Rome, Italy

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Rome

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We flew into Rome from Paris over one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. As our plane glided over the Alps, I began experiencing the butterfly feeling our tour director explained: “You know when you really like a guy and get that butterfly feeling? Well, I get that when I travel to certain places. The only two countries I’ve ever gotten that feeling in so far are Italy and Spain.” I had never been to Italy, but thought of her metaphor as we headed toward the city I was most looking forward to seeing.

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While Rome was my favorite city, I cannot write that statement without saying that the myth behind the Trevi fountain is no joke! On our first day in Rome, our tour director informed us that the fountain is under construction so we would be unable to throw coins in the fountain for good luck. Our only glimpse of the landmark was a series of metal gates. After we walked by the fountain without throwing coins in, several unlucky moments followed.

Rome is a beautiful city, but keep your bags close! One girl in our group had her tablet pick pocketed by gypsies. As they inched their way toward our group, one woman grabbed the tablet, as another unsuccessfully grasped another friend’s iPhone. They then hopped onto the nearest bus. Later in the day, we walked by another heartbreaking site. A middle-aged woman was hysterically sobbing as she frantically searched through her purse. Her husband tried to console her. Evidently, she too had been pick-pocketed.

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Even on the subway, we all grasped onto our purses as a gypsy child with puppy dog eyes looked up at us while she played a small piano. “Aww, how adorable!” one friend in our group said. “No, she’s not adorable! Look behind you.” Her mother lurked in the background, trying to reach for our purses, as her daughter tried to distract us. I remember Bill Bryson, the well known travel writer, commented that while he was aggravated he got his belongings stolen in Italy, he was impressed by how quick these gypsies are. It is impressive.

Another girl, who had fallen ill several days earlier, nearly fainted on our walk. She had to go back to our hotel in a cab and pay nearly $300 Euros for a Roman doctor to come see her. He informed her that she had the stomach flu, and unfortunately, the flu was airborne. Later in the trip, two other girls caught the flu.

Finally, my friend who is allergic to nuts had a terrible allergic reaction after having some gelato that must have touched nuts. Her friend was disappointed she did not want to use her EpiPen, as before this incident he continually commented on how he wished EpiPens came in bow and arrow format, so when she needed help he could rescue her from over a hundred feet away. To his dismay, she was okay after taking some Benadryl.

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Yes, we were an unlucky bunch on that first day, but everyone was okay, and regardless, we still had a great time in Rome. As someone who is fascinated by the Italian language and took about four years of it (my high school didn’t offer Italian, so I took a brief break between middle school and college), I had a blast speaking Italian to every person we encountered and greeting everyone each day with an obnoxiously exaggerated “Ciao bella/o!”

Below is a list of some of the bucket list-esque activities we pursued while in the city:

1). Fly over the Alps. As I mentioned, this view is breathtaking. I am envious of the pilots who get to take this journey multiple times.

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2). Visit the coliseum: And pose obnoxiously in front of it. Our Italian tour guide was adorable. It was clear that she loved her job: “And to your lefta, you will seea the Roman forum!” There is something special about seeing such a historical site and having a tour guide who is from the city you’re traveling in.

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3). Visit the Roman Forum: Similar to the coliseum, seeing such a historical meeting place was exciting.

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4). Have drinks in front of the pantheon: When I sent my dad these photos, complete with the new fedora I purchased for five Euros, he asked if my friend and I were discussing our next novel. Well, I was contemplating the best strawberry daiquiri I’ve ever had, complete with its own separate dish of strawberries.

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5). Go to an authentic, four course opera dinner with unlimited wine: While “opera dinner” may sound brutal at first, the dinner was actually a comedy. Several of the performers came up to the tables and interacted with us. For instance, one woman seductively wrapped a scarf around the only male at our table, while another middle aged man was ushered up front to be “shaved” by an opera singing barber. Can’t beat authentic Italian cuisine and a show!

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6). Tour the Vatican: Not only did we get to cross between two countries in one day, but seeing one of the most famous, holiest places in the world was an experience. There’s something special about walking through such a holy place.

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Two friends from our party looking thrilled, just wanting to explore the Vatican already!

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7). Visit the Sistine Chapel: As part of our tour of the Vatican, we walked through this landmark as well. Although guests are asked to be silent, they may need to find another solution to the “Sssshhhes” and announcements to “Please remain silent!” Nevertheless, the chapel was absolutely beautiful.

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8) Visit St. Peter’s Basilica: As the last part of our tour of the Vatican, we were able to see the famous church where Pope John XIII’s body lies, the third pope to be given this honor.

