“Revenge” has a negative connotation, which contradicts the joy and excitement of planning the first vacation in two years. However, the idea of “revenge travel” seems to be more about loving to travel rather than expecting a specific destination to make amends. It’s another way of saying, “Hey, life is short. I want to book that trip. I want to explore the world and seek experiences that make me feel alive“. It’s about how a certain place stirs our emotions in a way nothing else can.
Choosing the first summer after the pandemic to travel meant a long wait for a Schengen visa. With all hotels and flights booked 2 months in advance, it gave me panic attacks as the dates were getting close. I was fortunate to get the visa just 3 days before my travel date.
Italy has been on my list since I watched Julia Roberts in “Eat, Pray, Love”. A lovely manifesto about women breaking free of the shackles of calorie counting and body image. There is something so refreshing about the advice to enjoy the pizza and forget about the “Muffin Top” – Just buy bigger jeans!
As I landed at the Fiumicino – Leonardo da Vinci Airport, I felt the relief that the train station to the city centre – Termini – is just right across the street. Staying close to Termini was the right decision. The hotel was 500 mts from the station and I decided to drag my suitcase through the cobbled streets. While packing light was the mantra, the suitcase watching which was hardly 16 kgs still weighed heavy on my hands. After my Paris adventure, I was contemplating hiring a bag boy to carry my bags through the cobblestone.
Summer is just setting in and the days are longer. At 9 pm the sky was bright pink and orangish.
Rome has a great public transport system, and many of the main attractions are close to each other. Walking is probably the best way to get around. Admiring the monuments along these ancient cobbled streets will really make you appreciate the city!
The first on my list was
With almost 2,000 years of history, the Colosseum was the greatest amphitheatre and the entertainment hub that could hold more than 50,000 spectators at once and has seen countless gladiator games over the centuries.
The Colosseum has suffered damage from earthquakes and WWII bombings. That’s why only part of it is still standing today. Thanks to its extensive history, it is listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the modern world. And I am quietly ticking one more!!!
Walking around the area today, you’ll see ruins of what used to be the oldest and most important monuments of ancient Rome including temples and shrines. The Forum was abandoned, forgotten and buried under the earth after the fall of the Roman empire. It was only excavated in 1898.
The Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill should take roughly 2-3 hours to explore. That means by the time you’ve finished sightseeing, it’d be time for some Italian lunch.
City of Fountains
Rome is as much a city of fountains as it is of churches or palaces. There are more than 300 monumental fountains and they are an essential part of Rome’s seductive powers. One of the most convenient aspects of Rome is that there are drinking fountains in every part of the city. These fountains are continuously running with fresh, cold drinking water. The fountains have a hole on the top of the spout, so if you block the spout with your thumb, the water will stream out of the hole, making it easy to lean down and have a sip. It’s a great feeling to know you can walk around Rome the entire day and never have to spend money on buying bottled water.
Food is at the heart of Italian culture.
One of the main reasons that so many people visit Rome is because of the food! Romans live to eat, and there is nothing we love more than their local dishes.
Italian specialities like carbonara, amatriciana, Cacio e Pepe, Pizza, Gelato and so many more are known across the world. Eating in Italy is more of an experience and Rome is a restaurant town.
Wherever you go in Rome, there will be cafes and restaurants. This can make choosing where to eat a difficult one. Going through menus was one of our favourite pastimes as we walked past arrays of eateries. Waiters here know this. And they charm their way into your hearts!! It turns out that attractive waiters often bring more money to their restaurants thus becoming valuable employees.
Aperitivo: This will be your first few sips and bites to “prepare your stomach for a meal.” Think Spritz Aperol along with a tapa like olives or bruschetta.
There’s nothing better than a chilled-out afternoon, sipping an Aperol Spritz – described as the Italian sunset in a glass, The Aperol’s vibrant orange hue is slightly diluted with sparkling wine, painting the Spritz with a softer sunset glow perfect for summer evenings.
Prices for food can be a little higher here, but it is a delight. You can taste the amazing wines of Italy in one shop, hop over to the bakery a few doors down for an espresso and sweet treat. The food trail is endless.
After almost 10,000 steps, we chose Antica Birreria Viennese for the well deserved lunch and had the best Fettucini Alfredo ever !!!
Btw, Italians don’t just twirl spaghetti to such perfection that nothing ever hangs out of their mouth. They just slurp it up, making no noise, and get it all in there. I tried digging in with the fork in near the edge of the plate to get just the right amount for a neater twirl.
