Europe: Rome Day 2

Following along on this recap of our trip, if you’d like to see the first 2 days click here for Dublin, Ireland and here for day one of Rome.

We chose to make Rome the quickest stop of our trip and cram as much as we could into 3 days. To be honest, Rome wasn’t even on our radar when we initially began brainstorming our 19 day trip to Europe. We had been talking about all the places we wanted to see (everywhere) and what would make the most sense according to relative location to one another. England, Ireland, and Scotland were the countries in the original plan, but as these things go, the whole plan was changed once we started to see what other cities and countries had to offer.  We talked about multiple cities in France, we mentioned Spain, and then the topic of Italy came up. We have a great desire to see the entire country but didn’t know if this was the trip to try and do that.  After talking with fellow friends who had traveled to Rome, we decided that Rome was now a must see for us, but were now running short on days to spare. So we came up with a solution, fly into Rome, stay a few short days, and then at least we will have seen a glimpse of the country, so that’s exactly what we did. It’s funny how things like this happen when planning. We ended up cutting out Scotland all together, something I never thought I’d do, in order to visit Rome and Paris. This won’t be the last time we travel to Europe so Scotland is just another reason to go back.

Day two our rough itinerary looked like this: Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Spanish steps, catacombs of San Callisto (never got to this one), Piazza Navona, anything else we want to do or see.

We always planned things with the idea in mind that we could change things up if need be last minute according to what we actually were able to do and what we wanted to do at the time. Generally, we didn’t lay out a specific timeline.

My tip for planning is make a loose itinerary every few days of a long trip, not all days have to be planned down to the last minute and actually shouldn’t be. Spontaneity is sometimes the funnest thing about a trip like this.  Also, if something unexpected catches your attention or interest, go for it, even if it hasn’t been previously planned for.

Ok moving on. I mentioned in an earlier post how we were staying in an apartment we rented through airbnb. Our host would have this spread of food for breakfast waiting for us every morning (a yummy bundt cake sat under that paper towel).  How cute is that?!  That juice was delicious! 

DSC_0561 This was the usual view on our walk to the metro station or anywhere else. These were just those “pinch me” moments.

DSC_0586 DSC_0587The thing about Rome is, it is actually feasible to walk most everywhere if you take a little extra time and have good shoes. This is something we chose to do after riding the metro train one time to the Spanish steps and realizing we were missing out on seeing the city just to sit in a hot, dusty, and cramped train care in order to get places quicker.  No thanks. We got the map out and walked everywhere from then on.

Our first sight of the day was the Spanish Steps. The monumental steps climb 135 steps high, linking the spanish embassy with the church at the top. They are the widest set of steps in Europe.  We had read that in order to avoid the crowds go early. We did that but it was still pretty crowded, so if you plan to go, go as early as you can in the day.
DSC_0617 DSC_0600 DSC_0584 DSC_0606 The story behind these pictures below is actually kind of funny so I thought I’d share:

We had walked up from the base of the spanish steps to the base of the church to get a better view of everything below and a man walked up to us gesturing he wanted us to take a rose from the bunch he was holding repeating the phrase “blessed Santa Maria”. We politely declined, but he insisted we take one because he was “giving” them to us. We said no again, and he insisted. Why I took one instead of walking away I’ll never know. He said he would take a picture of us with the rose and asked for our camera, again, don’t know why but I gave it to him. The whole time i’m muttering to Ryan, “he’s going to want a tip, do you have any change?” as Ryan mutters back to me “yeah I have some” in an annoyed tone 🙂

The man took a picture, then handed me his whole bunch of roses and took another picture (see picture below). When he was done he gave the camera back (phew) and I gave him the roses back. He said “no no I give to you” and handed me two roses back. I said, “oh ok thanks” really not wanting them, but just wanting to be done with all this. Ryan hands him a Euro and the guy says “I give you two roses I need two Euro.” Ryan, clearly having had enough at this point, grabs the Euro out of the guys palm as he’s holding it up and says “fine take your roses back we don’t want any of it” after which the man quickly replied “ok, ok one Euro, one flower, give me the other flower.”

