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Rome, Italy

Rome is a huge, bustling metropolis.  We travelled there after visiting Cinque Terre, and after three days in a tiny, remote, car-free villages, the chaos of Rome was jarring.  So many people, so many cars (navigated by aggressive drivers) and all the congestion you would expect from a large city.  But it’s Rome. You can’t come to Italy and not visit Rome.

There is SO much to see in Rome.  We were there for four days, and barely scratched the surface of the long list of sights and attractions. One of the first things you have to decide is which part of Rome you want to make your home base.  While it may be tempting to find a hotel in the heart of Centro Storico (where you would be steps away from the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and other iconic Rome attractions), I must warn you that this area is very touristy and very expensive.  I prefer areas with a more authentic feel, so we opted to rent this awesome loft in Trastevere, a charming neighborhood in the southern part of the city.

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I LOVED Trastevere. The vibe was mellow, there was farmer’s market (I can tell a lot about a town by whether or not they host a weekly farmer’s market), and lots of great restaurants.  One of my favorite meals of our trip was at Grazia and Graziella.  The food was amazing and the ambiance was fantastic and fun.  Trastevere is also at the base of the Gianicolo (The Janiculum Hill), which ranked at the top of my Rome excursions.  Set out to hike to the top of the Gianicolo about an hour before sunset… Shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes to get to the top.  Then grab yourself a spritz (or the beverage of your choice) and take in the sights of Rome from above as the sun sets.  It’s magical.

IMG_2238From Trastevere, it was probably a 30 minute walk into the heart of Rome or to the Colosseum.  We walked everywhere, and it was a great way to soak in the sights. One of our first stops was the Pantheon. After all, we are two-thirds of The Pantheon Collective!  Admission to the Pantheon is free, which is pretty cool.

Of the numerous piazzas we strolled through, I think Piazza Navona is my favorite.  The large piazza is home to three extraordinary fountains, and is ringed with restaurants and cafes. There are also a variety of street artists and entertainers (from B-boys to magicians) spread throughout the piazza.  Grab a table facing the action and enjoy a leisurely meal while being serenaded by a musician plucking away at his acoustic guitar.

We spent a full day exploring Palatine Hill, the Roman Forum, and the Colosseum.  The three sites are adjacent to each other, and your entrance ticket will get you into all three. Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum are essentially ruins from Ancient Rome, a little uneventful if you don’t have a guide, but cool nonetheless. The Colosseum is pretty touristy, but it’s kind of a must-see as far as Rome is concerned. Most folks from my generation associate the Colosseum with the movie Gladiator. I have to admit, standing inside the Colosseum kinda blew my mind. It was constructed in 80 AD, almost 2000 years ago.  Yet, still it stands. Gives a whole new meaning to “if these walls could talk”…

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The Vatican is also beautiful. I don’t consider myself a religious person, so I didn’t feel the need to go inside and see the Pope or anything, but the view of the grounds from the outside is plenty stunning, and worth a visit.

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You will walk a LOT in Rome.  I encourage this.  Resist the urge to cab from place to place and just WALK.  James and I walked all over Rome, and in my opinion it is the best way to see the city, especially if you don’t have a lot of time.  Do yourself a favor and indulge a massage to pamper your sore feet and calves.  I had the best Thai massage of my life at Baan Thai (near the Vatican).  Highly recommend them.

Some scenes from our adventures in Rome

Photo Album                         More blogs on our Italian Honeymoon

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