The Trevi Fountain is tucked away in the heart of Rome and is a must-see landmark for any visitor! Crowds gather here to throw coins into the water over their shoulder, which is said to bring your good luck. The Trevi Fountain is a beautiful monument that you simply have to see – and don’t forget to throw a coin yourself!
A famous tradition when visiting the Trevi Fountain is to throw a coin into the water with your right hand over your left shoulder. Legend has it that tossing one coin means you’ll return to Rome, two coins — you’ll return and fall for an attractive Italian, and three coins — you’ll end up marrying that person in Rome.
Whether or not you believe in this myth, the coins go towards a great cause. Roughly 1 million euros get collected from the fountain every year to be donated to local charities.
The one piece of advice for you for your Europe trip is to choose a pair of comfortable but cute shoes; take into consideration that many women in Italy wear heels everywhere, so bring block-heeled shoes may be as long as they are comfortable for you. I would caution against actual stilettos or high heels as most of the streets are made of stone.
The first thing you’ll see once you reach the Spanish Steps is the Baroque-style Fontana della Barcaccia (“Fountain of the Leaky Boat”), at the foot of the square. This fountain commemorates a particularly bad flood of the River Tiber in 1598, which left a boat behind in Piazza di Spagna.
The monumental stairway, called the Spanish Steps, connects the Piazza di Spagna with the Piazza Trinità dei Monti.
The steps are a landmark attraction in the city with an interesting history.
If you climb the 174 steps to the top, you’ll be greeted by the beautiful Trinità dei Monti church. You are no longer allowed to sit on the Spanish Steps (in order to preserve this UNESCO Heritage Site). You can also get fined if you’ve dirtied or damaged the steps in any way.
The Pantheon is a church which used to be a temple. When christianity emerged, the Pantheon was consecrated as a church. The square where the Pantheon is, lies at the junction of a bunch of narrow streets full of restaurants and souvenir shops that lead to the Fountain of Piazza della Rotonda, this fountain is fed by the same aqueduct that provides water to the Trevi Fountain. Its wide marble steps are accessible and a perfect fresh resting spot during the walking tour.
You don’t have to be a believer to marvel at Rome’s collection of magnificent churches. There are over 900 churches, and to me, these monuments are more like museums and I am always awe-struck by their level of detail, from the facade to the ceilings and art-covered chapels. The Renaissance in Rome occupied a period from the 15th to the 16th centuries, which spawned such masters as Michelangelo and Raphael, who left an indelible mark. Whatever be your religious persuasion, these buildings are exquisitely decorated by the wealthy families who commissioned them with paintings and artwork from the best in the world.
The basilica’s nearly 1,000 years of history are truly a marvel in and of itself and its countless ornaments, sculptures and inscriptions make you lose yourself in their beauty.
“Let me open that door for you”
One of the most beautiful cars ever made: the Fiat 500! If you want to live a day in your life like Audrey Hepburn, here it is. Let me take you for a spin. There is nothing classier than a vintage Fiat 500, an icon of the Italian lifestyle of the 60’s. You will become part of the attraction and other tourists will be pleasantly amused as you navigate it through the narrow streets of Rome.
Beginning at Piazza di Spagna, Via dei Condotti is a catwalk of fashion houses and luxury brands. If you’re into haute couture, it’s definitely one of the best places to be in. Armani, Prada and Dior’s, all have beautiful boutiques here. You would be tempted to pick up an “it bag” from Salvatore Ferragamo or something precious in one of Tiffany & Co’s iconic blue boxes. The presence of Jimmy Choo, Church’s and Tod’s mean footwear fans are in heaven. Be sure to take in the beautifully constructed (and sometimes wacky) window displays too. Well ! That’s all I could afford to …
We didn’t want to end our tour without the best Gelato, so a quick detour to satiate our hearts and you have 2 very happy travellers. Well, what is a gelato: most assume that it’s just the Italian term for ice cream, but there’s much more to it than that. Gelato is made differently from traditional ice cream: a lot less fat is used in its creation, and it’s churned at a much slower speed to prevent adding in too much air and the whipped creation has a denser texture and a more intense and obvious flavour.
On a mission to find the best gelato in Rome, we stumbled upon Pistachio ice cream. The natural colour of Pistachio ice cream should be a light brown rather than a bright or overly vibrant colour.
As I relish the last bite of the cone, feels like the purpose of the visit has been accomplished.
I felt like I was walking into a painting…wandering through the narrow cobblestone alleys, getting lost and people-watching at squares…Browsing through the artisans’ stores and art galleries, old buildings. The most artsy place on earth!