I allotted three nights for our visit to Rome. The first day is usually reserved for resting and napping as it was a travel day and we are Titos and Titas like that, haha! Having arrived from Napoli at 3:04pm (I know because I still keep a copy of our detailed itinerary, hihi), we went straight to our rental and just relaxed until the evening :). Dinner was at a nearby restaurant on a commercial strip near the residence, and while the food was so-so, the waiters seemed like Mario and Luigi comedic tandems, haha! They were so cute and gracious.
The following day was Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill day! It was a three-hour tour so both Joey and I were mentally prepared to walk a lot. We booked Walks of Italy's Gladiator’s Gate: Special Access Tour with Arena Floor that set us back P6,182.20 for 2pax. As I’ve mentioned before, trips to historic sites in Italy would cost you an arm and a leg but then all that knowledge you’d gleam is WORTH IT, particularly if you love history and you hate waiting in line.
Remembering now all the anecdotes from our witty expert historian guide: how he as a true-blue Roman disliked the movie Gladiator for all of its historical inaccuracies, that gladiators didn’t have six-pack abs as the more fat they had around their bellies, the better protected they were from knife attacks, how the gladiators didn’t fight off animals. He had many other quips throughout the afternoon, and I had a lot of fun listening to him while learning as well.
It was a nice walk through Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum, as one gets to imagine what early political life was like. All that drama and orations and trials playing out in your head as you gaze at those beautiful ruins! To be honest though, I was half-listening and just enjoying the view by this time, what with my brain too full with Colosseum information. Still, it was a lovely walk, and the ruins at the Roman Forum in particular fascinated with their architectural ingenuity. Thousands of years and still standing.
Finally, tour over!! Two exclamation points because I remember being so hungry and looking forward to lunch already, haha! We got a bit lost finding the exit (note to self: trust the flow of the crowd more than Google Maps in tourist areas) but eventually made it to that day’s restaurant of choice, picked for the number of times it has appeared in various blogs I’ve come across with and its proximity to the Colosseum: La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali.
OH EM GEE it was heavenly!! As soon as we entered the restaurant, we knew we made the right choice because the place was packed with locals! Always a good sign! Joey ordered caprece for both of us and OH EM GEE AGAIN THOSE ITALIAN TOMATOES ARE TRULY TO DIE FOR!! The hubby then had seafood marinara while I got carbonara. I tell you - BEST AND MOST UNFORGETTABLE CARBONARA OF MY LIFE!! Until now, I am counting the days until we go back to Rome so I could eat at that magical family-run restaurant again. The food was just so unbelievably good! So basic yet so rich and flavourful ugggghhh! Who cares if i’m intolerant to gluten??
Our meal at La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali so filled our tummies and taste buds, we felt so full until the next day, haha! Being so stuffed, we decided to walk to the rest of the sights on our way back to the hotel. We covered the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Pantheon and Piazza Navona (I believe in that order) before trying our very first gelato at Gelateria del Teatro (OH EM GEE ANOTHER OH EM GEE SA SARAP MOMENT HUHU). I remember being astounded by the Trevi Fountain’s size (it looked a lot smaller in the movies!), underwhelmed by the Spanish Steps, amazed at the Pantheon’s remarkable architecture (it remains to be the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome!), and again, that gelato! If only I wasn’t still full I would have had a second cone!
We stayed near the Vatican, and on our walk back through the Castel Sant’Angelo bridge it was then that I truly understood why Rome was called The Eternal City - for as the sun beautifully set over those gorgeous angel statues and beautifully preserved buildings, as its yellows and oranges cloaked over the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, time does seem to stand still in this majestic city.
It felt as if I was standing there for a thousand years too.
I scheduled our Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica tour at 1pm the following day so we could have a free morning. Still feeling full from the pasta and gelato, Joey and I decided to skip breakfast so we could go all-out for lunch at Pizzarium, this popular pizza place that again, is highly recommended by almost all the blogs I’ve read. Plus, it’s near the Vatican too so it was a perfect choice for lunch.
IT WAS PIZZA HEAVEN!! Rows and rows of delicious pizza crusts with different kinds of toppings! As in, the sky seemed to be the limit for what ingredients they mix together! Joey and I were overwhelmed by how delicious and refreshing all the combinations were: we ended up having two orders of twelve pizza squares! It would be nice to live near the place and just try everything they throw together, just so good!!!
And then came the highlight of our Rome leg for me: the Vatican City tour. This time, I booked a Through Eternity highlights tour that cost us P7,917.82. It was a much smaller group than the Colosseum which I liked, and our guide was a wonderfully passionate historian/librarian. Again, worth every penny. Personally, I would have allotted a whole day tour of the Vatican at my own leisurely pace, but of course Joey wouldn’t have that, haha! The 3.5 hour tour worked just as well.
There was just so many wonderful and marvellous works of art to look at, a smorgasbord of colour and history for the eyes and the mind. I loved the Gallery of Tapestries, and the rich history of the Raphael Rooms made my head spin (literally from all the looking up and around haha) but wow, such detail!! But all of these just wouldn’t prepare you for the grandiosity of the Sistine Chapel!! It was amazing!!
And then the second we enter St. Peter’s Basilica, I got goosebumps. Our guide repeated Jesus’ words to Peter over and over, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” from Matthew 16:18-19, and as I listened I could feel the tears start to form at the incredibility of it all. I looked at Joey and I saw that the shimmer in my eyes were mirrored in his. <3
There were other sights I wanted to see, like the Galleria Borghese and the Appia Antica Regional Park. I also wanted to check out Trastevere, reading that it was a very quaint neighborhood. But our three days were more than enough then, and we went to Florence with beautiful memories of Rome. <3
Thank you for reading!