Trip Recap Part 1: Rome, Italy

It’s been a week now since we returned from our trip to Italy. Since I’ve had a few of you ask, I’ve decided to do a trip recap in 3 parts since we visited three big cities. There are so many photos and everywhere we looked there was a new sight to behold! So much beauty and history and photos just don’t do it justice. The recap will serve as a good memory book for me so there’s the motivation to get this done sooner rather than later. Allow to me apologize in advance too as I am not a history buff and may get a few of these things wrong.

Trip Recap Part 1: Rome, Italy

We booked this trip last year just a few weeks after booking our trip to Greece. It was my best friend’s idea! She told us and we said yes, it was that simple. This was our 2nd trip using Globus and their 3rd. I know many people like to plan their own trips, create their own schedules, and control every aspect of their time – that is not us! We enjoy someone else doing the planning, getting the tickets, creating the schedule, and telling us when to show up! I find it far less stressful. Honestly, I am in awe of those who can plan and execute an international trip like this – there are so many variables and it overwhelms me. We did add a day on at the beginning of the trip and one at the end, it worked better for our schedules and my friend said we saved money staying longer – the flights may have been less expensive but I don’t know for sure.

Friday, March 15

We left on Friday afternoon, our flight was around 2pm and our first stop was JFK (New York City). I don’t enjoy this airport but since I don’t control the flight routes, there we were. We had a few hours, just long enough to pay too much for a hamburger for dinner – ha!!! Then we boarded the flight to Rome and arrived around 9am on Saturday.

Getting ready to leave Orlando
We have arrived in Rome, Italy!

FYI – I don’t sleep well on planes. We don’t pay for upgraded seats so standard, packed in like sardines is how we travel. If you think the seats are any larger for international travel you’d be disappointed. I did use my leg slings and wore my compression socks. They do make a huge difference! I think I dozed for just a bit but nothing substantial. Gotta give props to the Laura Geller make up I wore, it held up very well. The photo above was not filtered and we literally had just stepped off the plane in Rome!

Saturday, March 16

Our arrival in Rome had us all smiles!! I was so happy to be there and get off the plane. Our fight arrived around 9am. Globus had a representative meet us at the airport and take us to our hotel. After dropping our bags, we made a quick pit stop in the restroom to change to freshen up – aka change undergarments, brush teeth, etc. then figured out how to get to our first destination.

We went by taxi to the Pontifical Sanctuary of the Holy Stairs. These stairs by request of Helena, Constantine’s mother, were transferred from Jerusalem to Rome. They are said to be the white marble stairs Jesus climbed to face the trial by Pontius Pilate. No one can walk up the stairs, you are asked to kneel and pray on each of the 28. It takes quite some time to make your way up. It is very quiet as those that make this pilgrimage are deep in prayer. I did not make it up the stairs BTW, my knees hurt by stair number 2.

Our next stop was lunch. We ate at a small cafe. I had a glass of wine and a salad. I didn’t want to eat too much because we had a cooking class scheduled for later in the afternoon.

We grabbed a cab back to the hotel to put our bags away. A little more freshening up but then we were back on the road. I didn’t even change my clothes and had been in this two piece set from Walmart since the day before – ha!! It didn’t matter, we were thrilled to see it all and we did. We walked through Vatican City and made our way to the cooking class.

The cooking class was one of my favorite activities from the trip. There were just 6 of us along with a chef at a little restaurant. They had a station set up in the back and we made tiramisu and pasta. Two types of pasta actually, ravioli and fettucine. Once the pasta was made we sat at the table and drank wine and prosecco while chatting with the sweet girls who joined us. They were from University of Georgia! Of course we’re big UF fans so we had lots to talk about. The restaurant cooked the pasta we made and added sauce to it, it was delicious!

After dinner it was back to the hotel to finally get some sleep. It was a lot warmer in Rome than we had imagined and we were actually pretty warm all day. The hotels don’t have the a/c on this time of year so sleeping was not what I had hoped. We should have opened the window – and I think we did the 2nd night – but needless to say we didn’t get the sleep we needed. I’ll also say that on a tour like this, relaxation is not in the cards. The point is to explore, see, visit, learn and that means you go, go, go. Sleep comes once you get home!

