After my first night in Rome, I woke up around 8:00 and had breakfast before leaving the Airbnb by 9:00, as I had to meet my family (who was coming in that morning) at the “actual” Airbnb where we would be staying together for the next three to four nights. It was only a 10-minute walk, and soon enough, I was reunited with my family after over three months.
Our host (who was the same one who put me up in the Airbnb I stayed in) allowed us to drop our belongings off inside the flat, but unfortunately, we couldn’t stay since check-in was at 15:00. That said, we headed out to a nearby cafe for my family to have breakfast (as I’d already done earlier) and plan out our sightseeing for the day.
We ended up visiting a few churches and basilicas in the area before crossing the Ponte Sisto to the Trastevere district of Rome. Known for its narrow pedestrian streets and quaint plazas, this particular neighborhood makes for a quiet and charming place away from the loud and touristy places. We climbed some steps to the viewing terrace of the Parco del Gianicolo, where we got beautiful views of Rome. It was a sunny, blue-sky day, and I was so happy to have some warmth on my face again, especially since being starved of it for months in grey, cloudy France.
After rounding the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola and taking more photos from another landing terrace, we descended to the ground level of Trastevere where we checked out another church before getting lunch at a tourist-trap restaurant (we knew it would be, but it was just to help my dad out, since he wasn’t feeling too well and needed a bathroom. #foodpoisoningsucks). Eventually, it was time to head to the Airbnb to check in at 15:00, so we returned and our host showed us around, gave us the keys, and left us plenty of food and snacks so that we didn’t have to buy groceries during our stay. She also gave us a bottle of Moscato, which we broke out our third night– after all, being in Rome was a good enough reason to celebrate! We were tired from exploring in the morning and afternoon (plus, my family needed to rest after a long flight from the States), so we just stayed in for the rest of the day.
We did a half-day tour of the Vatican the next morning (more on it in another post), and after that, we returned to Rome to check out the Castel Sant’Angelo, a former mausoleum-turned-fortress-turned-castle before becoming a museum today. Next, we saw the Villa Borghese, which had been the Borgia family’s estate and has some lovely views of Rome from the top, as it’s situated on a hill– unfortunately, the sun wasn’t in our favor that afternoon, which made our photos dark, but otherwise, it was a nice place to see all of the city.
Our following stop was at the Spanish Steps, which is one of the most iconic landmarks of Rome; it has been featured in several films and it’s the spot for couples and tourists to take selfies for that “romantic getaway to the Eternal City.” We then headed to the Trevi Fountain, since my family hadn’t gone yet, and there we ordered gelato as an afternoon snack. Very touristy of us to get gelato while at the Trevi Fountain, but we owned up to it!
On our way back to the Airbnb, we made stops at the Pantheon (where artist Raphael is buried) and Piazza Navona before returning and resting a bit before heading out in the evening for dinner at a restaurant near the Trevi Fountain. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best dinner, as we found the portions too small (at least to be split among the four of us) and lacking in flavor. A disappointment, but we learned.
We did a day trip to Tivoli the next day (which I’ll also post about later) and, upon returning in the late afternoon, we decided to squeeze in a visit to the Santa Maria Maggiore basilica, which is considered one of the four esteemed basilicas in Rome. The interior was beautifully geometric and decked out in gold, and we let the aesthetics take over our senses. Likewise, we visited the San Giovanni in Laterano basilica the following morning, which is also an esteemed basilica– along with St. Peter’s Basilica, we saw three of the four during our trip to Rome, which was a milestone; we’ll have to visit the last one, St. Paul’s outside the Walls, the next time we’re in town.
Heading over to the Colosseum, we arrived to be part of the many tourists taking their selfies and many con artists trying to get them to sign their “petitions” (which was annoying). Any case, we got our obligatory photos in and checked out the Roman Forum, along with the Altare della Patria (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) in the Piazza Venezia. From there, we made our way to the Mouth of Truth, an iconic disk with a “mouth” slot in which tourists stick their hands in for a photo. It was located just outside of the Santa Maria in Cosmedin church, and then we made our final stop at the Fontana delle Tartarughe (“Turtle Fountain”) for more photos before making our way back to the Airbnb– along the way, we stopped by a pasticceria, an Italian pastry shop where we bought some mouth-watering cannoli and pistachio tarts to savor as an afternoon treat. They were so good that we ended up buying more the next day before we left.
We went out again that night for dinner not too far from our Airbnb. If our previous night’s dinner had been a disappointment, that night’s certainly made up for it! It was a traditional trattoria, where we saw Italian nonni making fresh pasta dough right outside. That’s to say, our pasta dishes were incredibly fresh and to die for– my strozzapreti pasta with bacon, zucchini, and Pecorino cheese was the closest thing to heaven, and I was full and satisfied in the end.
The next morning was our last in Rome; we had to check out by 11:00 and from there, we headed over to the station to take our train to our next destination for the winter holidays. It’d been a packed, but fulfilling stay in the “Eternal City,” and I’m happy that Rome impressed me just as much second-time around as with my first visit (if I remember much). We saw beautiful monuments, visited dazzling churches, and ate plenty of hearty Italian food to keep us satisfied in the years to come.
More to come soon– stay tuned!
— The Finicky Cynic
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