Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Ciao Bella! Rome Day 1

Pin It Now! I've been meaning to write a post on our trip to Rome for months now. We went over Thanksgiving weekend and came back in time for Christmas craziness. I've had writers block ever since :)

We were in Rome for 3 full days and I think November is a great time to go. Not only was it much less crowded, the weather was wonderful with temps in the upper 60's and we had sunshine everyday.

[caption id="attachment_1561" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="Our apartment street, just 5 minutes from Spanish steps"][/caption]

We stayed in an adorable studio apartment just a few blocks from the Spanish steps. It was a great spot because we were within walking distance to all the major sights and had a place to crash or freshen up whenever it was needed. Which with two little ones in tow breaks were absolutely needed :)

When I first started planning our Rome trip I felt super overwhelmed. If you don't have a guide, then you do have to be prepared to get the most out of your trip to Rome.  We used Rick Steve's audio tour guide as well as his text tours for everything we saw. Can I just say Rick Steves rocks! His tips and tours are so easy to follow and just so wonderful for anyone who wants a DIY tour. Based off his book I created a daily itinerary that incorporated some play time and of course nap time.

Day 1
-Ancient Rome in the morning (Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, Arch of Constantine)
-Back to hotel for nap/break for kids (and us!)
-Exploring the city in the late afternoon/evening (Pantheon neighborhood, Piazza Navona)

We started out bright and early on Day 1 and after breakfast, headed to the Colosseum. The walk from our apartment to the Colosseum was everything you imagine Rome to be. Vespas zipping around corners, quaint little cobblestone laden alleys and cafes galore.   One of my favorite views on our walk to the Colosseum was of Piazza Venezia.

[caption id="attachment_1574" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Piazza Venezia"][/caption]

As we got closer to the Colosseum, these cheeky gladiator characters started to appear. Rick mentioned these guys in his book saying they could be frisky. Apparently some tourists have been known to pay 100 euro for having their picture taken with a gladiator! This guy cost us 5euro for a picture. Yes we fell for the silly tourist trap.

And then we fell for it again :)

We had booked our tickets for the Colosseum online as recommend by Rick. We went during off season, so there actually wasn't a line. During peak tourist season though, I would suggest buying the tickets online just in case to bypass any crowds. BTW I wouldn't recommend buying any snacks or drinks near the main sights unless you don't care to be charged an insane amount of money. We bought a bunch of bananas (only 4) and two coconut slices (trying to be healthy) and it cost 8 euro!

Once you get into the Colosseum it really is breathtaking. Even though the structure was built in 80 A.D, I thought the layout resembled our modern day football and soccer stadiums. I've heard people say the Colosseum is "ok" or it's overrated. We really tried to imagine what it looked and felt like thousands of years ago. Rick's book also helps you create an image of what it would have been like back then.

After existing the Colosseum, is the Arch of Constantine. If you're a Christian, this is a symbolic sight because it was Constantine who legalized Christianity in Rome.

[caption id="attachment_1565" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Arch of Constantine"][/caption]

The Roman Forum is located right next to the Colosseum. These tickets can also be purchased online and are usually included with the Colosseum price. The pathways in the forum were made mostly of stone and I was so grateful to have our Phil and Ted's stroller. Definitely need a stroller with air tires to get around in there. There were a few places with stairs, so we were able to incorporate a bit of a workout :)

[caption id="attachment_1566" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Inside the Roman Forum"][/caption]

It was so much fun to imagine what this city looked like thousands of years ago. Imagine what Denver will look like in thousands of years. Will it be a pile of rubble someday?

I loved this view of the Colosseum from inside the Roman Forum. After exploring Ancient Rome all morning it was about lunch time, so we headed back into town.

 We ordered some lunch and lattes at a little cafe. And what happened next was a "pinch me moment".  An adorable little waiter, wearing artsy black-rimmed glasses and a black cafe style apron, brought this out to me and said, "preggo":

Thanksgiving afternoon, and there I was. At a cafe in a little alley. IN ROME.  Drinking this too-pretty-to-drink drink and all I could think was *pinch me*.

After soaking in my nostalgic Roman lunch, we did some shopping and strolling around the city and then went back to our apartment to freshen up. Then back out to the streets we went. We were just exploring and looking for somewhere to have dinner when we first saw The Pantheon.

[caption id="attachment_1580" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="The Pantheon at night"][/caption]

Gorgeous isn't it? Now imagine to the right of this picture a man standing near a fountain with a box at his feet for donations. He has a crowd surrounding him and he is singing opera, alfresco.  So quintessential Rome. So romantic. So perfect.

And that was our first day in Rome :)

Day 2...coming soon (hopefully).