Tag Archives: gelato

When in Rome

The last stop in vacation was the ancient city of Rome! Our travel agent, who is also a very dear friend of mine, told us that we needed to have a train ride through Europe. I forgot how much I love to ride through Europe by train!

But one thing I haven’t ever done is ride through Tuscany. Can someone buy me a vineyard there? ;)

If you're lucky enough to find someone to be awkward with you, you know it's for real :) <3

 

We are capable of taking a good picture though :-D

A four hour train ride can seem like forever, but we finally reached Rome!

We were staying in the Piazza Fiume at the Hotel Fiume. This hotel was PIMP (for lack of better words). We had stayed in pretty quaint hotels in the other cities. And by quaint I mean really small and not very modern ;) This was the most modern hotel we stayed in, but as the last stop in our trip, we needed that extra comfort.

Only one good picture at night of the place. ...whoops

Once we dropped our bags, we decided to walk to the Spanish Steps. But before that, we grabbed some lunch at a pizzeria near our hotel. I got the Roman style pizza and REB got the Napoli style.

You might remember in the previous post that we weren’t a huge fan of the Roman style pizza. We preferred the Venetian. I know it doesn’t look it, but the minute we let our pizza cool and we cut into it, it just fell apart :\ The flavors were kind of there, but they weren’t as seasoned or flavorful as the pizzas in Venice. Kind of a shame, but that didn’t stop us from eating the entire thing ;)

A good end to lunch!

So something I didn’t know about Rome is that we actually stayed in the ancient city of Rome. Outside the city wall (which is still in tact by the way!) is the rest of the city of Rome. I assume that’s where most people live and work and drive. The ancient city is actually super tiny and we could have walked every where, but taking a cab ride there is ridiculously cheap. However, we did walk. We walked through this underground tunnel to reach the Piazza di Spagna and went to see the Spanish Steps!

From there we walked up to the Medici house and walked around their gardens. Then we walked to the Piazza di Popolo, which actually faces directly to St. Peters Basilica in the Vatican City. But before we walked through the Medici gardens, we got a good view of the ancient city.

That dome waaaay in the back is St. Peters!

After walking through the gardens and seeing the Steps, we headed south towards the Trevi Fountain. It was CROWDED when we got there. It was getting to be evening time by then, so we decided to get some dinner and then go back to the fountain at night.

Gorgeous by night :)

The fountain is absolutely beautiful in person. The details in the carving, the columns, it was just gorgeous. We did throw a coin in while we were there. I guess that means we’re going back one day ;)

The next morning we got up super early to beat the crowd at the Colosseum. It was also REB’s birthday that day! Beating the crowd is one of the best tips I can give anyone wanting to see a huge famous landmark in a huge city.

Besides, the light is so beautiful in the morning. Made the whole place glow and look golden!
We did go inside the Colosseum, and it is just magnificent in there. I really can’t describe it in words…

SO WE’LL USE PICTURES! HOORAY!

We actually did the “Caesar Shuffle” from the Colosseum to the Palatino, Roman Forum, up to the Campadoglio (the capital house), and then up to the Pantheon.

Augusta's Palace in the Palatino

 

The Roman Forum

 

From there we walked to the Pantheon, which is another fantastic monument. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good shot of the whole thing since it was so ridiculously crowded there. But I did get a few shots of the details…

After that, it was time for one of my favorite things: time to eat!
Like I said earlier, it was REB’s birthday, so we had to have a nice feast. We knew we weren’t going to eat until much later, so we made the most of our mid-day meal.

Limoncello and Paparadelle con Funghi

He got a shot of Limoncello and got this amazing ribbon pasta with the mushrooms. We love all kinds of pasta, but he’s always wanted to try this particular kind. …So when in Rome… ;)

Me? I wanted risotto. I asked the waiter what kind of risotto they had because their menu just said “risotto” on it. He asked me what kind I wanted. He suggested mushroom and I said “Sure”. So what did they do? They made me something not even on their menu.

I don’t think I need to tell you that it was absolutely delicious. The picture speaks for itself!!

After our wonderful lunch, we had a lot of time to kill. I actually surprised REB with a ghost story tour of Rome at night, and we had a lot of hours to kill. So we hopped a cab and decided to go to the Vatican City.

St. Peter’s Basilica is quite beautiful. And I don’t mean any disrespect, but…it seemed a little over the top.  Just wasn’t our thing, I guess. They claimed to have strict rules about who they let in based on what they’re wearing (as in, dress nicely because it’s a place of worship), but we saw them letting in girls with the shortest shirts or low-cut shirts. Just seemed more like a show than anything else.

But I won’t lie, it is beautifully constructed.

Pope's window to address the people

 

This doesn't even show the whole thing, but it's at least the main part. Someone buy me a wide angle lens so I won't feel deprived next time ;)

 

So the ghost tour of Rome at night was so much fun! We also took a crypts and catacombs tour the following day, but photography wasn’t allowed on that one since we were in churches and places of respect or whatever. Anyway, before we set off to meet our group at San Andreas Basilica, we had to get some gelato ;)

There was this great gelato shop by our hotel called Flor. And it was SO good. It was also open until the wee hours of the morning. The nicest people worked there so we made sure to stop in there at least once or twice a day :)

So! We met our group at the church and found out our tour guide, who went to both Michigan State and Michigan (woot!). So we learned some cool stories based on the areas we were walking around.

