When in Rome!

When in Rome, I indulged in far too much pasta, pizza and wine. None of which I regret… At all (nor do I regret the couple pounds I most likely gained!). It was all worth it! Other than the amazing food and beverage aspect of our visit, the city was so rich in culture, history and timeless beauty. I was completely taken aback.

It was a bit of a whirlwind having our first stop in Europe be in such a hectic spot. Being jet lagged for a day or two never helps, but after learning how to push through the jet lag with excessive pizza and constant shots of espresso, all started to feel normal. What I was not expecting though, were the crowds. I’m not talking New York City congestion… I’m talking uncomfortable mobs of people. But aside from the crowds, it was truly remarkable being in such a historically important city.

After hopping off the plane early Wednesday morning Rome time (2am central USA time) we got right down to business. Dropping our bags off at the hotel and heading straight to the Trevi Fountain…Where we made faces and took hundreds of selfies… Because we were so excited our European adventure had finally begun. We then cheers’d to some celebratory beers and ate delicious pizza at a pizzeria we read about in one of our travels magazines – Sacro e Ristorante Pizzeria . Too much of a good thing finally hit us and after walking far too many cobblestone roads, we almost collapsed… Resulting in a long, much needed nap. We then rallied and made our way to dinner at a cute little Italian restaurant on a hidden street Mike had heard about from a peer┬á– Cul de Sac. Lots of wine and cheese later, we roamed around the Pantheon and made our way back to bed.

Day number two consisted of lots of touristy attractions. First stop, the Colosseum – which was breathtaking. We spent at least two hours in awe at the site. We then walked through Palatine Hill – which was insanely beautiful. And smelled like hundreds of fresh flowers! Which made me extra happy. Lastly, we trotted through the Roman Forum – which was overwhelmingly full of gorgeous columns, marble and history. We ended our day with dinner at the sweetest Italian restaurant just over the river – Ristorante da Meo Patacca. What made this restaurant so special? The fact that my in-laws dined at the exact spot 30 years ago on their honeymoon ­čÖé It doesn’t get more special than that! (Fun fact: there is a menu from this restaurant framed and hung at Philadelphia’s own D’Angelo’s restaurant in Rittenhouse Square!)

┬áOn our third day we walked to Vatican City, engulfed ourselves in the culture of the Vatican Museum (which was beyond cool), saw St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Peter’s Square, and the Pantheon. Our brains had finally had enough from taking in so much art and history all at once, we stopped at a local bar for negroni’s and treated ourselves to a “nicer” dinner (you can only get so fancy when the nicest dress you packed was a black Club Monaco shift dress. Paired with a pair of oxfords). We had a bottle of wine and some cheese at a swanky rooftop bar overlooking St. Peter’s Square – Hotel Eden, followed by dinner at a spot called Tullio… Where we met an awesome older roman man (who we believed to be a politician perhaps). This wise man spoke no English, but he was accompanied by a kind translator, of course! Who we conversed with about Italian foods, wines and Roman hot spots. It was indeed a very fun night.

The nice Roman man, Guilio, insisted on us dining at his all time favorite Italian restaurant hidden in an old neighborhood Mike and I had yet to walk through – Capo Boi. He kindly made a special reservation for us on our last night in Rome, and let me tell you, it was quite the experience! Granted we were not planning on having two swanky dinners in a row, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to eat at a local hot spot. So we thought to ourselves, when in Rome! And we had the dinner of a lifetime our last night in the historic city. Filled with whole lobsters, clams, oysters, prawns, crudo, homemade pasta, local wines and spectacular homemade limoncello, it was an absolute treat.

But before this fabulous dinner, we had quite a hectic final day in Rome. As Mike and I were walking through old churches and the city, we found ourselves amongst a violent riot that broke out right in the middle of a big square. It was a political riot. Over 2,000 Roman police were on duty fighting the riots, many of them who got injured. With gas bombs being thrown, small bombs going off and people violently rioting the streets, we very carefully (carefully running) got ourselves onto some quieter side streets and out of the chaos. Because this was happening, all of the main roads were blocked, but thanks to Google Maps, we took side streets that were completely out of the way back to our hotel. Almost two hours later from navigating our way back without getting caught up in the riots, we were safely tucked into our hotel, where we hibernated until dinner.

Rome may have been chaotically packed and insanely tiring (given all the walking, eating and wine indulging) but after spending some time there, exploring each neighborhood by foot, and taking in all of its history, I finally managed to understand the magic of Rome.

Stay tuned for tales of Capri!

And if you’d like to see more sporadic photos from our trip – follow my Instagram: jackieklein12