Sunday, March 17

We woke up and headed down to breakfast. The hotel had a beautiful breakfast buffet each day. After breakfast we walked to see the Trevi Fountain. Funny thing, it was quite a walk and the streets aren’t necessarily easily identified. Thank goodness for Google Maps! Also? Rome had a marathon that weekend so some of the streets were blocked off making it even more interesting to get to the fountain. But we arrived and it was beautiful! Crowded, very crowded, but lovely!

One of my Instagram friends had highly recommended that we visit the Borghese Gallery. I called the week before we left but tickets were sold out. I found a tour on Viator that not only included admission but a golf cart tour of the 200 acre property. We made our way from the Trevi Fountain to Borghese. On the way we stopped and had a light lunch – get ready for this – I had pistachios and a cocktail. I just wasn’t that hungry after a large breakfast and we had a dinner that night with our tour group.

The Borghese Gallery is beautiful! The grounds remind me in many ways of Central Park in NYC. There were tons of people enjoying the beautiful day. Again, the weather was warmer than we anticipated. We did so much walking! After the gallery tour we had over an hour until the golf cart tour so we sat outside and enjoyed the people watching.

The golf cart tour was a great way to see most of the 200 acres! We would never have done all of this on foot. There were some spectacular views and our tour guide was very entertaining. He made a few stops and snapped photos for us which was very much appreciated.

We finished the tour, grabbed a taxi and headed to the restaurant to meet the tour group. Before the dinner the tour group had an informational meeting and then traveled by tour bus to the restaurant. We met our tour guide the day before and let her know we’d miss the meeting since we had a tour booked at Borghese and didn’t think we’d make it back in time. Since we’d traveled with Globus before she was fine with that.

Dinner was delicious! Non stop wine pouring – red, white, or both! Course after course was served and it was all so good! This dinner, along with all of our breakfasts was included in our trip. We jumped on the bus and made the short trip back to the hotel. How these large buses make their way through these narrow streets is miraculous!

Monday, March 18

The official first day of the tour! We had breakfast downstairs again and then it was on the bus for our guided tours of the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, and the Colosseum. The good thing about going with a tour group is that the tickets are all purchased and there are no lines to wait in. These places are packed and people stand in line for hours to get in.

The Sistine Chapel was jaw dropping gorgeous! Unfortunately photos and video are prohibited. Also? There are many popes buried at St. Peter’s Basilica. They cover their faces and hands in wax and ‘mummify’ the body. I believe the photo I took is of Pope John Paul II. Although the skies look cloudy it did not rain – thank goodness.

We had some free time to grab lunch and shop. Many of the shops are super touristy as you would imagine. Then it was back to the bus for our trip to the Colosseum.

I should mention that we were split into three smaller groups for these tours. The total group had over 40 people I believe so the smaller groups allowed for more personal interaction and attention from the local guides. I really enjoy this way of traveling and exploring!

The Colosseum – ugh – so hard to stand there knowing all the violence that took place. My husband was fascinated but I kind of stopped listening after awhile. I’m no history buff and I hated hearing about all the torture and blood shed there. I was also running out of steam.

After boarding the bus, it was back to the hotel. On the way we dropped off some of the group who had booked an additional excursion to see the Trevi Fountain and a few other sites. We rested, then headed out to explore and have dinner. It got pretty chilly once the sun went down. After dinner we walked back to the hotel and called it a night!

On our way back to our hotel, St. Peter’s Basilica is so beautiful all lit up!

I don’t think I snapped a photo but we did get gelato in Rome. I only ordered it once on the trip – sorry, but I don’t really get the fascination with it. We were warned to only order it from places that had it in tubs that were flat on the top – no puffy mounds. I was told pistachio was what they are famous for so that is what I ordered. It was good but not something I felt I needed to get over and over. I think our friends and my husband got it a few more times. Honestly I’d rather have a pastry. I also think if it had been summer the gelato would have been more refereshing.

The next morning we headed for Florence so that wraps up our stay in Rome, Italy! Have you been before or are you planning to visit?

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