- Airbnb: Luxury 4Bed flat 18 minutes to Fontana di Trevi! – NO LONGER AVAILABLE
- This place was a super comfortable, four-bedroom flat in a safe neighborhood in North Rome called Parioli. It shocked us with classy marble floors and gorgeous European art along the walls. The only challenging thing is that this apartment is not close to the main attractions – it’s definitely a >45 minute walk to a lot of the key tourist areas.
- UPDATE: As of February 2018, this listing is no longer available! 😦
- Airbnb: Luxury 4Bed flat 18 minutes to Fontana di Trevi! – NO LONGER AVAILABLE
- Origano, Via di Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, 25/26, 00187, Rome
- Modest prices and delicious food coupled with a location in the touristy area near the Trevi Fountain make for a tasty
- Antico Caffe Greco, Via dei Condotti, 86, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
- Surly cashiers did not encourage us to stay. But this café is super historical and the namesake of my favorite café in San Francisco, so it was worth a visit.
- Beppe and its Cheeses, Via di S. Maria del Pianto, 9A/11, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
- Wine and cheese shop? It’s so much more than that. Prepare to have your palate overwhelmed with oh so many delicious varieties.
- Dar Poeta, Vicolo del Bologna, 45, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
- If you are in search of delicious pizza, this place is where you need to head.
- Bonci, Via della Meloria, 43, 00136 Roma RM, Italy
- Following your tour through the Vatican Museums, swing over to this epic pizza restaurant for variations such as fried tripe and arugula and anchovies. Delish!
- La Taverna degli Amici, Piazza Margana, 37, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
- Set on an idyllic little plaza, this place served up what had to be my favorite pasta of the entire trip. If it’s on the menu when you go, get the pici alla griccia e tartufo nero (pici – a fat spaghetti, bacon, cheese, and black summer truffle)
- Best of Rome Walking Tour and Authentic Italian Cooking Class
- An excellent way to learn how to make pasta and enjoy a delicious meal – and you get a tour of the major sites to booth!
- Tazza D’Oro, Via degli Orfani, 84, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
- Regarded as one of Rome’s best coffee shops and located right near the Pantheon. We did not try their famed iced granita with whipped cream, but can heartily recommend the sfogliatelles and espresso.
- Bellacarne, Via del Portico d’Ottavia, 51, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
- A restaurant in the Jewish Ghetto that should be on ANYONE’s list of must-try Roman restaurants. Try the Jewish-style artichokes.
- Origano, Via di Sant’Andrea delle Fratte, 25/26, 00187, Rome
- Colosseum, Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
- You’ve likely seen images of this Roman icon and probably visualized the fights that used to occur (especially if you’ve seen the Russell Crowe film Gladiator). Words don’t do it justice. Seeing it for the first time evoked memories similar to my first time seeing the Forbidden City or Great Wall.
- Villa Borghese
- A beautiful public garden space which contains the Galleria Borghese, a noteworthy collection of art featuring works by Bernini and Caravaggio
- Galleria Borghese, Piazzale Scipione Borghese, 5, 00197 Roma RM, Italy
- A must do for any art lover but a bit underwhelming for me. Beautiful ceiling frescos and some breathtaking works did make it an impressive sight, regardless of my particular tastes.
- Altare della Patria, Piazza Venezia, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
- Considered an eyesore by some Italians and extravagant by everyone, this sight cannot be missed. Literally and figuratively.
- Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, Viale Vaticano, 00165 Roma RM, Italy
- You cannot come to Rome and not do the Vatican Museums tour and the basilica. DO. NOT. MISS.
- Piazza Navona, Piazza Navona, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
- Once a stadium and anchored in the middle by the beautiful Fountain of the Four Rivers, this square is overrun by tourists and merchants but still a lovely place to grab a glass of wine and people watch.
- Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
- If you’ve not seen Three Coins in a Fountain, worry not. You’re still going to visit this beautiful piece of art/functional fountain. And if you’re enjoying your time in Rome, you’ll likely toss a coin (or three) into the Trevi.
- Museum of Ara Pacis, Lungotevere in Augusta (corner of Via Tomacelli) – 00100 Rome, Italy
- An unexpected delight – a museum that happened to have an exhibit by the Japanese painter Hokusai. The main museum building next door is a modern building over the Ara Pacis (Altar of Peace) but is really not all that exciting.
