Phew! So I’m back! I got back on Sunday afternoon pretty much exhausted but still made it to the gym to do a good work out! City breaks are always so different to sun/beach holidays where instead of coming back feeling relaxed and refreshed you come back feeling like you’ve been on a 3 day trek somewhere!
It seemed to be that on the flight back everyone had just fallen apart on their trip to Rome, there was a woman who had obviously sprained her ankle and now couldn’t walk, another who’d broken his arm and then my Mam limping along as she’d gotten the worst blister I have ever seen..which is slightly worrying with her being diabetic as they can form into ulcers…hers is now infected so she had to go to the doctors as soon as we got back to get some really strong anti biotics so it doesn’t get any worse, as it can spread… We’re not too sure what caused it as she wasn’t wearing any shoes that rubbed, but we certainly did walk A LOT.
Other than my Mam’s injuries the trip was AMAZING, the flight there was only 2hr 30 mins so it went really quickly and we landed in Rome in really good time and hopped on the train straight away to get to the station near our hotel, when we got off the train the searing heat hit us, we weren’t expecting it to be this hot for this time of year but it was beautiful! After some slight detours and map navigating through side streets we eventually made it to our hotel to just drop off our cases, freshen ourselves up and head out into Rome!
We hadn’t realised actually how close we were to the Colosseum, but as soon as we turned the corner there it was! Our first day wasn’t our Colosseum day though as we planned to do that the next day where we could get up earlier and avoid the queues, so we headed off to find a good gelato shop as I hadn’t had any lunch! As we reached the top of the road we saw the huge Victor Emmanuel Monument, dedicated to the first king of Rome, straight away I could see how beautiful the buildings/architecture was going to be, I have never seen anything like it, the sheer size + intricate detail was incredible…we pretty much saw this building everyday as it was always on our routes to wherever we were walking.
After some navigating around the streets (they all looked the same!) we eventually found Il San Crispino, a gelato shop that I’d heard about that was apparently incredible, they served all their gelato in steel metal pots and came in a range of unique tempting flavours, I opted for a small tub of caramel with meringue pieces, flecked with crunchy caramel. Unfortunately with my gelato I do rather like a cone + volume..as I kind of treat it as lunch, so although it was delicious I kind of felt leaving a bit unsatisfied…which of course meant…MORE GELATO! I’d promised myself that on this trip away I would have no regrets about food that I “hadn’t allowed” myself to have..so we headed to another gelato shop near the Trevi fountain where I got a delicious cone filled with pistachio, hazelnut, creme caramel, zuppa inglese (a Italian custard) & strawberry! I loved how you could get so many tries of lots of different flavours.
I sat down and ate it opposite the Trevi fountain, after much maneuvering to get a seat..it was crazy busy!! The Trevi fountain was so gorgeous and is kind of just lurking down a side street, you turned a corner and BAM it was there! We took a few photos around there and enjoyed the atmosphere before throwing some coins in and heading off to see the Spanish Steps.
To be honest I didn’t think the Spanish Steps were that amazing, I’m not sure whether it’s just because they were so busy that all you really saw was a swarm of people, but I didn’t think they were anything spectacular. Also by this time we were starting to flag after walking around in the heat for hours, so we sat down and watched the world go by for a bit to rest our feet. Walking up to the top of the Spanish Steps there was a gorgeous view of the Rome skyline!
Before we headed off for our evening meal we walked up to the Piazza del Popolo, translating to “people’s square”, which is a large urban square, complete with fountains + churches.
I was really excited to try all the different food in Rome, I was hoping to try some really specialty dishes as I’m not an enormous lover of pizza/pasta and prefer meat/fish for my main meal. Unfortunately for my first meal out there I think I chose badly, I thought I was going to be ordering some delicious balsamic chicken baked with parmesan and rocket..instead I kind of got some shreddy chicken tossed in a bit of vinegar plonked on a bit of rocket with a few parmesan shavings…so disappointing and my Mam’s pizza looked and tasted so much nicer! Oh well!
Maybe I should have opted for the “sea bass crazy water”….
Waking bright and early we headed down to the little breakfast area our hotel offered where it was filled with pastries, little boxes of cereal, yoghurts + boiled eggs. To be honest I was never really that hungry on a morning so I ended up having the same thing every day, a few boiled egg whites + some cornflakes mixed with a yoghurt. Tasty, small and set me up for the day, leaving the majority of room for gelato later!
The Colosseum was the first thing on our list for Day 2 as we wanted to beat the queues and get straight in! Despite being there at 9am it was still pretty busy and you had to fight to get pictures etc, I loved walking around it though and it’s amazing to think how long it’s been there for…it also stirred up a desire for me to want to watch Gladiator again!
Our ticket also covered entry to the Palatine/Roman Forum, which I didn’t think was going to be anything spectacular as from afar it just looked like a bunch of old ruins. In fact it was really interesting and some of the sights/buildings were amazing. It’s quite hard to believe that people used to live there!
