this trip. The weather was not what was "expected" when we arrived. After 5 days of wearing my two hoodies (that had been damp from rainy days in Florence), they were just not going to cut it in 50 degree weather in Rome. So we spent the next few hours that first day finding me a jacket along the strip of shops from the main street we came in from. You might recognize this round-a-bout, as this is where we ended up post jacket success.
Behind us is the Capital. Definitely worth exploring, especially paying the couple dollars to view Rome from the top. You get the most spectacular views in every direction - from the Forum, Colosseum to the Vatican. I think we could have stayed up there forever - you can see the city for miles.
On our way back towards the Hotel, we noticed from our map we were only a few blocks from the Trevi Fountain. Of course we couldn't pass that up, as well as stop somewhere for some gelato. Mind you, this place was mighty crowded in the early evening - actually, anytime we went to see it - so if you're hoping for a decent picture you'll have to fight your way to the fountains edge.
TIP: Bop by the Trevi Fountain in the late evening - people will be out painting, putting on little shows and skits and selling nick nacks along the streets.
Day 2 (Vatican Tour):
Our tour of the Vatican (through Real Rome Tours) was first thing in the morning - before opening time, which was nice because we got to see the Sistine Chapel before anyone else (that gets super crowded upon opening). We couldn't take pictures inside the Chapel, although some didn't follow the rules (that were blatantly posted EVERYWHERE), but believe me when I say it was remarkable.
The entire tour was amazing - our guide was super informative (and not at all in a boring way). Obviously I was so into the works that I didn't really take any pictures - too into the moment, I guess. The tour lasted about 4 hours total, which included Saint Peter's Basilica.
TIP: take the morning tour - less crowded. Because by the time we reached the Basilica it was a "madhouse", literally.
Don't get me wrong - we had plenty of "downtime". We must have stopped by this little Cafe called Il Panino Ingegnoso at least 3-4 times (since it was around the corner from our Hotel) for sandwiches and craft beers. Cutest little spot to hang out in the afternoon and evening.
Day 3 (Colosseum/Forum Tour):
Our last and final full day was spent at the Colosseum and Forum. This tour was by far our favorite tour (through Real Rome Tours). Cliche, I know, but not many can say they've seen the Colosseum up close, and even go inside and underneath it all. It was an afternoon tour, which was nice because we got to spend the morning bombing around and taking in more of the sites at our own pace.
A walk to the Colosseum was only a couple miles from our Hotel, which made it even more pleasant getting to and fro. We arrived early and did a lot of "people watching" (one of our favorite things to do, especially in a country that isn't our own!), and boy will I say this: I think the most I learned in my time over there is about people. It is amazing how DIFFERENT we all are.
A lot happened during our "wait" - such as a fight between a young couple, the awkward behavior of someone who we think was drunk, and far too many "duck face" pictures were happening. So, my husband decided to attest to it's popularity.
The entire tour lasted about 4 hours - which included the Colosseum and the Forum, with a little break in between. Clearly, from the pictures, we saw what most weren't able to see without being in a private tour. We were in the center of it all, underneath it all, and on top of it all!
Taking the tour with the use of the earpiece was a win-win - so I highly advise a tour with the use of that (Real Rome Tours). It can get pretty loud when its crowded, and sound just tends to echo, so you want to be able to hear all the information that is given to you from your guide (as well as in case you get separated).
The tour of the Forum was also spectacular. We learned a lot about the Roman's way of life and housing. We even got up close and personal to Caesar's resting place and burial site.
After our tour, we stopped by a pizza joint nearby for lunch (the best pizza, in my opinion, overall in Italy) and, well, of course enjoying the last gelato we'd have in Italy. We decided to do our last dinner in Italy special - a place called Enoteca e Taverna Capranica. It's a very quaint, warm environment as you are surrounded by wines. The ravioli primi piatti was to die for (something about the sauce - we're not sure what - but it had a nice kick!).