There are so, so, so many people in Rome. If the Dodgers & Giants and Lakers & Clippers both played during a hippie convention in Downtown Los Angeles, it wouldn’t hold a candle to the number of people in Rome. Tour groups waddle like Zombies following their guides, sidewalk-hawkers endlessly ask you to buy “self-sticks”, and people stop in the middle of anywhere to take selfies. Yet, somehow, this city is still, eternally, beautiful. (click on any picture to enlarge)
On to the happenings so far. After a very long, but not terribly difficult flight from LAX to Coppenhagen to Rome we arrived late in the evening, checked into an AirBnB near the airport, and settled into our first pizza. Name of the pizzeria… On The Road Cafe. Apropos, no? Kate was a happy camper and the pizza was delicious. Fun, unexpected tidbit, Italy hasn’t really discovered the glories of the pizza wheel yet…all knife and fork. Quaint, but we like our slices.
The next day was the great 17-mile “stroll.” Up early and out the door as soon as we could, we hopped the bus for the AirBnB we were staying at for the next 6 nights a short trip north of Vatican City. After a few twists, turns, cups of coffee, and the first hint we got of just how much better the croissants are here … we arrived. We chatted up our host, shared another cup of coffee, and settled in for a bit before taking off on a “short stroll” to get our barrings on the city.
Those of you who follow us on Facebook know that stroll turned into a 17-mile march. It started innocently enough, we strolled to Piazza Di Popollo (pictured above) and leisurely took in the park above the piazza and surrounding the Borghese Gardens. Then, realizing a free walking tour of the city (highly highly recommended) left just 30-minutes and 1/2 mile away we vamosed to the Spanish Steps . What we didn’t totally grasp, was how far away that tour ended, down by the Colosseum. Not having a firm grip on the bus system yet, we walked basically across the entire downtown of old Rome, through Trastevere, and finally back to our apartment by night’s end. It was a memorable start for sure. Here’s Kate being a trooper though, smiling at the Trevi fountain. (worth noting, because nothing new can be built in Rome, all the old stuff is constantly covered in scaffolding. We were told we were “lucky” the fountain had just become visible for the first time in a year the week or two before).
Day two started the tour schedule in earnest with The Vatican, including the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basillica, & Square. Everything you’ve ever heard about the beauty of The Vatican is true. It’s mind-bendingly beautiful, it’s gardens are immaculate, and the art and architecture is simply unrivaled by anything we’ve ever seen.
Day three was as much a “tourist” day as can be imagined. Up early and off to Rome’s most popular sights: The Forum, Palantine Hill (former home to Rome’s elite & city’s purported founding site), & Colosseum. Well, that was the plan anyway. After a monster day 2, we called it quits after the Palantine & Forum on the site seeing and saved our energy for a long night of eating and drinking in the Pantheon neighborhood.
By day four we were really hitting our stride. Up and at ’em bright and early. Enjoy sights, return home for the late afternoon siesta (a lovely practice we embraced in Mexico last year and quickly fell back into here), before cleaning up and heading out for the evening stroll, eats, & gelato.
Day four was a personal favorite. We spent the day wandering between stunningly beautiful church after church. Exploring their art, stories, history and the 300BC mithraeums underneath you get an up close view of the pulse of Rome. We topped it off with the colossus of tourist attractions, The Flavian Amphitheater. Wait, what? Oh, right, in post 1300AD talk, that’s one of the 7 Wonders of the World, the Roman Colosseum. Personal favorite church, Sant’Ignazio Di Loyola and it’s Ascension to Heaven ceiling fresco.
That night brought a stunning after dark visit to The Pantheon and the discovery of what would become a regular hangout for us, Piazza Navona.
The rest of our time in Rome was filled with a quiet visit outside the City Walls of Rome to the Ancient Appian Way, the Catacombs of St.Callixus, a daytime visit to step inside The Pantheon, a visit to the Capitoline Museum, and a host of other churches, piazza’s and gelaterias.
In the end, we liked Rome, maybe even came to love it. That said, after a week in the city we were primed and ready for the beautiful Italian countryside, but not after one more dip into the crazy Italian city life. Next blog post: Southern Italy – Naples, Pompeii, & The Alamfi Coast.
Grant & Kate
P.s. Headed to Tuscany tomorrow, if you’ve been, text us, tag us on social media, or send up smoke signals with your winery recommendations around Chianti!