Monday, 26 May 2014

All roads lead to Rome

16 - 23 May

It was always a dream that we might end our travels in Italy, so to have been able to turn it into a reality was beyond our wildest expectations! Rome, Naples, Florence, Bologna and Milan are where we are headed over the next few weeks.

I am beyond excitement at starting our Italian tour with a whole week in Rome, one of my favourite places in the world.

We've been here twice before, the first time in 2010 when we got engaged, and the second in 2012 as a surprise for Marks birthday.

Roma, Roma, Roma!

This time we arrived late in the evening from Bali via Shanghai, and the sun was just setting as our Terravision transfer brought us into the city. The light was reflecting off the terracotta buildings illuminating the eternal city - it was good to be back!

After a little fuss trying to get our metro ticket at Termini (tip: have change) we were on our way to Silesia's. She was our air bnb host for the week and her place was a 10 min tram ride away. It was lovely to be staying in a home again, it was cosy and very welcome after months of hotels.

After a good nights sleep we were ready to get reacquainted with the city, after cappuccino and cornetti of course! My friend Chloe was also in Rome, so we arranged to meet her for dinner after a little shopping.

One of the best things about Rome is that the history is all around you, and you don't have to go far to see a stunning sight. Even one of the tram stations is built into an ancient wall! It's an easily walkable city in the right shoes, and you can keep hydrated by drinking from the water fountains on almost every street (perfectly safe and free!). On our first day we revisited the Colosseum, Spanish Steps, Villa Borghese, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, Pantheon and the Roman Forum, all stirring the emotions and reminding us why we love this city.

Clean and cold water, available everywhere!

Almost 4 years later it's wonderful to be able to find the spot Mark proposed, shed a tear and feel happy to find a memory.

The wine and conversation flowed when we met Chloe at sunset by the Colosseum, and before we knew it we'd talked our way through dinner to midnight and had to get a taxi home!

The following day was a Sunday and we'd planned to go to the Vatican and hear the Pope. Mark and I had accidentally seen this once before, but arriving at the Vatican it became clear this Pope is so much more popular that the last. St Peters Square was at bursting point! It was nice to be part of a large gathering, and even though no one in our group were practising Catholics, we could appreciate why people come, and got a good vibe!

The Pope, second window in on the right!

After, we strolled along the Tiber to the Mouth Of Truth (free) and on to Capitoline Museum for a view of the Roman Forum where we left Chloe. That night we ate traditional Roman pasta with cheese and pepper and washed it all down with a bottle of red. It's lovely to be drinking wine again after months of lager!

What's best though, is already being familiar with a place after months of 'new'. We knew enough about Rome to get about without a map, and even when we got lost we could find our way when we eventually stumbled upon a sight, obelisk or familiar road. This all added to the homely feeling we were getting which made the whole week not even feel too much like we were away from home. Add in dinner with friends and a boozy picnic and it could have been a regular Saturday!

Something beautiful in every direction!

Running in Rome

After seeing friends Dave and Sarah for a quick espresso and catch up, we were on the hunt for running kit. It had been 3 months since I last ran and I was sure all this pasta and wine would make it catch up with me at a faster rate than usual. 

The next day we tested our kit out at a park near Tor Pignattara. It's frequented by runners and must be used for regular races from the looks of the notice board. For the 10k the best time was around 36 mins; not bad considering most of the runners were 50+. 

We managed to squeeze 2 runs and a lot of pulled muscles into our week, and it was nice to know that even in Italy people on the street look at runners like we are crazy people!

Villa d'Este

On Wednesday, we hopped on the train to Villa d'Este (€11), a place I've been dying to see since it popped up on my Pinterest feed. Its a 30 min/€2.80 train from Tiburtina and absolutely worth it if you have time.

The largest fountain in Villa d'Este

Villa d'Este is a stunning Italian villa and garden of water fountains which just take your breath away. The largest jetted water up 20 meters. It's the perfect place to sample small town Italy close to the big city; just stroll away the afternoon in the beautiful grounds and enjoy dinner in the charming hillside town.

I love fountains so it was the perfect way for me spend an afternoon in Italy. The views over the rest of Lazio were also beautiful.

A little Eat Pray Love in Rome

On our last day in Rome, we revisit the Vatican (much quieter today) and see the grottoes which house the past popes and the supposed resting place of St. Peter. We missed this before; as the entrance isn't clear. FYI it's behind the statue that stands behind you to the right when at the top of St. Peter's chamber - and that description should make sense when you are there!

After we had lunch in Piazza Cavour before stumbling across these filming locations from the film of the book Eat Pray Love!

Liz's house in Eat Pray Love

What's your word?
The first is Liz's house in Rome; it's at the end of Via dei Pianellari. The second is the restaurant where they talk about each others word; it's called Santa Lucia on Via do Santa Maria dell' Amina. Both are very close to Piazza Navona!

By the end of the week we were sad to be leaving this little piece of home, but excited about the coming week in Naples! Rome has always been a special place for us, and this time was no different.