Oh, Rome. Last weekend was my third time visiting The Eternal City, and I hope it's not the last.
There are so many things I could say about Rome, but instead of waxing eloquent (or attempting to, anyway), I'll fill you in on a few of my favorite things during our weekend away.
1. Our Airbnb location was wonderful. Not familiar with Airbnb? In our experience it has been a great way to stay in a less touristy area of a city in a local's home (you can decide whether you want to rent a room and stay with other people--which we did once and it was great--or have an entire apartment to yourself, which we usually do), and get some helpful tips and ideas for traveling around the city from the owner. We stayed about ten minutes away from the Vatican, and our host stayed in contact with us throughout the weekend to recommend restaurants. The apartment was warm, cozy, and bright, a little haven for reading, showering, and sleeping after a long day of adventuring in the city.
2. We walked and walked and walked...and no matter where we looked, there was beauty. And I just didn't tire of it...because how could you? Ancient mixed with modern, cobblestone streets and potholes and motorbikes abounded. The photo below is a perfect example.
3. We saw many of the traditional sites, but didn't wait in ridiculous lines and didn't fuss over trying to see everything. (How do you see Rome in two full days, anyway?) Hopefully there will be a "next time"--and if there's not, I'm just glad we went to Rome and saw what we were able to see.
4. We mailed some postcards from the Vatican's post office! That was something I hadn't thought to do in the past, and it was fun to buy the unique postage from the Vatican since it is its own City State.
5. We lingered on the bridges and stood in awe of the cityscapes of Rome--they are breathtaking.
6. We "hiked" up the Gianicolo Hill, a gorgeous overlook of the city. Along the way were gardens, buildings (we saw the Spanish embassy), and fountains. The closer we got to the top, the prettier and more expansive the view was.
7. Wandering the winding streets of the Trastavere neighborhood. Rome is huge and sometimes feels a little imposing. But finding this neighborhood with small streets made the huge city feel a little bit more quaint. We recommend Dar Poeta (Vicolo del Bologna, 45) for a delicious, very economical lunch (excellent pizza!), and we stumbled upon an English bookstore with a good selection of books. Of course, I bought two. (Supporting local businesses is very important, right?) If you happen to be in Rome and need a good read, stop by The Almost Corner Bookshop.
8. The food was simply delicious. Pizza, gelato, cappuccino, pasta, pastries...we had our fair share of each of these! John asked for Nutella gelato, and we're pretty sure that what he got was cold Nutella, not Nutella flavored gelato. The lady gave him a strange look when he ordered, and later we understood why. I'm a big fan of fruit-flavored gelato, and really loved my blood orange gelato paired with cream. We tried the two pasta dishes that originated in Rome, rigatoni carbonara and bucatini all'Amatriciana. We weren't disappointed. We ate at two local places (one was across the street from our Airbnb, and the other was around the corner) and loved the feel of eating in a neighborhood and not at super touristy spots near the main sites. It's worth a trip to Osteria dell'Angelo (Via Giovanni Bettolo 24-32) and Bella Napoli (Via Simone de Saint Bon, 57) if you want great atmosphere and excellent food!
9. We let ourselves relax. In the evenings we came back to the Airbnb and rested our feet (walking 14 miles in an afternoon requires some rest!), had some tea, and read in the kitchen before walking around the corner to eat. After a short walk (to burn off the pasta we just ate, of course), we returned to read a little bit more and wind down before hitting the town again in the morning.
10. We rode in two Roman cabs and didn't die. We did hear about one cab driver's love affairs with five or six women (all told in a hybrid of Spanish and Italian) and got his opinion on the French (let's just say he isn't a fan). The other driver nearly ran over an elderly man and didn't believe in speed limits. Oh, and he didn't believe in driving on any particular side of the road; then again, there weren't many painted lines, so how is one to know where the lanes are anyway? He got us to the airport in one piece, so I forgave him his sins.