- Colosseum, Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy
This article is a continuation of my La Spezia/Cinque Terre, Italy article. Please read that first for context of what brought us to Italy!
Wikipedia states quite eloquently, “Rome’s history spans 28 centuries.“
Let that sink in.
Then imagine fresh pasta and hot, light pizza melting in your mouth before (and after!) you walk everywhere, including to some of the finest museums in the world. You’ll walk until your feet hurt and you’ll see tourists everywhere – and you’ll probably wonder how you never came to Rome until now. Now you know why they call it “the eternal city,” “the city of seven hills,” and “the city of love” – welcome to Rome.
Day 3 (October 29, 2017): Transit to Rome
When in Italy, avail yourself of the Italian train system as an opportunity to rest, relax, and enjoy the splendors of Italian culture. For us, this was coffee, cheese, and naps. We decided to finish off our remaining bread and prosciutto di parma along with a package of fresh mozzarella. The train was remarkably comfortable due to the fact that the train was half empty and as my in laws spent the time napping or playing on their internet equipped devices (T-Mobile’s free international data is definitely a winning idea).
We arrived at Roma Termini Station and I tried to get an Uber with no success. Instead we opted to take a local taxi to our Airbnb and my fears that we were going to get taken for a ride came true. He wound up charging us something like €25-30 for a barely 10 minute drive. But no matter – we had finally arrived at our Airbnb in the North Rome neighborhood of Parioli. I was a bit apprehensive about what the unit would look like since the exterior looked like a commercial building and the first two tenants we passed by once we got inside were insurance companies. I’d try to explain how it looked but I feel a video would be more valuable:
Suffice it to say this Airbnb far exceeded our expectations. The location was a bit far from some of the tourist sights – it will take you about an hour of walking to get to the forum or colosseum – but it was a lovely place to stay. By the time we set off in search of food, nighttime was starting to creep across the sky. We walked by the Villa Borghese and the National Gallery to the Piazza del Popolo, where a sky of swirling colors and lovely twilight awaited us. Now that you’re here, this is the heart of some of the most famous (and potentially crowded) sights you can see in Rome, including the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, Via Veneto, and much more.
We descended upon the least touristy restaurant we could find – a place called Origano which we would later find out is actually a chain. To our surprise, we had a lovely and reasonably priced meal, including the Roman staple cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper), rigatoni carbonara (another Roman pasta staple with egg, cheese, Italian bacon, and pepper), a traditional Italian appetizer plate with meats and vegetables, arancini (Italian fried rice balls) and a couple pizzas with mushrooms and sausage (funghi y salsiccia).
As we continued to explore, we returned to the Spanish Steps and, to my surprise, we found a place whose name is near and dear to my heart. The Antico Caffe Greco is oldest coffee bar in Rome and a place whose interior is a splendid, ornate place to grab an evening coffee. Back in San Francisco, Caffe Greco is a lovely café serving Illy coffee (my favorite coffee) where I have spent many afternoons and nights for several years studying for my GMAT exams, applying to grad school, and hanging with my wife and dog. In fact, I wrote a majority of this post at Caffe Greco in San Francisco!
We bought some tea to go from a very surly cashier, which in spite of her bitterness was actually quite soothing (see what I did there?). From there, we walked back to our Airbnb through the dark streets near the National Gallery and the area surrounding the Villa Borghese. If you do this, be careful since the areas aren’t well lit or populated and you might just find yourself surrounded by some unsavory characters. We did not, but it’s worth keeping your guard up!
Day 4 (October 30, 2017): Getting our bearings in Rome and one big blunder
For our first full day in Rome, we began with a brisk walk through Villa Borghese. The park is not small so take your time and soak up all of the elements. The Borghese Gallery is obviously a draw with its impressive collection of Bernini and Caravaggio (see Day 7 for details on this museum) but also keep your eyes and ears open in the park for the parrots flying around
Our walk south from here took us down Via Veneto, the famed Roman shopping street that was the basis of much of Federico Fellini’s film, La Dolce Vita. It’s also home to plenty of fine dining and shopping, the U.S. Embassy, the famous Harry’s Bar, and a number of these charming street bubble restaurants and cafes. But instead of partaking of one of these classy establishments, we opted for cheap, quick lunch – and quickly realized our food was being heated in a microwave. It’s probably a sign of how good food in Rome is when even the microwaved stuff tastes half-decent.
