Another Taste Of Italy: Roma

Just this weekend, Ian mentioned to me how he had been thinking recently about our Europe trip and how wonderful of a time it was.  Coincidentally enough, I'd just been thinking the very same thing earlier that day.  Navigating foreign territory and speaking only a bit of the language (and trying to fit in a LOT in a limited amount of time) can be stressful, but when you've just got one person to rely on as a partner in crime, it can really bring you together.

We had three nights planned in Rome.  After our two nights in Florence, we caught the train down south to Rome and walked to our hotel.  It was about a ten minute walk, and in retrospect, we couldn't have taken a more indirect and ghetto walking route.  Literally, sketchier than sketchy surroundings.  We even had to walk under a bridge underpass that was so smelly and littered with old cardboard wine containers from the homeless population (I sort of loved that their booze of choice is wine).  Ian was starting to bug out and I was trying to put on my brave face; I was the one that researched and booked the hotel!  Finally, everything changed, the angels sang, the area turned a thousand times nicer, and we arrived at our hotel.  We realized later that had we taken a left out of the train station rather than a right, our walk to the hotel would have been shorter and a lot safer.

First things first, we got to the hotel, connected to the free wifi (angels singing again) and started mapping out a plan of action.  We found a free tour company that was departing that evening from the Spanish Steps to give an overall view of some of Rome's most popular spaces.  

The tour was a fantastic way on our first night in Rome to get the layout of the land and scope out the areas where we wanted to spend a little more time in the next two days.  We started getting the feeling like we would really enjoy Rome!

While we were in the Pantheon (above), the rain started coming down in buckets.  The rest of our tour group put up their umbrellas and kept on going, but we were so ill-prepared.  We ducked into a shop and bought a flimsy umbrella for a few Euro, but it wasn't cutting it.  I had on a maxi dress and the bottom of it was soaking and filthy.  Also, I was wearing Rainbows, and they were getting extremely slick on the cobblestones.  I was sliding all over the place.  We gave it our best, but we ended up calling mercy and breaking away from the tour group as they continued on to the Trevi Fountain.  Ian did a quick search on Yelp and we ended up finding this amazing hotel with a rooftop bar that was nearby.

This five star hotel was seriously gorgeous -- one of the prettiest lobbies I've ever seen.  It was the Grand Hotel de la Minerve.  Not long after we got to the rooftop bar, the sky cleared and became so beautiful.

We struck up a conversation with a man and his daughter that were from Oklahoma.  They were really nice to talk to and the daughter even volunteered to take some photos of Ian and me with the sunset in the background.

After the sun set, the staff at that hotel called a cab for us to take us back to ours, Napoleon Hotel.  We were really pleased with this hotel choice.  Our hotel was large and spacious with a great breakfast and a nice little bar area.  One night they even had a reception for all of the guests to meet the hotel owner and enjoy some drinks and appetizers on the house.

On this first night, we just decided to take it easy with a drink and a sandwich for dinner.  We got out the iPads and started doing research for day two in Rome.

Our second day started with some ruins that were directly across from our hotel.

We decided at that point to purchase tickets for a hop-on, hop-off bus tour.  I would highly recommend this -- not only does it help you to see all of the sites at your leisure, but it is also like getting free taxis all over the city for a 48-hour time period!

When lunchtime was approaching, we hopped off the bus near Trevi Fountain, grabbed a few sandwiches and a sparkling water at a nearby cafe, and had a little mini-picnic at the fountain.

Afterwards, we did more walking around and taking in all of the sights of Rome.  We were really falling in love with this city.

A true highlight of the second day for me was going to Piazza Navona.  Last fall, when our trip wasn't even booked yet, I found such a treasure in a little thrift shop in Columbia with my family.  It was a gorgeous, large black and white print of Piazza Navona.  I got it for a steal and then had it framed.  It now hangs in our office.  Seeing this square in Rome from the exact perspective of the print was a magical moment.  Plus, Piazza Navona is just so much fun!  Artists and street dancers all around were such an experience, and a really amazing gelato shop sealed the deal for us.

That night we got on Yelp to scope out a dinner spot in walking distance of the hotel.  Ian got a quick score check on a basketball game at the upstairs lobby (ha!) and then we went to dinner.

I don't have a photo of our dinner spot, but I found these two below from Yelp.  I would highly recommend La Cuccuma!  It's not the most glamorous spot you'll ever eat, but the food was amazing.  For 9 Euro, we got to choose heaping portions of primi, secondi, and contorno ... basically, a three course meal!  You choose what you want, they plate it up for you and microwave it (!!!) and then bring it out to you.  See?  Not glamorous, but so much fun.  We sat outdoors at a little bistro table and shared a carafe of red wine.  It was easily our most favorite dinner in Rome -- comfort food at its finest.

Our last day in Rome was a very exciting one -- Ian lined up a great tour of the Colisseum through Dark Rome Tours.  I would highly recommend this company.  Our guide was so friendly and knowledgeable, and her English was very good.  It is possible to see the Colisseum without a tour, but there's no way we would have appreciated the experience as much as we did.  