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9). Have dinner and drinks at actual Italian restaurants: On the second night, as well as the last night, we were able to enjoy some Italian cuisine. On the first night I got lasagna, along with the best wine I have ever had. It was so good that at one point, I (accidentally) poured another girl’s bottle of champagne on my bread, thinking it was vinegar. On our last night, we had another four-course meal during a lovely fair well dinner.

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10). Go to the beach in Santa, Marinella Italy. While I live about 20 minutes away from various beaches, this day was still one of my favorite days of our trip. The resort was beautiful. Their idea of a personal pizza for lunch was one gigantic pizza that could serve multiple people. We also swam in the Mediterranean. Later that day, we got gelato at a place down the block, where a charming Italian woman screamed at me in Italian after I gave her 10 Euros for ice cream that only cost 2 and already ate the gelato before she got a chance to explain she had no change. Luckily, all was well after some more of my silent apologies and her extreme gesturing. I even threw a “Ciao bella!” in there.

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During our last night in Rome, we all hung out at the hotel bar before saying our goodbyes, as most of us had to leave the hotel at 6 a.m. Our 12 day trip to London, Paris, and Rome was over. But as Johnny Depp commented “The whole of Europe have a great culture and an amazing history. Most important thing though is that people there know how to live!”

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The JFK group on our first day together at the airport and our last day together in Rome.

Has anyone else been to Rome or anywhere else in Europe before? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

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48 Responses to Rome, Italy

  1. Glad you liked Rome and the Vatican. I really didn’t like either one when I went there. It was too touristy for me and the streets were dirty and there wasn’t enough authenticity for me. Also, the Vatican seemed like a corpse celebration after seeing dead pope after dead pope and I cracked a few jokes to lighten the mood a bit.
    My favorite city when I went to Europe was Toledo, Spain. I loved the views there and the friendliness of the people and everything seemed really clean and not completely geared towards tourists.
    As far as the pick-pocketing goes, we all brought those little bags that you hang from your neck and stuck them under our shirts. Luckily no one in our group had anything stolen from them during the trip. We had one guy get a gypsy’s hand stuck in this jacket, which was pretty interesting. 🙂

    • I’ve actually heard that from people a lot and from people on my tour, so I can definitely see how you felt that way about Rome! I’ve heard Spain is really nice though 🙂 That’s smart about the bag and hilarious about the gypsy’s hand getting stuck.

  2. Thanks so much for taking us on this great trip with you! And what a super group you were with.

  3. Humor_Me_Now says:

    I my very envious! Loved your photos a lot. Great pictures.

  4. Maheya Khan says:

    Italy is my dream place.. ❤

  5. jmchri13 says:

    My family did Rome and Tuscany as a graduation present for the summer after my twin brother and I graduated from high school and my older brother graduated from college. We did all of the usually tourist stuff in Rome, but i’d say Tuscany was the more enjoyable part of the trip. We stayed at a large villa surrounded by gardens and olive groves that had been outfitted into apartments for tourists to rent. During the day we drove around the many villages that dot the Tuscan hills, or drove into Florence to see the sights there.

  6. etinkerbell says:

    I live in Rome and I really enjoyed to follow your tour in the city. Really lovely. I am sorry for the gypsies , I’ve been robbed four times 😦

  7. It must have been a great trip! I’ve been to Rome last year and it stole my heart.

    I’m a little baffled by your repeated use of the word ‘gypsies’ though – I mean, if those things got stolen in the US, would you name the race or heritage of the thief, not to mention using a word that is a racial and ethnic slur? It’s very insensitive of you.

    • It was a great trip 🙂 And hmm, I guess I never thought of it that way because it’s just the term everyone had been using. Also, I don’t believe the gypsies are all from a specific race/heritage and are from various places, so I didn’t think of it that way! I believe anytime someone’s belongings are stolen, he or she must identify the race or heritage of the thief regardless of what it is or where!