With some pasta in our tummies, we headed to the Altare della Patria (the Altar of the Fatherland). This monstrously large (230 ft. high) monument was built in 1925 and serves as one of the best vantage points for sweeping city views.
Here’s a key lesson we learned the hard way. Around this time of year (end of October/early November), the last time to enter the Colosseum is around 3:30 PM. We circled the entire building and could not find an open entrance – and we only realized the building was closed to new entrants when we asked one of the official tourism representatives. As we walked away broken-hearted, we wondered aloud what we would do next and decided to just start walking. We walked along the southeastern side of Ancient Rome near Via Celio Vibenna, turned northwest to Via dei Cerchi and passed by the Circus Maximus (a great place for dogs to run, by the way). At this point, we crossed the Tiber River into Travestere, then back into the Jewish Ghetto, an area near the Pantheon, with a quest to find a dinner spot.
And find it we did. Beppe and its Cheeses is a place we’d heard about and upon peering into the racks of cheese and wine, we decided it was well worth our time for at least a snack. I couldn’t even tell you the names of all of the cheeses and meats they presented us.
With a hearty snack in our bellies, I willed my wife and in-laws back across the river to a place called Dar Poeta, which our friend Dina had recommended we try. Trastevere was one part of the city that we did not spend enough time in and places like Dar Poeta are a big reason why I am determined to re-visit and re-explore Trastavere on future trips.
Day 5 (October 31, 2017): It’s Vatican Time, Baby
A bright a glorious blue sky welcomed us on our second full day in Rome and my in-laws and I discussed whether we should take a taxi or the metro system to get to the Vatican. Thankfully they put their faith in my navigational skills and it was a very easy 15 minute tram ride from our neighborhood to Vatican City. Vatican City is northwest of the River Tiber and if you’re a tourist who is new to Rome, the city is probably the only major sight you’ll visit in this part of the city.
It’s important to note that this is one of the very few activities that you need to plan in advance if you’re hoping to avoid a monstrous line/wait. If your goal is to see the Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica, go to the Vatican website, click on “Guided Tours for Individuals” and select “Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica” for the date you’re hoping to go. The cost came out to about $45 USD per person and our guide was very thorough (they have guides speaking in many different languages). You’ll receive a small listening device with headphones but bring your own (corded) headphones if you want better audio quality.
The Vatican Museums are nothing short of stunning and when your guide informs you that you’re approaching the Map Room, prepare to crane your neck and gaze at the beauty on both the ceilings and the walls.
The Sistine Chapel strictly forbids photos so don’t be that person who gets yelled at (despite what you’re thinking…I did not do this!). When you emerge from the Vatican Museums, you’ll quickly arrive at the large doors of St. Peter’s Basilica. Assuming your neck isn’t sore from having stared up for the last hour, prepare yourself for even more grandiose visions of architecture and religion.
The official tour ends but once you’re inside the basilica, your senses are immediately overwhelmed by the scale of the building. If you’re not afraid of heights, consider purchasing a ticket up to see the dome of the basilica (the line is right near where you came out of the Vatican museum and costs around $10 USD per person), and you’ll be treated to some stunning views of the city.
As we wrapped up our exploration of the Vatican, my wife and I detoured to Bonci, a nearby pizzeria, on the recommendation of my colleague Joe. To call this place a pizzeria and compare it to the “grab a slice” places you might find in New York or San Francisco would be a terrible comparison. The pizzas in this place have some of the finest ingredients I’ve ever seen on a slice – if you need proof, go to Bonci’s Yelp page and look at the photos.
A few things to understand before you order:
- There’s no seating here, just some standing tables and one bench on the sidewalk
- When you order, you pick out the pizza you want and the staff member cuts it up, weighs it, and heats it up (you’re charged by the gram)
- They’ll call your number/order when it’s ready but the staff is super busy, surly, and not always fully fluent in English, which leads me to my last point
- Be patient! You’re in Rome and the pizza is well worth it.
After stopping for a coffee, we crossed the River Tiber back into the Pantheon neighborhood and decided to have a glass of wine on the Piazza Navona. The Piazza used to be a stadium and is anchored in the middle by the Fountain of the Four Rivers with a large obelisk. This square is a great place to people watch over some vino so take a load off and rest your weary feet for an hour or two.
