May 11, 2014 This morning, I woke up in Rome…and I couldn’t get over it.
Feeling well-rested today, I rushed through breakfast and finished getting ready in a flash. This was one of the tour days that I was most excited for, and I wasn’t going to miss a minute of it.
Jon Snow led us to the Rome Metro for a short ride into the center of the city. We emerged from the station right in front of the Colosseum, and I experienced the same type of in-awe moment that I had walking up on the Eiffel Tower for the first time. I couldn’t stop staring at this magnificent structure, and thinking about just how many generations have done the same. It may sound silly, but it was one of those moments that really makes you realize how small you are in the grand scheme…one of those moments that makes traveling so important.
We met up with a tour guide who walked us through the history of the Colosseum, and the features of the arena. This “Imperial Tour” was an “Optional Extra,” ringing in at 26€, or $35 USD. Overall, I thought this tour was completely worth the price. We had a personal tour guide, admission into the Colosseum and Roman Ruins, and plenty of opportunities to take photos.
After this tour wrapped, Jon Snow took us on a little walking excursion around Rome. We stopped in for gelato at the famous Il Gelato di San Crispino, where I had the most amazing dessert ever. One scoop chocolate rum gelato and one scoop banana gelato = pure perfection.
Next, we were on our way to the Trevi Fountain, one of the sites I had been most looking forward to. There was no way I was leaving Rome without tossing a coin into that fountain and making a wish.
After the Trevi, it was on to the Pantheon, another awe-inspiring building, built around 2,000 years ago. Again, it felt insane to be staring at a structure that old, with so much history attached to it.
After this sightseeing whirlwind, we left Jon Snow and a few of us had lunch together at a small Italian restaurant in Piazza Navona. I was feeling overloaded by carbs at this point, so I opted for a greek salad with grilled chicken. Absolutely delicious!
Once we wrapped up lunch, we started on our trek around the city. We made it to the Spanish Steps, another site on my Roman bucket list. The view from the bottom was lovely, but it was nothing compared to the view from the top of the steps. It was truly one of the most romantic sights I’ve ever seen.
Next up was the Museum and Crypt of Capuchins, a museum dedicated to the Capuchin monks (Fun Fact: cappuccinos get their name from these guys), who honored their dead by creating art from their bones. Overall, the museum portion of this exhibit was boring, and the bone art was so small, it didn’t feel worth the 6€ entrance fee. Note that if you’re planning a trip here, you’ll need to wear Italian church attire.
We spent the remainder of the afternoon wandering the streets of Roma, shopping, eating, and enjoying the gorgeous scenery that was around every single corner. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more romantic place in my life. That’s amore!
Finally, we met up with the group for our Roman Dinner. This was an Included Dinner, and I have to say, I’m really glad I didn’t pay any extra for it. This meal was pretty bland: Bread, greens and salad dressing, and bad pizza. This meal was definitely not up to the usual Contiki standard, and I’m so bummed that this had to happen in Rome, where we were surrounded by some of the most incredible food in the world. If I could go back and do this over again, I would have skipped the Roman Dinner and run off with some friends to find a little cafe to have dinner in.
That said, I had an amazing time that night laughing and chatting with my fellow Contiki-ers. We drank Chianti (because of course we did), and shared stories from our adventures that day. By this time, we had grown so close as a group, every group meal was fun (whether the food was good or not). Some of my best memories from the trip were made crowded around dinner tables in various European cities, laughing and joking with some of the greatest people I’ve ever met.