When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do

First day for a sleep in and did it ever feel lovely! We started our morning off with a simple espresso and treat, and then were pleasantly fueled for the day.

We hopped on the bus across the river and headed south to check out the Pyramid of Cestius. It’s an ancient pyramid circa B.C 12 and is one of Rome’s best preserved ancient buildings. It was built as a tomb for Gaius Cestius. Unfortunately, it had very limited hours so we weren’t able to go inside, but the structure was pretty fantastic to see.

Across from the museum is a small monument dedicated to the victims of racism and fascism. It reads “tutti potenziali bersagli” and shows five people with their hands tied behind their backs, each with a triangle that reminds everyone how individuals were treated during WWII by the Nazis: pink for homosexuals, blue for immigrants, brown for gypsies, red for anti-fascists, and the yellow Star of David for the Jewish.

After seeing these two moving sites, we hopped back on the bus and headed up to the Campo de’Fiori area for a little shopping and lunch. As we were walking, the rain started to fall and it was such a relief from the heat. Much needed and we loved it!

For lunch, we stopped at a place that was deemed for having one of the best carbonara in town. When in Rome! We began our lunch with an appetizer sampler. It included whipped cod fish, meatball with an Italian version of salsa verde (very different and very good!), zucchini ball, bruschetta topping, and burrata cheese and anchovy on a pastry.

Then, of course, we ordered the carbonara and cacio e pepe. They were both so creamy and heavenly!

We ended with a delicious espresso, and then boarded the bus again to go north to the Borghese Gardens.

The Borghese Gardens occupy three square miles and contain numerous fountains, statues, Rome’s zoo, and endless pathways. We walked around it for an hour or so, enjoying the nature and peacefulness that it brings.

At 5pm, we had a reserved time for the Borghese Gallery, which has a collection of world class sculptures and art. You’re only allowed an allotted two hours to tour the place so we needed to be sure to start on time.

The main entry hall shows numerous Greek sculptures and stunning ceiling architecture.

As you enter the first room, you are immediately drawn to the statue of Pauline Borghese as Venus. This was created in the mid 18th century, where Napoleon’s sister posed nude for the sculpture Canova, creating quite the scandal in Europe.

In the second room, is a statue of David, created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, said to be the David that “acts” compared to Michelangelo’s David who “thinks”.

In another room, is Bernini’s statue to represent the story of Pluto (Hades) and Persephone, from 1622. The myth tells us that Hades was from the underworld, but occasionally ventured above, and one day fell in love with Persephone. Hades confided in his brother Zeus, who together came up with a plan. They caused the ground to split underneath her, and he kidnapped her and made her his wife. The three headed dog is the animal that guarded the underworld. The statue created by Bernini depicts the action as Persephone was being kidnapped. Stories like this were usually shown through paintings, not statues, because of the difficulty in portraying action and feelings. Quite a masterpiece!

These were the main highlights for me, but of course there were numerous other statues.

Upstairs, in the Pinacoteca, there were impressive paintings by Bernini, Raphael and many others.

One thing that I found particularly fascinating about this gallery was the 3D illusion of the ceiling art work. Somehow the artist made it appear as though the people were sitting on ledges or standing and popping out at you. I was amazed by the technique, especially for occurring so long ago.

Once our time was up in the gallery, we jumped back on the bus and returned to our neighborhood for dinner. Being as it was our final night in Rome, and as we had been doing all day, we had to eat as the Romans do. We order a beautiful bottle of red and two classic pizzas.

We ended our meal with an espresso and our final tiramisù.

As a farewell to Rome, we even had our final gelato.

It hard to describe in words how I feel about this city. You could spend hours walking around and still not be able to see every little piece of history that’s here. It’s inspired me to be more appreciative of the past and to truly learn about the things that make our world so unique and special. I look forward to returning again one day!

Livin’ On The Sea

Today was dedicated purely to traveling. It was a long, sad goodbye as we ventured down the Grand Canal on a hot and sweaty vaporetto before arriving at the train station. As the train took off and we saw land and cars for the first time in a while, I felt a sense of wonder: where will we ever find a place where buses are boats and streets overlook the beauty of canals? Bittersweet I’d say so myself.

We had what we thought was a short layover in Florence, which ended up being a mad running dash for the next train. Good thing crossfit has trained me well enough to run in flip flops. Out of breathe with barely a minute to spare the train took off on route to the coastal town of La Spezia. Once we arrived there, sadly we missed our following train and were delayed by 30ish minutes.

Being your typical type A personality, I was freaking out about being a half hour late meeting our guesthouse host. We had no way to contact her, and the WiFi was nil. Luckily, Daniel’s sweet, charming Irish accent managed the tourist office to call our host and meet us right outside the train station. She walked and talked, and led us to our adorable new abode for the next few days. Martha gave us numerous suggestions and things to do, and really is a tour guide herself.

Martha booked us in for a Michelin guide restaurant along the coast. According to google, our 2 minute walk ended up being 30 seconds so we had ample time to explore the cove prior to our dinner. What a beauty it is!

I’ve always loved the water, but this made me question even more, why I don’t live by it. The sheer beauty and calmly effect is something to admire.

As our dinner seating time approached, we walked up the cliff side to the gorgeous setting of our restaurant and of course immediately ordered a beautiful, local wine.

Deciding on dinner options was a bit of a feat. To being with, we shared the most deliciously and naturally tasting oysters I’ve ever had!

For our main course, Daniel chose the Riomaggiore spaghetti, with fresh anchovies, and I selected the black ink Tagliolini with clams and squid. Both were insanely delicious.

Instead of finishing off with a dessert, we decided to hike up to the highest point of town, wine in hand, and enjoyed the evening, star-lit sky, stunning view, and tasty beverages!

Can’t wait for tomorrow!