We arrived in Rome on November 19, 2015 at 8:30pm.
It was a journey to get to our hotel. From the airport, we had to do the usual — pick up our luggages, exchange money, figure out transport, buy bus tickets, find the bus to central station, walk to the subway, figure our way over to the hotel… and of course, we exited one exit too early, and ended up walking for a bit with our luggage. What we should have done was just take a taxi instead of the subway after the bus ride.
After all that, we finally got to our hotel, C’est la Vie, just a little past 11pm. Turns out that the place we were staying at was more of an Bed & Breakfast sort of spot, which was nice. Our hosts were very kind and provided us with lots of useful information. Plus they had a stocked kitchen with drinks and snacks for us, which was really great.
Being that it was late, we choose to not go out our first night in Rome, but instead to rest up so that we could get an early start the next morning.
Bright and early the next morning, we grabbed a quick bite to eat from the kitchen and set out for our first day in Rome. We walked over to the nearby subway station in hopes of catching the train, but it turned out that there were armed guards blocking the entrances. We couldn’t understand what they were saying in Italian, but we got the idea that we couldn’t pass. Not knowing what to do, we opted to take an uber.
Our Uber driver picked us up in a black Mercedes and was dressed in an all black suit. Made us feel fancy. He drove us what seemed to be a scenic route to the Colosseum, and we appreciated it. We got a great preview of what was to come in Rome, and we were ecstatic.
After getting off at the Colosseum, I couldn’t help but notice all of the armed guards around the area. My question is usually the same, are they always here or is this just something new because of the Paris attacks? I’m never sure if I feel safer with them around or uneasy.
The first thing I noticed outside of the Colosseum was the Arch of Constantine. It’s hard to not get distracted outside of the Colosseum because there are so many other great monuments to gaze upon. But Erick quickly reminded me to focus on our current destination.
And here we are, at the Colosseum. Usually Erick doesn’t want to go inside of things (e.g. churches), but this time he wanted to go inside, even when it meant that we had to pay! The Colosseum was totally worth the money and time to go inside and explore a bit.
It’s crazy to be that something like this ever existed. What I’ve only ever known through movies and books has come alive. That feeling of standing there and seeing it with your own eyes and knowing the sort of events that used to take place within the Colosseum walls is just mind blowing. This is history!
Walking around the inside of the Colosseum was great. I liked to image what it was like to come here as a spectator, watching and gambling. Who knows, maybe there was another Sarah way back in the days who sat in this same hallway area as me. I imagine not, but it’s nice to think of it. These photos make me feel like I’m part of a boy band or something staring off into the distance.
We couldn’t get enough of the Colosseum. I have so many photos inside and out, and it was worth it.
After the Colosseum, we walked around the Roman Forum.
Just on the other side of the street was Forum of Augustus. We didn’t get any closer to that side, but it looked beautiful, the mixture of old ancient ruins juxtaposed with newer buildings.
Continuing our walk, we stopped and gazed upon Curia Lulia. Truly, so much beauty in Rome.
Then we arrived at Altare della Patria, which totally sticks out like a white glamorous “sore thumb” in Rome. It’s a ginormous monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel, the first king of a unified Italy.
The monument large and block-like, with lots of statues and carvings. Leading up to the building, you had to walk up several flights of stairs. There was also a burning flame at the midpoint of the stairway.
Inside of the monument, it was almost just as glamorous. I’m a huge sucker for these types of ceilings. Also, this Quadriga aka chariot drawn by four horses is pretty gangster.
The view from up top was spectacular. Probably one of the best that we got during our trip in Rome. Here are some panoramic shots from all sides of the monument rooftop! Magnificent, huh?
Because it was so beautiful on the rooftop, and since it was also breakfast time, we decided to grab some mimosas. Little did we know it would come with olives and mini sandwiches!
In addition to having a nice rooftop lounging area, we also stumbled upon a church. This was the first church that we saw in Rome, and we were quite blown away.
Oh Rome, how are you so photogenic?
Next we took a stroll down the street, Via del Corso. We passed by many hidden gems, such as a quiet garden court yard and another church pictured below (couldn’t find the name of it).
We were making our way over to the Trevi Fountain, and before we knew we were there, it slapped us in the face, *BOOM*! Smacked in the middle of a tiny plaza was this monstrous fountain. I remember the feeling when I first saw it… a sort of dumbfound awe. I could feel my chest tighten as I almost held my breath to gaze upon all its glory.
