*Sigh* even weeks later, I still feel a hint of that warm Italian summer air.
Mark had never been to Italy, but I had many years ago. I thought I knew what to expect, but honestly, even retreading old footsteps felt like a new experience with perfect weather and a husband to share it with.
First up was Rome.
Gosh, I forgot how much love I have for Rome. Exploring this city is like sitting down to a delicious five-course Italian meal. After 5 days we walked away feeling fully satisfied, slightly over indulged (a daily Gelato routine will do that) and somehow, hungry for more.
For our starting point we chose the charming medieval neighbourhood of Trastevere. Despite the three flights of steps, our cute AirBnB was neat, cosy and perfectly positioned in the middle of this bustling district.
Resisting the urge to have a snooze, we dumped our bags and ventured out in search of our first gelato. It did not take too long to bump into Gelato Fatamorgana which also happened to be one of the best Gelato’s of our holiday.
After travelling more than 22 hours straight from Melbourne though, we were probably not the best judges and decided a short 3 hour nap was the best next course of action.
One of the best things about AirBnb is getting local tips for dinner. Ours was full of suggestions, and given we were in the thick of it, we didn’t have to go far to get our first official Roman meal at Otello which was hectic, shouty, and above all delicious.
It was morning when we next talked and quickly decided that we might as well do ‘as the Roman’s do’ and eat something sweet for breakfast. A short walk through Trastevere in the morning is well worth it. By lunchtime, the streets are pretty thick with tourists, but no one, apparently including Italians, seems to get up early here. The perfect time for photos followed by a still-warm-from-the-oven-and-buttery pistachio croissant from Le Levain Bakery. Hands down, best pastry experience of my life.
Feeling energetic we then took on the Pantheon, Palentine Hill, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. Lunch at the cute Il Bacaro and somehow made it back to Trastevere for dinner at the very busy Dar Poeta (which does some of the best Pizza in Rome).
Trastevere is a pretty good choice for exploring Rome. It’s removed from the historical center, making it a bit cheaper for meals, but it has got its own unique cobblestone charm. While at the end of the day you can find yourself a good 45 minute walk from where you started, we never really hindered by staying out of Rome central.
Each morning we headed out in search out a new corner of Rome to chart. From the Jewish Ghetto to the Villa de Borghese Gardens, wandering into each Roman suburb feels like you are visiting a new place. On our way back through Rome at the end of the trip we stayed at an AirBnb closer to the centre in the Monti district which, filled with bustling squares of students and wine bars, felt completely different to Trastevere’s cosy but sometimes claustrophobic streets.
And Vatican City, I mean it’s a city inside a city! I had been there before, but taking Mark through reminded me just how amazing and breathtaking that place is. We must have spent an hour in St Peter’s Basilica alone. I was speechless the first time I saw it, and returning the place was just as special.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Rome without a quick food list, hence special mention must be made of Gilotti for Gelato, Osteria del Sostengo for Carbonara (the traditional Roman pasta) and eggplant parmigiana, Pimms at Pimms Good (it actually is pretty good), buffalo mozzarella or pizza at Obica via Campo de Fiori and a standing lunch of porchetta and bruschetta at the popular Roscioli deli.
We watched the sunset at the Vatican, ate takeaway pizza on our balcony, sipped espressos like locals and took many many many pictures of jasmine vines decorating the streets.
All in all, I felt like 5 days is a great amount of time to scratch Rome and get the itch. By the time we were on our way back to the airport to pick up our rental car, we had already devised our return trip list.
Next post, Made in Le Marche – pasta making, rolling hills, driving a fiat, learning to eat like an Italian, and lots and lots of ‘loose’ wine.
Written and photographed by Mark and Monique Welker.