I’m baccckkkkkk! Did y’all miss me? I have officially fallen in love with Italy. Everything about Rome and Florence was absolutely perfect. Each city had its own qualities that I liked and we definitely learned a lot along the way. I will be recapping our trip and sharing some tidbits of information I found helpful or would share with others going to Italy. I won’t bore you with a million pictures, but just some of the highlights.
Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels and Martyrs
This Basilica was originally one of the HUGE bathhouses in Rome. After the fall of Rome, this bath house was turned into Basilica of St. Mary. Michelangelo did some of his last pieces of work in this Basilica transforming it from a bathhouse from 1534-1536.
Piazza Navano is one of the larger piazzas in Rome. Piazza means public square and it is very common to find piazzas all over the place in Italy. Between the architecture, fountains and ambience this was my favorite piazza in Rome!
Limoncello is an Italian liqueur served after a meal as a sweet. I have had Limoncello before and taken it as shot. This arrived in a shot glass so Derek and I took it as a shot. Right after we did this, our tour guide informed us that it is supposed to be sipped. Oops! Typical Americans…
There are no words to describe the inside and detailing of this building. One detail that I found incredible is that the basilica consists of all mosaics…including the ceiling. You think that that they are paintings on the wall and then you look closer and see the tiny tiles that make up the picture. Another item that draws attention is the 85 foot bronze baldachin over the papal alter the pope gives mass at. By far the most beautiful church I have ever been in.
Derek and I also did an eating tour recommended by two of our friends and it was one of our favorite things we did in Rome. The Twilight Trastevere Eating Tour takes you through the cutest neighborhood in Rome full of character and charm. Derek and I both fell in love with the neighborhood and loved walking around. I love that all of the places we stopped were mostly family owned and each restaurant had its own story. We had a great guide and a great group of people on our tour, which made it an even better experience. I HIGHLY recommend this tour if you are in Rome!
I would have never have found this spot and am so glad we did. The building actually used to be a Synagogue and the building the oldest standing structure with the original four walls still standing. They have an amazing wine cellar and divine food.
We passed gelato school and I had to share my knowledge with all of you. Did you know that 80% of the gelato sold in Rome is “fake” gelato? This gelato is made with chemicals instead of natural ingredients. What to know how to decipher the difference…here’s how:
1. Color. You should look at the color of the pistachio and banana flavor gelato. The pistachio should not be neon green but more of a brown green like the true coloring of a pistachio. The banana flavor should also not be bright yellow and it should be more of a white color like a banana with out the peel.
2. Bin height. The gelato should never be the big, fluffy mounds of gelato going over the bin. It should be all contained with in the bin, as pictured above.
Tips for Rome
- Book important items in advance. The Colosseum and the Vatican Museum/Sistine Chapel/St. Peter’s Basilica are two of the most popular tourist attractions in Rome. You can buy your ticket on-line for the Colosseum and skip the line to get in. For the Vatican we hired a tour guide, which I also suggest. The wait to get into the Vatican museum was around 3-4 hours. I would have NOT been able to handle that.
- If you are going to St. Peter’s Basilica or the Sistine Chapel you have to have your shoulders and knees covered. I knew about the shoulders being covered but did not know about your knees being covered. I thankfully was able to buy a scarf and wrap it around like a skirt to cover my knees.
- We hired a tour guide for seven hours for our first day in Rome that definitely made our experience memorable. I am not a big fan of crowds and would have been annoyed on a large group tour. This made it so personable and it was just the three of us so we were able to ask as many questions as we wanted. Our guide took us to places we knew about and many places we had never heard of. We also used a guide from this company to go to the Vatican Museum. This company was recommended to us by one of Derek’s clients and was worth every penny. If you are interested in more information, you can email me and I give you the contact information.
- Wear comfortable shoes. You will do A LOT of walking in the city and the last thing you want is for your feet to hurt.
- Get a selfie stick. They sell selfie sticks all over the city and it is a great way to get a picture if it is just two of you. We had a Go Pro that had an attachment for selfies but was just about one of the few ways we got pictures of us.
- Bring wrinkle release spray. Neither of our hotels had irons and it was helpful to have the wrinkle release spray to get rid of some of the wrinkles on our clothes.
- Don’t attempt to drive in Rome unless you are super brave. They don’t really follow traffic rules and it is basically like herding cattle with cars on the street. Take a taxi or the train and of course your trusty walking skills. 🙂