This weekend was one for the books, and filled with so many “firsts.” First time leaving Florence since my time abroad, first time using the train system, first time in Rome, first time drinking a spritz, first time speed walking 12 miles in 5 hours, first time getting a good night’s rest on a Friday night.
The trains here are not as overwhelming as I dreaded. It’s like an airport without the extensive security and customs lines. Friday morning, we boarded our train and an hour and a half later, we hopped off and found ourselves on a new adventure. My roommate and I accidentally got off at the wrong Rome train station (amateurs), but quickly realized our mistake, jumped back on, and the door closed behind us immediately. That would have made for an even more interesting tale.
The air bnb we stayed in, located directly outside the Vatican City walls, was beautiful in a cute and quiet neighborhood. HOWEVER, it was conveniently located on the opposite side of the city from where we needed to be in a little over an hour.
Before leaving on Thursday night, we ordered skip the line tickets that gave us access to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and the Palatine Hill. Thinking we needed to be there an hour before the gates closed at 3:30, I led the charge, nearly sprinting across the city in what should’ve been a 47 minute walk to the Colosseum from our air bnb (while scarfing down a mouth-watering panini). I was not going to miss this amazing opportunity since we only had a day and so much to see. Zigging and zagging across the Roman cobblestone, dodging cars, buses, horses, and vespas. To my friends: sorry for leaving you in the dust. But my speed-walking and navigation skills (@GoogleMaps) were appreciated when we made it to the gate in ample time AND when we got to skip the ticket purchase line. Oh boy, was the view worth the aches, pain, and sweat.
The Colosseum was more breathtaking than I ever daydreamed. Pictures don’t capture the whirlwind you feel while overlooking the largest amphitheater ever built. It’s mind-blowing to think how the hell these Romans built something so magnificent almost 2,000 years ago. How was that humanly possible with the tools and supplies they had then? I couldn’t take my eyes off this masterpiece for longer than it took for me to get my picture taken (pics or it didn’t happen). I felt grateful for the blood, sweat, and tears that seeped into the sand and concrete so many years ago, resulting in such an aesthetically pleasing view.
Because we admired the Colosseum for so long, we ran out of time and didn’t get into the Roman Forum before the gates closed. All the more reason to return. But based on the ruins we passed while strolling through ancient Roman times, I know I wouldn’t have been disappointed with the view.
Naturally, when we left the Colosseum, we carried on to the next touristy thing: the Trevi Fountain. I didn’t find Paolo (don’t worry @Frank), or become the double of an international pop star (@LizzieMcGuire). But I, of course, tossed a coin into the fountain – a wish to one day return to Rome. (Btw, this wish better become true… I didn’t have nearly enough time to take in such a huge, historic empire). So much to see, so little time!
From here, we found our way to the Pantheon. The architecture of this former Roman temple was beautiful and elegant in so many ways, especially in the evening light. From the outside to the inside, from the ceiling to the floor. The opening in the roof was like nothing I’ve seen before. Rumor has it that the architecture of the ceiling doesn’t allow rain to fall through the hole – however, this is not true! When it rains in Rome, it also rains in the Pantheon. The slightly convex floors allow the water to flow into an effective drainage system.
So, it was a full afternoon. After cocktails and aperitivo, followed by dinner, our feet were cursing us. This was where the walking 12 miles in 5 hours came into play. My body thanked me when my head hit the pillow. The next morning would require an extra burst of energy.
My piece of advice to any American craving an American breakfast: do NOT go to a foreign cafe and order their “American” breakfast. It is NOT what one might hope for (not surprisingly). It’s no wonder people think we’re crazy if that’s how they think we eat our breakfast!!! I’ve saved you from a sick stomach by not taking pictures of my burned, orange, hard-yolked eggs and “bacon.” Yuck.
Anyway, post a very unsuccessful “most important meal of the day,” some of us scaled the walls and headed inside of Vatican City. Me oh my, I have never felt so holy in my life. I have also never seen so much beautiful, detailed art in my life. Every square inch leading to the Sistine Chapel was covered in patterns and portraits. Simply breathtaking. And then the Sistine Chapel (no pics allowed – mental pictures only ) – WELL DONE, MICHELANGELO. It’s no wonder it took 54 months to finish this masterpiece… would highly recommend this historic landmark to anyone (only 8 euro for students!!!). We walked through by ourselves because we were crunched for time, but I would absolutely do it again with a tour guide to understand the rich history.
Before our train back to Florence, we of course made time for gelato and crepes. YUM. Anyone going to Rome, hit up Old Bridge Gelateria near Vatican city for some dope gelato. Apparently it’s the best in the city – I don’t have anywhere else to compare it to, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true. Right next door is Creperia Michelangelo. AMAZING.
Overall, it was a brief but successful trip to one of the most beautiful and historic places I’ve ever explored. I only wish we had more time – I’m eager to return and see more. There really is no place like Rome. Clicking my heels in hope of a quick return!
Ciao for now!
P.S. See my “Europe 2k17!!!!!” album on Facebook for more pictures that weren’t featured.