A love for the language, food and culture has lead me to always dream of visiting this country. And now I was here. In Rome. The capital! But I didn’t feel like I was in Italy.
Tourists packed every corner and although we weren’t locals ourselves we couldn’t help but be frustrated by the crowds. Then there were the gypsies who would approach you every 5 metres selling selfie sticks or pointless, annoying toys. Not to mention the snobby waiters that made you feel like you were being a hassle for eating at their restaurant. Yes, these were my first impressions of Italy. But thank goodness they were about to improve!
New game plan! Avoid the tourists! Tactic: get up early enough to avoid the crowds. So at 8am we made our way back to the stunning Trevi fountain where the crowds were a 10th of the size. Ah much better!
Trevi fountain is breath taking! It’s far bigger than I ever imagined! They say one coin toss will bring you back to Rome, two to find love and three for marriage. Perhaps I should have thrown more than just one coin?
Today’s fun fact: an average of 3000 Euros is collected from the fountain each day! And then donated to subside food costs for the poor in Rome. Not a bad cause hey?
After enjoying a Mediterranean style lunch by the river, we headed towards the Vatican city. The museum was enormous! It took us over 2 hours to walk through its corridors and gaze at the incredible art work and historical statues. Needless to say we were pretty exhausted by the time we reached the Sistene Chapel. I just wanted to lay down and look at the roof for hours! The detail of Michelangelo’s 16th century work was incredible. I just wish we had a guide with us to help explain the stories behind the art.
After a long day we decided to give dinner another try, hopefully with nicer service than the previous evening. We dined away from the tourism region and after buying an Italian phrase book we practised some basic Italiano to order a table for 2 and ask for the menu. Well! We were off to a much better night. The staff here were lovely and we enjoyed a gnocchi and pizza with a glass of red. The perfect end to a long day!
Another big day was planned for our second day in Rome. Today we were visiting the Colosseum, Forum and Palatine hill! We were so excited! We began by venturing through Palatine hill. A wise decision as the crowds here were much smaller than those surrounding the Colosseum. I’m sad to say that Palatine hill left me feeling frustrated. Terrible modern art (if you can call it that) was plonked in the middle of beautiful Roman ruins. Big glittery letters spelling “Loser” and a giant square yellow platform stood out like sore thumbs. It was so unnecessary and I couldn’t understand why anyone had allowed it to be approved. Luckily the Forum made up for it.
The Forum was incredible and my favourite sight for the day. I loved scaling the old stairs so we could look down on the old city centre. Huge columns remain standing next to streets of Roman statues. We enjoyed imagining how it would have looked in the first century and just couldn’t believe how many ruins remained.
Now for the main event. The Colosseum! Memories of school lessons flooded back into my memory. I loved studying the history of the Colosseum and it felt surreal to standing inside its walls.
Our day was topped off by another fabulous dinner! We spoiled ourselves by reserving a table at Roscioli, where we shared a four course meal.
Antipasti: Eggplant capanata
Starter: La Carbonara (aka best Carbonara I’ve ever eaten!)
Second course: Roman meatballs
It was delicious! We were in absolute food heaven. Real Italian food not only tastes incredible but is so fresh and simple that we’re never left feeling bloated and sick (even after all the gelato we’ve been indulging in to cool our bodies down from the hot, hot sun).
Ok Rome, it may not have been love at first sight but you proved yourself worthy.