ASHLI + DEBS TAKE ROME
*full write up on Venice w/ suggestions and itineraries coming soon!
IT’S LIKE ANCIENT
Rome is clearly known for one major thing: being old as FUUUU…dge. Happy mom? NO REALLY THE RUINS. The’yre known for ruins. And of course amazing pizza. And being, oh I don’t know, the center of the universe and years and decades and centuries and then all of a sudden being seized by barbarians leaving the amazing glistening city of wonder in pieces and devastated. To see it now it… wild. It’s really incredible how the city has left these ruins in their places and built the city around it. You can literally be sitting at a café and look to your right and just say “oh ok, there’s the roman forum, no big deal, just built thousands of years ago before USA was the USA hi how are you”. Rome is the must urban or the most “city” of all three of three of the places we visited but it still was all cobblestones and tons of stairs and all of that, ripe with Italian culture still. Rome is the only of the cities with nightclubs (or so I was told? Don’t quote me there) and theres a ton of different demographics.
Vatican City is also juuuuuuust outside of Rome and the airport for Rome (FCO) has tons of traffic to/from NYC that the flights are pretty affordable actually. Napoli (or Naples, is where pizza was invented!) is a quick train ride and easy day trip from Rome and many people do this, and I do suggest it from what I’ve read! We opted out due to time but please know that much of what I read says that Naples can be pretty run down, not so safe and not so clean, so I actually do suggest a day trip vs. spending a night there. I think a one way trip is like 40 mins! OK BACK TO ROME.
<<Please refer to my page about general Italy travel tips **COMING SOON* regarding currency, language, converters, etc. because I won’t be outlining these below. I also outline our general trip itinerary if you need to reference that!>>
We got to Rome pretty early in the morning, like 8:30am and knew we had only a 15 minute walk to our apartment so we made our using google maps, but got to this corner and couldn’t find our place. All we saw was this massive fortress wall, and we looked up and realized that the “path” our apartment on was not the street, but was up on this fortress and the only way up was by walking up about…300 stairs. OKAY I’m HARDLY exaggerating but it was so many that we had to go up segments of stairs at a time in order for us to make it. Then when we got to the top! It was all SUPER OLD COBBLESTONE and we had to go down this alleyway, and boom, there we would be. So down the alley we walk, bags in tow no problem, we turn the corner and RIGHT IN FRONT OF US WAS THE COLOSSEUM. Like…WHOA. We both kind of stood there for a second in awe that we were staying so close to this famous structure I could basically throw something and hit it – and that’s not an exaggeration. And I can’t throw anything at all soooooo that says something.
This Airbnb was our least favorite, and I’ll link it below just so you don’t stay there actually because there was a mildew smell that was horrible and the wifi didn’t work all of which was fine but I would stay somewhere else. BUT OMG STAYING THAT CLOSE TO THE COLOSSEUM WAS WILD. So worth it all in all. We were hungry and had tickets to the colosseum so we made our SUPER far trek (har har har) over and found this amazing restaurant with outdoor seating facing the colosseum to grab a bite, and my first pizza of the trip! I had to save it for Roma <3 We luckily snagged the ONLY open seats outside, enjoyed our meals (my mom had tortellini in cream sauce with bacon, if you were curious!) and then braved the misty wanna be rain we had to check out the Colosseum.
Okay. Now. I know I’m going to piss a lot of people off here but I swear I save myself at the end so hear me out because this is important. It actually pains me to write this because I know how bad it sounds but…I was really underwhelmed by the Colosseum. And like…bored. I felt very Veni Vidi Vici “I came I saw I conquered” and was like, k lets go… about 5 minutes into being there. And I don’t think it’s the weather and I beat myself up the rest of the time in Rome because I didn’t care at ALL that I was inside. HOW didn’t I care?!!?! HOW could I be in one of the most archaeologically advanced structures in the history of the world and not care at ALL?!? I don’t know to be totally honest but I do have a theory, and THIS IS WHERE I SAVE MYSELF.
