Remember that time I started a draft of Italy Part II in January and forgot to finish it? Yeah, same. Welp, here it is in all it’s glory:
Hello hello my wonderfully supportive blog readers! And Happy New Year! I’m really pumped that you haven’t abandoned me and my totally sporadic blogging tendencies. I wuv yew.
So it’s been about
two and a half months eleven months since I shared part one of my trip to Italy. Yup. 2.5 months 11 months. I’m the worst. But the good news is I’m (finally) back to share part two! Let’s see how much I can remember…
So where did we leave off? Pompeii! After touring Pompeii, we hit the road and headed north to Rome. It was the weirdest ride ever – the driver was driving SO slow, talked on the phone the entire time, and kept getting lost. Thank goodness Emily and I were narcoleptic the entire trip and had no idea how long the drive took us! We finally made it to Rome, checked in to our hotel, explored a little, and headed to dinner at a pizzeria called San Marco. We shared a meat and cheese board, pizza, and octopus – my fav!!!
Up and at ’em! We had a super busy day ahead of us. Emily and I headed to the hotel gym (which was shockingly mediocre compared to the outdoor gym at our last hotel) for a quick workout. We ate eggs, fruit, potatoes, and bacon at the hotel breakfast buffet and we were off to tour the city with our tour guide, Alex!
First stop was the Vatican museum. Alex took us on a VIP tour of the Vatican, which included access to this awesome spiral staircase that had an amazing view. It was so neat – Alex would discretely go talk to one of the security guards and before we knew it we were sneaking in front of the crowds and walking through a secret door. Hi Em!
We continued to explore around the Vatican museum learning all about Roman history until we made our way to the Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately you can’t take pictures while in the chapel, but it was beautiful and so much bigger than I expected! One of my favorite parts of the Sistine Chapel was getting to go into the Crying Room, which no one ever gets to do (Alex is the BEST). This was super interesting, listen to this: after a new pope has been chosen, he is lead into a room off of the Sistine Chapel where he is given his papal garments and allowed to sit and contemplate the responsibilities and burdens he is about to endure in his new role as pope. On a swanky AF red velvet chaise lounge chair #nbd. Many have wept in this room, hence “crying room.” This is the room that is connected to the balcony that overlooks St. Peter’s Square, where the new pope is introduced!
We had lunch in the wine cellar of this awesome little spot off of the beautiful square in the pics below (that I can’t remember the name of because this was legit a year ago, oops!). Lots of wine, cheese, charcuterie, and cuttlefish was had. We were so daring with our food choices on this trip!
Off to explore some famous Roman sites: the Pantheon and Colosseum! Emily and I could not get over how old everything in Rome was. To help us conceptualize it, we tried thinking how many grandparents ago these Roman sites were built. 100 grandparents ago? 500 grandparents ago? It didn’t help. Math fail.
We finished the day off with pizza and gelato in a little neighborhood across the Tiber River called Trastevere. S’cute.
Emily and I started the day with a 5 mile in the park right across the street from our hotel called Villa Borghese. We were running super late for the start of our tour with Alex, so we grabbed eggs, sausage, and fruit from the breakfast buffet and stuffed it into a napkin. Classy. Then we were off! We headed back to the Vatican area because wanted to see a little more of the Basilica.
Next up was Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli. This villa was originally built as a summer retreat for Roman emperor Hadrian and was chock-full of theaters, bathhouses, pools, libraries, gardens, fountains, you name it.
Then we headed over to another villa in Tivola – Villa d’Este. This place was INSANE. It’s known for its elaborate gardens and fountains – there are supposed to be 500 fountains all together.
Lunch was at an amazing tiny restaurant in Tivoli that was run by these crazy sisters and a creepy old man who sat in the corner watching us eat the entire time (exact notes from my journal entry). I think this might have been my favorite meal of the entire trip. We had octopus, sautéed mushrooms, raw mushrooms with parmesan, squid ink tortellini stuffed with cuttlefish and topped with prawns and a magical sauce, apple cake, and almond ice cream. YAS.
And then Dori rolled her ankle in a ditch getting onto our tour van. Alex didn’t know what to do. It was kind of hilarious. Dori did not agree. We ended our day by walking (read: hobbling) around the Piazza del Popolo and seeing the Spanish Steps (which were under construction booooo).
Emily and I woke up early and took an hour walk around the city to see some more sites. We ended up getting lost, but eventually stumbled upon the Trevi Fountain. Which was under construction. Go figure.
After breakfast we met Alex again. Today we were going to the Frascati wine region to visit some vineyards! We headed out on our merry way and got all the way there only to find out that the roads that lead to the vineyards themselves were blocked off. Womp womp.
Plan B. Castel Gandolfo – the pope’s summer home! We walked around the piazza and village, popped into some shops, and looked over Lake Albano. Then we headed to a wine tasting in the cellar of a cute little restaurant that overlooked the lake. Bubbles, whites, reds, dessert wine, and lots of tasty italian-meats-centric bites were had. We got to your the cellar too! They had lots of bottles signed by famous people, like Keanu Reeves. Blue pill or red pill…
We headed upstairs for lunch in the restaurant with the best view! Fake life. I live a fake life.
We obviously had more wine and I ordered an octopus calamari pumpkin potato masterpiece and an herb salad with grapes and pecorino. Then we bought 6 bottles of wine. Because WINE NOT?! Lolzzzzz am I funny???
On our drive back into the city, we stopped at the Vatican for a third time (necessary) to mail some postcards. Greetings from the smallest country in the world!
We ended the night in true Italian fashion: cheese + charcuterie + salad + pizza + gelato. Perfection.
I had the most amazing time seeing all of the beauty that Italy has to offer, spending time with my favorite 2nd parents and my best friend, and eating some of the best food I’ve ever eaten and drinking out of this world wines. I would go back in a heartbeat!
PS. Thanks for sticking around for a whole year to read part 2. I promise that won’t happen again. Maybe. And if it does, Erin Hill and a million of my other friends will be all over my case about it like they were this time. LOVE YA’LL.
Have you been to Italy? Where to?
Red or white wine?