Quite possibly our favorite city, ever. The weather, the food, the incredible history. We loved every minute of it!
We stayed right in the heart of the city, steps away from the famous Trevi Fountain.
Even in December, said to be the slowest time for Italy, all the attractions were packed all the time. Crowds and crowds of people, most of them with selfie sticks! Although, we soon realized people were late sleepers when we woke up early Saturday morning and the city was empty of annoying tourists (we don’t count ourselves!).
We felt as though we had the entire city to ourselves on our way to the Vatican. We stopped to admire the Pantheon, baffled at how the 2,000 year old temple has survived for so long. Once at St. Peter’s Square, we had an incredible view of the morning sun on St. Peter’s Basilica and there was no line to get to the top! An elevator ride and 300 steps later, we could see all of Rome under a blanket of morning fog. After enjoying the view for awhile, we went back downstairs to see the Basilica and were wowed even further. By far the most breathtaking church we have ever seen. There are a million things to look at in every corner, I think we could have spent days there and still not fully seen every part of it.
In the afternoon we visited the impressive Vatican Museum. Apparently only 2% of the Vatican’s vast collection is on display and it still took us all afternoon to wander through the different parts of the museum admiring thousands of year old statues, paintings and more. Our favorite room was the Gallery of Maps with maps for every part of Italy from the 1500’s. The frescoes of Raphael were also amazing although the famed Sistine Chapel was a bit crowded (with lots of booming SILENCE PLEASEs from the attendants) to fully enjoy. Overall the Vatican is more like one big piece of art itself with most of the paintings directly on the walls exclusively made for previous Popes.
In between St. Peter’s and the Vatican Museum, we visited Rome’s top rated pizza restaurant, pizza zizza. It was without a doubt the best pizza we’ve ever had. Fluffy crust, incredible toppings and friendly service. We’re going to dream about the pizza until we go back to Rome!
We were not early enough to beat the crowds on Sunday at the famed Colosseum, the most visited site in Rome. But we were able to get inside pretty quickly and picture the world of Gladiators and Roman entertainment (our hotel also had a Gladiator dvd we may or may or not have watched the night before to prep us for our visit, ha). The strangest part about the Colosseum is that the floor missing because it was made of wood and rotted a long time ago. You can see the maze of tunnels and holding cells where the animals and even people were kept from any part of the Colosseum now, which is kind of cool.
Next we headed to the Roman Palatine, the most ancient part of the city, set up on the hill where Romulus founded Rome, according to legend. All the emperors of Rome lived in the remains of the palaces we saw spread over the hill. The crazy part about Rome is that it’s a constant excavation site, there’s always more historical buildings and parts of the city they are constantly digging up. It’s incredible (and probably frustrating for any city planners trying to build the next metro system).
At the end of Palatine Hill, there is an incredible view of the Roman Forum below. It was our favorite part of Rome, walking around the Forum was like falling into one of Corey’s 6th grade Latin books. We could really picture life (or just Russell Crowe) among the imposing temples and shrines that are thousands of years old.
Rome, we can’t wait to come back to see more! (and eat more pizza/pasta/wine)