As I mentioned the other day, we had a fabulous time on our trip to Italy! It all just seemed perfect – time away from work, exploring a different country and culture, no travel problems, great hotels, good weather, and a long stretch of uninterrupted time together.
Our flight to Rome was one of those overnight ones, where we left at 9pm and, after a quick stop in Madrid, arrived in Rome around 3pm the next day. We were pretty wiped out after not being able to get comfortable on the plane to sleep, but the excitement of arriving in Italy kept us going. We gathered our bags and took the train into the city to get to our hotel.
We were very pleased with our hotel. It had a contemporary interior, great service, and a complementary minibar that was stocked daily with special goodies like yummy biscotti. It was only a four-block walk from the train station, and the location was wonderful, because we were able to walk to almost all of the sites that we toured.
After enjoying our welcome glasses of Prosecco, we decided to head out for a walk to explore the neighborhood and find an early dinner. We went to a place recommended in our guide book, and enjoyed a prosciutto and mozzarella antipasto followed by pasta for dinner (gnocchi for Craig, the linguine special for me). Our dinners were almost always accompanied by a bottle of vino rosso della casa (red house wine). We crashed relatively early that night.
After a good night of sleep and breakfast, we were ready to see Rome! We decided to tackle Ancient Rome on the first day, and headed out on a nice walk toward the Colosseum.
Soon enough, there it was!
We spent some time touring the Colosseum and learning about its construction, the activities that took place, and its deconstruction (much of it was actually taken apart by Romans for building materials). We listened to an audio tour (on our i.pods) that was pretty informative.
When we finished touring the Colosseum, I did something really stupid, which was dropping the camera. YIKES! The display was broken, and the camera was no longer making a clicking noise when we tried to take photos. I honestly thought we were without a camera only a half-day into our Italian vacation. But there wasn’t anything we could do at this point, so we decided to keep on taking photos with the hope that they would be there. Later in the day we took the camera to a camera shop and tested the memory card. Thankfully, it was still taking photos. Some of the photos we came back with were pretty terrible, though, and many turned out too dark. Oh well. At least it was okay in the end. Craig suggested that perhaps I had done this intentionally (jokingly), since I’d like to upgrade our camera. I noted that if it was intentional, I probably would have dropped it a couple of weeks BEFORE the vacation, not on Day 1!
The Roman Forum – the heart of Ancient Rome – is right next to the Colosseum, so we walked over there next. It was amazing to see the remains of so many old buildings, and to imagine a bustling civic center two centuries ago.
Next, we climbed up neighboring Palatine Hill, which once was home to an enormous palace. At this point, I was fairly certain the camera wasn’t working, so we didn’t really take pictures there, except for this one looking down at the Forum.
At this point, we’d been on our feet and walking for about 7 hours straight, so we were pretty beat. We had some gelato as a snack (we skipped lunch) and headed back to the hotel. We followed a bit of a routine throughout the trip of pounding the pavement pretty hard for most of the day, then enjoying a rest and cocktails (with a bit of internet time, although I managed to do nothing but log onto Facebook 3 times – yay for unplugging!) at the hotel before heading out for dinner. We were looking for another place recommended in our book when we stumbled upon a great little place packed full of local Italians. This was Craig’s idea of heaven, since he was looking for off-the-beaten-path places that weren’t packed with tourists.
We enjoyed a lovely antipasto platter, followed by pasta amatriciana for Craig and heavenly spinach and ricotta ravioli for me. This ended up being our favorite place in Rome. We were seated next to a loud, boisterous, entertaining group of about 10 Italian friends.
Actually, when we arrived at the restaurant around 8pm, they were full. They said to come back at 9:30. Now, normally, I would never eat at 9:30pm (it’s just too late!), but, as the saying goes, when in Rome… To pass the time, we walked to the Trevi Fountain and then the Spanish Steps. Unfortunately, our photos of both of these spots are pretty bad, but here are a couple of shots to prove we were there.
And that was the end of our first full day in Rome! More coming soon…