To feed one’s tummy is one thing, but to feed one’s soul is another. I needed a little bit of both, so I decided it was time to take a break. Where would I go?
Where I’ve always dreamt of, Italia.
A hopeless writer and romantic, I thought my time in Italy would be just like Julia Roberts’ in Eat, Pray, Love. I’d wine and dine and watch the sunset, meet Italians and watch some passionate fútbol (soccer) in a local bar and fall in love with every word and scent I stumbled upon. Well, that all happened… but so much more did too. I ate too much, I learned even more, I got lost a few times, and I fell in love with travel. With that said, this blog entry is the first of a few.
This one is all about Roma… or Rome.
For a girl that’s always dreamt of visiting this particular country, I was anxious and excited to see what it all entailed. Would I understand some Italian? Will the pasta be as good as I’ve dreamt? Will the love for food and romance be as vivid as I once imagined? With flight delays and an unexpected missed connecting flight, I arrived In Rome around 10pm on a Wednesday. I was nervous, I was clearly unfamiliar with the area but thankfully I had some euros in my pocket and it was clear enough what train I needed to take to get as close to my hotel as possible. I caught the last train and was on my way. Arriving a bit late to the Roma Termini station, I wasn’t able to get that lively italian experience I was hoping for…oh well, tomorrow will do. I got a cab and was on my way to my hotel. It was about 11pm or so when I arrived, being a Wednesday, not much was open… but ding ding! I found a pizzeria. After getting my first taste of Italian pizza (which yes, is very different), I concluded my day….I was in Rome.
Jet lag?! Ugh I forgot all about it. Did I prepare? No. Should you? Yes. Once I got myself some zzz and some medicine, I was able to explore the city. Rome is apparently not as big as we all think, at least not the central areas… and you can pretty much get around by walking (in comfy shoes). Where to?
For the next few hours, I visited:
•Spanish Steps (closed but was able to see from a distance)
•Vittorio Emanuelle monument (general entrance is free, but for view there is a small fee)
All locations were free for the most part and no long lines needed to be made when I visited (not more than a 5 minute wait). While I was done exploring Rome for the day, the next thing I wanted to do was eat… a lot. Nothing beats eating an italian meal like cooking an italian meal and learning from local Italian chefs, so I took a cooking class with Walks of Italy.
The class was held on the top floor of a local neighborhood overlooking the city (I felt as if I was in the heart of Rome). From 6pm to about 9 or 10, I learned how to make spaghetti and ravioli all from scratch. I also learned that Alfredo sauce is a “no no” as it isn’t an authentic Italian sauce, tomato sauce will do! While I sipped on Prosecco (not Champagne), I got my hands dirty and cooked alongside a few other travelers who were there looking to do the same thing, explore and eat. The class was held in English but I was introduced to some Italian, like how to say grazie and not pronounce it as “grazi”. Altogether, we chatted, exchanged stories and laughs as we indulged in Prosecco, spaghetti, bruschetta, and ravioli.
Looking back at my trip, this was probably one of the most authentic experiences I had. Chef Roberto and his assistant were welcoming and very informative. They made the entire experience fun, and I can honestly say that the meal was one of my favorites from my entire trip. This was the perfect conclusion to day one.
Today was dedicated to visiting two very important monuments in Rome, the Colosseum and the Vatican. I knew it would be a long day of walking and standing under the hot sun, so I prepared. Tickets for both were purchased in advance and my tour of the Colosseum was guided by Walks of Italy.
I arrived at the Colosseum just in time to meet with tour guide, Maristella. Fluent in many languages, this tour was done so in Español. No line needed to be made, I think this is because we went in with a tour guide. A casual security check was done, but all throughout that time Maristella introduced the history of the Colosseum and what exactly we would be looking at. While many decide to visit the Colosseum on their own (no tour guide) and read from the pamphlet as they wander their eyes, I wouldn’t recommend doing so. My three-hour tour not only visited the Colosseum, but also the Foro Romano and Monte Palatino that are just on the other side of the street. No pamphlet or book will give you the same experience as visiting these locations with an expert by your side… plus, it’s not too pricey.
I won’t go into all that I took in, but I will show you this.
Once part 1 of the day was completed, it was off to part 2. The Vatican was difficult to get to, I walked… but I would probably recommend taking a shuttle or taxi to the location. I didn’t purchase a special tour for this experience (a bit of a regret), but I did have my ticket (€16) for an evening tour of the Vatican Museum (you know, that’s where the Sistine chapel is). I especially wanted to wander around Vatican City and take it all in, the history, spirituality and religion that brought this all together. I was more impressed than anything by the size of the church and the years of history that lied in the museum.
It was about 9pm when I finally concluded my long day. If I were to look back, I would have probably split these two visits into two separate days; there is so much to see and it can get a bit overwhelming, but these are two that you wouldn’t want to miss.
Not much food was consumed this day as I was still recovering from jet lag, but I quickly became a fan of Italian bruschetta and Italian beer. Water fountains surrounded the city and the water is known to be very clean, so feel free to grab a refreshing drink Roman style because the city can get hot. This would be the end of day 2 and almost the end of my time in Rome. Up next would be Venezia, but first…more food.
This post was written in partnership with Walks of Italy. While my cooking class and tour were sponsored, all opinions written are my own.