Dining · Italy · Uncategorized

Three Days in Rome

For our November 2019 trip, we started in Rome as that is the easiest city to fly into from Dallas (we had to do a short layover in Philadelphia).  Also, my mother-in-law had never been to Italy so we thought she may want to see The Eternal City.  We stayed for three nights in a small boutique hotel near the Trevi Fountain.  We also planned two tours with a private guide, Paola Barbaneri at Paola Tours.  Our first day we were all jet lagged from the flight so we stopped by the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon and then had an early dinner and called it a night.

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Steve and his mom at the Trevi Fountain
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Trevi Fountain – not nearly as crowded in November as it was in April

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We also visited the Pantheon, which dates to 113 AD and was built by the Emperor Hadrian.  It was a former Roman temple (now a Catholic church).  The columns for this building came from Egypt and were floated on a barge down the Nile.  I also love the coffered dome inside with the oculus.

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Gorgeous at night
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Coffered dome and oculus

The next day we were up early to meet Paola for a private tour of the Vatican, which included the museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Starting our Vatican Tour

Paola, as always, did a great job highlighting points of interest, giving us history and the background of objects and explaining how the tiny city-state of the Vatican works.

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The hall of maps in the Vatican Museum
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With our guide, Paola, at The Laocoon Statue.  This statute was excavated from a site in Rome in 1506.  It’s original date is unknown but some believe it may be as old as 200 B.C.

We then visited the Sistine Chapel, which is stunning but no photos are allowed.  Following that we moved onto St. Peter’s Basilica.

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Altar in St. Peter’s

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The next day we had another private tour with Paola to visit The Coliseum and the Roman Forum. Steve and I actually never visited the Coliseum during our last visit to Rome because the line was so long.  If you have a private guide, you get to skip the line and walk right in!

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Outside of the Coliseum (see that line?)  I strongly suggest hiring a guide and skipping it.
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The interior of the Coliseum (aka the Flavian ampitheater)
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So the Coliseum was originally covered in white marble, which you can see here.  It’s all been removed over the centuries and used for other buildings or just pillaged
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I guess cats enjoy gladiator movies, too

We did not go into the “basement” of the Coliseum as that requires a special pass and it was actually closed to all visitors during this time for restoration work.

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Two old ladies just waiting on a gladiator

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After the Colisuem, we were off to the Roman Forum.  I have to say that the Rick Steve’s “walking tour” of the Forum in his Rome Guidebook is really just as good as any guide.

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Statue of Caesar
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Arch of Constantine, showing Caesar coming back from Jerusalem with riches and slaves
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Roman Forum
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Remains of the Temple of Saturn

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I always love the random bits of antiquity just scattered around 

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At the end of our tour – it didn’t rain but was quite chilly and windy this day

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What else did we do in Rome?  We walked a lot to various spots, including the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona and Trastevere and we ate a lot!  My favorite meal is a highly recommended (and hard to get into) little trattoria called Armando al Pantheon.  We sampled some rabbit crostinis and pasta here that was incredible (no reservation but we did get there right when they opened for lunch at 11:30 and got one of the last “open” tables).  My favorite Roman dish is cacio e pepe, just a simple pasta with lots of cheese and cracked black pepper.

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Some bolognese
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Truffled ravioli
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Veal saltimbocca
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My favorite – cacio e pepe
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Rabbit crostini
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Pasta Carbonara
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Vegetarian lasagna type appetizer

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Spanish steps

We did a lot of sightseeing so after this we had a driver pick us up and take us to Southern Tuscany for 3 days of chilling out and relaxation.

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I love this vintage looking picture of Steve

I will say that as much I like Rome, I really enjoyed Florence so much more as I found it to be more compact and walkable and more scenic (and had better food)

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