Our evening concluded with a jaunt by the Trevi Fountain. In case you’ve never heard of it or don’t know the background here, this fountain was completed in 1762 after nearly 150 years of planning, discussion and debate and to this day serves as a draw for tourists from all countries. According to tradition, you should throw a coin with your right hand over your left shoulder into the fountain, which will ensure you return to Rome (and given how delicious/beautiful/lovely it is, why wouldn’t you want this?). If you throw a second coin in, it will ensure a new romance; a third coin will ensure marriage.
Day 6 (November 1, 2017): The Colosseum (Second Try) and a Foodie Tour
We kicked off Day 6 with a nice leisurely walk through the Villa Borghese gardens. Most of our days began by passing through the Porta del Popolo into the Piazza del Popolo simply because of the location of our Airbnb – but if locals see these kinds of views every morning, they can consider themselves truly fortunate indeed.
As we made our way down Via del Babuino past the Spanish Steps, we stopped for a coffee before heading to the Colosseum. This is a reminder to get the Roma Pass, which I alluded to in my post on Before You Go to Italy, as you definitely don’t want to wait in the regular line to get in.
We knew we had a late afternoon cooking class but we decided that we would walk the long way around the south side of Palatine Hill. Since it was a long walk, naturally I forced my family to stop for a gelato. This was partly because we were tired, but also because we’d not yet had lunch. And we still had a few hours before our cooking class, so I suggested we go to La Taverna degli Amici, a recommendation my friend David had given me. We sit down and I’m frantically looking at my watch, realizing that it’s 2:30 PM and we need to meet our tour guide a little past 3 PM. We hurriedly order and ask the server to bring our food and wine as quickly as possible. (In case you didn’t know, please don’t do this in Rome. Italian food and dining culture work best when you have time to savor the food and drink – and despite this being the best meal of our trip, we didn’t have ample opportunity to enjoy the moment.)
I ordered pici alla griccia e tartufo nero (pici – a fat spaghetti, bacon, cheese, and black summer truffle) and we decided on a pinot bianco (light white wine) to accompany. The noodles were slightly undercooked and covered in that delightful truffle flavor that I am sure (or hope) you know.
With our stomachs full and me feverishly pointing at my watch, we literally ran to meet our tour guide back near the Spanish Steps and set off for a couple hours around some of the Roman sights. Caitlin booked this tour – the Best of Rome Walking Tour and Authentic Italian Cooking Class – and it did not disappoint. Our tour guide took us to see many sights, including the Obelisk of Montecitorio, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and the legendary Campo de Fiori market. She also provided a lesson on how to use the water fountains in the market – I should note that the water is among the freshest I’ve tasted anywhere in the world!
Our cooking class was held at a different location of the Origano franchise (the place we ate at on the first night) and our experience prepping and cooking with the chef was a delight. Our chef did not speak English but our tour guide translated for us and we had three items: Bruschetta, Cacio e Pepe, and tiramisu. We didn’t have time to prep the first and last, but our class centered on the pasta preparation – and it was a blast. We were offered the option to create two types of pasta and we decided on a traditional cacio e pepe (cream sauce with cheese and pepper) and amatriciana (tomato sauce, guanciale – which is pork cheek and similar to a chewy bacon, and pecorino romano cheese). Suffice it to say, they were fantastic.
Following our dinner, we began our walk home, stopping only for a nightcap of Negronis in the Jewish Ghetto.
Day 7 (November 2, 2017): Museums Ahoy
For our last full day in Rome, the family and I opted to split up for most of the day. While my wife and her dad went to a different museum, I decided to take the metro to the Museum of Ara Pacis where there was an exhibit on the Japanese painter Hokusai. Now some of you might be asking why I went to see an exhibit on a Japanese painter while I was in Rome and the answer is simple – because I wanted to. Hokusai’s most famous work, “The Great Wave of Kanagawa” or simply “The Wave” is one of the most recognizable examples of Japanese art. It may be hard to see the level of detail in this images, but looking at them up close reveals the brilliant brushstrokes of a master artist.
As I returned back to meet the family for an afternoon at the Galleria Borghese, the hunger bug caught up with me. One thing I try to do in every country I go to is try Chinese food and McDonald’s. I decided to kill two proverbial birds with one stone and opted to buy both and bring some leftovers to the wife.
I bought a meal at Mickey D’s and started walking toward the Chinese restaurant that was on my way back to the museum. The staff was in the middle of their lunch when I arrived and my hopes for a little Asian solidarity were soon dashed. It definitely took them a few minutes to even take my order and the food was pretty lousy. I won’t even bother showing you photos of my crappy Chinese food experience. No wait. I found the photos. Never mind, I will show you the photos.
