Eating, Living, Traveling

Italian Vacation Part 1 – Rome

April 15, 2015

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Back in January, we decided on a whim to go to Italy for spring break. We found ridiculously cheap flights, booked a few Airbnbs and on the last Saturday of March, we were off.

We traveled through Rome, Florence and Cinque Terre with just one duffel-bag each. H did all of the planning, and therefore gets all of the credit. I just showed up. He used Rick Steve’s guide to Rome, which turned out to be a serious resource (so much so that we tramped through five bookstores to find the Florence equivalent). We purchased Roma passes (totally worth the money), stayed in walking distance of the Colosseum and drank so many cappuccinos, I lost count.

Our 4 night, 5 day Rome portion consisted of the following:

  • The Colosseum
  • Roman Forum and Palantine Hill
  • Capitoline Museum
  • Piazza del Campidoglio
  • Victor Emmanuel Monument (Altare della Patria)
  • Santa Maria in Aracoeli church
  • Elevator to the top of the VEM with a 360 degree view of Rome
  • Trajan’s Forum, Column and Market
  • Santa Maria Sopre Minerva church
  • The Pantheon
  • Ara Pacis (which we saw from outside)
  • Piazza del Popolo
  • Biking the Borghese Gardens
  • The Borghese Gallery
  • Church of Santa Maria del Popolo
  • Day trip to Pompeii and Naples (and the most delish pizza)
  • A long walk down Via Del Corso during the golden hour
  • The Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain (which was under construction)
  • National Museum of Rome

Whew. I know, I was exhausted too. No idea how many miles we walked, but I was grateful for my Merrells.

Rome held two of my favorite experiences – the Pantheon and the Borghese Gallery.

The Pantheon is unbelievable in scale and history.  “Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.” (Wikipedia) It was rebuilt around 26AD.

When you first see it, the Pantheon is about wonder. You walk through the gigantic doorway and your attention is sucked upward to a circle of sky… The space is both intimate and explosive: your humanity is not diminished in the least, and yet simultaneously the Pantheon forces you to pay attention to the fact that the world includes things far greater than yourself. ~Anthony Doerr

I loved it so much that on the last day of our trip, when we were back in Rome with a few hours to spare, I wanted to go back to the Pantheon a second time. Just to walk through that marbled, dusky, expanse that somehow exists inside of a structure, that happens to be thousands of years old. It gave me the same feeling I had from seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time – pure awe.

The Borghese Gallery is a villa housing artwork from the 15th- to 18th-century. Many are by Bernini and Caravaggio, and I admit, I fell in love with the Bernini sculpture because of this museum. You have an assigned time and a 2-hour limit for your visit. They restrict visits to 360 people, which allows guests to enjoy the artwork and rooms they were made for without the overheated, crowded frustrations of other museums. The space is grand and gorgeous and the art is stunning. I could’ve stared at Pluto and Proserpina for hours – the drama, the emotion, the event caught in the marble as if it were two people frozen in mid-fight and not a block of stone shaped into being.

Rome held one of our favorite breakfasts – 2 croissants and cappuccinos eaten at the coffee bar for 4 euro. FOUR. The pear jelly in the croissant, the flaky crust, the sugar crystallized on top, plus the chocolate marking the foam of the cappuccinos – it was as if our food was a work of art in itself, it was so deliciously perfect.

Because we knew Rome well, spent the most time there and it was the least crowded city we visited, it ended up being our favorite. I know I have more stories to tell about this trip, but I wanted to get a quick recap up to mark the generalities so I won’t forget.

Things are already slipping my mind.

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4 Comments

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