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Fall Vacation '18 (Part 1): Rome & Vatican City


Rome-ing around Italy


Nick and I are finally back on European soil!

This was a huge trip for Nick, my parents and I as it was two weeks long and we were exploring both land and sea. With it being such a long trip, I've decided to split the blogs into five parts and each blog will cover two cities. So stay tuned for the other blogs in the near future!

With lots of help from Rick Steves' book and TripAdvisor, we decided to stay in the city center of Rome. We reserved an Airbnb apartment right at the epicenter of Rome, a block away from the Pantheon. Every major attraction were within walking distance except for Vatican City and the Colosseum which we took Ubers to and from.


Our first stop were the Spanish Steps (Scalina Spagna). Very brief history, like really really brief is that these steps were built to connect the lower Piazza di Spagna to the upper piazza Trinita dei Monti church. It is 138 steps and butterfly shaped which I don't think you can tell from our pictures unfortunately.

Next was the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi). Brief history: one of the oldest water sources of the city and Rick Steves calls it the "ultimate showcase for Rome's love affair with water". Rumor has it that if you throw a coin in the fountain, you are ensured to return to Rome. Unfortunately I did not get to toss a coin in the fountain due to the closest section to the water being closed off, so we shall see if I ever make it back to Rome.

  • McDonald's - Nick and I wanted to try all the specials that McDonald's Italy menu offered. The "Rich Cheese and Bacon", McToast and the Mozzarella sticks were all mediocre unfortunately.

  • Fiocco Di Neve - I got ricotta al pistacchio (cheese and pistachio) and biscotto. Ricotta al pistacchio was delicious! Cheese in ice cream? Yes, please.

Tuesday, October 23rd

Vatican City

Vatican City, the smallest, yet most powerful country in the world, is a must-see when visiting Rome. We booked the skip-the-line guided tour that started from the Vatican museum and ended at St. Peter's Basilica. The Vatican museum houses a lot of iconic masterpieces and sculptures and were a lot more interesting once our tour guide went into depth explaining the most famous works done by Michelangelo.

After the museum, we headed into the Sistine Chapel which is the Pope's home chapel and is used by the Sacred College of Cardinals to elect a new pope when there is vacancy. My mom was being a rebel and snuck in a photo while we were waiting for the rest of our tour group.


Before we enter the St. Peter's Basilica, stands the Holy Door which is only opened for "Jubilee" Years and is cemented shut to prevent it from opening the other years. St. Peter's Basilica is one of the world's holiest, grandest and richest church and has an underground cemetery. St. Peter was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ and the first Catholic pope buried here along with over a hundred other Popes, emperors and queens. Now displayed behind glass due to abuse, is Michelangelo's Pieta the sculpture of the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Jesus.

St. Peter's Square (Piazza San Pietro) is the plaza directly in front of St. Peter's Basilica and believed to be one of the most famous squares in the world. In the picture below, you will see the obelisk to the right which stands at 90 feet tall, weighing more than 300 tons and a reminder of each civilization built upon another.


Our last attraction for the day was the Pantheon, an ancient Rome temple that leads to all the gods. The architecture is amazing and well thought out. The dome of the temple has a huge opening (oculus) and on the ground, there are holes for drainage when it rains.

Food:

  • Caffe Tazza d'Oro - one of Rome's top coffee shops for some early morning espresso. It was super strong, inexpensive and around the corner from our Airbnb.

  • McDonald's - I tried the crispy mcwrap and really enjoyed it. Basically a wrap with a patty and bacon.

  • Dinner with the view of the Pantheon - I did not catch the restaurant's name as there are three restaurants that face the Pantheon. I have never been a pasta type of person and eating authentic Italian pasta would change my mind. Unfortunately it did not, I should have stuck to seafood since my parents' dinner was much more appetizing.

  • Quelli Della Pizza Roma - quick pizza post dinner

  • Venchi for gelato - I got cremino, stricciatelia and another flavor that I can't recall for the life of me.

My dad really wanted a picture of this vespa looking truck.


Wednesday, October 24th

Our last full day in Rome with a skip-the-line guided tour for the Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. The Colosseum (Colosseo) is now one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It was built over 2,000 years ago and was a functional stadium for gladiator events, animal hunts, and executions with a capacity of 50,000 people. While we were there, they had scaffolding in certain parts of the stadium for renovations.


After the Colosseum, we headed to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, a short walk from the Colosseum. The Roman Forum (Foro Romano) is considered the birthplace of ancient Rome and civic center and believed to be the most important piece of land in Western civilization.

Heading up to the Palatine Hill (Monte Palatino) was quite a workout for a very warm day. Palatine Hill is a hill overlooking the Forum where emperors used to live back in the day.


Our tour ended early afternoon and we had the rest of the day to eat, shop and Pokemon!

Food:

  • Barberini Express Roma - quick and easy for lunch and reasonably priced

  • Mcdonald's - I tried their My Selection Egg burger and it was just as good as the McWrap from yesterday. Nick tried their Tasty Basket that came with wings, chicken nuggets and mozzarella balls. I forget what flavor the Mcflurry was.

  • Menodiciotto - one of the better gelato places that we had with super nice service, I would highly recommend. I had mango and pistacchio, Nick had variegato all' amarena and pistacchio.


I appreciate Rome for the history. I miss walking the narrow, cobblestoned streets and seeing ruins at every corner. Unfortunately I did not care for the food or at least what we ate. We will be back in Rome before we head home in a little over a week, so maybe the whole coin toss in the Trevi Fountain is just a myth ;)

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for the next blog which will cover the city Florence and Pisa.


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