The first stop was in the Piazza Campo dei Fiori to see the statue of Giordano Bruno.

The story goes that the pope killed him because this guy was a scientist like Galileo and his ideas were “dangerous”.  Anyway, they burned him at the stake while he was alive. When Rome became its own democratic country, they built this statue facing the Vatican to remind the church of its past crimes and why people should have democracy. We just liked how you know, they built this statue as an apology to his family. 200 years later.

Then we walked to the next site and on our way we passed by this old church that had skulls all over it.

This church was used to bury the people who died from the plague. Except, these were people who didn’t have families or have money for a burial. So the monks would just scout the streets for dead bodies and if someone clearly didn’t have a family, they would take the person and give them a proper burial and put them in the catacombs below the church. This is very similar to the church we saw the following day on our catacombs and crypts tour. We went to the Capuchin Crypt, which has six “rooms” made entirely out of the bones of monks.

From there, we walked to another little piazza and our tour guide asked us, “So which one of these buildings has a window where you think a potion maker would live?” So we all looked around and looked up and then we saw this window:

The top window there was the home of a woman who was a potion maker. The story goes she used to make an odorless, tasteless poison (I always think if Iocaine powder from the Princess Bride haha), disguise it as holy water and sell it to women who were in bad marriages where their husbands beat them or whatever. However one woman had a change of heart about killing her husband so she turned this potion maker in to the police and she was killed. The story goes if you’re a man with wickedness in your heart, you can see her ghost wandering the piazza at sunrise.

The last part of our brought us here, the Castle of Saint Angelo. It’s an absolutely beautiful building, with a dark story behind it… ;)

This was home to the Barberini Family. The head the of the family was a bad dude, so the rest of the family killed him so they wouldn’t be caught up in beatings, lashings, etc. The pope didn’t like this so he had the family killed. If you remember from the story of Giordano Bruno, the pope used to be the mayor of the city, not just a religious figure. So, because he ruled the city, he had the mother beheaded and the other children killed for turning against this rich man Barberini.
However, the youngest in the family, a boy, was about 12 years old and couldn’t be tried as an adult. So his punishment was to be castrated so that he couldn’t carry on the Barberini name or inherit the estate. If you’ve been to Rome before, make sure you stop by the Piazza Barberini, named for the family. What is it with Romans building monuments in the name of people wrongfully killed as a form of apology? I guess better late than never!
Anyway, the story goes is at sunrise you can hear the screams of the mother as she worries for her son’s punishment, and you can see her ghost holding her head wandering the bridge looking for her son. That is, you’ll only see her if you are a man with a wicked heart ;)

This tour and the one we took the next day were so amazing and interesting. It was a great way to see the city and hear some of the stories that people still talk about today!

I know we had the most fun in Paris, but Rome definitely come in second. It’s such a beautiful, ancient city with gorgeous architecture and culture.

whoosh!

Our entire trip was just amazing.  It didn’t last nearly long enough, even though we were happy to be home (does that even make sense? haha). We’ve taken away so many memories and so many photos. We’re already planning our next trip to Europe! There is so much more to see!

I’ll be posting one more with just some pictures from Paris since I mainly talked about the food in that post ;)
However, I hope you all enjoyed the series of posts related to our honeymoon! Ciao lovelies! <3

One Day in Venice

After we left the delightful city of Paris (and I promise I’ll include photos of the actual city, soon!) we jetted off to Venice. Literally.

We landed into Marco Polo around 9 p.m., and had to take a bus to the island of Venice. Then from there, we had to take a water bus to the stop by our hotel.

We were pretty loopy since it wasn’t the longest flight, but it felt like a long day. The airport is actually located on the main land and if you’re going to the island of Venice, you need to take water buses around once there. You can take a water taxi but we found out those are €90! Much too much money if you ask me. It would be a private ride, but that’s just too much. So, we took a water bus…which was an adventure figuring out where they line up and which one we needed to take. Since we got there so late, a lot of the buses we thought we had to take weren’t running anymore and no one seemed polite enough to help us out :\

We were staying in Canareggio area aka the Jewish Ghetto. It’s one of the older parts of the city and it’s also in the eye of the city. In case you never noticed, the island of Venice is shaped like a fish (now that I know this, this is all I see LOL) and we were staying near the eye. It’s also the area closest to the terminal that takes you to the main land.

After we got to the San Marcuola stop, we had to figure out how to get to the hotel. When nightfall comes, there are no lights in Venice. What we learned the next day from our guide, is that it’s up to the owners of the building if they want to have a lamp post or light outside their building. Apparently a lot of people opt out of this, making it very hard to read street signs and/or maps ;) We finally made it to our hotel and realized we were starving! Once again we hadn’t eaten for a few hours and needed some sustenance, no matter the hour. So we walked down our little street and found the first restaurant that was still open and decided to sit in. Lucky for us, we found a restaurant with two hilarious waiters who kept things fun and telling jokes.

REB and I were really excited to eat, too. We knew we were going to have pizza, which is a big deal. Neither one of us is Catholic, but we always give up something during Lent just to see if we can give up something we love to eat or drink or whatever. And one of our favorite things to eat is pizza. So, we gave up pizza. And then we were in full-fledged health mode before the wedding, so we made a deal that until we got to Italy, we wouldn’t eat any pizza.

So in case you missed that, we hadn’t had pizza for 6 months before we got to Italy.

We. