Goodbye Spain. Hello Italy! Nick and I were both really excited to start the next phase of our trip. Nick had been to Italy before but I was a first timer. In all honesty, we both were just really excited about the FOOD! We were so ready for yummy Italian pizza and pasta!
In order to get from Barcelona to Rome we took a ferry. Not the most common mode of travel but we decided to try something a little different. Taking a ferry also meant I did NOT have to fly - BIG bonus for me! Now, we were thinking we would be on this normal size boat with minimal amenities. Oh no...not so much. Their ferry rides are pretty much mini cruises. The ship was quite large with a casino, bar/lounge, couple of restaurants, pool, and the rooms were actually pretty decent that had a bathroom/shower! We were quite pleased - - that is to say once we finally got on the ship. The rail system in Spain was extremely organized. Ferry system = just a little disorganized. But we made it and Nick and I both enjoyed our first cruise together, which just happened to be in the Mediterranean Sea. Lovely!
Picture looking out into the Mediterranean Sea from the ship
Rome was FANTASTIC! We both really feel in love with it. The city is just so beautiful and filled with so much history that it can be quite overwhelming. What first made us, well I should say me, really fall in love was the hotel we stayed at - - Hotel St. George, Roma! Amazing! We actually should say thanks to Mike and Sandy for this...they informed us about this unique way to book hotels. Priceline will let you offer a bid on hotels, in the area of your choice, and hotels will either except or deny that bid. Well, we sure got a GREAT hotel. So nice - - I literally jumped up and down when we walked in. I have included a picture of the room/bathroom so you can share in what was our excitement!
View of the room
View of the bathroom
We had 2 full days in Rome and it was jam packed! The first day we had scheduled a tour to visit the Roman Forum and the Colosseum. Our tour guide, Stefan, was great and so very knowledgeable in everything Rome. We really were able to understand the history of what we were looking at with him. Nick and I could not believe we were walking in an area that had been created at the start of the 7th century B.C. Crazy! But oh so exciting! The Colosseum was even more impressive. So much happened in that arena - - we even learned that the Colosseum would at times not only hold gladiator events but that the floors would become flooded so naval battles could be shown to the crowds! How cool would it have been to see something like that!
Picture of the Senate House in the Roman Forum - this building was built in 283 AD. There were Senate Houses that dated back to B.C. but were destroyed by fire. The building was always rebuilt and eventually turned into a church around the 7th century.
Second oldest door in Rome.
Nick and I in the forum!
The afternoon consisted of hitting Trevi Fountain, The Pantheon, and Piazza Navona. Lots of walking again and lots of people! Tons. of. people. All three were really interesting to see -- again, so much history! The Pantheon was actually really impressive to see because its door was the oldest door in Rome. Which means it was really old! We went to dinner that night in Travestere. We were told this was the "young" area. It was really pretty. We had dinner at a wonderful resturarant. We both agreed it was our best meal, from start to finish, up to that point. Bruschetta, salad, raviloi (for me), pizza (for Nick), and we both got our own desert! Yum!
On a side note - I have to thank the Italians for creating Bruschetta. I. LOVE. IT! I could eat it all day - I practically do. It is just so amazing - you can not go wrong with bread, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt&pepper! Best. thing. EVER!
At the Trevi Fountain
The Pantheon (and construction)
Pantheon's Door - oldest in Rome
Looking inside from the door
The next day was just as fun filled! We started off with a tour, well not actually a tour (get to that in a minute) of Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica. We bought tickets through our hotel for this - the ticket said tour. Even though we wanted to go at our own pace we decided that a tour just might be as much fun. Well I think they just call themselves a tour - it really just gets you ahead of the crazy, LONG line! I mean this line was long and the museum had only been opened 30 minutes. People must have gotten there an hour before opening time. Since we had tickets with a "tour" we skipped ahead of all those people. I was really grateful because I am not sure we would have waited in that line - way too long. Once the "tour" guide got us inside we were free to roam on our own. Worth the little bit of extra money in my opinion!
Vatican Museum was really impressive. It was so massive and so crowded. Nick and I tried to take everything in that we could. I mean, we saw items that dated back to 7th century B.C. - how crazy is that. I mean just tons and tons of history right there. Sistine Chapel was even more impressive - - people just sitting down taking in the beautiful paintings that were all over the walls and ceilings. You weren't allowed to take pictures in there but I stole one. Just one. Don't tell! And St. Peter's Basilica was just as impressive. We didn't spend too much time there because again it was extremely crowded and really hot. Rome was hot! Barcelona was hot but it had a breeze - Rome there was no breeze at all!
Coutyard of Vatican Museum
One of the hundreds upon hundreds of statues in the museum - this dates back to 1st century B.C.
Artwork on the ceilings
Nick in St. Peter's Square
Also that day we saw Castel Sant'Angelo, Piazza del Popolo, and the Spanish Steps. Lots of great pictures taken!! We were pretty exhausted by the end of the day so we ended back up at Piazza Navona for a dinner in the middle of the plaza. Great people watching! We saw the locals, the tourist, and the performers. One performer stood out from all the rest. It was this little old man, probably in his late 60's or early 70's, and he was singing opera. But he wasn't actually singing. He hooked up his stereo and held a microphone and lip synced to the music. Remember this was opera music - so his expressions and movements were pretty funny. But would you know he was the most entertaining at the plaza and actually received the most tips!
View of St. Peter's Basilica from a window at Castel Sant'Angelo
In front of the Spanish Steps
Rome was everything we could have asked for and more! We really enjoyed it - it will definitley be a place we visit again. It's pretty funny and Nick laughed at me but I actually rented Angels & Demons from our hotel so I could watch a movie that was filmed in Rome. Plus Tom Hanks is one of the best actors of all time! I was able to see everything on screen that I was seeing in real life. I even took a picture (before the movie) of an image that was shown in the movie (pretty sure that's the right one - if not, it's close).
And here is the image...
Next stop - pick up the rental car and head to Florence. Driving in a foreign country...I'm sure Nick and I will have some interesting and terrifying stories to tell about that!
Until next time - Ciao!
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