Welcome to the fourth part of the most random, unplanned, didn’t-even-realise-we-were-road-trippin-til-we-stopped-and-said-i-think-we’re-road-trippin, funnest, craziest and most exciting ITALIANO ROAD TRIP! For the last random spur of the moment trip, of course, how could we be in Italy and not venture to Romaaaaa! When in Rome? Exactly.
But I’m jumping ahead (as per usual)
So we are in Florence, in the countryside, frolicking through fields and vineyards, when we jump ship to our next accommodation destination, a lovely B&B – La Martellina – along the River Arno. Since we couldn’t move our bags by public transport since it was an hour walk to the bus station and we no longer had a rental car we decided to leave or bags in the countryside, grab the bus into town and rent a car to come pick our luggage up as well as be able to move around town. Well we get that done and get settled into our new B&B late afternoon, go out for a local Italian dinner and when I say local I mean LOCAL as in not for tourists, as in NO English menu, we got the special since I had no idea what else I’d be ordering and figured it’ll be good either way (It was AMAZING! And if I had known how to ask in Italian to be wheeled out of there I would have, epitome of satisfaction!) Then we wake up the next morn bright and early for breakfast and while we’re eating come up with the plan of, hey, may as well drive to Rome today?
I had had an offer to stay at Rome Cavalieri for a night so this was the perfect time to make a great Rome escape and check out some of the history! RJ for one was dying to go to the Colosseum! So we jump in the car and head off, even after fair warning that we would be advised to train as driving in Rome was “crazy”! Quite frankly driving in general for me is crazy, not one of my skills I put on my resume, so eh what’s a rental car if you aren’t gonna drive it across a foreign country amiright?!Without a moment to lose we are keying in directions to Rome Cavalieri and off, up and away yet again across the gorgeous Italian landscape! After about three hours we have arrived and firstly let me just say our hotel was beyooooond FANTASTIC. But we weren’t here to spend our time inside a hotel room! We wanna see it ALL! Or at least as much as we could in two days!
We get dropped at the top of the city and are pretty much losty mclost and just kinda follow the crowd up an alley way until we get to an opening with a cascade of steps, a very tall statue similar to Paris’s Place de la Concorde and a cathedral, which is being renovated. There’s painters selling their gorgeous artwork, men thrusting roses into your hands slash forcing you to buy some (again? Must be an Italian thing!) and about a million people covering the steps below. The view is stunning and all of Rome seems to sit pretty much at the same level aside from the prominent Vatican City Roof protruding out, it makes for a gorgeous skyline. Then I notice a sign reading Spanish Steps! Oh, the Spanish steps! Yay, we wanted to go here! Cool, but wow, what a LOT of people. Not one for excessive crowds we join the normal street walkers and head on in search of the Trevi Fountain….whiiiiiiiich we found out is non-existent due to being renovated. Lots of renovations this time of year…so a tad disappointed I didn’t get to have my Lizzie McGuire moment and throw a “wish” in I chose to not even take a photo until I could come back when it was ready for me 😉 so we ventured on towards signs for the Pantheon.
Haha, now THIS is good. I’ll say, you tend to get fabulously lost in Rome in the best way, I mean it’s definitely not a city that sucks to look at. Every corner, every street, every alleyway is gorgeous, I even walked past a restaurant with this fabulous display and everyone is so friendly! But, we are searching for the Pantheon and our little map shows a figure of a building with eight columns supporting the front, we follow signs down a walkway until suddenly we see no more signs and just figure we will keep walking. We get to an opening and there are men dressed as Gladiators standing out the front of a building with eight columns, although seems slightly less wow then the figurine picture. This must be it? We go to enter and there is a film crew in the walkway and a man death staring us to almost let us know “it’s closed” without having to say it for I’m sure the umpteenth time that day. So about to have a crazy rant about everything being bloody closed or being renovated we spot a smaller alleyway off to the side with sunshine beaming out and decide we will head down that way and see where it leads us for our next probably closed attraction.But, the alley way had a little surprise in store for us. Yeah….THAT’S the Pantheon. Haha woops! Well in my defense the other building could be it’s long lost twin except not as WOW factor! This was an incredible piece of architecture! My favourite part about the whole thing, was that it wasn’t being renovated! Yaaaaaaay! We went inside and checked out the amazing decorations, statues, marble carvings and history inscriptions on various wall pieces. I found a little piece of paper with the words Roma sewn on and decided it would be my token souvenir to take photos with. So I did!One of Rj infront of the Pantheon and inside the walls.Then in front of Piazza Navona’s center fountain. Our concierge had told us on the other side of this was the “true Rome” and where to go to see the most authentic part of Rome. So after enjoying the piazza we walked down one of the streets, again, got a little lost, again, and ended up by the water in gorgeous magic hour with stunning views to the Castel Sant’Angelo. We stopped by the water for a while taking a few pictures and after appreciating how gorgeous the lighting was I was dying to head back to our hotel to get some amazing shots of Rome City since it had stunning views of the whole city facing the sunset and I wanted to enjoy it since technically I would have only one night here even though two days. We were all the way at the bottom though and our hotel was at the other end at the top so we grabbed a cab near the Vatican and headed up!
