A Roman Birthday
For my 28th (yikes!) birthday, Dan took me to one of the top mainland European destinations on my ever-increasing bucket list...Rome. Italy is full of everything I adore: history, gelato, pasta, pizza, gelato (oh, did I say that twice?), beautiful architecture, wine, amazing sunsets, and amazing people. Although we only got to spend 2 days in the Eternal City, we packed it full with memories and a FIRM plan to return.
To start off, we took an extremely early flight from London on my birthday and arrived in Rome around 10 am. We took a bus into the city and walked to our flat. It was right around the corner from the Pantheon, and we inadvertently got to do quite a bit of sightseeing on the walk to our place (not to mention get the first gelato of the trip). Fun story: I've been using the Duolingo App (highly recommend btw) to brush up on my German and learn a bit of Italian, and one of the frequent sentences it has me speak/write/etc. is..."Il gelato non è una colazione" which snark-ily means "Ice Cream is not a breakfast." Thanks, but no thanks, Duolingo. I'd like to see you stop me. Because the first thing I did when arriving in Rome was to eat Gelato - so on my birthday, Ice Cream WAS a breakfast.
Now, I also have to mention that another HUUGE draw to Rome for us was Roman Holiday (you know, Audrey Hepburn's big film debut that was filmed entirely in Rome?!) Well needless to say, Dan and I, among many others who visit Rome, were intent on recreating a few of the iconic scenes. As we walked to our flat and passed through the Pantheon square, I was instantly transported to that scene in the movie where they sat at the sidewalk cafe drinking champagne!
So after getting to our place (which by the way was adorable and in such a great location) and dropping our stuff off, we hit the pavement again. As we hit the town, we decided to go try another Roman Holiday scene - the eating of gelato on the Spanish Steps...
Next we walked through the city, along the river over the bridge by Castel Sant'Angelo (while looking for dancing on a boat by the river, but alas, there was none in sight), and walked to the Vatican. We knew we wouldn't make it inside because it was almost 4 pm and we knew the lines would be crazy long and that they stop admitting new people after 4 pm. But even from the outside and in the courtyard of Vatican City, it is so impressive and awe-inspriing. We enjoyed walking around and eventually decided to take a quick break for pizza of course with a lovely view of this dome.
After our little break, we resumed the walking festivities. We found ourselves walking along the river and soaking in the afternoon sun, the slow and calming movement of the water and the peace of the day. We walked over to the neighborhood where we had planned to have dinner....which was of course AMAZING homemade pasta. I'm drooling just remembering it! After dinner we stumbled upon a band playing in one of the squares and just sat and listened for a while.
That night we had tickets to Caesar's Forum, which I highly recommend if you ever go to Rome. One of the things on our must-do lists when we return is to experience the other forum tour - Augustus' Forum. It brings history to life through a nighttime stroll of the grounds by recreating (via light projectors) the ruins we see now into buildings that stood tall and pristine when they were first built.
As Caesar's forum is in the centre of the ancient city ruins, we walked over to the Colosseum after the tour and just hung out in front of it and took some pictures. It was so relaxing and we chatted with a few people while there - it seemed to be the place everyone just comes to hang out. On our walk back to the flat, we passed the monument that we had seen earlier in the day, the Altare della Patria, which was built in honor of the first king of a unified Italy.
The next day, we started with a full italian breakfast - which was right up my alley! It was coffee and croissants. See - the Italians just get me! After breakfast we walked around to check off a few more tourist items. We made a bee-line for the Trevi fountain (Roman Holiday alert!) and promptly tossed our 2 coins each into the pool of water. Now we are guaranteed to come back to Rome! We wouldn't want to have messed with that fate.
The last big item on our list was to tour the Roman Forum. If you only have time for one major 'ruin' in Rome, I highly recommend the Roman Forum! The audio guide was fantastic, we arrived in the morning and almost had the place to ourselves (until about 12 or 1) and you are literally walking where the ancient Romans walked and getting a glimpse into everyday life in ancient Rome. The architecture and what still survives after thousands of years is just so impressive.
After we had examined every inch of the Roman Forum, it was time for us to head back to the bus station to head back to the airport. We of course had to first eat a bit more pizza and pasta (you know, because nutrition)!
Everyone says that you need multiple days in Rome and I couldn't agree more. I will be back, Rome. But this birthday weekend trip was so amazing in so many ways, and it was perfect for a quick getaway.