We've been back from Italy for almost a week now. I think we're still recovering. The time change (especially when pregnant) takes a lot of adjustment. Add to that 5 days of illness..going on 6, fingers crossed for tomorrow betterness...and well, it's a lot.
So let's get to it!
Round 1: Roma
Our Italy planning was very light. We found cheapish tickets online, checked our calendars, rubbed my growing belly for luck, and clicked purchase! We knew only that we were flying into Rome and out of Milan. In the last week, we booked our hotel for the first night only and would wing the rest.
We flew Air Berlin and loved it! Great plane, flight attendants, food, booking - all of it, so easy. When we arrived in Rome, we bought train tickets to Roma Termini and took a cab to our hotel. Termini was super crowded and because of all the hulabaloo we read about scary, scary pick-pockets at the station, we decided to take the easy route and just take a cab from the station to our hotel.
- I think the hype about pick-pockets is exaggerated. I mean, yeah, don't leave your bags unattended, keep your eyes open, etc. - same rules you might follow in any airport or train station. Common sense people, don't freak out.
- You can walk a lot of places in Rome but unless your hotel is in the Repubblica area, it's much easier to take a cab to your hotel. The metro isn't convenient to a lot of areas and you'll be walking a lot while in Rome so use that first trip to the hotel to take it all in. But do be prepared for a decent cab fare; traffic is a meter killer and they charge 2 euro for luggage.
The architecture. Oh, the architecture.
I do mean it when I say to take it all in. Trips have a way of becoming just another trip but please, please, stare at the buildings, the streets, the people, the colors. Even now, I have to remind myself of how lovely it all was.
We didn't love or really even like our first hotel (surprising because trip advisor is usually right-on) so on our first day, while we were out and about, we found another one and booked new rooms for the next two nights. We loved this hotel! The desk clerks were so friendly and helpful. It's half apartments, half hotel rooms complete with an old, single elevator and a winding staircase. Though, I will say that if we ever go back, we'll stay somewhere closer to the center of the city - near Trevi or Spanish Steps, it was a lot of walking just to get to the mix of it all. And cobblestone streets - ouch! - are no friend to your feet.
Places we saw and loved: Spanish Steps
We came and sat down here multiple times. People watching is fabulous here and it's right near all the great shopping Rome has to offer. There's also a metro stop right there and convenient things are our favorite things.
Next: Trevi Fountain
Day or Night, it's a fun spot. Surrounded by gelato shops and vendors and of course, tourists, it's a busy little area that just makes you smile. It kinda just shows up as you're walking, like, surprise, here i am! Kinda fun, much smaller than I envisioned but just plain lovely.
I feel like a lot of these well-known sights sneak up on you. You're walking with your map, trying to follow the crooked streets, searching for those small stone street names on the sides of buildings and then before you know it, you look up and say: oh! i think this is it.
The Pantheon is cool more for it's piazza than anything else I think. It's super fun to eat lunch there and take your time watching everyone go by. We watched children playing in the drinking fountain. We listened to an accordion player play classic Italian tunes. We saw groups and groups of students walk by. And my personal favorite, watching the fashion. A big trend there...panty hose! Once I pointed it out to Hank, he kept asking if one girl or another was wearing them. It was such an odd thing to see. Why anyone would WANT to wear a nude pair of hose is beyond me. Also popular, sweat pants and leather jackets. Ha.
Ah, I loved seeing it all.
So yeah, the Pantheon, it's free to go inside. There are tombs. Ya know.
Next: Colosseum and Forum
Amazing. Old. Crazy.
The Forum is really, really cool. Walk through it.
And the Colosseum - well, Ben Hur is one of my favorite movies so yeah, I liked seeing it. I regret not doing the audio tour. It would have been worth it because once inside, I kinda had no idea what I was looking at. Where were the seats?! The floor?! I read all about it after but yeah, spring for the info in your ears and get your history on.
Next: The Vatican
Gorgeous. Wish you were here.
I took a million photos of the inside of St. Peter's because it was just so beautiful but they all look the same so I'll just post this one. The Vatican is super cool. Self-contained little pope town that it is, has lots of great vendors and shops too!
And if I could, I would totally give you advice on whether or not to wait to see the famous painting in the Sistine Chapel buuuut....we didn't go in. I know! Who goes ALL THE WAY to freaking Vatican City and doesn't go to the Sistine Chapel?! Us. We Hanks do not. And honestly, I have no good reason for it. We saw the very similar paintings in the basilica and when we exited, instead of asking or figuring out where the chapel was, we just followed the crowd out and back down to the piazza. And well, my feet were saying...um, no you are not going back over there after all that, missy. So, meh, I didn't. I feel OK about it though so my only sadness is not having a photo for you all to see. But I bet you can google it.
And finally: Travestere and Campo di Fiori
Travestere was Hank's favorite area of Rome. Thinking back now, it reminds me of Florence. Set right along the Tiber and a little less busy than the rest of Rome, it's sorta cozy. Campo di Fiori is a great little market with lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, fish, and typical souvenirs. It's definitely worth a stroll through.
Overall, Rome is just rad. SO much to see that I'm sure a week or two would have been better for really experiencing it fully. But you can really see a lot in 2 full days. The food is ridiculous (though breakfast is not and as someone who loves breakfast, it was a little disappointing) and the gelato should be had as often as possible. Your feet will be sore and a good night's rest e molto importante.
Says me, the pregnant one with lots of motherly advice all of a sudden...
Ciao Roma! Grazie! Arrivederci!
Florence recap in the works. Come back to see why we like it even better than Rome! :)