After three nights in Bordeaux we left early on Monday morning to the airport, to catch our flight to Rome! I had really been looking forward to this part of the trip, as it is the country where I have been and Paul hasn't. I'm hoping he'll like it as much as I love Italy..!
The flight was pretty smooth, we flew Hop!, the AirFrance low-cost airline (akin JetStar for Qantas). We weren't able to purchase checked-in luggage when we booked the flights, so we were afraid it was going to cost a fortune. However we were happy to find out that it was only 30 euro for our 23kg bag - phew..! And we were able to sneak in with my 55l backpack as hand luggage - hehe! So all good.
Reaching Rome we caught the Airport train to Termini, then a one-stop metro ride to our AirBnb place. The guy told us the place was 100m from the station - it was more like, 500m, but that's ok, still not far. Little did we know that this was the first sign of Italians' bad sense of distance… you'll hear more about this soon. So anyways, the place was nice, had a little balcony and a living room, lots of storage space for our stuff, a lift and a kitchen (which we didn't use).
Rome is an open-air museum. It's just so magnificent, so impressive, it is really jaw-dropping to see those 2k-year-old ruins right in the middle of the city as you casually walk. The Colosseum was walking distance from our place (the guy from the apartment said 100m, but it was really about 600 - still pretty close). Transportation in Rome wasn't too expensive, but we did most of it all on foot. From our place we could walk to most of the sites, and it was cool to just walk around and see it all "by chance", rather than move around under tunnels in the metro.
On the first day after dropping our stuff we went straight to the Colosseum, which was great and very impressive. Then we bought a few beers (it was really hot!) and went home to relax before dinner. Paul had a rest because he was still feeling a bit crooked wtih a cold. We bought him some medicine from an Italian chemist. Good stuff!! After the second dose Paul was pretty much healed! So while he rested, having my beer I researched stuff to do in the next couple of days. I was determined to find a walking food tour, like what we did in San Sebastian - and I found it!
Dinner on the first night wasn't great. It was at a restaurant in Campo dei Fiori, recommended by the AirBnb guy. We ordered pasta carbonara and gnocchi al sugo, but for me it was a total disappointment.
On the second day we did the food tour in the evening, which was amazing! We tried loads of mozzarella di bufala, prosciuto crudo and cotto, pecorino romano and other cheeses. At each of the 4 places we visited we had local wine, usually Chianti or Sangiovese. At the famous Pizzorium we had pizza al taglio (typical roman pizza, cut in squares with scissors and sold by weight!), which was absurdly delicious! Then we headed to a deli (Paciotto), where we tried more different kinds of prosciutto and salami, cheeses, biscotti and more wine! This place is family-owned, the dad and three sons run the business and they make the visit a tasty and hilarious cultural experience. Then we had authentic gelato, learning how to differentiate real gelato from random imitation ones (note: the Australian Gelatissimo is not real gelato!). Lastly we went to a nice restaurant where we tried the three most typical Roman pasta sauces: Carbonara (which is NOT made with cream at all - pork cheek, eggs and pecorino), cacio e pepe (simple and delicious, pecorino romano and black peper!) and amatriciana (pork cheek, pecorino and tomato). By the end of the night we were stuffed and very happy! Our tour guide - Jess - a bubbly and smart Italian-American girl, gave us several great tips of where to eat on the next day. :D We followed all her tips and had a great time hopping from bars to restaurants in the lovely and buzzy neighbourhood of Trastevere on our last night in Rome. Great times!
Apart from eating, in our 3 days we also visited:
- Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel and San Pietro Basilica (including a 571 steps' climb to the top of the dome)
- Piazzas: Venezia, Spania, Navona
- Fontanas: Trevi and Netuno, as well as other random ones
- The Collosseum
- Roman Forums: Adriano, Trajano, and I forgot the names of the others
- Domus at Palazzo Palatino - incredible tour of the underground ruins of a roman citizen's home. The ruins can be seen through a glass floor and the tour is enriched with an amazing show of lights and animations, simulating what life would've been like in those very rooms, 2 thousand years ago. Lots of mosaic floors, columns, painted walls, crockery and sculptures were found there, showing evidence of what each room used to be used for. It's possible to see the water 'pipes' and sauna and spa heating systems - all very advanced and obviously operated by many slaves. Really impressive!
Next destination: Florence!