We're finally in Rome, which sadly means our trip is coming to an end! The good news is, Rome was awesome and it exceeded our expectations. What started as a "gotta do it" stop on our trip turned into one of our favorite cities. Planning our time there felt like a big, overwhelming task since there's so much to do/see/eat but it was totally manageable once we got there. I also anticipated that it would be super touristy — which it was at the popular sites — but because of its size, it didn't feel infiltrated with tourists. It was easier to get away from the crowds and experience normal daily life, like seeing all the men in suits heading to work on their motorcycles (which is totally to blame for the one that's now parked in our garage...)! Rome feels like a normal city, but modern life carries on alongside ancient buildings and ruins like it's no big deal. It's just a really unique juxtaposition.
Our hotel was near the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, which put us in great proximity to walk to everything. Rome looks huge on a map, and it kind of is, but it's totally walkable (just wear sneakers for going longer distances!). On our first day we visited the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps, and heading up to Villa Borghese for a walk in the gardens.
The next morning, we got up early to see the Trevi Fountain before it became flooded with tourists. The fountain totally took my breath away once we turned the corner — it's massive and more magnificent than I had imagined. We tossed our coins in and made a wish in peace and quiet — totally worth setting the alarm. I'd recommend getting there by 7:30 or 8am at the latest if you want the space to yourself!
From there, we walked to the Colosseum for a tour. We normally like to explore on our own but really thought a guide would help us get the most out of out experience there. It was great to have her explain the architecture, the history, and recount the events and bloodshed that happened there...yikes. It's wild, to say the least.
Despite its size, Rome is desperately charming. The streets are lined with trattorias and cafes and it didn't feel overly crowded. We also spent a night exploring the Trastavere neighborhood across the river, and had a nice dinner there. It had a Brooklyn-esque vibe and felt young and a little edgy — definitely worth spending some time there on our next visit.
Besides its charm and culture, our favorite thing about Rome was THE FOOD. This is heaven on earth if you love meats/cheeses and of all things, sandwiches. Lunch every day was a different sandwich and they were all incredible — one of our favorite spots was Lost Food Factory, which is pictured above and serves a variety of local craft beer. We also loved I Pizzicaroli (which means cheesemonger) and had the most showstopping cheese board there. I mean, just look at this thing:
We were also sure to visit Vatican City to browse the museums and see the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. The museum houses a ton of Egyptian art, which is a fave of mine, so we took our time while making our way to the Sistine Chapel, which lands at the end of the museum path. We went straight to St. Peter's after that, and got to catch the beginning of the 4:00 mass. The building itself is the most breathtaking space I've ever seen...and when the music started echoing through it, it felt like an otherworldly experience.
It was hard to choose what we wanted for our last meal of the trip — we'd eaten our way across the country and already had FOMO about not eating enough of everything. Ultimately, we decided it had to be pizza, but different pizza, so we went to Piccolo Buco and enjoyed these two beauties. Mine was a four-cheese wonder with yellow tomatoes and Sicilian oregano — grown just for this restaurant, the server had to note. Jim's featured a glorious pile of meats with tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, olives, and artichokes. De-freaking-licious. Of course we finished the night with dessert, and the sadness of enjoying my last gelato was totally real. That's the beauty of a great trip, though — you can always go back. We WILL go back. We just need Venice to stay afloat ;)
I hope you guys enjoyed our little Italian tour — we fell in love with every city for different reasons and learned SO MUCH on this trip, we both feel enriched and inspired and are still working off our pasta weight. Italy is so deep and diverse — there are countless towns and regions we'd like to explore next time, so if you have suggestions for our next visit, please leave them in the comments or drop me a line!