Thursday, October 4, 2012

When in Rome . . .

Ancient Rome is exactly that, ancient. It was almost unbelievable to wander through the Roman Forum and visit the Colosseum where people have lived, ruled, and died well over a thousand years before the United States was even discovered. We just don't have that kind of history here. But in Rome, everything has a history, a very long history!

We walked through the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum, admiring columns that have been standing for thousands of years, marveling at the architecture that must have been spectacular in its day. I felt a little ashamed that I knew so little about the sights I was seeing. I felt like I needed to read a history book to fully grasp what had once been a great empire.

We wandered through the overwhelming museum in the Vatican to find our way to the Sistine Chapel where we marveled at the work done long ago by Michelangelo. And I couldn't even take pictures to show you! My neck hurt from staring up at the ceiling for almost an hour as we tried to take it all in (which is impossible). I couldn't believe my very own eyes were staring up at this famous work of art!

We sat out in the square enjoying the fountains, the sunshine, and the perfect architecture of St. Peter's Basilica. We climbed the narrow, winding stairs of the tower only to discover it was too crowded with other visitors to even take a decent picture. 

After we had seen the sites on our list and we still had an hour or two before heading to our apartment we decided to head to Trastevere, a cute area just south of Vatican City that has maintained a lot of its medieval appearance and character from the past. We wandered the cobblestone streets and then found a place to enjoy a drink. We had dinner on a bridge enjoying the view of the sunset over the river. After two full days of sightseeing and walking around, a quiet, restful evening was a nice treat.

How long we were there: 2 1/4 days

What we did/saw: On our first full day, we toured the Colosseum, the Roman Forums, and the Pantheon. Then we walked up the Spanish steps. The second day we went to Vatican City and toured the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. After a brief nap in a park by St. Angelo's Castle, we wandered around Trastevere.

What we ate: For dinner the first night, we had pizza and the most delicious house red wine at a restaurant near our apartment. For lunch the next day I had spinach and mozerella ravioli and Chris had a pasta that I had never seen before.  The noodles were long like spaghetti but thicker with a hole in the middle like a piece of licorice for lunch; he loved them! The cafe had tables set up outside on the cobblestone road with large patio umbrellas. It were off the beaten path so it wasn't very crowed. And for dessert, we had gelato!

The following day we had lunch near the Vatican at another cafe with a cobblestone patio; I had cannelloni and Chris had carbonara. Dinner was eaten in parts. First, we sat down at a cafe where I had a glass of white wine and Chris had a beer. Then we ordered a margarita pizza to go (or as they say "for take away") and ate it on a bridge near Tiber Island. We had eaten lunch around 3 p.m. so we weren't very hungry when dinner time came around.

Where we stayed: Our Air BnB apartment was perfect! We could not have asked for a better place to start our vacation. G* was the perfect hostess and had decorated her spare bedroom and bathroom to be a refreshing and quiet haven for her traveling visitors. She and her husband were about our age and had lived in Rome for several years. She made us breakfast each morning consisting of toast, homemade jams, cookies, juice and coffee. Italian breakfasts tend to be on the sweeter side (not the bacon and eggs type of culture). After our first day in the city, we came back exhausted and she even offered to make us dinner! She made a tomato/mozzarella salad, cooked up a vegetable we weren't able to translate into English, bread and slices of salami.  She gave us a lot of advice about what to see and you can just tell she loved her city and her culture. She also loved getting to know about our culture.

How we got around: We took a train from the airport to the apartment we stayed at. We took the metro most of the time to get around but did take a bus once. We walked a lot too.

* Not giving her real name.

You can view more photos from Rome here!

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