How to explain or capture Rome? I took so many photos, but I kept getting frustrated at my inability to document the feel of this simultaneously charming and chaotic city. What we heard is true — it is loud and fast and uncomfortable and sweaty and filled with tourists. But our adventurous hearts still loved exploring, and we tried our best to just go with the flow.
Our bed & breakfast was full of charm and included both modern and vintage elements. Every day we were greeted with the most delicious organic breakfast. Our host welcomed us with open arms, and we felt like part of her family by the end of our short stay. We were surprised to learn that the building is also home to the Oscar-winning film director Paolo Sorrentino — pretty cool! If you’re ever in Rome, we highly recommend staying at Casa Cavalcanti!
I swear, half of my pictures of Rome are of charming doors and windows – ha!
We were so eager to see the city that we practically hit the ground running! In just three days, we walked 36 miles and barely scratched the surface. We left hobbling on our blistered feet!
Following the advice of our host, we headed to Pincian Hill at the Villa Borgehese to watch our first Roman sunset.
After burning so many calories on our feet, we weren’t in the mood for a slow, romantic dinner — we wanted delicious pasta, and LOTS of it!! Enter Pastificio, a delightful street food vendor that only has two things on its menu — red pasta and green pasta. We sat down in the Piazza di Spagna and greedily scarfed it down. Of course we couldn’t help returning for more! Not pictured: Vecchio, the gelato store right around the corner which we also adored!
The Vatican Museum was packed with more tourists than I had ever seen in my life. Looking back at the trip, this is the one part that I wish we had skipped. Although the museum is filled with a mind-boggling collection of art and history, we were unable to appreciate it because we had to follow the tide of tourists being pushed through the museum like sardines. The Sistine Chapel, a place I imagined to be serene and revered, was unfortunately tarnished by guards shouting “No pictures!” and “Silence!” while we craned our necks to view the ceiling. People were taking selfies in front of centuries-old works of art.
Instead of the Vatican Museums, we would recommend visiting the free and awe-inspiring St. Peter’s Basilica. We could have spent hours just staring at the infinite amount of detail on its walls, or the way the light fell through the windows in pure streams.
After viewing the inside of the basilica, we climbed the 551 claustrophobic stairs to the top of the cupola, which rewarded us with a 360-degree bird’s-eye view of Rome.
This woman wearing heels and a motorcycle helmet perfectly epitomizes my impression of Italian women: fashionable and not to be messed with!
I really enjoyed seeing E’s different perspective when we took photos at the same places.
On our second evening, we grabbed a bottle of wine and headed to another view of the sunset, this time from the Garden of Oranges. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones with a romantic evening in mind! 😉 We spotted many teenaged fans of PDA as well as TWO couples on their wedding day. We enjoyed taking in Rome from our little perch until dusk, and we were the last ones to leave the park.
In order to skip the two-hour line outside the Colosseum, we paid for a guided tour and learned lots of gory facts about the thousands of people and animals who were killed for entertainment. Lovely bunch, those Ancient Romans! 😉
E was surprised that I had never seen the movie Gladiator (the one with Russell Crowe), so of course that was mandatory viewing after our visit. As over-dramatized as I’m sure the movie was, it helped me appreciate the emotional history of the Colosseum.
We made the mistake of trying to visit the Trevi Fountain during the daytime, which was packed with hundreds of other tourists. Oops! I don’t think I have ever seen so many selfie sticks in one place!
Then we visited Pastificio for a second time, because the food is just. that. good.
We walked almost 30,000 steps per day in Rome, so even the comfiest of shoes betrayed us. On our second day we made an emergency trip to buy a pair of Toms before our feet fell off! Best $40 I’ve ever spent in my life! 😉
After our exhausting second day, we decided to wake up at 5 a.m. on our last morning in order to enjoy our final moments in Rome sans heat and tourists. We headed to the trendy neighborhood of Trastevere to wander around its cobblestone streets and walls dripping with ivy.
For our final adventure before catching the train, we decided to give the Trevi Fountain one last try — this time at 7:00 in the morning. What a difference!! We were stunned by its beauty while the rest of the tourists were still sleeping. We stayed and just stared at it for a good half hour.
For comparison, here is what the Trevi Fountain looked like during our original afternoon visit:
And here is the view at 7:00 a.m. Crazy, right?!
During our visit to the fountain, we happened to find a fashion photo shoot. The portrait photographer in me couldn’t help but sneak a couple of shots!
All in all, I’m not sure I could call Rome the most romantic destination I’ve ever visited, but I’m very grateful to have experienced a city so filled with history and culture. E and I tossed a coin into the Trevi Fountain, so according to superstition, hopefully we’ll have the chance to return someday!
If you missed part one, check out our adventures in the Amalfi Coast + Capri here! Next up: Orvieto, Florence, and Cinque Terre!