This past weekend I got to visit the place I’ve always dreamed of going- Italy. And let me tell you it was all I’ve ever dreamed of and more! Since we had a long weekend from school me and some friends decided that it would be the perfect time to visit Rome and Florence, we were in Rome for three days and Florence for two days-but honestly I could spend years in these two cities and still not experience everything they have to offer.
Rome Days 1-2:
We arrived in Rome in the evening and were pretty tired from a long day of travelling, so our first night in Rome was pretty uneventful but we had some much needed rest to prepare our bodies from all the walking we would do the next day- to be exact 9 miles! My roommate Sydney booked “skip the line” tickets to the Sistine Chapel for that day so we decided to star our day out by just wandering along the city until it was time for us to head to Vatican City. On our walk we came along the Coliseum first, which at first glance blew our minds- we just couldn’t believe that in the middle of the city stands an ancient building that is about 2,000 years old. There we got persuaded by a tour guide to buy tour tickets that would allow us to skip the line to enter the Colosseum and Palatine Hill, we bought them for the next day. After our little side track we walked over to The Altare Della Patria which is a monument in the center of Rome, we took some classical tourist pictures there and then moved along. From there we walked around some more stopping every now and then to take pictures along the beautiful cobblestone streets. Rome is so full of historic monuments in every corner it is almost impossible not to stop every few minutes to take pictures. By this time our stomachs started to talk to us and hanger started to kick in- well at least for me, so we made a stop at the Piazza Navona for some pizza. Our first meal in Italy was pretty good, but let me tell you over the course of the days our meals got even more and more delicious! After much walking we finally reached our destination- Vatican City.
The Vatican in case you didn’t know is its own independent nation-state, in fact it is the smallest nation in the world with only a 2-mile radius. Nonetheless, don’t let its small size fool you, you could spend an entire day here and still not see everything. If you ever plan on visiting I highly recommend that you buy your entrance tickets before hand, because the lines can get very lengthy! Our ticket allowed us for entrance to the Vatican Museum as well as the Sistine Chapel, and most importantly allowed us to skip those god awful lines! We first started out in the Vatican Museum, which curiously we did not start out our visit by looking at Christina art pieces instead we found ourselves in the Egyptian art exhibitions. It turns out that the Vatican Museum is not a single museum, but instead a collection of different museums within the Vatican Museum- confusing right? There are so many, I’m sure we probably only saw a fraction of them. My favorite part of the museum was the exhibitions of the Roman sculptures and the beautifully painted ceilings inside the Vatican. I have never seen such beautiful and lavish pieces of art in my life, it is incredible the amount of detail put into each individual painting, and there are hundreds of them. I can only imagine the amount of work it must have taken to complete the ceilings! After walking through endless exhibitions, we finally made way into the famous Sistine Chapel which is an experience I will never forget. Just having so many people in silence admiring the work of Michelangelo was incredible. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed inside. This day we also visited St. Peter’s Basilica and decided to head up to the top by stairs (500 of them) and not by elevator, which I don’t regret the experience but my legs did. For the rest of the day we walked back to our hostel and rested for a while before heading to dinner.
Rome Day 3:
Our full day in Rome, was the most jam packed day ever! We started with our guided tour of the Colosseum, which I highly recommend! Although at times our tour guide would ramble on with information, I really enjoyed learning about the events and gladiator fights that took place there centuries ago. Although, I’m not sure if I entirely believe all of them. For example legend says that the Colosseum was once flooded with water in order to perform mock naval battles. I just don’t see how that would be possible, but I guess that debate will never be solved. Our tour guide likes to believe that they did happen. After the Colosseum we headed over to Palatine Hill, which I can without a doubt say was my favorite sight of Rome. Palatine Hill is one of the oldest part of the city and the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome. With a cloudy day in front of us the seagulls flying above us and the sights of the ancient remains of the most ancient part of Rome, it made Palatine Hill feel very eerie which I loved! After our tour was over we made our way over to the Trevi Fountain, which at first we couldn’t find because it is so crowded with people. After elbowing and rummaging our way through the crowd we finally got to the turquoise water of the fountain and throw our cents in to make a wish. What happened next you just won’t believe. We witnessed a marriage proposal right in front of our eyes! What are the chances of that happening while in Rome? Following the Trevi Fountain grabbed some delicious gelato from Venchi and walked over to the Spanish Steps and then to Pincio a hill in Rome, to get yet another awesome view of the city. Our evening, ended with us going to the Trastevere district in Rome to grab some dinner where I decided to be adventurous in my food choices and opted for some pumpkin ravioli. Yum, what a pleasant way to end our last night in Rome!
We arrived in Florence with absolutely no plans besides going to the top of the Cuomo. Florence was the prefect city to wind down and relax after the hectic and fast pace of Rome. For our first day in Rome we climbed to the top of the Duomo which was not nearly as much steps as St. Peter’s but it felt so much worse on our legs because we were sore from all the walking we did in Rome. After the Duomo we walked around Florence and did some shopping before heading to dinner at a restaurant called Goldenview, which is located right in front of the river and the famous Vecchio bridge. Although, a little on the pricey side the atmosphere and view were definitely worth it. The following day we went to what we heard is an absolute must in Florence- and that is the Piazza de Michealangelo. But before that we grabbed what was the best slice of pizza I had in Italy, which ironically was the cheapest as well, we sat down in a smaller piazza and tried not to get attacked by pigeons while eating our pizza. The view when we finally got to the the Piazza de Michelangelo was incredible, as you could see the whole city as Florence as well as the villas on the outskirts and part of Tuscany. It made me a little sad that we didn’t have enough time to visit Tuscany. But that’s okay because that gives me an excuse to come visit Italy again someday! After relaxing in the plaza and grabbing a coffee we decided to explore the rose garden, but unfortunately I don’t think it was rose season yet. That evening we went to a less touristy restaurant for dinner and had our last authentic Italian dinner.
Leaving Italy was a bittersweet moment- I know I will come back to visit someday, but for the meantime I will miss its incredible historic monuments, cappuccino and croissants in the morning, and gelato in the afternoon. Sorry for the lengthy vlog, there is just so much we did in our short time in Italy. Until next time, arriverderci!