You know how before you go somewhere, you have these expectations of what it’s going to be like? You had seen the Olsen twins visit Rome in one of their movies that you watched when you were a teenager and in it they rode off into the sunset on mopeds with cute Italian boys and threw their wishes into the Trevi Fountain. So you arrive in Rome with Dean Martin’s “On an Evening in Roma” in your head and you assume that’s pretty much what Rome is like, right? Umm, not so much (well maybe all of that with the Italian guys and what not can’t come true when you’re there with your fiance anyway. If you’re reading this, I was happy to have you there, dear).
Let me just say that Rome, to me, felt like an Italian New York City – crazy busy with rude people who don’t want to deal with tourists who don’t speak Italian. There are probably a million interesting things to see and do, but you almost get turned off by all the crazy. In contrast to NYC, this place is wicked ancient (there’s that Boston coming out in me) – like at least a couple thousand years, so that it’s almost weird to see these ancient ruins smack in the middle of whizzing cars and modern life. Like, isn’t the ancient lifestyle and culture just supposed to be permanently preserved while the rest of Rome happens somewhere else?
Obviously, I didn’t get the Mary-Kate and Ashley experience.
After settling into our B&B and getting recommendations from the owner we headed out to see the top sites, since our stay in Rome would be brief. We took the metro to the Colosseum and were somewhat shocked to emerge from the underground world to find this towering holey structure standing before us like it wasn’t a big deal. It is a big deal. That’s when you realize, you are in Rome.
So we toured the beautiful ancient grounds and saw the Roman Forum and the whole Palatino area. The sun was brutal and I don’t have a ton of interest in ruins so we didn’t spend too long looking at everything.
We went inside the Colosseum, which to me seemed less impressive from the inside than the out. I imagined a massive pit with cascading bleachers, the setting immediately putting pictures of screaming spectators and gladiators in my head. The inside still inspires awe, just not quite what I had pictured.
We continued to the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain (again in the middle of random plazas, but swarmed by people)
and then headed to the Piazza Navona, which Sam had somehow discovered through researching. The piazza was beautiful – a long corridor lined with beautiful buildings and patio seating for restaurants. Artists and street vendors tried selling their wares in the middle and we wandered around taking pictures of the elaborate fountains and gorgeous architecture.
Then out of nowhere (well the sky had been getting dark) the skies let loose and it poured. We watched people sprinting for the perimeter of the square, looking for any kind of cover from the rain. We waited it out in a covered porch next to a restaurant. Somehow it had never occurred to me that it might rain in such an idyllic city as Rome.
When the rain finally let up (after faking us out several times only to have it start again) we left the shelter to find a place for dinner.
We stumbled upon Pizzeria Da Baffetto, one of the places recommended to us by our host. Luckily we were seated quickly at an outdoor table that was dried off from the recent rain and under cover in case of more.
Our last night in Italy. I hated to think it.
I ordered the signature pizza (fried egg in the middle) and Sam opted for sausage and onion. We also shared a carafe of house wine and an arugula and Parmesan salad.
We enjoyed the freshness of the salad and while the pizzas were good, they were too thin and lacking in flavor for my taste. Compared to our Ferrara pizzas, they were considerably less cheesy, which was great, but they needed a little something else.
Our evening ended with another stroll by the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain and our final gelato (disappointing). The next day we would return home to our sweet kitties and less glamorous Boston life. (Remember the “grass is greener” lesson? Life is good!)
I am grateful and fortunate and happy to have visited such a wonderful country, tasted all its food, and wandered in its winding streets. I am thankful for the kind people we met who welcomed us despite our clumsy attempts at Italian and happy there weren’t more rude Italians we ran into. Overall, Italy was delicious and I hope to one day return and see more of it. Who knows when (or if) that next time will be, but when that day comes perhaps I’ll try to learn a little more Italian before hand.