Monday, January 14, 2013

Italy Part 6: Rome

We saved a full three days for Rome considering how much we wanted to see and do there. I'm sure we could have spent a lot more time there, but we definitely packed a lot into those three days. We had a small mishap with the rental car drop off and ended up having to drive into the city center (Termini train station to be exact) to drop off the car. Let's just say I was so stressed out once we got there I forgot to take any pictures. Despite several close calls and almost getting hit by a streetcar, Nick's stellar driving skills got us safely to the train station :).
After we got to the hotel and dropped our stuff of, we traveled back into the city center to go to the Borghese Gallery. Normally you have to reserve tickets at least a week in advance, but thanks to the low travel season we were just able to show up and buy our tickets. The Borghese Gallery is famous for having one of the biggest collections of Bernini's work--who is arguably one of the best sculptors ever. His work is phenomenal.
The exterior of the gallery
This isn't my picture, but this is one of my favorite statues done by Bernini. It's still incredible to me how he can put so much life into a stone block! 
Had to add this in here. I can't resist Italian pizza! 
 After our tour of the gallery we walked over to the Spanish Steps. The rain had just stopped and the steps looked awesome! This is one of my favorite parts of Rome--lots of wonderful memories here from over the years.
Next we headed over to the Trevi fountain--likewise one of my favorite parts of Rome. Unfortunately it has become really overrun with vendors who prey on all of the tourists and kind of detract from the ambiance, but it's still amazing nonetheless. We came back to enjoy it every day we were in Rome.
The next day we started off at the Colosseum. This was at the top of everyone's list to visit so we made sure to block out a lot of time for it. We opted for the guided tour and it didn't disappoint! It was so fun to learn more about the history of it and made it that much more amazing to walk through.

This was my first time taking a tour of the basement of the Colosseum and it was awesome to hear all the stories I've heard about while looking at it. So fascinating, but also gruesome at the same time! 
Next up was the walking tour of the forum. It's still hard to grasp how old all of the structures are that you see while you're there. I love to see all of the details in the stone work that has lasted thousands of years.
Next up was the Pantheon
 And then after dinner I topped the day off with some delicious tiramisu at Rome's famous McDonalds. Definitely not your average fast food restaurant, that's for sure!
The next day was reserved for touring Vatican City which was also a highlight of the trip. I've been to St. Peter's Basilica a few times before, but it never ceases to take my breath away. The sheer size and ornate details are insane (that gold canopy in the background is 9 stories high - the dome itself is 45 stories high)!
A closer look
After we toured the church, we made the trek up to the top of the dome
 Again, no such thing as elevators here!
 View from the top
After that we made our way over to the Vatican museum. We lucked out again and didn't have to wait in a single line to get in. I've been to Rome a few times in the past during the summer and have seen the line wrap all the way down the Vatican wall. We definitely saved a lot of time by traveling in November!
 School of Athens by Raphael. Nick loved seeing all the paintings he's learned about in all the humanities classes at BYU :).
And yes, he broke the rules and snapped a picture of the Sistine Chapel--no flash of course! This place never ceases to be amazing, either. Our necks were sore by the time we left--there is so much detail to look at! Definitely lives up to its name of one of the greatest works of art ever created.
Our last day in Italy was actually Thanksgiving so we decided to treat ourselves to an awesome dinner. My host dad, Ben, recommended a restaurant near the Spanish steps. You know it's a great restaurant when you only see locals there! It was quite the find and perfect for our own little Thanksgiving dinner.
 We started off with fried zucchini flowers for our appetizer. Nick got traditional homemade spaghetti and I tried their risotto--and then we got their Mediterranean swordfish for our main course. Every part of it was delicious!
One last view of the city at night before we left the next morning

 By a miracle (seriously), the four of us made on the flight back to Atlanta and all got to sit in first class. The flight from the day before had been cancelled so most of the people we re-routed on other flights. When it finally left the next day, there were several seats open for us. Seriously the perfect ending to an amazing trip! It was a long time in the making but we were so glad that we could go so many amazing places and share that with our friends, too! Italy will always hold a special place in my heart.


Chris and Emily Evans said...

I love it, Erika! Your blog of Italy looks WAY better than mine.