I'm doing these recaps for my memory's sake, but no judgement if you just aren't interested in pretty pictures or our trip in general. I'm hoping to share some insights that might help others planning a similar trip. Also, I plan to break up the posts so you get some normal, non-travel posts here and there throughout the next few weeks!
Our flights transferred in Atlanta's brand new international wing before heading to Rome's Fiumicino airport. We upgraded to Delta's "Economy Comfort" seats in order to get more legroom. The seats were by far the most uncomfortable seat I've ever sat in. Did I mention we were right next to the bathroom? For 9 hours we had people lining up (in our extra leg room) for the bathroom. It didn't smell but it did mean zero sleep for either of us before touching down with a full day ahead in Rome.
Once we landed, we took a cab to Hotel Nazionale. It's a beautiful four-star hotel in short walking distance to most sites. It was also directly across from the Italian Parliament building which meant it was a limited traffic zone and a hundred times more quiet (and safe) there than anywhere else in Rome.
The hotel had the old charm on the outside and lobby, but the rooms were all updated, which was a really nice combination. Look for their specials during the off-season, we got one free night! We were allowed to check in several hours early, so we did the most logical thing you would do when you've been up for most of the day. Yep, we took a nap.
Our afternoon on the first day included a walk to the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain, both of which were way bigger than I expected. (I've got some iPhone photos thrown in here. We opted to give our phone to someone to take our photo rather than risk someone stealing my Canon)
Of course we threw some coins in with a few wishes, safely ensuring we would make it back to Rome someday.
We also walked to the Spanish Steps, which was underwhelming in my opinion. Especially because everywhere you walked street vendors were getting in your face trying to sell you the weirdest items, like squishy things that squeaked when you threw them on the ground. Apparently those are hot with tourists or something...
|The start of the many too-close-for-comfort selfies from our trip.|
|Some iPhone photos thrown in here...|
For dinner, we headed to Piazza Navona and found an outdoor table about a block away at Ciccia Bomba. I got their Margherita Pizza and Steve got the Rigatoni with Bacon. Both were really delicious, probably one of our better meals in Rome. Of course the ambiance at the outdoor table made it even more charming.
I recommend walking off the beaten path for a restaurant. Anything on the main walkways leading to sites or in front of the sites themselves had just 'okay' food. Stick to just their house wine if you really want to enjoy the view, that is what we did by the Pantheon.
The next morning we caught a cab to the Vatican. We arranged an English tour of the Vatican, Sistine Chapel, Museums, the Raphael Rooms and St. Peter's Bascilica directly through the Vatican (here) for 37 Euros a person. Other private tours were as much as 80 euros per person, and we were really happy with ours!
|The carbs were already making their way to my face!|
|Inside St. Peter's Bascilica|
Again, the size of everything was just over the top. And the level of detail was just amazing!
|Michelangelo's Pieta, which was blocked by glass|
|Awkward purse placement = Habit of making sure we didn't get pick-pocketed!|
We walked back from the Vatican, stopping at the Castel Sant'Angelo before having lunch at a small, very authentic restaurant in Campo De' Fiori. (Sorry, don't remember the name of it, but there are tons in that area so I don't think you can go wrong!)
|The view from Castel Sant'Angelo... the wall to the right was used to help the Pope escape the Vatican if it was necessary|
|Campo De' Fiori|
See that gorgeous bouquet for only 3 Euros? In my opinion, Italian men have no excuse not to bring home beautiful flowers for their lady.
Next up, Ancient Rome! Here is a sneak peek from our underground tour of the Colosseum!