I honestly, truly, wholeheartedly urge you to get a tour guide if you go to the colosseum. There is way too much history in those walls and way to many stories in the floors and all of these different areas we weren’t allowed access without a tour guide and I think if we had an expert walking us through it, I would’ve felt the amazement I expected. But it did look just like the pictures and it didn’t feel stunning and “wow” to me at all and I’ve felt guilty about it since. It has to be that I just didn’t get it and when/if I return to Rome, I will definitely do so with a personal tour guide – from what I’ve read, they aren’t that expensive. This is my only regret of the trip, I think. Besides bringing my mother MOM IM TOTALLY KIDDING IM SORRY I COULDN’T EVEN FINISH THE SENTENCE I LOVE YOU SO MUCH YOU GEM.
After the Colosseum, which we left kind of quickly after giving it a full lap, we basically just got lost walking through the ruins and the city and checking out the amazing architecture. Such an incredible ornate city with so much history and so many stories, it really is incredible to know you’re walking where so many instrumental people from our past once walked.
It was pretty cool because as we were walking down the Italian streets with accordion players and men with big bellies trying to coax you into eating in their restaurants (such an absolutely TRUE cliché!) we turned another corner and whoa – the Trevi Fountain. In all it’s glory.
Now, contrast to my reaction to the Colosseum, I felt truly floored by the Trevi Fountain and yes I know that’s just ridiculous but I haven’t forgiven myself still clearly. Anyway, the Trevi Fountain looks big in pictures but its…GARGANTUAN in person. Potentially the only time I can use that word and I had to take full advantage of that because it’s true. Not only are the statues at the fountain soooo beautiful, but it’s no wonder it’s such an important site to see in Rome. Fairly central and easy to get to, it sits in a square for people to stare from all over and the place is SWIMMING with tourists. You’re supposed to throw a coin over your shoulder into the fountain and doing so ensures you will return to Rome with DEBS DID AND I JUST REALIZED I DIDN’T WHAT HAVE I DONE I WANT TO GO BACK.
The cool thing about the fountain is that it’s emptied every night and it makes like $5M or something obscene like that every year and the money goes to Rome’s homeless shelters to provide food and a place to go for the homeless of the city. Isn’t that just beautiful? I think so too. Try to go both at night and during the day for different effects. PRO TIP: IF I GO BACK, I WILL STAY NEAR THE TREVI FOUNTAIN FOR 2 REASONS. 1) BECAUSE OF ITS CENTRAL LOCATION IN THE CITY AND 2) TO SEE IT IN THE MORNING AT SUNRISE WHEN APPARENTLY NOBODY IS THERE. You’re welcome 😊
We went nearby and grabbed a glass of champagne and chardonnay to cheers being in Rome and on the last leg of our trip, took the long way home to check out some more ruins (and make my mom take pics of me in my outfit heeheh) and fell asleep early for our SUPER EARLY MORNING to Vatican City!
–OK SO VATICAN CITY IS LITERALLY ITS OWN POST, I TRIED TO INCLUDE IT HERE BUT THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS SO IT’S A SEPARATE POST AND YOU CAN FIND IT HERE….once i write it…—
After our amazing day in Vatican City, we were POOPED and our feet hurt like whoa but we still wanted a great meal and our neighborhood was ADORABLE. Like SO SO cute! So we ventured off (down the 300 stairs) and found this place that was so Italian and genuine and filled with families so we walked in, thinking it was teeny tiny, and the place was MASSIVE!!
They had an outdoor seating section that we wanted to sit in and they walked us all the way through the restaurant to get there through room after room filled with families having shared dinners together. It was really cool and I wanted to eat everything. Being the foodie that I am, I looked forward to eating the foods that each region was known for and when we got to Rome, I couldn’t WAIT to find artichokes!! Still to this exact moment, I can taste the amazing artichokes I had at this restaurant. We had Chianti wine that we had learned about in Florence and the night was just so delicious. We took our time strolling through the cobblestone and watching the people crowding into empty squares to drink (a normal thing in all cities we visited) and headed RIGHT BACK UP the 300 steps to our apartment.
