I often wonder if in another life I was Italian? I recently took one of those silly Facebook quizzes, which told me the country I belong in is Italy. This wasn’t surprising to me. I have been blessed with many opportunities to travel, but my love affair has always been with Italy.
My husband and I are avid House Hunters International junkies, and every time we watch an episode with a family relocating to Florence or buying a vacation home in Amalfi, I secretly wish it was mine! I simply love everything about this country, the beautiful rustic countryside, the architecture, the history, the people, the language, which I hope to one day master, the shopping, the food…
The first Italian city that my husband and I visited together was Rome, so I am dedicating my first travel blog post to the Eternal City…
Rome is as beautiful as all of the travel books, websites and blogs will tell you it is, but as with most things, seeing is believing. It’s a very busy, lively city, with a lot of activity going on everywhere you look. On the same block you will find an old ancient ruin alongside a modern building housing a chic boutique or a tiny car dealership! My favorite areas are the open “piazzas” such as the Fontana di Trevi, Piazza della Rotonda, Piazza Navona and the Piazza di Spagna (the Spanish Steps). You can spend hours just sipping a drink (or in our daughter’s case having a gelato), and people watch.
I could go on and on with this blog post, as Rome is one of my favorite spots in Europe, and I‘ve visited many times but I will only highlight a few things that I feel I must share with you. The rest of the journey will be yours to discover on your own.
Hotel Albergo del Senato, Piazza della Rotonda, 73, Roma A few years ago, we found a hotel located on Piazza della Rotonda, called Albergo del Senato. One of the best features of this hotel is its location, literally in the center of Rome, within walking distance to almost everywhere, located on a pedestrian square. We always book a triple room, so our daughter has her own bed, and most of these rooms face the square, with a view of the Pantheon out your window (however, be sure to request your room facing the square, as it is not guaranteed). Needless to say, you can just open your window, and you become part of the scenery. The first time we stayed here, our daughter was fascinated with the sounds coming off the square, and all of the people sitting around just talking and having gelatos! Speaking of gelatos, there are a few places right downstairs, two steps away from the hotel’s entrance. Not that we ever spend much time in our hotel rooms when we travel, but whenever we were in our room, we would find her hanging out of the window, just taking it all in, this was her favorite spot! And as far as most European hotel rooms go, the rooms here are not small, and they’re very comfortable and clean.
A stroll around the neighborhood of Trastevere is another must. Hubby and I spent one entire day on one of our trips just getting lost on the winding streets and experiencing a more typical neighborhood, away from the tourist crowds. The district has become somewhat popular with the nighttime crowd as well. The beautiful main square, Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere, houses one of the oldest churches in Rome, and it is beautiful. Make sure you bring your camera. You will also come across some traditional eateries that are not in any tourist books, be adventurous and try one. These off the beaten path restaurants are usually the best meals you will have on your trip.
In the heart of Rome is Piazza Navona, a charming area where painters sell art and street performers sing opera. The main attraction here is the trio of fountains that adorn the square. I wouldn’t recommend any of the restaurants right on the piazza, as they are mostly “tourist traps” and as such, very pricey for mediocre food at best. However, you can sit for coffee, wine or gelato and enjoy the scenery.
Regardless of your religious beliefs, a visit to Vatican City and St. Peter’s Basilica cannot be missed. Years ago, my husband and I attended a Papal Audience with Pope John Paul II on St. Peter’s Square. This is something I had wanted to do for a while and it was very special. You can get tickets (free of charge) in advance if you prefer to get good seats, as it can get quite crowded at certain times of the year.
If you’re planning on visiting the Vatican Museums, and seeing the priceless works of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, it is strongly recommended to purchase tickets in advance online, as the lines outside can sometimes wrap around the entire wall of Vatican City, and the wait can be as long as 3 hours. Especially in the summer months, the heat can be unbearable while waiting for entrance to the museums. It’s usually best to go as early as possible, to avoid the crowds.
Ristorante la Rosetta ,Via della Rosetta, 8-9, Roma We’ve had many good meals in Rome, but we always return at least once every visit, to Ristorante La Rosetta. This is a very good seafood restaurant and we love it. On one of our visits we had a prawn and shrimp appetizer, hubby had seared grouper and I had the sea bass. Carolina had buttered pasta, as usual, but her favorite part of the meal was of course, the dessert!
Have you been to Rome? What was the best thing you experienced there? I’d love to hear!
More pics for your enjoyment!