This past weekend Leslie and I ventured to Roma and I fell in love with it all..the people, the food, the sightseeing, the wine, and the shopping. Granted if I ever live there I would be broke and 800 pounds. So a weekend was too short but a lifetime might be unhealthy.
Leslie and I took the X95 bus to the airport on Thursday because the Athens metro workers decided to go on strike. Only in Greece can the entire city's metro system just not be open for 48 hours. Anyway, we took the 1 1/2 flight to Roma and got in around 2:00 PM. The Roma airport is like a huge shopping mall, filled with all sorts of top Italian designers. We arrived at our hostel after a 20 minute train ride out to the termini, or main station. For my first ever stay in a hostel I would say it was decent. I have nothing to compare it to. It was clean, we felt safe, warm bed and shower...so all good I guess. Plus, our guard dog was a German Shepherd mut..always cute.
We took a power nap and then headed out to do some sightseeing and grab something to eat. We hit the Trevi fountain first, which was gorgeous at night. It was packed with tourists. I can not imagine being their during the height of tourist season, crazy. The fountain was sooooo much bigger then I had expected. After the fountain, we headed to the Spanish steps, which is the place to see and be seen. At the top of the steps is a small little Church that overlooks most of Roma. The next level is filled with painters and sketch artists. I bought this cute 8 x 10 watercolor from one of the local painters. I am such as patron of the arts.
As we made our way down the stairs we encountered so many college students. Everyone seemed to be there hanging out and just catching up. Starving, we headed down one of the side streets and found this cute little restaurant. When we walked in the owner was teaching his waiter how to Italian how to dance, so good Italian food, wine, music and dancing. A perfect intro Italian culture. After dinner we did some more wandering and landed at some little gelato place. Absolutely delicious. Enough said.
The next day we awoke and headed to Vatican City. We started at the Vatican Museum where we spent a good portion of the day. The museum is HUGE. Every ceiling is covered, the paintings are huge, tapestries of the Last Supper..just sooo much. When we finally got the Sistine Chapel I had been looking up at the ceiling for the last hour. The Sistine Chapel was unbelievable in so many ways. First, if you think about Michaelango actually painting that..artistically and logistically, amazing. Next, all the different languages of everyone standing in this room looking at this painting. It transcends ethnicity, language, and cultural boundaries. After the museum we headed in to Vatican City square and got in line for St. Peters Basilica.
The only time I have ever seen anything like St. Peters was the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. This blows that away. Once again every inch of the ceiling and walls are covered. The tomb of St. Peter is memorialized towards the front of the basilica and the altar itself was so detailed. There are sculptures memorializing many of the different Popes spread out along the walls, along with smaller altars and sanctuaries along the sides of the basilica.
We grabbed some lunch..veggie pizza..mmm and headed to the Colosseum. It was closed for the day when we got there but that didn't stop the Caesar impersonators from asking us if we wanted pictures with them. Who knew there were so many Caesars? We decided to head back to our hostel shower and get ready for round two. We hit an earlyish dinner at this cute little restaurant up the street from the Spanish steps. As we ate, a street performer serenaded us and the rain came pouring down.
After dinner we headed back to the Spanish steps to meet up with the group for the pub crawl. Every night in Roma, at 9 PM you can meet at the Spanish steps, pay $20 Euros and go on a pub crawl with usually all other American college students studying abroad. I do not know who thought of this idea but bravo...it is a great time. You get to drink as much Carlsburg beer or wine in as you can from 9-10 at the 1st bar and then the next too you get a free shot upon entry. You also get a t-shirt (everyone loves a good t-shirt) and pizza. You end the night at a club and can stay there until the doors close. Leslie and I met people studying in Florence, Barcelona, London, Paris, etc. We also met guys in the U.S. air force who were stationed in Venice, not a bad life. Except they were in mortuary services, so I guess that kind of has its draw backs. Anyway, it was just a fun way to go around Roma with 40 other people you had never met before. All Americans, Brits, and Aussies.
After a long night we awoke the next day intent on making the most out of our last full day. We hit the Colosseum first. It is just ginormous haha. The fact that gladiators fought until their death in their blows me away. What it would be like to be in the nosebleeds up there, intense. Next to the Colosseum is the Arch of Constantine, which reminded me a lot of the Arch de Triumph in Paris. After that we perused the Circus Maximus, where the public games were held during the Roman Empires.
We were craving some shopping at this point so we hit the stores below the spanish steps...prada, gucci, escada, louis, armani, united colors of benneton, etc etc. We did a lot of window shopping for the top name guys and girls but we actually found some decently priced shops further along the street. Needless to say, we enjoyed ourselves. You can't leave Roma without clothes right? That would be a sin : )
Our last dinner we went to the Trevi Restaurant where the wine was delicious, the food was even better, and the Tiramasu was heavenly. (See this is why I would be 800 pounds). Our last stop was a little cafe where I got more wine and Leslie got the most delicious hot chocolate I have ever tasted. It was like a melted chocolate bar...mmmm.
We got back to our hostel and had to pay. Upon paying the owner came to our room and brought us shots of Limon Cello. He makes its from scratch and yeah we could tell. That stuff was strong. But his hospitality just sums up the Italian people in general. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. It could have been that we were young college aged girls but I think a lot of it had to do with that we weren't a big tour group. You get to know the people better in smaller groups.
Our flight Sunday was early and we had to hustle to make our plane. Due to not knowing the train schedule we got to the airport with an hour to spare. We made it to our gate with 10 minutes to spare before boarding time. No worries, it was all worth it. I can not wait to go back and see more of Italy...Florence, Tuscany, Naples, and all the other little villages in between. I could have spent weeks getting lost in Italy...love Roma. One day I will be back!