I finished my plate of (thankfully cheap yet unfortunately bland) noodles, walked to the Villa Borghese and enjoyed half of the (thankfully decent) Big Mac before meeting the wife and in-laws at the Galleria Borghese. This museum is one of the best collections of work by the Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini, but to my surprise, it was a pretty underwhelming experience. I love the medium and I like Bernini’s work but something just didn’t appeal to me. If you do go, note that you’ll need to call in advance to schedule a reservation (you’ll be granted a window of two hours to see everything, which I doubt you’ll need).
Our final destination of the afternoon was the Pantheon, the famed temple which had been closed on the previous day. This was probably the most underrated element of our trip. As you arrive, you see the holes and decay in the columns and you might think that it hasn’t been well preserved. Well you trying existing for 1900 years and see how good you look. This building has been around for almost 2000 years!
But if the exterior doesn’t initially impress, just wander inside. It’s free. And the dome, especially if it’s lit by sunshine, will take your breath away. The square outside the Pantheon is a great place for a rest, snack, and some shopping. We bought some prosciutto (which they sealed for us so it wouldn’t spoil) then walked over to Tazza D’Oro for an afternoon coffee and a sfogliatelle. This place is a gem but operates like a quick service restaurant: order from the cashier, inform the baristas of what you’re having and they’ll serve it to you as you stand at the counter. Apparently, Lonely Planet recommends you try the “granita di caffè, a crushed-ice coffee drink served with whipped cream” – I can’t vouch for that drink, but the coffee and pastries were spot on.
We spent the next couple of hours wandering aimlessly from street to street, occasionally poking our heads into stores to discover antiques, clothing, and any other curios which piqued our attention. Our ambling brought us back to the Jewish Ghetto and a charming hawker swayed us into having dinner at Bellacarne, where we had a lovely meal to end our final night in Rome.
To our surprise, the staff here did not speak English well so we had to point at the menu a lot. I recommend the Jewish style artichokes (I guarantee you will not have had anything like them before) and basically any of the mains or pastas. I had the bucatini amatriciana, which I would describe as a thicker spaghetti. Wonderful flavors and sauce. The service was subpar – it took forever for someone to come back after our meal – but in spite of this, I would still come back for the quality of the food by itself.
As one last farewell to Rome, we stopped at one small shop near the Trevi Fountain where the gregarious server set us up with some tasty desserts (gelato, limoncello, and a negroni) to end the night.
Day 8 (November 3, 2017): Let’s go home — haha, just kidding
The time had finally come to head home and I realized we’d forgotten to do one thing: set up a cab to the airport for our early morning flight. The In-laws were staying an extra few days, but Caitlin and I needed to be at the airport for an 8 AM flight from Rome to London. We didn’t trust the local taxi system that had charged us €25 to get from the train station to our apartment, so I flipped open my Uber app. I was shocked to discover the ride was going to cost €60. I late discovered that if you’re within the city walls, the flat fare is €48 – so it’s not a huge difference, but my lesson learned can be your gain. Expect to pay somewhere between €50-60 to get to the airport.
Our driver showed up driving a Jaguar XF. Mind you, this is not a $100,000 car. It sells for around $50,000. But we didn’t know that at the time, so we thought it was a rather fancy way to get to the airport. Our driver didn’t say much but we loaded the car and set off. And very quickly we realized how good the acceleration power of a Jaguar XF was.
Our driver hit speeds of nearly 160 KM/hr (nearly 100 miles per hour) as we whizzed around cars on the highway. I generally don’t get motion sickness, but then again I’ve never been pressed into the back of a Jaguar after five hours of crappy sleep while heading home to America.
Our driver got us to the airport in no time at all and to our surprise, we got our tickets and were sitting at a café enjoying our sfogliatelles and cappucinos in less than 20 minutes after we checked in. Because of this, we assumed everything was fine. That’s when the (proverbial) wheels came off the bus. We boarded our flight and found out that London gets fogged in a lot. And on this morning, it was socked in bad. So we waited. And waited. And waited. In total, four hours of waiting. The family to my left was venting loudly about how annoyed they were and we just laughed. You can’t change the weather, so what’s the point in whining about it? Which also begs another question – what do you do when you have nothing else to do?
