Monday, February 29, 2016

Rome, Italy

^^ My favorite picture from Rome. Not only was the Colosseum pretty empty for being the Colosseum, but at this very moment Lizzy is having her worst blow out of the trip. I mean her and I both almost had to strip down in a corridor and take a baby wipe bath. By some miracle our clothes were spared the mess.

After Greece we met up with my sister Jari in Italy. I am so glad she joined us to fulfill a life long dream of ours. Since we were children we would "save" our money and plan a trips to Italy (which never really happened). It would not have been right to visit without her. 

Our Airbnb was walking distance from the Colosseum so after dropping off our stuff we headed straight there. The sun was setting and when the lite up Colosseum came into view Jari and I could not control our giddiness. There is nothing like it.

However, to be completely honest, Italy and Rome in particular was not one of our favorite stops. I try to keep my blog honest. After spending so much money you don't want your travels to be anything less than perfect. But the truth is sometimes you get to your destination and are a little disappointed. Rome was the classic example of being over excited about something just to be a little letdown. There were way too many tourists and way too many lines. Plus we did not have enough money to eat amazing Italian food. 

HOWEVER!! we could not, NOT go to Italy or Rome. That is why there are so many tourist! Every sight is amazing and if you love history like I do then you can look past all the flaws and enjoy yourself. I do not regret this stop in the least, just not planning on making a return trip.

 Plus between my love of history, Jari's knowledge of art, and endless gelato stands there was never a boring moment. 

What can I say that has not already been said about the Colosseum? It was amazing! We got up early the first morning and made our way there right when it opened, and before the big crowds. We had about 30 minutes before the place became so full you could barley walk freely, so my advice is get there early. 

After the Colosseum and arch of Constantine we took the metro to the Galleria Borghese. We had been calling it by it's former name of Villa Borghese... not knowing that the whole piazza was called the Villa Borghese. So when we asked for direction to the Vialla Borghese we were constantly told we were in it. So we walked around this gorgeously large park with fountains, ponds, moms out with their babies, uniformed school children on an outing, we even passed a horse show looking for the galleria. Finally, after almost giving up we found it, only a few minutes past our appointment time.  
^^ Bernini's "The Rape of Proserpina" I mean WOW! the flowing robes, Pluto's curly hair, and every amazing detail all carved our of marble...
^^ Bernini's David^^
The gallery was small and jammed pack with art which covered the ceiling, to the flours. I love these types of museums where the building itself is a work of art.  
 Our visit was followed by a large rain storm, but when you only have two days in Rome you don't let rain stop you. So we strategically walked back finding shelter along the way to the Colosseum passing the Spanish Steps, the construction sight of the Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon. 
 The next day we dedicated to Vatican City. Our main goal was to see the Sistine Chapel, but the museum was much bigger than I had anticipated. We spent hours passing so many famous and impressive pieces of art. My tip is BRING FOOD!!! We would have spent even more time in the museum if we were not starving. Plus you will be less tempted by the over priced food vendors just outside. Another tip, don't rush your way to the Sistine Chapel, enjoy the walk... you are not going to go back and enjoy pieces after the pilgrimage to the Sistine. 
^^Sleeping Lizzy in the smallest and scariest stairway to in St Peter's dome^^
 My two favorite parts about the Vatican were at St Peter's Basilica. First, walking into the church and seeing Michelangelo's Pieta. We were not aware it was located in the basilica and when we saw it it was jaw dropping. My second favorite part was walking up the dome at St Peter's, I found it very scary and had episodes of dizziness and felt a little claustrophobic (like if an earthquake happened while we were in the dome, all of us would for sure be goners) but it gave me a kind of rush of adrenaline. 
 After the Vatican we went back to walk around the Roman Forum. The Forum was an unexpected favorite sight of mine. It was later in the day and a little rainy so the crowds were low. We listened to Rick Steves walking tour which was fun (if you are planning a trip to Europe I suggest you visit his web site) . You could really picture to center of ancient Roman life there.
^^ the Forum is literally across the street from the Colosseum, so we had to stop and take a few more pictures

By the time the Forum closed we still had a little daylight left, so we wondered outside the piazza del campidoglio and piazza bocca della verita. We took zero pictures as we walked around, because sometimes you just have to put away the camera and enjoy where you are. The bocca della verita was closed but we got to look at it through bars. Walking the streets it is crazy how many ancient columns and other remains are scattered all over the place. A few popular sights we walked pasted were the teatro di marcello, arco di giano, tempoi di vesta. These remains seem to always remind you of the ancient city Rome once was. 

^^ while walking around we came across a fruit stand and picked up for yummy dates and the best coconut meat I have ever had. 

Along our walk we asked a young roman where we could find a good place to eat dinner. He suggested to cross the Tiber to a super cute alleyway of restaurants. His tip on finding a true Italian eatery was to find a small place with lots of outdoor seating. We did as he said and had our best meal in Rome. 

^^Just chillin in front of the modern Rome city hall, right off Capitoline Hill

Walking back in the dark was a little intimidating. Yet that did not stop us from wondering down a few unknown roads and into a couple places for dessert.

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