It was a truly amazing sight.  Ian was like a kid on Christmas.  After seeing the Colisseum, our tour continued with the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.  Below is the Temple where Julius Caesar was cremated.

If you're interested in the exact tour we went on, it's this one.

Once the tour ended around 1pm, we were having a pizza craving.  Thanks again to Yelp, Ian found one with amazing reviews.  I was a little scared by the touristy-sounding name, Pizzeria Florida, but I decided to zip it and give it a try.  We made our way to the pizza spot, finding an adorable courtyard along the way, and boy - were we in for a surprise.

This pizza was easily some of the best we've ever had.  Again -- not a fancy place, but GOOD.  And easy on the wallet.  They sell the pizza by the gram, so you choose exactly how much you want.  It comes in large square sheets and the workers stand there with scissors and cut off your piece to your exact desired dimension.  We tried four different types of pizza, all truly amazing.

You can see that the inside of the place is extremely small with virtually no seating.  We sat on a bench outside.  No frills, just great pizza.

Across from the pizza spot are more ruins that have been taken over by wild cats.  Wild cats!  It was hilarious.  We headed down that way and donated a few Euro to the upkeep of the place.  It was just such a hilarious and cute sight.

That evening we ventured to another restaurant near the hotel, but nothing compared to that great microwaved three-course at La Cuccuma.  :)

All in all, we absolutely adored Rome.  We talked about the fact that it could have been due to us taking more responsibility to set up tours, giving us a better sense of the city and what we were seeing.  Also, even though it was very busy with tourists, the fact that it was spread out didn't make it feel very crowded to us.

The next day, we boarded our last set of trains to head down to Naples.  From there, I had a driver set to pick us up and take us to Sorrento (with a stop in Pompeii on the way).  Recaps coming soon!


  1. Love this! Thanks for sharing. We leave mid Sept and our hitting up Amsterdam, Brussels, Munich and then overnight training it down to Italy for Florence, Rome and Sorrento! Looking forward to that Amalfi Coast post....!!

  2. it bad that my favorite part would be the pizza and cats?

    haha kidding!!!... sort of.

    love living vicariously through you! definitely an unforgettable trip!

  3. My heart is SERIOUSLY a flutter. So, you two ended up picking hotels while you were in Italy vs. having them made beforehand? How did you like that?

    We are doing France in June and I'm trying to figure out the most fun and least expensive options I can.

    P.S. Sorrento stole my heart 4 years ago and hasn't given it back since. Can't WAIT to hear what you thought.

  4. I loved Rome too, but everyone says I'm crazy! Maybe it was partly because we didn't have family with us, but either way I loved it and would go back any day!

  5. I have never had a desire to visit Rome but after this I think I would be game!

  6. Ahhh I'm so jealous! Rome looks beautiful and it sounds like you guys know how to travel! It's great that you both look back so fondly on the trip. Can't wait to see more!

  7. My most favorite place in the world!!!
    Love all your pics!
    I totally agree with the hop on/off bus tours- such a great way to get acquainted with the city, we loved doing that.
    And I love that you found some Oklahoma folks- we're all pretty nice;)

  8. I loved Rome!! Such a beautiful city. I hope you were able to see the coliseum at night because it is a truly spectacular sight!

  9. I need a place to stay for one night in Rome prior to departing back to the states in October and I think the Hotel Napoleon may be my new bestie!!! Thank you for the tip!

  10. Such an awesome adventure! I want that pizza!

  11. More beautiful memories that you all made together! I am just thinking how truly amazing that pizza is and that I'll need to research GF pizzarias when we go!

  12. What an amazing adventure you two had in Rome! I can't wait to hear about Pompeii tomorrow. You packed a lot of activities and sights in each moment!

  13. Your pictures are gorgeous!! I still can't get over how little you packed for this trip! Each outfit looks different and so well put together!!

  14. Sooo gorgeous! We were just talking about our trip to Rome we are planning in a couple of years...I can't wait!

  15. Ahhh loved your recap!! We also saw the cat playground, which I found hilarious...I was later informed that it was actually the site of Caesar's assassination?!? Who knew?! Anyway, great pics and I can't wait to see your post on Sorrento!!

  16. The history buff inside of me is going nuts right now!! How beautiful and awe-inspiring. I love the photo of Ian trying to play with the cats, haha!

  17. I LOVE all your European trip posts. I totally regret not making the trip with SK before we had kids (he's never been). Y'all are smart. Looks like a fabulous trip!

  18. This makes me wish we were back in Italy so badly. Piazza Navona was one of my favorite spots, too. Out of everywhere we toured, Rome was definitely my favorite. ::sigh:: Want to go back.

  19. My mom told my husband and I over and over that we wouldn't like Rome and that it was just another big city. So wrong! We loved it too!! I wish they made pizza like that over here :)
    Great pictures!!

  20. When we go back, I am definitely checking out that restaurant you raved about!! One of our favorite things about Rome was dining al fresco and having such interesting things to look at (the ruins, the buildings, the people) while doing so.

    The Forum was my favorite. I was surprised by that. It does makes sense, though, since you have to use your imagination the most at the Forum.

    I LOVE the picture of you and the pizza!! :)

    As always, loving these recaps. :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...