We woke up at 6 am to leave Florence for our 6:40 train ride to Rome. By taking this train we’d save a ton of money (it was the regional train) but it was rough. First off, the time was really early. We could’ve left later but that would have left us with only a half day in Rome. Our B&B guy was so sweet he made a breakfast and set it out for us to take to-go at 6 am. What a sweetie! The other thing that made this train ride so annoying was that it was 4 hours long in uncomfortable seats. The regional train was old. No tables, no reclining chairs, no comfy cushions. I had to resort to hunching over and sleeping on my backpack in my lap. No fun.
We got to Rome and I was cranky. Stiff neck and empty stomach. It did not help that the train station and surrounding areas are really hectic. It took us awhile to figure out how to get to our hotel. Luckily, the people of Rome seem as friendly as the people of Florence. A nice old man helped us figure out where we were going and our 2 euro map helped a lot (except when we ran into all the damn piazzas). We found our hotel, which leaves something to be desired. It’s especially tiny and offers the bare essentials. Quite a change from our lovely B&B in Florence. However, it is right in Piazza Velenzia, a few blocks from the Coliseum and Forum. And it’s about a 5 minutes from the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. All the sites of Rome are beautiful and it’s crazy to see such old ruins in the middle of a bustling city.
I was starved so we grabbed to-go paninis. Eggplant is my new favorite vegetable. I sampled eggplant parmesan in Florence (delishhh), got an eggplant foccacia sandwich in Florence later the same day and got an eggplant and mozzarella panini for lunch today in Rome. The food and water made my mood 100% better so we headed for the Coliseum, Palentine hill and Roman Forum. Rome is probably not going to be one of my favorite cities but everyone should make the trip just to see these three sites. They fulfill every expectation and probably more. The best advice I got was to grab the combo ticket for the ruins at the Palentine or Forum entrance. Thanks, Nicole! This one ticket gets you in to them all, but if you buy it at the Coliseum ticket office you will spend forever in line (no fun). We grabbed the ticket and headed back to the Coliseum to bypass the ticket line and went right in.
I ended up getting sun burnt while wandering the ruins. It wasn’t super hot, just very sunny with little shade. Tomorrow sunscreen will be brought in my purse. I had to get out of the sun so we headed toward the Trevi Fountain and then the Pantheon. We could only find one coin so my mom and I threw it into the fountain together. We’ll be back, Rome!
This couple we met in Venice told us we HAD to get gelato at this shop… “if you do a 180 from the front of the Pantheon and head towards the right two or three blocks.” They said “look for the rainbow palm tree.” Real descriptive, right? Especially in a city with gelato on every corner. Well thank you lovely couple. The shop was just where they described and it probably had over 50 flavors! All looking equally delicious. No need to take risks, we will be going back to the same place for our gelato tomorrow. I got chocolate strawberry and straciatella while my mom got dark chocolate raspberry and chocolate orange flavors. OMG… the dark chocolate raspberry was to die for. I will have it tomorrow.
For an early dinner we headed to Fioro del Campo, the Jewish ghetto, for a glass of wine and the famous Roman artichoke, carciofi. When we went to sit down I heard my name and turns out two Chi O’s, Lauren and Ellie, were vacaying in Rome with their family and grabbing wine at the same café as us!! What a small world.
Today was exhausting but I’m excited to go to Vatican City tomorrow!