First stop on our Italian road trip: Rome
As a sequel to the roadtrip my friend and I did in Portugal last year, we planned a similar getaway to Italy this summer. We very much looked forward to our trip, since Italy is just beautiful all-round & I would finally get to visit some places that had been on my bucket list for ages.
We had an early flight on Wednesday in Brussels and only 2 hours later we arrived in Rome, ready for yet another adventure. Both of us already visited Rome in the past, so this lowered the pressure that we had to see every inch of the city and be productive all hours of the day. Naturally we wanted to see and revisit everything this versatile city has to offer, but we could do it at our own pace. We took a shuttle bus just outside the airport (for only 6 euros) which would take us straight to Piazza Cavour near Vatican city and Castel Sant’Angelo. 10 minutes of hauling our suitcases and gasping in the hot Italian sun later, we arrived at our first accommodation: hotel San Valentino. In addition to a beneficial location, we were also very pleased to see that we had more than enough space in our hotel room. We would be able to live out of our suitcases, since we were only staying for 3 nights. After we freshened up, we headed into this lovely city with great expectations.
Since we were near the water, we started walking alongside of it. This was maybe not the best idea, since we were mostly walking next to a busy road. We aborted the initial plan and headed into the narrow streets. We grabbed a quick lunch at a local grocery store and enjoyed it on the steps of a church in Via del Corso (off course, we were automatically led to the best known shopping street) while we were watching people (one of our favourite activities to do together).
Afterwards we came across the Spanish steps, we did not stay too long since you could barely see the steps due to the large amount of people. We listened to a street singer on the square nearby and then headed to the Trevi fountain, a monument you simply cannot skip. This is the largest baroque fountain in Rome & globally well-known. When you are there, you must throw a coin into the fountain, but in a very specific way: with your back to the fountain, throw in the coin with your right hand over your left shoulder. Legend has it that this will make sure you will return to Rome. Since my friend and I both did this 13 years & 6 years ago, maybe there is something to it :). The movie ‘Three coins in the fountain’ added new dimensions to this legend: 2 coins would bring a new romance into your life and a third coin ensures a marriage. Well, you know what to do if you are looking for the latter :). The rest of the day we saw beautiful buildings (I am a sucker for architecture), colours, city parks & the Typewriter, also known as the Wedding Cake & more officially: Monumento Vittorio Emanuele II. While this monument is frowned upon by some and loved by others, I do think it is worth a visit. It has a museum and apparently a great view from the top, but this is something we did not do.
To end the day we walked to Travestere, a district with such a vibrant atmosphere, street art, history and great places to eat. I read about the pizza from Grazia & Graziella on thesoundsofourshoes (this blog actually provided me with so much inspiration for Rome!) so we decided to go there and were lucky to find a seat on the terrace outside. The pizza and wine were great, the atmosphere on the little square very much alive and the Dutch couple we met next to us very pleasant. We had a great first day in Rome!
The second day we walked across Piazza Cavour (so pretty) and alongside the Castel Sant’Angelo. This is one of my favourite buildings in Rome, I guess I have some special memories from my visit to this mausoleum (later on it functioned as a fortress and castle) 13 years ago. I absolutely love the structure of the building and the beautiful Ponte Sant’Angelo right in front of it. Pass by when it is dark, it is lit up beautifully.
We walked further along the Tiber, admired the grand building Corte Di Cassazione & enjoyed our daily latte at La Buvette (Via Vittoria 44). They have a cute terrace in a narrow street, perfect for some people watching and their interior is very authentic. During the time we sat there enjoying our coffee, a lot of people walked in and out so it is quite popular and crowded. The food ordered by people around us looked great as well! Afterwards we gathered a little picknick and walked to Villa Borghese where we had lunch with a great view over Piazza del Popolo. Next up in our city tour was the Pantheon, which is just stunning, a must visit as well. Definitely go inside, you will not be disappointed. The roof of the dome has an oculus, the main source of light in the Pantheon and this natural light coming in makes the interior inside all the more impressive. The square right in front of the Pantheon has a vibrant atmosphere: a lot is happening, people are admiring the Pantheon & at night the building is lit up and if you are lucky, some talented musicians add to the creation of a memorable evening.
After our visit we made our way to Piazza Navona (featured in the movie Angels & Demons) to soak up the lively atmosphere, admire the three beautiful fountains (by Bernini & Giacomo della Porta) & enjoy an ice cream from Grom (delicious!).
After a quick visit to Piazza Campo de’ Fiori (such a cute square with a lot of terraces to have a drink), we found a great spot to eat, through Foursquare, Maccheroni. They served us delicious Cannelloni with spinach & ricotta (one of my fav dishes) & a tasty white wine to go with it.
The next day we visited Bocca della Verità or the mouth of truth. When you are there, stick your hand in the mouth (as most tourists do), according to legend it serves as a real lie detector. Afterwards we got in line for the Colosseum, beware of people coming up to you with ‘cheaper tickets’, not all of them are trustworthy. It was our second time visiting this impressive, ancient monument but it does not disappoint. It is so beautiful and fantastic to imagine that a couple of centuries ago, this actually served as an amphitheatre. The Colosseum could hold up to an average of 65 thousand spectators back in the days. The construction & details left me in awe. Since it is mostly very hot in Rome (depends on when you visit), take your reusable water bottle with you for example Dopper) , tap water is available throughout the whole city, as in the Colosseum. When you visited the Colosseum and you still have got time left, Forum Romanum is also very impressive to discover. We both did this a couple of years ago so we skipped it this time but you should definitely see this.
We had dinner at Cajo & Gajo (found it again thanks to Foursquare, I love to use this app since it always shows you the best places near you) which was a really nice & unique spot, very glad we ended up here. The food was great, the service super friendly and since the restaurant is located on a small square with lots of bars & restaurants, the atmosphere was just great. At the end of the day, Rome treated us with a magically lit up Basilica San Pietro. If you get the chance, visit this amazing Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican & definitely do not forget about the Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately, we did not have enough time.
The next destination of our Italian roadtrip was Naples. Read all about it here.