We had HUGE plans for the next day because, well, it was our birthday!!! In case you don’t know slash remember, my mom and I have the same birthday (thus the trip!) and we wanted to wake up at the CRACK of dawn to see some parts of the city that get crazy later in the day. But I don’t know what happened that night before but I just felt so sick and feverish. I don’t know if it was that I definitely underestimated the chilly weather and was consistently cold every day, the mass amounts of wine and pasta, the terrible TV channel that played horrific music but was the only TV channel we could watch so my mom played it over and over and over…or just the overarching exhaustion. But I was siiiiick. like go to sleep at 9pm out cold kind of sick. We decided before I laid down that we would sleep until we woke up – if we got up early then great! If not, we clearly needed the rest (and by we, I selfishly mean only myself). I SLEPT UNTIL 1PM. On my 30th birthday!!! In ROME!!! What?!?! What a waste of a day, I thought, especially being our last full day in Italy! I kept my guilt to myself and my mom was super sweet about it and didn’t seem to mind, and the good news is I felt 100x better. I guess that’s more important than seeing the Spanish Steps with nobody around at the end of the day. We went back to our little food neighborhood, I ordered a pizza cause duh and felt ready to take on some exploring.
OKAY NOW THIS IS A CRAZY STORY AND SO ONCE IN A LIFETIME GET READY ARE YOU READY PROBABLY NOT I probably overdid it because it’s not that crazy but let’s just follow along shall we? Anyway, we had been checking off different attractions the whole time we were in Rome but this day was when we wanted to go see the Pantheon and the Spanish Steps, then on to dinner at a beautiful place! I thought the Pantheon was just this place with a ton of history and like some gathering place for people, I don’t know. I had no idea what it was. Well NOT ONLY was it the only building that stayed standing when the barbarians came and brought Rome down to the ground, but it’s also a basilica! Who know! Apparently a lot of the internet and not me, but I digress. Inside the tall insanely large column entrance is the round room decorated with Catholic adornments but also a dome LARGER than the one in St Peters Basilica in Vatican City – YEAH and it’s not reinforced it all, its just stone made into a dome and it’s never fallen which is wild since it was built in 125 AD and my ikea bedframe falls apart every 2 minutes so that’s cool.
Anyway, we were walking in to the Pantheon (which is free and generally open to the public) and we noticed they stopped letting people in after us. This seemed like standard protocol since the place isn’t too large to be honest and to kind of keep some crowd control. We sat in a pew so my mom could look around and I could just sit for a second and then the place started to empty more and more until we realized that you had to leave if you weren’t staying for mass. “Are you Catholic?” they asked my mom and I and we said yes (…ish?) and realized that everyone had to leave the ENTIRE PLACE if they weren’t staying for mass!! So we were IN THE PANTHEON with like 10 other people for an HOUR by ourselves attending Mass. Now I’m not a religious person, I was raised Catholic and I have respect for it but I’d be lying if I identified as Catholic to this day…I’m not. But regardless there is something so cool about being in the CENTURIES old building world renown with just a small group of other people for mass. The experience was strange and exciting and felt really special/intimate to be there. Of course, after Mass the place filled back up with screaming loud people but I feel lucky to have been there for that.
We basically just walked around after that – through the luxury district where all the designer shops are, around the random streets and to the Spanish Steps, which was pretty cool too but to be honest, we were done with steps! Sorry Spanish Ones. I’m sure you’re the very best steps of all steps. We popped into a bar to have a drink and people watch and regain our energy because I wasn’t feeling so hot again, sadly. Instead of go to our fancy dinner that I had to make weeks in advance, we decided to do our last meal at a local place that had caught my eye from day one. We relived the past 11 days, our favorite moments, what we would do differently, and headed back to pack up for the next day.
To be honest our last day wasn’t really much to write about – we woke up, did a once-through in the apartment, took our time, made our way to the train that takes you to the airport (or the drive is a solid hour, no thank you) and then hung out til it was time to fly out! The funny part is that while we were in the airport we met this guy Richard who was also flying home to NYC. We all made small talk and realized he lived semi-near my apartment and, since the cab is so expensive from Newark, decided we would just split it with him on the way back! So easy! We flew back (and watched 4 movies – Collateral Beauty, Wonder, Eat Pray Love and … The Mask…I don’t want to talk about it), landed, split the cab and went on our merry way, not exchanging any information or numbers even though he was a total babe-a-roonie.
Cut to a week later and I’m in DUMBO Brooklyn for a meeting that had just wrapped up on a Sunday in a part of the city I never ever go to in my life, sitting at a table, texting a guy friend about maybe meeting up to catch up when someone sits at the large communal table across from me. “Ashli??” I heard…and when I looked up… there was Richard sitting across the table from me.
Weird right? Fate or random occurrence? Who knows but… I’ll keep you posted.. 🙂