Destination: Rome, Italy (Part 1)

During the Christmas holiday season, I spent twelve days traveling with my family to the countries of Italy and Spain (and Vatican, if you count that). It was our “bi-annual family vacation,” as my mom, dad, and sister flew all the way to Europe to see me and travel around.

At least six months prior to it, we’d already looked into Rome– even though we’d visited it over eleven years ago, we wanted to revisit and it also made for a convenient starting point for the week-long cruise that we would take later. Soon enough, my parents booked flights for them and my sister, along with the Airbnb in Rome where we would stay for a few nights on our own. Considering that I didn’t know exactly when I would finish teaching for the first semester, I waited until late September to book my flight to Rome, once I was sure that I could partake in the vacation– flights from Lyon (where I live near) were direct and not too expensive, so it worked out!

I had about five days of rest from my hectic, but fun weekend in Lyon for the fête des Lumières before I headed out once again, taking the 7:00 shuttle to Lyon Saint-Exupéry airport and catching my 11:00 flight to Rome Fiumicino airport. Arrived 90 minutes later, and I promptly hopped on the direct shuttle to the city center. I got off at the Termini station, and from there took the bus to my Airbnb. The thing was, I’d messed up when booking my flight to Rome, as I would be coming a day earlier than my family– that said, my parents ended up booking a small Airbnb for me for one night, which was about 80 euros that I paid in cash to the host upon arriving at the place.

My Airbnb host was really kind, showing me around the small, bachelor-pad flat and giving me tips on things to do in Rome (even supplying me with a map!). Once she handed me the keys and left, I dropped my stuff off and almost immediately went out to explore Rome on my own; I had a few places that I personally wanted to visit, and I only had that one afternoon to do it.

Essentially, I was keen on visiting the Non-Catholic Cemetery (aka “Protestant Cemetery”), where some of my favorite Romantic poets are buried: Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats. Their epitaphs were gorgeous prose and, having previously visited the Keats House in London, this visit has satisfied my love for the beautiful poet.

John Keats’ and Joseph Severn’s tombs.

After the cemetery, I took the metro to the Colosseum; I wanted to get my photos in as the sun set, which was around 17:00 in December (crazy!). Made a full 360 degrees around the colossal monument (pun intended) and snapped photos of it illuminated in all of its 2000-plus years of glory.

No explanation needed.

I came across more iconic monuments and places while conveniently on my way back to my Airbnb: the Roman ruins, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona were just a few. The streets were filled with restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, and plenty of tourists– the atmosphere was lively at night, and the Christmas decorations made for an even-magical experience.

Roman ruins illuminated at night.
Trevi Fountain in the evening.

Getting hungry, I decided to have dinner at a restaurant not too far from the Airbnb, one which my host had recommended to me. The food was simple and a bit overpriced, but what made it memorable was the fact that it specialized in organic Italian food: I ordered pasta with porcini mushrooms with a glass of white wine, and I have to say that the dish was fresh and al dente, which is how I like it. On my way back to the Airbnb, I got some beers at a small grocery store and spent the rest of the night chilling out in the flat on my own.

First dinner in Rome (pasta colored with beet sauce with pesto and Porcini mushrooms).

I’ll be posting the second part of my stay in Rome soon, so until then!

— The Finicky Cynic

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