Did you follow all that? I’m not sure either of us did at the time, but we left there promptly so we weren’t harassed anymore because he wasn’t the only one with a handful of flowers, and we obviously gave off the vibe of naive americans who are too nice to tell anyone off.  I had learned my lesson and would from then on either ignore or sternly say “no” to anyone else trying to offer something (note: I would later that morning get slapped in the face with a bunch of roses by another annoying man trying to force his flowers on me after I refused to look at him or acknowledge the flowers he was shoving in my face for “free”-at which point I was really close to shoving him in the Trevi Fountain-ok maybe not close, but seriously imagining it in my head).DSC_0626 View looking down the stepsDSC_0629

A cool thing happened when we were walking around the Spanish steps. A band of some kind (we weren’t sure if it was a military band or something else) started playing at the base of the steps, so we hung out for their mini concert which was entertaining. DSC_0639 DSC_0650 DSC_0662DSC_0671 DSC_0686After wandering the area around the Spanish steps, we took the map out again to make our way over to the Trevi fountain on foot. Along the way we stopped in a gelateria and had some sorbet and gelato.

FYI:  The more silk floral there is in a gelato shop, the more you’ll pay.  I think we paid the equivalent of $15 for a cup here. We found the best and cheapest gelato came out of very understated storefronts away from the main attractions.

DSC_0708 DSC_0710 DSC_0715You could tell when you were nearing the Trevi Fountain because the sound of the running water echoed off all the marble and brick surrounding it.

DSC_0731DSC_0778 DSC_0767 DSC_0765 DSC_0743DSC_0760Quite a sight to behold that’s for sure. The detail in the marble carving was just beautiful and these pictures don’t really show how truly massive the fountain is.  The tradition is to throw a coin over your left shoulder and that will ensure a return trip to Rome (or something like that). We needed all the coinage we could get so we did not participate but gladly watched others throw their money in 🙂

From there we wandered over to the Pantheon (which you should also go early in the day). It was nestled among buildings and kind of hard for us to find.

DSC_0802 DSC_0807DSC_0832 DSC_0816There’s free admission inside so we went in to take a look around.  You have to be quiet as it is a place of worship and there was actually a service going on when we were inside.

DSC_0844From there we decided to walk in the direction of the Piazza Navona, taking in the sights along the way.

DSC_0828Many parts of the streets are cobbled so this is another reason to bring good shoes with decent soles. My flats were a little thin soled so sometimes walking on these stones would hurt my feet.
DSC_0800 These fruit stands are everywhere, generally overpriced fruit and drinks, but convenient for a quick snack and questionable sandwich.DSC_0797 DSC_0909Arriving at the Piazza Navona, we walked around looking at all the artists works and stopping in the little shops that lined the area.  One of my favorite things to do when traveling is look at local artists works and if I find something in my price range that I love, i’ll buy it. You have to be careful if you want to buy art there because many “artists” will say they are showing you an “original” work when all it is is a mass reproduced piece of doodoo sold by someone who is anything but an artist.  Be forewarned. There is a huge difference between that and an artist making legit prints of their work. I actually bought a true original painting  for my mom, as a thank you for watching the house, from a Scottish woman who’s husband was Italian and also an artist.  She had appropriate prices for what she was selling and showed her originals as well as her copies to us.

DSC_0884 DSC_0875 DSC_0870DSC_0887 DSC_0890 DSC_0899After we were done looking around the Piazza, we went in search of a good sit down meal and found it. The waiter even gave us lemon cello (so strong I thought it would burn my insides) and pane cotta with strawberry sauce on the house. How sweet. He knew what he was doing because we tipped him generously (we would have anyways).

We decided to head back towards our apartment and stopped in a museum along the way where we got admission with our already purchased Roma Pass. There aren’t any pictures because I was just tired of taking pictures at that time. 🙂

DSC_0951

We ended the day very similar to how we started it, with a nice bowl of gelato…then hit the hay.

Day 4 was an entire day allotted for Vatican city.  More about that in the next post…

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