Saturday 4 October 2014

When in Rome... as Romans do!

Hello everyone!
Now that we've had some time to settle in, we can finally breathe and look back on our vacation... and relive it!

Let's start with Rome, our first destination.
Rome is a busy, busy city. We had lots to see and so little time! Right after we arrived, we were greeted by our private chauffeur. Unfortunately, him being early meant we were early to our apartment rental. We waited for almost an hour outside the apartment for our host to arrive. As soon as we settled in, we set out for some exploring around our apartment. We were only about seven minutes from the Vatican. Seeing that Castel Sant'Angelo was fairly close, we decided to go for it, and guess what! No entrance fee.

Castel Sant'Angelo was initially built for a Roman emperor as a mausoleum, a burial chamber. It was later used as a papal fortress and castle by the pope. You can see the Passetto di Borgo, the pope's elevated passage way or escape route, that connects to the Vatican on the far right in the picture on the bottom. It has now been converted into a museum. After touring Castel Sant'Angelo, we decided to crash early. After all, we'd had a long day of flying and we were exhausted. We grabbed take-out from a local pizza joint and ate at our apartment.

The next morning, we were up early for our Vatican walking tour. We visited the Vatican museums, Raphael's Rooms, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's. It was an amazing tour, with a lot of details and history on the walls. However, it was also a lot to take in. After a while, everything just looked the same (keep in mind we were also a little jet-lagged!). After our tour was over, we debated on whether we should climb the cupola. If you take the elevator for €7, there was 320 steps to climb. If you skip the elevator for 5, it was 551 steps. And then you had to walk back down... whew! So after a long deliberation, we decided to skip the walk to the top of the dome. Instead, we headed back to the apartment for a quick rest, before heading out to shop and find us some dinner. We eventually decided to head to a little place called Il Ristorante Piacere Molise. We both had pasta and shared a tiramisu for dessert. 

On the third day, we had booked the Ancient Rome Tour, this included sightseeing at the Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill. It was a very hot day, and there was a lot of walking. Although the ruins were breathtaking, the heat was uncomfortable for us. By the end of the day, we felt dirty and sweaty. We stopped by the apartment to freshen up before dinner at Il Sorpasso. We had the most amazing proscuitto wrapped scallop - sadly we devoured it before we realized we should have taken a picture.

We ended up scrapping our reservations for the Borghese Gallery on our final day, it was too far away so it just didn't fit right in our itinerary. Instead, we went to the Fountain of Four Rivers at Piazza Navona. I'm pretty sure I only know about this thanks to Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. From there, we walked to the Pantheon, one of Rome's best preserved domes with an oculus. We stopped to grab a mozzarella and prosciutto baguette for lunch, and walked to the Capitoline Museums. We had a little trouble finding it, but managed to locate it with the help of the Italian police. We spent almost three hours there before leaving for our next destination. After consulting the Italian police for directions, we walked to the Trevi Fountain. Unfortunately, the Trevi Fountain was under construction and still is until late 2015. We had to line up to walk through the passage way to view the statues, and it was very rushed. It didn't seem like the real thing without the water flowing in the fountain, and we were told not to throw coins. Legend has it, if you throw a coin over your right shoulder, it will ensure a return to Rome. Lucky for me, the security guard allowed me to do so - he closed his eyes and pretended not to see. Funny guy! After a quick stop for some ice cream, we headed towards the Spanish Steps. It was packed with people, so we took a few quick tourist photos, and decided to window shop a little. Piazza di Spagna is where all the high end fashion stores are in Rome.

By dinner time, we were exhausted. We stopped at a small husband-and-wife owned restaurant, Sophie's, nearby instead of going back towards the Vatican. It started to rain very hard as we finished dinner so we decided to grabbed dessert to go from Pompi's. The girl who worked there warned us not to take the tiramisu to go (supposedly it melts quickly), but we did anyways. We stopped to take a few more pictures at the Spanish Steps since there was barely a soul in sight. You can see the dessert box I'm holding in the rain in the last picture below. We then hailed a cab back to our apartment for 7. When we got back to the apartment, I was so tired and wet, I tripped on the stairs, and dropped our tiramisu face down on the floor. Thank God it did not fall out of the container. It was a mess, but it was the most delicious tiramisu I've ever had.

The next morning, we were preparing to leave for Venice via the train, but there was one last thing I had forgotten to do. I needed to mail myself a postcard from the smallest country in the world, Vatican City. So we ran back to the Vatican to mail the postcard and back to our apartment to check out. We made it back just in time for our ride to the train station! I'm happy to report the postcard made its way to Vancouver about the same time I did. Very efficient, Vaticano!

So that was our first leg of our trip! Hope you enjoyed my mini review. Venice is up next...

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