As I mentioned in my Episode 0 post, Derek and I took a very delayed honeymoon trip to Italy. It was an absolutely wonderful trip, and I thought it would be fun to share here on Brown is the New Pink via a series of posts. I’ll also include some travel tips, just in case you’re considering a trip to Italy, too!
We traveled to Rome, Florence, and Venice for a total of 9 full days. In addition to the main cities, we also took two day trips out of Florence to the Tuscan countryside and to Cinque Terra. I’ll kick off the Italy trip series with our first stop: Rome!
We flew out of the Charlotte airport directly to Rome on an overnight flight. The flight went as well as can be expected for international travel, and we managed to get a taxi and travel to our Air BnB without any issues. We loved our Air Bnb in Rome! I highly recommend staying there if you’re planning a trip. I’ll put some info about where we stayed at the bottom of the post for those interested.
TIP: Driving in Italy (especially Rome) is insane! The lines on the road are really more of a suggestion than law. 🙂 Unless you are very confident and comfortable driving in another country, I would suggest using public transport if at all possible.
Given the 6 hour time difference, our 9:45am arrival time felt like 3:45am. We were thrilled to be in Italy but totally exhausted. We ended up taking a brief nap, which was definitely worth it.
After our power nap, it was on to sightseeing! We walked about 45 minutes heading towards the Colosseum and took in the city.
We arrived at the Colosseum late in the afternoon. It was actually good timing because we hardly had to wait in line, and it wasn’t very crowded.
TIP: If you’re interested in hearing more about the history of the Colosseum, you may want to consider taking a guided tour instead of the audio tour. The audioguides were just OK here.
It was truly awesome, in the traditional sense of the word, to stand in the Colosseum and talk about its history and significance. Like many places we visited on the trip, there’s just nothing comparable in the US because it’s a relatively new country.
By the time we walked all around the Colosseum the sights were closing, and we didn’t get a chance to tour the Roman Forum. We were pretty bummed about it! Derek double-majored in biology and ancient history (i.e., lots of Roman history), and I took a Roman art class during college so we were excited about the forum. (Is it super obvious that UNC is a liberal arts college, yet? 🙂 ) We did, at least, check it out from above. It’ll be on our list if we head back to Rome someday!
After all that walking and the previous day of travel, we were famished! We stopped at restaurant called Piazza Sforza Cesarini on our way back to the Air BnB. It was a beautiful evening (low humidity, low 70s), so we enjoyed our wine and pizza on the patio.
People were not joking about how cheap wine is in Italy and how often everyone drinks it. I think I found my people!
We both decided on pizza, and it was delicious. (Though the best pizza of the trip was still yet to come in Florence.)
- Italians like to enjoy leisurely meals, and the servers usually do not bring the bill (il conto) unless you ask for it.
- You do not need to tip! Most places include a service charge. We often left a small tip out of habit but definitely not as much as we would leave in the US.
- Expect to pay for water, and don’t expect ice.
We finished walking home and then promptly passed out. Besides our quick power nap, we had been awake for almost 36 hours straight. It was some of the best sleep of my life.
After a glorious night of sleep we were well rested and ready to explore.
Checking out the Vatican was our plan for the day.
TIP: Remember to dress modestly for trips to the Vatican. Cover your shoulders and legs down to at least below the knee. (I wore a maxi dress with a sweater which worked out well.)
On our way there we stopped in a little cafe for breakfast. It was one of the few places where we were the only people who spoke English. Ordering was little tricky, but we were able to do it with our shoddy Italian. (By the way if you know any Spanish, it will be helpful in Italy. The languages are more similar than I thought!)
TIP: Most Italians drink coffee/espresso quickly and standing up. Expect to pay more to sit down at some places.
I am so bummed that I can’t remember the name of this place because it was one of our favorite meals throughout the whole trip. The coffee/espresso in Italy is to die for generally, and the pistachio pastry was AMAZING.
Next we headed to the Vatican Museums. The audioguides here were excellent, and the museum is HUGE.
TIP: Buy your Vatican Museum tickets in advance. We spent about an hour waiting in line to buy tickets while the people who bought them in advance zoomed right in.
The Sistine Chapel was, of course, amazing to see in person. (Though, to be honest, the crowds pushing around in there sort of take away from the experience.) However, my favorite part of the museum were the Rafael Rooms. They were unsurprisingly beautiful, but I most enjoyed hearing about the symbology and history of the rooms. It was fascinating!
We capped off the day with happy hour on our Air Bnb’s gorgeous terrace and a relaxing dinner at a small restaurant down the street.
The next day we headed to Florence for four days of our adventure. Stay tuned for more trip recaps!