We had the most beautiful outdoor wedding at a local golf club, and I am anxiously awaiting our photos from the photographer so I can share more of that special day with you. In the meantime, let's get to the honeymoon: ROME!
After the wedding, I slept maybe two hours total because my mind was still abuzz from all of the excitement and love. The next morning I felt a little "floaty" from such little sleep, but the high from the previous day and the excitement of Italy had me wide awake.
As you know by now, Micah flies for American Airlines, so we get to fly free anywhere in the states and pay a small tax fee for international flights--this is the same whether we fly in coach or business/first class. Because we are classified as "non-rev", we fly standby, which means we only get on the plane if there are empty seats. Micah can check flights in advance to see how they are filling up and if first class may be available. Considering Rome is a bit of a long haul, we really wanted business class, so we took a flight from Lexington to Charlotte and then Charlotte to JFK to best set us up for those seats. It was a close call because there were about eight people ahead of us waiting for business class, but we got it!
In the past year I've gotten to fly first class around the states, which is very roomy and nice, but business class on an international flight is a whole other game. Each passenger gets their own pod with a seat that reclines completely flat into a bed, a television with the most recent television shows and movies, Bose headsets, a little toiletry kit, and all the food and drink a person could want.
While we tried to play it cool, Micah and I were completely giddy over such lavish treatment.
Six hours later we arrived in Rome and the adventure began. We managed to make our way to the train from the airport and rode thirty minutes to the city's metro station. However, when we decended the stairs, we were stopped in our tracks to a crowd of people elbowing their way to the metro. Loaded down with luggage, we did our best to inch our way to the front, but it took four metros for us to finally get to the front. When the doors opened to the already crowded cart, Micah pushed his way on but I was shouldered back into crowd. He reached for my arm and pulled, but the crowd enveloped my suitcase, leaving me stuck half on and half off the metro.
"Please!" I panicked, "I need my suitcase! Please!"
No one seemed to hear or notice me, so I yanked my carryon as hard as I could, knocking a few people to the side in the process, and I was on.
We all rode with our bodies pressed against one another, putrid odor and sweat mingling amongst strangers. I clung to Micah and hoped we wouldn't have to go far. Three stops later we arrived, and this time people were more than happy to help me with my luggage, practically tossing it off the metro for me. Once off the cart I took a deep breath and looked at Micah, "I can't do that again. Let's just walk from now on."
We stayed at Hotel Pincio (pronounced "pin-cho" not "pin-see-o" like I originally thought) in the city center, and it was perfect. Reasonably priced, it had a clean and updated room (complete with a bidet in the bathroom) and offered complementary breakfast on the rooftop. We were about a five minute walk from the Trevi Fountain, and there was an abundance of shopping and restaurants around us. If you do stay here, know that this hotel doesn't have a lobby in the building, and you have to check in at the hotel across the street.
After a much needed nap, we had a few hours before dinner, so we showered and headed out to walk the Heart of Rome. Micah brought along a Rick Steves Pocket Rome guidebook, which we relied upon heavily for the entire trip. It came with a foldout map and instructions for how to get places, recommendations, and fascinating information about the city and its rich history. So we let Rick Steves give us a tour of the Heart of Rome, which entails walking a circle around the city center and stopping at all the iconic sites, including the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, and the Pantheon.
We ended the day with the most delicious bruschetta and pizza.
The next morning we arose early to make our way to the Colosseum. We wanted to get there before it became too crowded, but we did find some time to stop at a little cafe for a latte.
They brought us these adorable complementary pastries to enjoy with our coffee.
The Colosseum does not disappoint. It is overwhelmingly impressive that humans had this kind of ingenuity with no technology to rely upon. We wandered the ancient stadium, stopping from time to time for Micah to read aloud the history of the place from our guidebook. It is easy to imagine the excitement and cheering in the stands, as well as the noises from strange animals in the pit and the fear the gladiators must have felt as they awaited their fate.
Outside the Colosseum we explored the ancient ruins and marveled that Julius Caesar once walked these pathways. In fact we found where he was cremated, which was exciting for this English teacher.
That evening we had an incredible dinner of pasta carbonara and spaghetti bolognese.
Once our bellies were full, we meandered through the small basalt stone streets, lingering to appreciate the smell of leather and cigarettes as dusk cast a new beauty upon the city.
On this day we ventured to the Vatican, arriving before the doors opened. We didn't have the foresight to book a guided tour in advance, but we were able to rent an audio tour, which we ended up enjoying more because we could take in the information at our own pace.
To say that the Vatican is elaborate is an understatement. It seemed as though every inch of this massive place is covered with intricate paintings trimmed with gold.
We stepped out of the Vatican to tour St. Peter's Basilica, and once again we relied on our trusty guidebook to fill us in on all the fascinating history of this famous church.
On our way out, we picked up a couple of gelatos and enjoyed them next to the rushing Tiber River.
For dinner we gorged ourselves on cheese, pasta carbonara, and gnocchi.
On our last day, Micah had the idea of going to Villa Borghese for the day, which is a large public park in the shape of a heart.
As we walked around, we kept noticing these fun looking contraptions people were riding, which was something like a two-person cart that both people pedal like a bicycle. We finally found where to rent one, but it cost 12 euros for an hour and we only had 10 euros left. I had the idea of finding an American who would trade me 2 euro for a $5 bill (more than fair). After asking a few people if they were American and having no luck, I took to standing next to different people so I could hear their accent (not creepy at all). I finally heard a woman speaking in a sweet southern accent to her daughters, and she kindly made the exchange with me. I ran back to Micah with my arms raised in success.
The ricksha, as Micah called it, proved to be as fun as it was obnoxious. We barreled through the park, Micah honking the horn, me screaming at the turns, and we sang Dean Martin's "That's Amore" at the top of our lungs. The couples hoping for a little romance on the park benches threw annoyed side glances our way, which only made us laugh harder and sing more loudly. I can't think of a more fun way for us to end our trip.
Advice on food:
I would name the restaurants we visited, but it is likely you would never be able to find it because there are so many small alleyways and streets that are not clearly marked. What I will say is that everything we ate was wonderful, so I'm pretty sure there really are no bad places to eat. Every restaurant has a menu posted outside, so we would look at the menu first to check prices and see if they had what we were craving in particular. We also ate at restaurants that were a couple streets over from major attractions in order to avoid crowds, increased prices, and traffic. Some dishes we had that we loved were:
- Pasta Carbonara
- Cacio e Pepe
- Spaghetti Bolognese
- Gnocci in a tomato cheese sauce
- Bruschetta (my favorite was the tomato, but the artichoke and olive spread were also delicious)
This by far is one of my favorite trips we have taken. It was the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation, and Rome is simply stunning. If you have ever thought of going, I encourage you to take the leap--we certainly plan on returning.