remember that time we went to italy last may and I'm just now getting around to blogging about it? yeah, me neither. we're going to go ahead and pretend like i'm not this far behind and instead just reminisce, OK? this one's a doozy so pour yourself some nice italian wine and settle in!
from the minute you land in rome, the first thing you notice is bits of history legitimately around every corner and in nearly every building. no matter if there's a monument or starbucks nearby, everything looks as though it has existed for hundreds of years (and honestly probably has). it makes for striking, almost surreal visuals everywhere you walk. and because almost everything you see has some sort of historical significance, here are some of the things we liked the most.
for starters, THIS ^ was our hotel lobby. classic rome, looking all pretty even in the most unlikely places. this was also the hotel where james gandolfini died a few years ago. long live the sopranos!
one of the first things we like to do in any new place is venture out from the hotel and see what we run into. the top photo is the altare della patria, also known as the monumento nazionale a vittorio emanuele II. it took us way too long to figure out what this place was even though it's so majestic and ornate. I feel like most things are so well marked and covered with signage so to not see that was a little strange!
the next two photos are from one of the most stunning buildings in all of rome. it's hard to explain how massive and unique this space is. while it used to be a temple (built around 113 AD, I might add!), it now functions as a church and tourist attraction mostly. the building was built by hand and the oculus at the top of the church is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. wowza!
ahhh, the trevi fountain - arguably one of the most happenin' tourist spots in the whole city. it took a lot of effort to not have any other people in this photo because there are couples, kids, families and people EV-ERY-WHERE. and people trying to sell you fidget spinners, umbrellas and other knickknacks. long story short...it's an absolute cluster but SO worth seeing. you must at least do a quick walk by. and throw a coin over your right shoulder to ensure that you will once again make it to rome.
FOOD BREAK! we are going to take a quick detour and check out some of the tasty things we ate in rome. it's essentially impossible to choose the best meal we had because the pasta, pizza and everything is just leaps and bounds better than anything we have in the US. the pictures don't even do it justice, but hey, a girl's gotta try.
OK, now that we've had a feast...back to our regularly scheduled programming. the next stop on our rome tour is the iconic colosseum. rounding the corner and seeing this was seriously a pinch me moment. learning about the history behind it, how it was built and how it's still standing was just mind-blowing.
one of our absolute favorite parts of rome - and the trip in general - was seeing the vatican and st. peter's basilica. nothing truly prepares you for how ornate, beautiful and special this place really is. if you decide to go (which you should), do a little research about the day/time you're thinking. we decided to get up early and get on the first tour available. this worked out well and we avoided the insane crowds that come late morning or early afternoon. this stop on our trip was extremely meaningful to us and i don't think i'll ever get over seeing the sistine chapel and every other beautiful inch of the vatican. just wow.
being in rome and getting to see so many historical places and objects was an experience of a lifetime. we originally thought it was going to be super touristy (which parts of it definitely are), but it's all about where you go and what kinds of neighborhoods you explore.
a few other notable places/things to see + tips while you're in the eternal city:
* rome is a big walking city. while you could take an uber or taxi to your next stop, consider walking or renting bikes. it's a great way to see everything!
* we downloaded a few of the rick steves audio tours and they were extremely insightful and informative. just download on your phone over wifi, bring some headphones and go to town! he has a bunch for other european cities as well.
* italy is known for making all the good carbs (looking at you, pizza, pasta & foccacia) but the wine is also out of this world. the best part is that you can order the house wine at most restaurants and it's extremely inexpensive and delicious too.
* one afternoon we went to villa borghese park and rented a two-person pedal bike. hilarious, fun and a great way to spend some time in the shade and see a quieter side of the city.
* some friends of ours were on their honeymoon in italy the same time we were there and we met them a few times in the trastavere neighborhood. we HIGHLY recommend venturing over to this area for some unique bars, adorable little cafes and some eclectic people watching.
* gelato is always a good idea.
cheers to a wonderful first stop in rome! next stop: firenze!