Order some booze, clearly. The flight attendants later came by and thanked us for not making a scene like that American family and we sympathized, knowing they had no power to influence mother nature’s wrath. They gave us more champagne to say thank you, which we prompted drank with delight.
This gets us to about noon. It’s a two hour flight to London, during which the announcements reveal the British Airways folks don’t have a game plan. They’re not sure how we are going to be accommodated since it’s affecting every flight into or out of Heathrow. They tell us representatives will be at the gate to greet us, but when we arrive, no one is in sight. By this time, we know we’re going to miss our connection to Los Angeles. As we walk along, one BA rep tells us to go one way. We continue along and another tells us to do something different. We wind up going through customs because to be rebooked we need to talk to the agents out front. The line to go through is massive and we both let out an audible sigh.
As we get to the midway point of the line, there’s an announcement. “Does anyone here speak Chinese?” asks one of the British customs agents. I raise my hand and they shuffle me out of line and up to the front. I spend 10 minutes helping four Chinese tourists realize that they shouldn’t be going through customs and instead should be heading for another terminal to make their connection. With the linguistic challenge resolved, the British customs agent motions for me to come present my papers in exchange for my help. I turn back to my wife who’s still a half hour back in line and smile to the accommodating agent. She nods, Caitlin scurries to the front of the line, and we proceed through.
We get out to the check-in area and are told to wait in a line that must be 500 people long. After some pleading and showing them I was supposed to be on an American Airlines flight to LA, we get pulled into another, shorter line. Nearly three hours later, we’ve waited for everyone ahead of us to get rebooked and confirmed for a hotel. One poor guy came up to our line and begged to get served, claiming he desperately needed to get on a flight – and the only thing the staff could do was send him to the back of our line.
That’s when the scary moments happened. Heathrow has an odd transportation system with specific buses (Hoppas) for specific hotels. There are designated stops for each and normally you need to pay for it. We had coupons for the bus, but the stop was overloaded with people trying to get on. When our designated bus arrived, people swarmed the door to get in – shoving down a woman in front of us who was carrying her child. We helped her up just as the doors closed and immediately turned around and decided to take a cab. We convinced another couple (who happened to be from the bay area!) to split a cab with us since we had pounds and within 20 minutes we were comfortably at our hotel before that bus of psychopaths arrived. We checked in, took a shower, had some cocktails and dinner, and went to bed knowing we had to be up early. I will give BA some kudos too for providing a nice little amenity kit (the clean t-shirt was a nice touch since we didn’t have our bags).
Day 9 (November 4, 2017): Unplanned Time in London or “Let’s go home, Round Two”
Okay, let’s try this whole last day in Europe thing again.
We woke up and had breakfast at the hotel and boarded the Hoppa bus at 7:45 AM. Thankfully, no rushing the doors this time. We browsed the duty free shops, stopping only to buy tea from Fortnum and Mason’s before boarding at 9:45 AM. The one benefit from all of this is that we’ve secured a direct flight on BA from London Heathrow to San Francisco. The flight was smooth and the agent even managed to find us two seats together! We landed, picked up our dog from the dog-sitter, and proceed home completely exhausted from our unexpected time in London.
A few things come to mind. Obviously the trip ended on a tough note with the weather delays and the unplanned overnight at Heathrow. But to my surprise, British Airways provided some outstanding customer service support. In spite of being clearly overwhelmed by the number of passengers who needed to be rebooked, they were patient and thoughtful – and Caitlin and I greatly appreciated it.
As for Italy… Cinque Terre was lovely, but we just didn’t get to spend enough time there. The time of year (late October) was not ideal. If we’d only gone a few weeks earlier, more of the trails would have been open and we could have seen more of the natural beauty. Also I’d recommend not staying in La Spezia, if you can avoid it. Go stay in Cinque Terre and be immersed in that natural beauty for a few days.
We had four and a half days in Rome and it too felt like it wasn’t enough. Rome earned its nickname of the Eternal City in our hearts and minds because of its lush green beauty, its majestic history carved in marble and stone, and obviously because of its fantastic food. Our time did not fly by – each day was a rich tapestry of European adventure woven with colorful Italian threads. I could spend many weeks walking the streets of Rome in search of my next favorite meal, morning espresso or rich afternoon gelato, and it would still not be enough.
For those of you who have never been, go.
For those of you who have been, go back.
And when you do, make sure you toss a coin in the Trevi, see as much or as little artwork as you like, and enjoy that cacio e pepe for me.