May 25, 2012


Transit at Rome airport
We landed in Rome at 10a on May 12 and navigated the airport transit system down to customs.

To back up a bit, when we went to the Bahamas for our honeymoon, we found customs to be hilarious. A man with an excellent Caribbean accent looked at our passports, then asked if we had luggage, we said yes and started to unzip it as he said "have a nice trip!" and ushered us into the country. We could have smuggled babies, drugs and anything else in. All he wanted to know was if it was in suitcases.

We figured Italian customs would be a little more involved that Bahamian customs so we took a deep breath and headed for the cattle call that is customs. The line moved slow as molasses inspiring Ross to say "someone just needs to open the gates and let us all in." Not two minutes later it was moving. We get up to the customs agent, ready for the third degree, and he barely lifts his (seemingly hungover) head, we assume he glances at our passports (we're standing about 6 feet away from his booth, but it looks like he's looking at them) and waves us into Italy. And that was Italian customs.

One crazy no-road-rules shuttle ride later and we got all checked in to the Roma Boutique Hotel. It was lovely! Very modern, very clean and in a building that otherwise only housed offices so was quiet for the weekend. With help from the very helpful front desk manager, we made our way out to Vatican City for our 2p pre-purchased entrance.

1 of many halls of statues at the Vatican
There's so much to say about the Vatican. First, I've never seen so many statues in one place. One thing we noticed immediately as we toured the museums was the lack of roping. You could literally touch almost everything. There was no rope to separate you from the art, no electric barrier, not even signs saying don't touch. Granted we didn't see many people touching them (nor did we...much) but it was crazy that here was art hundreds of years old and hardly protected by a thing.

Long hallway with ceiling and wall art, Vatican
Our favorite room in the Vatican was actually a very long hallway. The entire arched ceiling was covered in different paintings and the center ones were framed with reliefs, again each one different from the others. It was incredible. The walls were one large painting after another including Ross' fav, several large painted maps. He was really impressed by the accuracy of the maps given the limited tools the cartographers and artists would have had for creating maps way back then.

Our Vatican tour ended with the Sistine Chapel (bigger than I expected). Then we had our first of many gelatos while in St. Peter's Square overlooking the basilica.

For dinner that night we went around the corner, per the recommendation of our great front desk manager, and ate delicious traditional Italian food. I ordered a glass of wine and was quite surprised when we received the whole bottle (I made a point to very clearly indicate 1 glass in all future restaurants). Ross ate what we can confidently say is the best pasta either of us has ever had.

Yeah...and that was all just day 1.

Day 2 we hit the streets like gangbusters. We were up and out of the hotel, map in hand, before 9a on Sunday. We saw everything: Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Vittorio Emanuele monument, ancient ruins, the Spanish Steps and a whole lot more fountains and churches I can't even name.

Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain was the first site was came to and in fact, quite on accident. We were pretty sure were we lost down the wrong alley (not concerned, just lost). Up ahead the alley seemed to widen so we figured there'd be a street sign and we could sort ourselves out.

Um...better. There was the Trevi Fountain. We literally walked out of the alley and were face to face with what I think is the most amazing fountain I have ever in all my days seen.

On our way to the Colosseum, we encountered a very vocal parade/protest that occupied the entire street we needed to take. On our detour, again fairly lost but not too worried, we turned a corner and BAM the most enormous monument I have ever seen.

most enormous monument I've ever seen, the Vittorio Emanuele
I didn't even know what this thing was but it was nothing shy of magnificent. We just stood on the street corner, mouths open, gaping. Once we recalled how to use our legs, we sat down on some neighboring steps and consulted our handy-dandy guide book. Turns out to be the Vittorio Emanuele monument honoring Victor Emanuel for uniting all of Italy (and is less than 100 years old, just a baby in Roman terms).

Beginning of our Colosseum tour
Finally the Colosseum where we enjoyed a guided tour in English and really learned all about it. We learned for example that the very poor were given free admission once per year because the king knew entertainment was important to a happy society (the fact that people were fighting to their death inside was apparently irrelevant).

Then a delicious lunch (roasted chicken, so so good) and back to the hotel for a little relaxing. And before our night ended we went out to see the Spanish Steps where, because it was Mother's Day, there was a live band playing.

Needless to say, after all that, we slept very well.

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