While I stood there still taking in my surroundings, Erick managed to sneak away to buy some gelato, lol.
Onwards we moved, not to waste a second of our precious day. We passed by the Piazza Colonna, which stood out in a strange fashion, looking like an out of place column.
As we walked, we passed by many precious alley ways. Here’s one of them that we decided to stop and take a photo in. This is probably one of my favorite photos from our Europe Trip, which says a lot. I’ve even made it my Facebook profile photo already, ha!
Finally after much walking, we arrived at Piazza del Popolo. This was our main destination after having seen the fountain. It’s basically a large urban square in Rome, and literally translates to “People’s Square.”
While we were aimlessly wandering around the square, we got caught up by a middle aged Indian man. He began asking us questions about our relationship status, how long we’ve been together, do we have kids, etc. Then he “gifted” us these woven thread bracelets and said it was good luck. He had us kiss for each knot that he tied around our wrists. In the end he offered us 3 roses and wanted money in return. Erick didn’t want to give money for something we didn’t ask for, so to get him to go away, we just have him less than a dollar. He was upset, and so were we, but he let me keep 1 rose.
This is the rose that we got. It probably looks better in the photo than it did in person, because it was actually quite wilted.
Anyways, moving on, we walked down Via del Babuino street in search of lunch.
Pastificio is where we ended up. The line to order food went out the door. I’m not sure if it’s because the food is really good or because it was really cheap. Basically every day, they offer 2 different pastas of the day. People line up and order which pasta they want from the cashier, and the other workers scoop up your pick. You can either take it to go, or eat it inside of their small cramped restaurant.
These are the two pastas that they had available the day that we went. Both were just okay, but also very salty. The noodles were very good quality though. I guess the sauce just wasn’t to my taste.
Once we finished up our dinner, we continued walking and passed by the Trinità dei Monti. We couldn’t go up because of some sort of construction that was going on. The base of the stairs were gated off blocking access. Oh well, guess I’ll have to wait till next time to see it! It reminds me of the scene from GoT when Cersei does the walk of shame, hehe. Too bad that’s actually in Croatia though.
While in Rome, we ended up at the Prada store. I told Erick not to do it, but he did anyways. He helped buy a Prada backpack for one of his friends. It was our worst decision that we made during our trip. Because of our large purchase, we had to take a taxi back to our hotel to put away the goods, and couldn’t finish our sightseeing as planned. In addition, we had to lug around the backpack from country to country. This was a pain! You better love that backpack and take it to your death bed, Shan!
Because of our change of sightseeing plans, we decided to go to Vatican City, the smallest internationally recognized independent state in the world. Honestly, we didn’t really know much about Vatican City and thus found ourselves inside of the Vatican Museum.
When we got to the ticket booth, we asked the worker if this was the Vatican and he replied, “well it depends, what is the Vatican to you?” Well f*ck, we don’t know…
Instead of going into the museum, we went around the perimeter and arrived at St. Peter’s Basilica. Such grandeur within these Vatican walls.
The one thing great about St. Peter’s Basilica, is that it’s free entry. On the other hand, the downside is that the line is horrendously long! At least it wasn’t raining…
After making it through the metal detectors and zipping up to hide my midriff (it is a church after all), we walked towards the entrance. On the way I saw a church guard? He was dressed quite in character, just like from out of a novel.
Here we are in front of the church. There were a lot of chairs outside. I’m assuming that they hold large Catholic mass outside for worship.
Inside of the church was quite impressive with all of the decoration and the large scale of each hall and arch. This IS the largest church in the world. Well I guess it makes sense since it’s basically the HQ of Catholicism.
Up skirt shots of the church. Check out the ceilings and stone ornaments. I cant imagine anyone building anything like this nowadays.
More photos, I’m speechless. What’s that wooden table looking thing in the photo below? Sorry I’m not Catholic, and can’t seem to find the answer online (truth: I didn’t look very hard).
Wandering around the church was neat, but what I actually enjoyed more was the underground level. Following a small door to a downward stairway, we happened upon all of the tombs of past popes. The tombs were ancient, the oldest being Saint Peters from the 1st century!
