Rome… Part 1

Alright. Let’s do this thing. I bring to you my attempt at recounting a massive, beautiful, stressful, interesting, delicious and wonderful trip to Rome and Venice. We succeeded in our main goal, to see amazing things, and also in our second goal, to eat a whooooole lot of food (specifically gelato and canolli, of which Italy is plentiful!). My recap will probably be 4 parts because there were that many photos taken and there is that much to talk about. Keeping things concise is not my forte so how on earth am I going to condense eight days gallivanting through Italy?! Nevertheless, I’ll try.

Landing in Rome was a pretty exciting moment. I’ve spent years learning various combinations of Spanish, French and Italian. Yet, I hadn’t actually been to a country (other than a brief stint in Disneyland, Paris, which probably doesn’t count..) where using those languages was a necessity. Being a massive language nerd who is a little too interested in  etymology and grammatical tenses I was beyond keen to get to use my, admittedly fairly limited, Italian skills on a day to day basis. They were challenged immediately upon setting foot in Italy when we quickly realised that it was actually pretty important to have someone in the group who could speak/understand some Italian in Italy without seeming like massive tourists. Which of course we were. I’m happy to say my Italian actually helped us through a few dubious situations throughout the trip (except for the time in the hospital where I didn’t know how to say ‘I have something stuck in my eye’ and so they assumed I had conjunctivitis, prescribed me with a cream and tried to send me on my way… Turns out miming is the way to go in those situations!).

Anyway.

The weather was stunning from the moment we set foot in Rome. A breeze, dimly lit, pink sky, palm trees (?), too good for words. We were greeted by a driver who was lovely but also clearly had a death-wish and I spent the entire drive hanging onto the door handles and hyperventilating because it turns out guys, that in Italy people drive like maniacs. Nonetheless, we made it in one piece, settled in and were quickly hungry enough to wander around Aurelia for dinner. I should preface this series of posts with a mention of the vast number of photos you’re about to see of the tops of buildings juxtaposed against the sky. I couldn’t get over the warm pinks, oranges and yellows of all the buildings – and I mean all of them – and how incredible it looked against what happened to be amazing weather and a crisp blue sky… the whole time. You just don’t get colours like that in London.

We chose a little pizza place just down the road, Ristorante Pizzeria dal Sardo, a tiny and very basic kitchen-style restaurant which was exactly what we needed after a day of travelling. I was prepared for eating a lot of fabulous pizza and pasta in Italy but this place just completely exploded my expectations. The four of us table shared bruschetta, Blake and I shared a pizza with anchovies and cheese and a basic gnocchi and it all seemed too good to be true. Perfect pizza bases, cheese, fresh everything, all very simple and perfectly cooked. Italy, one million points to you.

gnocchi
pizza
Sadly, on our wander home, poor Gran took her fall and things from that point weren’t quite as carefree… but as Blake explained, everything was fine in the end. So I’m just going to focus on the positives from here on in!
As part of our apartment deal, we had breakfast every morning at the little coffee bar across the road. I wish I had the name, but I don’t… We were given a cornetto (a pastry/croissant) each every morning and a drink. Obviously espresso was the way to go and I am still dreaming of those things and trying to recreate it over here without success. Sorry London, generally you have my heart, but your coffee has nothing on Italy’s. A cornetto and coffee was the perfect start to a huge day at the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.
Vatican Museums
I can’t recommend highly enough booking tickets to the Vatican Museums in advance. When we arrived for our allotted time, there was a huge queue of people wrapping around the external walls, all waiting in the heat and sun, when we just strolled right in without a care in the world.

Also worth noting is that around the Vatican you will be harrassed every 5 metres by a guy trying to sell you something. Hats, weird jelly ball things that splat all over the ground and make noises, wooden baskets (?), anything and everything. Don’t buy into it people. Unless your beloved H&M hat breaks due to being stuffed into suitcases and your resilience to the sun has been eroded from a year living in the UK so you need to buy a hat. Then it’s fine.

The museums themselves are incredible. You can do it in as little as 30 minutes but we opted to take our time and take in as much as possible, so spent around 2 hours exploring the many rooms and admiring piece upon piece of history.

vatican museum

vatican museum
Vatican museums
You can’t take a step without seeing something incredible here. The ceilings are ornately decorated, tapestries hang from wall to wall, even the tiles you walk on have a long and fascinating history.
vatican museum
vatican museum
vatican museum
vatican museum
Lunch at the Vatican Museum cafe was fairly average. I would actually recommending holding off on eating there if you can, as just outside the walls of the Vatican are gazillions of beautiful little pizzerias and pasticcerias. The museum’s pizza was… average at best. But provided us with the necessary sustenance to move onto Phase 2 of the day… St Peter’s Square!

St Peter’s Basilica
This definitely needs to go on the list of ‘Most Moving Moments of Life’, wandering into this magnificent building. Historically speaking it is of course a sacred and monumental place and you could just feel a sense of reverence no matter what you believe. The architecture is incredible and it is decorated so beautifully that it can become overwhelming. The afternoon light was hitting the stained glass in such a way that beams of light like I have never seen before were hitting the gold inside, then bouncing onto another surface. It was incredible. Of course it was filled with people but it actually doesn’t detract too much from the experience. I could have spent an entire day in here. Try to get here either very early or in the late afternoon to avoid queues. We were lucky enough to be able to wander straight in.
St Peter's Basilica
St Peter's Basilica
Climbing the dome (‘cupola’)
We took the lift up to the highest point within the basilica to take a look down. At this point Blake and I continued upwards via a very long, steep, winding staircase that I don’t recommend if you are at all claustrophobic, but was really rewarding making it up those 320 steps and reaching the top.
The views at the top of St Peter’s are nothing short of extraordinary. We had been standing in St Peter’s Square only an hour earlier which suddenly was so small below us…
St Peter's Basilica
St Peter's Square
After admiring the view we traipsed back down the stairs and met up with C and Gran, recovering on a stunning rooftop with the dome perched just behind us whilst we had a big drink of water after all those stairs. It was one of my favourite moments of the trip, actually. Italy tip: There are water fountains all over the place with cold, fresh, delicious water. It’s a good idea to fill up water bottles rather than constantly buying new ones as the water really is great (and clean).
St Peter's Basilica
After another glance inside St Peter’s on our way out, we slowly wandered out of the Vatican and made our way back to Aurelia to settle in and find somewhere for dinner. But not without posting a Vatican postcard from the Vatican post boxes, and in my case taking more pictures of more corners of buildings juxtaposed against the sky because I really couldn’t get over those colours!
Vatican post
Swiss guards

Swiss guards!

After such a mammoth day we were all pretty tired so caught up with ourselves back at the apartment for a moment, before Blake, Courtney and I ventured out to Ristorante Le Vele for dinner… which ended up being a little pricey, but truly amazing. We sat in the seafood side of the restaurant (there is a pizzeria on one side and a slightly fancier seafood restaurant on the other). I wish I had taken photos of our meals but alas, we were ravenous and ate them really quickly but they were AMAZING. If we go back to Rome I’d like to eat there again.

Day one in Rome, you rocked.

Comments

    • says

      Thanks Kelly – Glad you like the shots! I’m in the process of getting my act together for the remaining time in Rome because that’s only the tip of the iceberg!!! Thanks for checking it out 🙂

      x

    • says

      It was really, really amazing, and I can’t recommend heading there enough! Rome was like a dream. I hope you do get to go some day! Thanks for checking out my blog Danielle!

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