      • I am aware that most people use this term without a second thought. However, I’m sure you can agree that most people 100 years ago would say (and I’m sorry to use this slur, I’m literally cringing as I do it) ‘n***** stole my wallet’ and they would also think nothing of it, yet somehow today we are able to appreciate how inappropriate this is. The case is the same for the word ‘gypsy’ – if you look it up in the dictionary or on Wikipedia, it mainly just means ‘Romani people’ (and is perceived as a racial slur), and Romani people have their own language and tradition, so they are of specific race/heritage regardless of what you believe. Thus by saying ‘gypsy stole my bag’ you either are stating the race/heritage of the thief (and somehow I cannot imagine you saying ‘this white Dutch man robbed me’), or – which is more probable and *worse* at the same time – you use a term describing nationality to describe someone who steals things.
        I know this is a subtle matter and I can understand that in a heated conversation one could inappropriately use this term honestly meaning someone who does not have a permanent home or job, and therefore (sad but true) more prone to become a thief. However, here on the blog you reach massive audiences, mainly because it’s a great blog and it brings out positive aspects of life and makes people smile. It’s because of this great outreach that I think you should pay attention to this detail, especially as the Romani people have been fighting the term ‘gypsies’ for years now, and with little success because hardly anyone appreciates how much it affects their life. Can you imagine how much prejudice the Romani people have to face when applying for a job? How would you feel if for example you could not wear a floral dress to an interview because in addition to your darker skin it would mean you’re a gypsy and therefore no one would hire you, no matter how well educated and suited for the job you would be?
        This is of course an ongoing battle and I am not suggesting that you should greatly participate in it in any way – after all, it is not your battle and it hardly influences you. However, I’m sure you know, being from the US and an English major as well, how much everyday language influences our lives and the way we perceive the world, and I just hope that if we all can make this little change regarding the terms we use, the world will be a little better place for those who still are not treated equally.

  8. sempiternl says:

    It seems you had a fascinating trip, Rome is beautiful place and features in my “10 places to visit before I die List”
    I hope I get to see this place sometime soon

  9. mini2z says:

    Thanks for the memories of last year in Europe, London, Paris, Switzerland, Venice, Florence, Roma, Vatican & a few other stops In between all with my daughter – want to go back – WISH I had taken photos of my food & WINE!!

  10. carolewyer says:

    Love Italy. My mum used to live in Rome but that’s one city I have yet to visit. I’ll be off to Florence later this month though. Great to meet you and be even more inspired by your adventures. As my old Grumpy and I say “Life isn’t a rehearsal, so enjoy it to the max.” Looks like you have the same idea. Many thanks for dropping by my blog too.
    Right, I have a cup of tea. I shall hang out here for a while and read about your other exciting adventures.

  11. mylifeintheair says:

    I spent 3 months in Florence and fell in love with the city. 5 days in Rome was not enough, I could spend a month there easily. The Cinque Terre is jaw droppingly amazing. Venice is beautiful and Siena is a different town altogether. I love Italy. Always beware the gypsies , hold onto your bags ( I survived three months without losing the handbag I arrived with).

  12. adjpants says:

    Great post, everything looks so beautiful!

  13. girlseule says:

    I think Italy is wonderful, I visited Rome a few years ago, I went in July and while I thought it was a fantastic city, it was the wrong time of year to go I think, too hot and crowded.
    I am in Porto, Portugal at the moment and I have to say this city has won my heart!

  14. peterpecksen says:

    Great post. Rome is one of my favourite cities in the world. Thank you for helping to refresh many wonderful memories. Even having to be constantly aware of the gypsies around you is part of the experience.

  15. aeramoure says:

    Reblogged this on Not So Crazy Talk.

  16. erikakind says:

    Wow! I’ve never been to Rome. I hope I will get there one day. Actually not so far away… 😉 It is amazing how much you are travelling around. How big is your suitcase with your battery…? After that longe time, all those impressions and travelling I might be totally pooped. Awesome!!! Great post!

  17. sanjaywa says:

    So not surprised to hear about the gypsies. I worked at an Embassy in London, and we constantly had to replace passports for people who’d been pickpocketed in Rome (Barcelona comes in second). Looks like you had a wonderful time though 🙂

  18. switchofthoughts says:

    Great post 🙂 I’ve been twice in Rome, once during Wintertime and once in Summer and both times I loved it. I especially loved the parks and the buildings, like Vaterland-Altar, Piazza de Roma, Villa Borghese and so much more beautiful places. I liked Vaticanstadt too, but not the surroundings when you’re out of it. To much poverty.

  19. frankieandgiuseppe says:

    Sounds like you fit in a lot. I love in Rome and it always breaks my heart when I hear of these stories of poor tourists getting pick-pocketed. Glad your group was able to bounce back and have a great trip!

  20. bethannicole says:

    I’m loving reading your blog at the moment, you’re encouraging me to start crossing some things off my bucket list! So I’ve nominated you for The Lovely Blog Award! Details are on my blog http://www.bethannicole.wordpress.com

  21. Charlie says:

    Reblogged this on The World at my fingertips.. and commented:
    I absolutely love Rome & love reading about others experiences

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