Finishing up our exploration of the pope tombs, we left to check out the gift shop. Didn’t buy anything since we weren’t interested in rosemary beads or merchandise with the popes face on it. This concluded our trip to Vatican City.
On a bridge just infront of Castel Sant’Angelo, you can still see the church. It was such a quant view, but the large billboard sort of ruined the scenery. Below is a photo of the castle and the bridge that we were on. We didn’t go inside though.
Instead we made our way over to Campo de’ Fiori. This was my favorite plaza square out of all the ones that we visited in Rome.
At Maranega Ristorante, we decided to grab some drinks and hookah! It was very enjoyable sitting outside in front of the restaurant looking at all the people come and go through the plaza. When we first sat down, it was still daylight, but by the time we left the sun had already set.
Approaching dinner time, our stomaches started taking notice. We busily looked up where to eat on yelp, but ended up just wandering around the neighboring area. Eventually we wound up back at the plaza that we were at and decided to eat our next meal at Osteria da Fortunata, just a few steps down from where we hookah’d.
Of course I got some red wine to go with my gonococci, which might I add, both were bomb! This was my second favorite meal in Rome, and I finished it all.
After dinner, we were fairly buzzing, and we ventured off to the Pantheon. We never did get a chance to see the Pantheon during the day, but it sure was magical at night. Sitting under the starry sky with the moon shinning bright above the Pantheon, and a talented street musician playing familiar melodies, the setting was just right. If I hadn’t already been married, I would have wanted Erick to propose to me right then and there. THATS how romantic it was.
Erick liked the musicians music so much that he bought 3 of his CDs, lol. I guess a good souvenir considering our lack of any throughout our travels.
Oh and check out this fountain, isn’t it wicked looking? I wonder sometimes what the artist was thinking and how he was able to convince people to place such a scary looking sculpture within a square center.
For dessert, we went to get more gelato at Della Palma Gelato di Roma. This joint was a very highly rated one, but definitely not traditional. It felt more like an overstocked Baskins 31 actually, especially since they had about 150 flavors! Nevertheless, my gelato on a cone was good. I got coffee with mint chip, or so it looks like, but I’m pretty sure that’s not what I got…
A fair ways away from our hotel, we probably should have taken an Uber. Instead, we took a long walk back. Part of this decision probably stemed from the fact that we had a few drinks. We were in need of walking off our tummies and the buzz fueled our feet. On the way home, we passed a huge intricately carved building, the Palace of Justice. Buildings always look so different in the day time versus the night. I love how lighting dramatically changes the mood.
Thoroughly exhausted from our first official day in Rome, we KTFO.
Day two in Rome, I wanted to go to a popular bakery for breakfast, but we never made it because we got lazy. So instead, we ended up here at Ciao Checca. I basically followed my nose and found them. The set up for their dining was quite interesting with a string of rooms connected, each with a different decor style, and finally ended with a mirror.
Look at my breakfast, isn’t it intense? So many different options. I have no idea why I would want so many different drinks to myself, but I guess sure, why not?
Today we wanted to keep the sightseeing more on the lighter side, since yesterday’s was so heavy and tiring. So we literally just looked at San Luigi dei Francesi, snapped a photo and walked away.
We went back to the plaza where we hookah’d and had dinner however, because Erick really wanted to check out their market place that they typically have in the square. Does it look different than it did at night time? At the market they sold lots of cooking supplies, oils, spices, pastas, and some clothes. I would have loved to buy some oils or spices, but honestly I don’t feel like I know enough to buy any of those things.
By now, it had started to pour. I was stubborn and refused to buy an umbrella. Eventually, after being completely drenched in water from head to toe, and not being able to keep my eyes open due to the amount of down pour, I caved. We bought the next umbrella that was offered to us. Turns out that the umbrella we bought was broken! Erick had to run and hunt the seller down to get a new one. Luckily, he was able to track the seller and do an exchange.
Here’s Piazza Navona, the last plaza that we ever visited in Rome, cause you know, there are a lot of them! This one was a lot larger than the one with the market place. I imagine it’s also a lot more photogenic when the sky is blue.
Notably, the plaza had two fountains, one of them was Fountain of Four Rivers.