I wasn’t wrong. And our hotel had been sooo sweet to leave us a bottle of champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries – how did they know that’s my fav! (the strawberries, not champagne, although the mood did call for it!) We headed up to the imperial club for some more cocktails and a light dinner before dying into the heaven-like bed for what I can say is one of the best sleeps I’ve had in a loooooong time!Lucky, cause we needed it for our up and early plan of attack, first stop – Colosseum! RJ’s Roman dreams coming true! We had bought our tickets the day beforehand to jump the line with our tickets for the Vatican too, since they were our numero uno’s we wanted to spend good time at each!
We grabbed the audio tour for the Colosseum which were like little phones you walked around with to listen to all the history! It was incredible and also extremely barbaric! Did you know back in the day some Emperors would kill up to 10,000 men and 12,000 animals in the battles that took place per YEAR?!!! Also there was a whale that washed up on one of the beaches which was a massive story so the Emperor would use news events like that for creative inspiration and built a giant wooden whale that had 30 bears come out of it’s mouth to fight in the arena. The fights were extravagant to say the least. Seeing the mens name’s carved along each wall though was what I found the most jaw-dropping. I mean there were millions, there were SO many names, every single wall was covered with names, there was no empty gap or space, even the outside walls were engraved. So many lives were taken here, it’s just crazy to imagine life back then in Ancient Rome. At the moment the arena floor is being renovated (surprise, surprise haha) but actually gives you a great idea of what the arena looked like in it’s prime. After walking around and seeing where the emperors used to sit to watch we headed up to see the view of the Roman Forum. This is where all of the historical government meetings took place and more predominantly, the parties for the triumphs of the gladiator wins. The rulers of each generation would design artwork that was engraved on one of the building walls which you can make out to the left supported by the eight pillars, although some rules today would be beyond outdated and somewhat insane, it’s still amazing to see how much art influenced life even in ancient times as much as it does to this day. Kinda cool right?Well, we spent quite a bit of time there listening to all the facts and enjoying the history before deciding we should be heading off to the Vatican, but on the way some waiters coaxed us in to their restaurant in the sunshine so we sat down to a plate of pasta, the view of the colosseum in the sunshine and some great conversation about everything we had just learnt.We finally drove out to the Vatican and probably took about 45 minutes finding a park – pretty rare! We got up to the steps and got told it was closed! Nuh-uh, I KNOW it’s not being renovated because I have a ticket, yes but last entry is at 4:00….whaaaat, it was like barely 4:01 and at least had been 3:55 at the beginning of the convo with the head guard, BUT as much as I pleaded my case to go in he was being stubborn and mean and wouldn’t let us inside. I ended up emailing the ticketing office and they said the last ticket that day was printed at 4:07!!!! Grrrrrrr! But since I was treated poorly my tickets are refundable for any other date in 2015, so I have serious plans to go back, get that refund and NOT be turned away this time!Can’t complain though, I had an UNBELIEVABLE time in Rome! I had heard such contrasting things and I wasn’t sure what I would make of it but I absolutely adore Rome. It was surprising, beautiful, vibrant, colourful, amazing, historical and completely and utterly swept me off my feet. I’m totally done for. Italy has cast the most irreversible spell on me and I spend my nights dreaming of returns! I can not wait to be back and explore and see soooo so much more of this amazing country. I am so glad that whatever the spell cast on me that first day in Venice made me more spontaneous then usual which is already a fair bit and that I grabbed the reigns (or the rental car keys) and drove my way across three of some of the most visited cities in a Euro trip without even really thinking about it. I didn’t plan I just did and it worked out better than I could have ever imagined. Whether it’s A Day in Rome, Frolicking in Florence, Eating pizza at Lake Garda or Gelato in the pouring rain in Venice, Italy has well and truly stolen a piece of me, guess there’s nothing left to do but return and claim it back….or more than likely…leave more there.
Thanks for reading my Road Trip series! I would love love love to know your thoughts, where YOU have been in Italy and where you think I should check out next time I’m there! Leave a comment below and I’ll reply 🙂