more pizza and gelato and Neptune, oh my
Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Mine was filled with so many activities that were great for the soul. How about you? Did you do anything fun and relaxing? My boyfriend and I went to Venice Beach Saturday night just before midnight and got to see the bioluminescent waves, which were absolutely incredible. Or perhaps your fun plans were Mothers Day-related? Did you do anything special for Mother’s Day for yourself or for your mom? Today’s post is another virtual tour through Rome piggybacking off of yesterday’s post, “spoiler alert: i did not lose my hand,” which featured some great photos of Rome and the awesomeness that is meeting up with old friends in a new place! Click here to catch up! Otherwise, buckle up and get ready for today’s post, featuring lots of delicious food (if you’re not hungry now, you might be by the end of this!).
After spending the previous days in Rome on guided tours and meeting up with friends, I decided to take a day to just wander on my own and get lost in the city. I discovered new places and creations I’d never heard of, stumbled onto places I couldn’t believe I just stumbled upon, and ate SO much delicious food. The morning started off with me having some yogurt and a banana I bought at the local market by my AirBnb and hopping on the bus to start my bus-to-multiple-trains journey to the city.
The only problem was that I actually got on the wrong bus in the morning! When I realized that my bus was not going the correct direction, I asked the bus driver where it was going. She told me that I could get off, cross the street, and wait for the next bus to take me back the other way, or I could continue for the duration and get to see part of the coast and beaches.
Um, I’m sorry, bus driver… beaches?! Yes, please, absolutely sign me up! I rode the bus 40 minutes in the wrong direction in overcast skies because I am a beach girl at heart. When I finally made it to the coast, most things were closed as it wasn’t quite tourist season yet, but it was so incredible to see the Tyrrhenian Sea and a statue of Neptune submerged in and peaking out of the water! The yellow umbrellas and the volleyball nets were all setup but not opened. I spent some time walking around the little beach town and exploring before eventually making my way back to the bus stop to restart my intended journey to Rome (with an additional 40 minutes - that were well worth it - tacked on).
When I finally finished riding the bus to the multiple train/metro transfers, I got off at a familiar stop near where I had lunch with Bob and Rosie the day before so that I could revisit the Circo Massimo, which sat between two busy streets but consisted of open land to walk through where you could see some more impressive ancient Roman architecture along the streets. The photo does not nearly do it the justice it deserves, but hopefully it's a somewhat decent indicator of how normal it is in Rome that you would just be walking or driving by some ancient ruins on your way to work or to a restaurant or to meet up with friends. When I originally experienced Circo Massimo with Bob and Rosie, I knew I'd have to come back on my free, tourless day to snap some photos!
I continued away from Circo Massimo and wandered through open courtyards filled with people socializing that reminded me of my time in Helsinki, Finland where I saw a little girls' dance recital on a temporary stage performed in the middle of the city square (also, the socializing in squares seems crazy now given all the social-distancing we’ve been doing). I kept walking and saw incredible sculptured fountains just sitting in the middle of courtyards with statues of women and of horses and men in battle that were larger than life. There was so much incredible history everywhere I turned both in terms of the history of Ancient Rome but also of Roman mythology. I remember when I was very young, I begged my dad to get me a book on Greek and Roman mythology, and he would read it to me before I fell asleep at night. It was amazing to be confronted with Neptune earlier in the morning and then to see various statues throughout the day.
It felt like everywhere I turned in Rome there was some sort of beautiful sculpture or installation or work of art. Yesterday’s post featured the absolutely breathtaking, huge Trevi Fountain, and today it was the immensely beautiful Spanish Steps, which were crowded with people just sitting in the sunshine and enjoying each other’s company. I eventually found my way to the Spanish Steps, climbing them up to the Trinità dei Monti church at the top (big thanks to the fellow travelers who took my photo for me!), and then once I reached the top, descending once again to the tourist-and-local-filled streets below!
Having gotten on the wrong bus in the morning and walked miles all around Rome, I was hungry. I took a friend’s suggestion and found my way to Da Francesco for some local, authentic pizza and a glass of wine. I honestly can't remember who it was that recommended Da Francesco to me, but if it was you, please let me know, and also thank you so much!! The pizza was out of this world, and I loved the ability to eat by myself and just people-watch all the various, diverse groups at the tables around me.
The table next to me was actually a young Irish couple who had moved to Rome and their Irish friend visiting them. They talked all about growing up in Ireland and how incredible it’s been for them to see the changes that have happened overtime in relation to restaurants and availability of different types of food. I admit that as much as I loved living in Ireland, it is not a country that’s truly known for its food, so it was kind of a relief to hear Irish people next to me talking about exactly that. I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like if I’d been born at a different time and gone to get my Masters even a decade or two ago. It would’ve been so incredibly different for so many reasons not just related to food.
After I finished my pizza with prosciutto, I decided to saunter and walk off my meal. I ended up at the Pantheon, completely stunned at how a weaving, relaxed walk turned into another happy stumble-upon. I sat for a bit on a large fountain outside the Pantheon, taking pictures and taking it in… this place I’d studied years before that I was now witnessing in person. It was impressive, and it didn’t quite feel real even though it was.
I took a few more photos and found myself wandering a bit more until I stumbled upon a wonderful, magical place called Venchi, and yes, I got myself some gelato. And I didn’t just get a little guy gelato, when in Rome you go big or go home with gelato. I got a cone with three different flavors (chocolate, hazelnut, and stracciatella), and you bet your butt I housed the entire thing. If you’re ever in Rome, I highly recommend Venchi. I think my cone was like 4 or 5 euros, but it was absolutely worth every cent.
After a long day of exploring, I decided to call it an early night and again make some pasta back at my AirBnB. I rode all the necessary public transportation back and stopped at the market right as the rain (that had picked up again on my commute) stopped and a rainbow appeared. I walked home, made myself dinner, took a nice long shower, and got to bed early since the next morning I had to be up early for my tour of Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii, which you can read all about in tomorrow’s post!!
How about you? Do you have an absolute best meal you've had while abroad? If it's too hard to narrow it down to only one, how about any favorites in each city you've visited? Or, are you feeling like I'm currently feeling and would just like the opportunity to eavesdrop on the tables around you at the restaurant? I’d seriously love to know. I love, love, love food.
Please subscribe in the e-mail submission box below, follow me on Instagram or Twitter, or reach out to me on the “contact” page, ESPECIALLY WITH FOOD RECOMMENDATIONS! I’m so happy you're here and that I’ve been getting a lot of really great, fun-to-read stories, questions, and feedback from a community all over the globe. The stories I’ve gotten to read recently bring me such smiles, and I am so grateful for all of it! Especially during this time of uncertainty and pandemic, it's important to surround yourself with good; we're all in this together. I couldn’t do this without you! So THANK YOU! From the bottom of my heart, truly, thank you.
P.S. - If you want to catch up from the beginning on this series of adventures, here's a cheat sheet to the posts (in order in which they were published):
2. grateful for starbucks and sandymount strand
3. Once Upon a December in the National Gallery
4. plant a smooch for that gift of gab
5. may the 4th be with you: Dingle style
6. cinco de mayo: the best Mexican food in Dublin
8. mussolini’s window and the philosophers’ metro stop
9. father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife
10. it's the vatican, not the vatican't
11. spoiler alert: i did not lose my hand
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