Because of the heavy rain, we took shelter in the plaza church, Sant’Agnese. We stayed in here for quite a bit due to the rain, but it really gave us a chance to for once, sit and relax. We sat in several different spots around the church and took in the decor. I really like how the inside of the dome top has a bunch of angels swirling around in the clouds up in heaven. Quite interesting paint.
Leaving the church, we took a bus over to Piazza della Repubblica. On the bus though, I was subtly harassed by a un-gentlemanly mannered man in a leather jacket. I remember he was invading my space and what seems like rubbing himself or thrusting at me. It was hard to tell and I wasn’t quite sure since the bus was packed! He stopped after I told Erick what I thought was going on and when I stared at him with a dirty look. I was so happy to be off of that bus.
For lunch we ate at a place that I picked, Al Forno Della Soffita. Turns out that I have good yelp skills because this was both Erick and my favorite meal of Rome!
We both got a beer to drink (bad idea), it made me so full. A few years back, our restaurant on an award for best pizza. Boy was that pizza the best thin slice I’ve ever had. Imagine a super juicy pizza, but without any sogginess. Literally cooked to perfection. The pasta was my favorite too, as it wasn’t overly salty and I was able to scarf it down without trouble.
In Rome, we’ve been pretty big on desserts just because of gelato. So we got some at Romana Il Gelato Dal. This one is the legit traditional, how it’s supposed to be done gelato. All of the gelato containers were covered and set to the perfect temperature.
Does it look any different from any other gelato that you’ve had before? It was very very rich. A bit too sweet for my taste, but very good. We almost got another one.
After dessert, we took another bus back towards our hotel. Oh yea, might I add, we never ever paid for any of our bus rides. Whenever we tried to pay or talk to the bus driver, they driver never wanted to deal with us and would just tell us to get in the back of the bus, lol. Interesting, huh? They didn’t care, and neither did anyone else.
Back near our hotel, we stopped by a convenience store for some wine and necessities. At the hotel we munched on cheese and crackers, with a paper cup filled with wine as we watched Minions in bed. We fell asleep half way through the movie…
Wide awake from our nap, it was dinner time! We got ready for the night and set off to Ristochicco Restaurant. It was later in the night, so many guests were finishing up their meals, however, it was also still quite busy. Luckily, a couple had just left and we were able to grab a table. Inside the decor was cute, with wine bottles lining the walls, red and white checkered curtains, chestnut wood finish, and an inviting ambience.
I started off my meal with the restaurant’s house wine. This is the wine that the restaurant makes themselves. It was really good! Erick had a French beer (boring), and it wasn’t very good. Our appetizer was delicious and very refreshing.
Both of our pastas were really good too, especially mine. But oh my God, it was so flavorful and super salty! We ended up having to ask for two glasses of water, just so that I could drink at least a quarter of it with every bite. And mind you, the water in most of Europe is not free, unless you ask for tap. Usually, they only offer bottled still or sparkling. That’s one of the things I really hated, having to pay for water!
Dinner ended, but our night didn’t stop there. We found ourselves at Jet Bar for drinks. Both of us only had one drink here since Erick didn’t like being surrounded by so many cigarette smokers. We paid our bill and left.
At an unlikely place, Gran Caffe’, we got macaroons, fruit tartes, and more drinks. I mean, what else do you do when you’re on vacation but sightsee, eat, and drink a ton?!
Now we were on a roll, and decided to hit up a bar. We looked up the nearest bar to our hotel and found Green Fields. The rest of the night was history. Shots, shots, shots, and beer. Good thing our hotel was only a block away, or else I’m not sure we would have made it back.
The next morning we said farewell to Rome, hopped in a Uber, and flew out to Vienna at noon!
Rome in a few words, was one of the most memorable and romantic cities of them all. First thing I noticed when we got to Rome was the amount of PDA everywhere. People in Rome are in love, and aren’t afraid to show it. A lot of the buildings in Rome are quite grand. The downside is that the city can be dirty, similarly to how New York is. The amount of English speakers in Rome was surprisingly higher than Berlin’s, but that didn’t mean that they were perfectly fluent. Unlike Germany’s fancy cars, Rome’s was a lot more humble, smaller, and not luxury. You probably wouldn’t even need a car though, because much of Rome is walkable. Food wise, we didn’t see many other options besides Italian. I’m not sure that I would be able to live there solely on the fact that I need my Asian foods! But I could get use to the wine drinking, hehe.