TRAVEL WEEK: Roaming in Rome
I'm so excited about this week's special edition on travelling through Italy and France! My husband Derek and I just got from our honeymoon abroad and I took in so many incredible historic sites, drank more lattes than I ever have in my life, ate some of the best, most delicious food, saw some lovely and some interesting fashion trends, and found I was at a complete loss of words numerous times because I just couldn't believe where we were. The four cities we visited, Rome, Florence, Venice, and Paris, each left a distinct mark on the two of us and I'm just left hoping I can hold onto a little bit of each city forever.
Our adventure began in Rome. We arrived late-evening, so the first night we just grabbed dinner at a spot near our hotel and had a really lovely first European meal. Because neither Derek nor I speak any Italian, we had studied up a little bit with youtube videos and brought along a phrase book and the cutest, smallest Italian to English dictionary you can imagine. Pretty much everywhere we went, people were super accommodating, but I do think it helps to at least show that you've put some effort into learning the language and care about trying that by all means at first.
After dinner, we explored our neighborhood. We very quickly realized that we had hit the jackpot for hotel locations. Just a few blocks away, we saw a large crowd and realized we had stumbled upon Trevi Fountain. It was amazing encountering this mammoth fountain at night when it was beautifully lit. We continued our late-night impromptu adventure and within a few more minutes, found ourselves at the Pantheon. It's incredible to find these historic sites just nestled within the city. You turn a corner, and boom: old ruins, incredible buildings, beautiful fountains, enormous columns and looming statues.
Looking back, our first day in Rome was such a whirlwind. We walked. And we walked. And then we walked some more. We started the day with our first cafe lattes (first of many, I'm talking like several a day), visited Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon in the daylight, walked Terrazza del Pincio on our way to the Villa Borghese Gardens where we rented a surrey and visited the museum there. We strolled down via the Spanish Steps and enjoyed some take-away cocktails while strolling the cobblestone streets.
The next few days were just as incredible. We dedicated a whole day (and should have allotted two) for Palatine Hill and took in the Colosseum and Roman Forum. It's simply insane that these amazing pieces of architecture are still standing, especially since so much has been destroyed over the years. We spent another day at the Vatican, Saint Peter's Basilica, and explored the Castle of Saint Angelo. There are so many incredible structures, artwork, and sculpture that we've grown up studying and reading about, but seeing them in person, getting as close as we could, it sometimes left us speechless. And I talk a lot. As someone who has studied and has practiced various form of art my whole life, not even that could prepare me for things like the Sistine Chapel, which literally took my breath away.
We ended our time in Rome at Capitoline Hill, where the museum there was partially designed by none other than the revered Michelangelo. Being overwhelmed by busts of philosophers, enormous marble statues, and ending the night with a light show across the Pompeii Forum was the perfect way to leave. We were always up too early, stayed out too late, and still barely got in just a taste of Rome. The history, beauty, and adventure are not to be topped.
WHEN IN ROME - your classic "you can't miss this" list.
Villa Borghese Gardens.
Most importantly, just take in the city.
Book your hotels in advance. Not only did this ensure that we had a place to stay, but we were able to book places that were right in the historic heart of each city. If you're up for walking (my favorite way to really explore and take in a new place), you can find a hotel that's close enough to most places and avoid having to pay for transit. It also makes for a nice "home base" where you can duck into during the day to grab forgotten items, change clothes if the weather varies or going from daytime to dinnertime wardrobes, or grab a mid-day beer from the minibar. Also, booking in advance can cut the cost of the hotel in half. We booked through hotels.com and found some really wonderful deals and found that the comments and reviews of each of place had great insight.
Bring activities for the plane. As for someone who brings a book, crossword puzzle, and snacks for a three hour car ride, I was definitely going to stock up for a nine hour flight. This was especially handy when it turned out that I'm someone who doesn't really sleep on flights. Derek was out cold for most of the flight to Rome and luckily, I had the movies provided on the plane (I'd suggested for a flight as long as this to spring for the movie package you can purhcase), a few snacks I had packed, two books, and two activity books.
- For the flight: dress comfortably but well. Did you know that people used to get decked out for flights? Back in the 60's and 70's, flights were more like a cocktail party and people dressed for the the occasion. Sure, flights themselves were more glamorous then, but that's no reason why you can't make it a little more fun and special for yourself. While I didn't quite get to cocktail attire, I did find a pair of comfy black pants, wore little black booties, a basic T, had a cardigan tucked away in my carry-on, and wore my trench. Opting for a classic ensemble instead of sweats and flip hops is helpful in several ways: you'll save space in your bags (my boots and trench would have taken up a ton of room), you might be more likely to get an upgrade if you're dressed well, and you'll just feel better when you land. Now, I definitely didn't look like a million bucks nine hours later when we landed in Frankfurt, but I did feel better knowing at least my clothes were looking good.
FASHION IN ROME:
I found that many of the popular cuts, colors, and patterns that are big here this summer are also popular abroad. Light blue (Pantone Island Paradise) was by far the most popular solid color worn as well as in stripes or gingham with white. Off the sholder poplin shirts were EVERYWHERE, especially in the light blue color. They offered an easy chic way to look stylish while keeping cool in the 80-90 degree weather. Classically cool black cigarette pants were the optimal choice for the professional crowd and evening pant paired with a either a sleeveless blouse during the warm day or fun statement sleeves in the afternoon. Women definitely wore more and bolder makeup and rocked the confident look.
Check out tomorrow's post when I cover our short time in Florence! There will be more photos, fashion, a couple things you do not want to travel without!