Blog, Italy, Travel

When In Rome

When everyone talks about Italy, you will always hear how much someone loved Florence, at least that’s what we heard for the past few years. It was not Florence we fell in love with though, it was Rome, the capitol of Italy! We visited Rome with family for our cruise port of call and briefly walked the city a second time when Adam and I visited Vatican City. Rome surprised us with its beautiful architecture, history and atmosphere. We could feel the history in the air, the Roman Empire and maybe even Russell Crowe. There is so much to see and enjoy in Rome that 1 – 2 days is not nearly enough. It is definitely a city we wish to revisit to see things that we missed like the Roman Forums, the Catacombs of Rome, Palatine Hill, Piazza Novona and more. Nevertheless, here are some of our highlights of When In Rome.

Feeling Like Gladiators at the Colosseum

The Colosseum, one of the Seven New Wonders of the World, the main attraction of Rome and our highly anticipated visit.

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The number one thing you need to know about the Colosseum is to obtain your tickets beforehand! If you visit without reserving your tickets beforehand you will waste so much precious time that could be spent wandering the city. We obtained our tickets beforehand and even then we had to wait in line for quite awhile, but the line without tickets was miles long, yes we are exaggerating, but we are not exaggerating that it probably took them at least three hours to get in. There were literally four lines: one for special groups/tours, one for reserved tickets, one for without tickets and we all were trying to get into one line that was for security. Once you pass security, if you have your tickets you wait in a shorter line to enter the Colosseum. Those without tickets, enter another long line. I think we stressed enough the importance of having a ticket beforehand.

The second thing you need to know, if you are cat lovers like my family and us, the well known Colosseum cats are no longer there!!!! We were more than heartbroken to find this out when we did not spot a single cat. Just devastated.

Now for the fun stuff. Once we entered the Colosseum’s arena we were in awe! We could instantly picture what the arena must have looked like during the Roman times. Looking outside the Colosseum is of course huge, but once you are inside you feel like an ant. We are so lucky that the Romans were able to preserve the Colosseum as well as they have, because it is beyond fascinating to see in person.

To be standing in such a historical place  where citizens would watch the gladiators fight is an unreal feeling. So we did what any Gladiator fan would do, we gave our best “are you not entertained?!?!” reenactment.

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Seeing the Colosseum first was the best start to our day in Rome. We would not have wanted it any other way. It is the icon and heart of the city that should not be missed. If you do not see the Colosseum, even if only the outside, then it is like you were never in Rome. One of the Seven Wonders of the World down, only six to go!

Kissing at the Trevi Fountain Because We Already Got Our Wish

As we were walking to the Trevi Fountain, our family started getting hungry and not just for food, for pizza! True Italian pizza! We were on a mission though and did not have time to sit down and eat, we wanted to take our pizza to go. Well….that was harder than we thought. Every pizza place we walked by only had sit down until we were a block from the Trevi Fountain – finally pizza! It was well worth the wait as we quickly took large bites into our first slice of authentic Italian prosciutto pizza. With that being said, we forgot to capture the moment, but our cool Uncle Fred did not forget. The prosciutto pizza was sooooo good! It is crazy how much of a difference ingredients and authenticity can make. In fact, pizza in Italy is never sliced, it comes whole and we must slice it ourselves or just take a big bite of the whole pizza. Enjoying our pizza near the Trevi Fountain ended up being more romantic than throwing coins into the fountain.

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Uncle Fred with his pizza!

For those that do not know, legend has it that if you throw a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder into the Trevi Fountain, you will return to Rome, two coins and you will find a new romance, three coins will lead to marriage! Well folks, we are pretty smitten with each other and only had to throw one coin in because we already have the other two wishes. Garwsh, we know! It is a fun legend and a main reason why tourists flock to the fountain. While we watched people throw their coins into the fountain we just shared a kiss or two, or three. Our kisses may or may not have tasted like pizza….we were not complaining.

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We really enjoyed sitting on the steps with the most beautiful fountain in the world in our view. With all the hundreds of people, and the summer heat beating down on us it still felt peaceful. The amount of detail to the sculptures in the fountain is an exquisite piece of art along with the sound of the water trickling down is what makes it so peaceful. Then there is Triton, the powerful sea-god riding a chariot in the shape of a shell. It is absolutely stunning and we could have stared at it forever.  In fact, on our second trip to Rome we walked to the Trevi Fountain again because there is just something magical about it. Maybe Triton does make the wishes come true.

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Not Walking the Spanish Steps

Unfortunately the Spanish Steps were being renovated both times we visited Rome in our two month span of traveling throughout Italy. The Spanish Steps undertook a ten month, $1.7 million renovation provided by Bulgari for their 130th company anniversary in 2016. The last time the Spanish Steps were renovated was 1995, twenty years ago! The Spanish Steps were so quiet with all the tourists crowding behind the barrier. Seeing the steps so alone felt more romantic than everyone sitting and standing on them.

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The baroque fountain, Fontana della Barcaccia, or “Fountain of the Old Boat” became more of the focal point during the renovation. It sits at the lower end of the Spanish Steps and is based on an old folk legend of a fishing boat. Though it is not as popular as the Spanish Steps or Trevi Fountain it was still lovely.

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Since we could not walk any of the 135 famous steps, we found another way to reach the top by taking stairs on the side of the Spanish Steps. Sitting on top of the Spanish Steps is the church, Trinità dei Monti with the beautiful Sallustiano Obelisk. The view from here was beautiful – we had a great panorama of Rome and the Spanish Steps from above.

Maybe visiting Rome the third time will be the charm to walk those 135 steps.

Running Through Rome to Catch our Cruise Bus

We would first like to point out how bad ass and strong my mom, Debra, is. She had undergone reconstructed ankle surgery, but was walking around Italy like a champ. After two long days of sightseeing her ankle started to get the best of her, but you would never know because of her spirit. So, why is that important? Because our cruise bus tour had given us strict times of when we needed to report back or the bus would leave us. Well….we highly underestimated Rome and the distance of us to the bus. It was the two of us, Shelby, Debra, Frank, Fred, Sandra and their seven year old son, B. One, we got lost/misread our directions. Two, we were about twenty minutes away, but had to arrive to the bus in ten minutes. When we realized our fast walk was not going to cut it, Adam and I ran ahead to tell the bus my family was on their way. We SPRINTED like our life depended on it (while we realized how out of shape we were). When we arrived to the bus we could not even get our words in to tell our guide more of us were on their way. About five minutes later we saw my poor mom running/limping along with Shelby, Frank, Sandra and B on top of Fred’s shoulders. Yeah we were all late to our bus, but come on lets give a round of applause to my awesome family! When in Rome, right? Phew!

Sightseeing in Rome

We mainly walked throughout the city stopping at some highlights due to our limited time and even then we saw so many beautiful fountains and buildings of architecture and history. The third time we visit we hope to actually enjoy the sites, do some tours and learn more about Rome’s history. So until then, please enjoy these photos of places that really caught our eye.

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As we said before, two days was not enough time. We loved Rome, so we will be back to see everything we missed and anything we want to revisit! We recommend to stay at least for three days and one more day if you plan to go to Vatican City.

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Ciao bella Roma!

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More of Italy
  • To read about our experience in Florence and Pisa, click here.
  • To read about our first international soccer experience in Turin, click here.