The very first place I can ever remember wanting to go to as a kid was Rome, Italy. Sitting in my high school Latin class I was learning about a place lost in time; about Gods and epic quests, corrupt politics, innovations we still use today, and a language that albeit dead has come in quite handy over the years – like when translating my husband’s tattoo.
When the hubs and I started planning our trip to Europe last year there was no doubt in my mind that Rome had to be on the list. We planned two nights in the city and truthfully, I wish we had schedule one more. We took the train in from Florence. Twenty-nine years old and I had never been on a train (unless you count the monorail at Disney World). The experience was convenient but I actually didn’t enjoy the overall ride. My ears popped every time we went through a tunnel and we were moving so fast, it was hard to really take in the surroundings. But we did make it to Rome in an hour, only spent €60 and didn’t have to bother with airport security so it really was worth it in the long run.
We arranged for an Airbnb and took a cab to our home away from home straight from the train station. The roads in Rome are well, old. Traffic was intense and side streets narrow. Just from the taxi ride in we passed structure after structure, ruin after ruin. I knew I had arrived some place magical. We met our Italian host, carried our luggage up two very narrow and winding flights of stairs to our studio apartment. After a quick break we changed and started walking. According to Google Maps our hotel was only 800 meters away from the Pantheon – that would be our first stop.
The Pantheon is spectacular. Built during the reign of Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), the Pantheon is one of the most well preserved buildings in Rome. Inside the dome are artifacts, statues and even burial sites. A free attraction, it does get crowded but the square in front of the building is lively with tourists, musicians and artists. After we did a brief tour, we decided to roam and just spent the rest of the evening walking up and down cobblestone streets. We stopped at a package store and grabbed some lemoncello to entertain us for the evening (even got a couple of bottles and brought them home with us). If you haven’t had lemoncello let me warn you – it is good, sweet and very, very strong.
The next day we woke up early and started the mile and a half walk to the Colosseum. Pro Tip: We’ve heard horror stories about people waiting in line for hours to get in so we decided to buy our tickets ahead of time online and I definitely recommend this. It made the day that much more convenient. We also purchased a combo ticket for access to the Forum which we strolled through after the Colosseum.
There are truly no words to fully describe the magnitude of the Colosseum. It’s history is tragic and yet, we still find ourselves in awe of its majestic size and stories. Stepping foot inside and gazing across the ruin brings this overflow of imagination, picturing what it must have looked like filled with people and battling gladiators in a time long forgotten.
This used to be the epicenter of Roman life. A string of ruins is all that remain but the vibrancy of activity is still present. It’s amazing to me to be able to walk where so many others, so long ago have walked. The Romans did many things (even many awful things) but I will give them credit, good or bad they did everything with extreme precision and detail. There are few other places in this world that not only still have remnants from a time before Christ but also created innovations like roads and plumbing systems that are still widely used throughout the world today.
Random but how cute is this kitty taking a sip from a fountain? He just strolled up amongst all the tourists like he owned the place and then strolled back into the bushes. It was too funny!
That evening we took a walk to Piazza Navona with our lemoncello tucked into my purse and took in the sea of street artists and music around us. One of my favorite things about Italy are the squares, or ‘piazzas,’ around the cities that bring everyone together. They are usually surrounded by restaurants, beautiful fountains and other pieces of history. We sparked up a conversation with a Dutch artist and ended up purchasing a couple of her paintings to bring a piece of Rome back with us.
After what feels like a lifetime of anticipation for this trip, I left feeling like I had checked off an item from a bucket list I didn’t even know I had.
Have you visited Rome before? What destinations have you always wanted to go to? I’d love it if you shared in the comments.