We spent last week in Italy with our dear friends from the US, Sarah & Jonathan. Our trip began in Rome and because I took so many photos (I will only post a fraction of them!), I am going to post a separate entry for each city. Rome was by far our favorite stop on our Italy trip....the food was AMAZING and our hotel was the most lovely place in which we stayed during our trip.
Upon our arrival in Rome, we were surprised with the great news that Jonathan & Sarah had just gotten engaged a few days prior! We are SO excited for them and were thrilled to be able to celebrate their good news in person!!! That news, along with a fabulous time we had in Rome were the best parts of our stay there. However, while in Rome we felt the earthquake that hit L'Aquila, Italy, and our luggage was lost by Air Italia for three days upon arrival in Rome. It was then discovered as we were getting ready to leave for Florence that our luggage had been sitting at the airport but had some note on it saying we did not want them to deliver it to us at our hotel. I was obviously fuming about the situation by that point but it was difficult to correspond with the stellar customer service representatives who spoke little English.
On to our recap of the better parts of our travels in Italy... We stayed in the Aventine neighborhood of Rome. It is not terribly far from the Colosseum but it is surely not in the height of the tourist crowds. Because it is not in the high tourist traffic, our dining experiences seemed much more authentic.
Our lovely hotel in the Aventine neighborhood in Rome.
Hotel S'Anselmo. If you are going to Rome, I highly recommend this hotel. It was a treat!
Our first night of dinner in Rome at a local restaurant started with this pizza that we shared as one of our starters. The buffalo mozzerella was so creamy and fresh - it was heaven! Every meal we had in Rome was excellent, especially those dinners we ate near our hotel. The restaurants near our hotel did not have any English on the menu and only a few people inside the entire place even spoke English. It was a bit challenging one evening because our waiter did not know any English, however he knew Spanish, so Jonathan was able to translate for the rest of us!
The highlights of Rome included the tremendous sights we visited. We started with the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. We breezed through both of those sights in less than a day but could easily go back to spend a full day at the Forum alone.
The Roman Colosseum.
The Arch of Constantine, located in the valley of the Colosseum, between Palatine Hill and the Colosseum. This triumphal arch was erected in c. 315CE.
Inside the Colosseum, I start to listen to the guided audio tour.
A view from the upper level of the Colosseum, looking inside the structure. The Colosseum was capable of seating about 50,000 spectators and was used gladiatorial contests and public spectacles. It is estimated that 500,000 people and OVER ONE MILLION animals died in the Colosseum games!
Sarah & Jonathan touring the Colosseum.
Sarah & Cassie inside the Roman Forum area, with the Colosseum close by and directly in the background. The Roman Forum is located between the Palatine Hill and the Capitoline Hill in the city of Rome. It is the central area around which ancient Roman civilization developed.
Scott, our week-long navigator, deciphering a map to see where inside the Forum we were...
A view of the ruins inside the Forum. The forum was the heart of Roman political, social, and economic world.
More of an overview of the main forum within the area. People first began meeting in this area about 500 BC, around the time of the founding Republic.
Scott inside the Forum.
We made our way to the Spanish Steps which were crowded with people enjoying the beautiful sunny day!
Can you see me waving on the steps?
Now can you see Scott standing there half-way up on the stairs? I was all the way up top to look down...
One of my favorite parts of our entire trip, was our daily stop for gelato. The first day's gelato in Rome was the best we had but unfortunately I don't remember the name of the gelateria at which we ate. It was near the spanish steps and it was a welcome snack!
Our daily dose of gelato. Mint chocolate chip was the winner this day.
Jonathan opted for a scoop of chocolate for himself.
The next day we visited another big site of Rome - The Vatican.
The Vatican Museum Entrance. Pope Julius II founded the museums in the 16th century. There are 54 galleries or "salas" in total, with the Sistine Chapel being the last and the most noticeable one.
Jonathan, Scott, and Sarah waiting patiently in line to enter the Vatican. I think we waited about 45 minutes which wasn't terrible, considering how long the line appeared to be upon our arrival!
A garden area within the Vatican walls.
Another outdoor area within the Vatican. The entire museum is over 9 miles in length! It takes an average of 30 minutes to walk just from the entrance to the main attraction within the museum, the Sistene Chapel.
The detail of the ceiling inside the room of maps.
Sarah & Jonathan inside the room of maps. I thought this photo was particularly neat since the people walking alongside them are a bit blurred.
A glimpse of St. Peter's Basilica out of one of the windows inside the Vatican.
St. Peter's Basilica. This church has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world, holding 60,000 people.
Scott & Cassie in the square in front of St. Peter's Basilica with the sea of chairs set up for Easter services.
There are a few markers within the square in front of the Basilica, that when you stand on them, the columns of St. Peter's square appear to only have one row of columns, as opposed to the four that are really there.
The Trevi Fountain. It was crowded with lots of people enjoying the sight and the warmth of the afternoon sun.
In front of the Trevi Fountain. Scott did not make this stop, as he was taking an 80 Euro taxi ride to and from Rome's airport to collect our baggage that Air Italia did not deliver to our hotel.
Our daily dose of gelato - Chocolate, Mint chip, and Creme Caramel.
That evening, we stumbled upon a terrific cheese, meat, and wine shop near our hotel.
The aromatic and beautiful Italian cheeses for sale.
Their cured meat selection...
Jonathan, Sarah, and Scott out in the hotel's garden enjoying our wine and snacks.
The Italian cheese & meat plate the local shop made up for us to enjoy back at our hotel's garden. One meat we tasted here was wild boar procioutto. It was tasty but expensive!