Next stop was a well known square called Piazza Navona that was complete with 3 beautiful fountains and a hive of cafes/restaurants/shops, on our walk there there was lots of streets perfomers..my Mam & I still found this one the most amazing..
A man seeming to balance on a pole!
Anyway, when we got to the Piazza Navona it was around lunch time so we stopped in one of the cafés for something to eat…gelato… after looking at the menu I decided to opt for something known as “tartufo”, gelato that is covered in a chocolate shell. I went for the white chocolate one as I’m not particularly fond of chocolate ice cream. It was delicious! White chocolate gelato, with a dark chocolate square inside and then coated in white chocolate shards + whipped cream mmmm!
We looked around quite a few of the little shops in the area as there was a few selling some really nice stuff, I bought quite a lot of postcards for scrapbooking purposes and my Mam picked up a fridge magnet for a keepsake to have at home.
Following this we made our way to the Pantheon, a temple dedicated to the Roman Gods, complete with a huge hole in the dome like structure so when it rains all of the water just comes flooding through!!
…and then I had some more gelato…this one was easily the best one of the entire holiday with Snickers, Cookies (I got a whole cookie in my gelato!!!) and Zuppa Inglese. The woman who served me was extremely generous…yum!
We returned to the Piazza Navona for dinner that evening where thankfully this time I chose a bit better and had some salmon in a mint/lemon sauce with roasted artichokes, red onion + tomatoes!
My Mam had some pasta arrabiata… I had a try and um wow, fresh pasta cooked al dente tastes so much better than the type I’m used to at home!! I decided that I would definitely be having pasta for the last night!
Although not particularly religious, the Vatican was obviously going to form a part of the holiday.
The walk to Vatican city was pretty long but we set off early in the morning so the heat wasn’t too bad, although my Mam was hobbling quite a bit as her blister had gotten even bigger! When we arrived there despite it being quite early in the morning it was already heaving! I have never seen so many people!
We were planning to see the Basilica first and we standing in the queue for that and nearly got coerced into paying for a tour, I hate the pressure type selling you get from tour guides!! Managing to escape we decided to instead visit the Sistine Chapel and Vatican Museum..there were hoards and hoards of people and inside the art galleries we were all packed in like sardines. It was so hot and humid and it seemed to go on forever, by the time we eventually got to the Sistine Chapel I felt like I was going to pass out and was in serious need of a drink!!!
Despite this the art was absolutely incredible, the details and the time it must have taken is astounding and I would say if you’re visiting Rome it’s definitely something worth doing just for the experience to say you’ve seen it.
By the time we got out of the Sistine Chapel I felt like I was flagging a bit…which obviously was my body telling me that I needed gelato! So we walked into the shopping area of Vatican city, it seemed more of a local area as opposed to tourist built, which was nice, meaning that there were lots of nice little shops/bakeries/cafes. This time my gelato was nutella, kinder cereal, white chocolate and tutti frutti.
Walking back up to the Basilica we passed an amazing local Italian specialty food store (aka my idea of heaven), unfortunately the staff didn’t speak English and my attempts at Italian weren’t the best so attempting to buy anything meant a lot of miming and pointing! I got a delicious little pick n mix bag of various Venchi chocolates + some yummy chocolate covered almonds they do out there in various different flavours, that were coated with a crispy shell. I got some Nutella flavour, banana, cream, pistachio + cassava…I’m now kind of wishing that I’d bought some to bring back home.
The Italians love all of their hazelnut creams/paste like Nutella and this store was filled with delicious looking spreads..I spent about twenty euros buying a hazelnut chocolate cream paste, chocolate + sea salt spread and an AMAZING looking pistachio cream spread…now to me these seemed like pastes/solids but ohhhh nooo, unfortunately they got confiscated at Rome airport…boo hoo! We were only taking hand luggage so liquids/pastes of this size apparently weren’t allowed. I cried a bit inside and plan to order the pistachio paste online.
Anyway back to what we were doing! We then went into the Basilica/main Vatican building, I can see if you were really religious how utterly over whelming this building would be, as even being non-Catholic I found it utterly breath taking! The sheer size/detail/ornateness of everything!
We decided to slowly walk back to the Piazza Navona that afternoon for a leisurely cup of coffee and then ate on a side street later that night just by the Trevi fountain..I knew that I was going to have pasta that evening, it was just a question of what! I opted for the lobster pasta..thinking that it would be lobster meat mixed in….
Oh no…I got a huge bit of lobster plopped on top and had to wrestle to get the meat out…let’s just say that I left this meal a bit of a mucky pup ahah. It was so good though! For dessert I had my new found coffee love…a coffee marocchino.. a shot of espresso topped with milk froth + cocoa….. yummmmm! I just need to find somewhere that makes these back in the UK.
I think we shall end on another amusing menu shot…I think they meant “addition”….although obviously it was trying to tell me something ;).
Have you been to Rome before? What was your favourite thing?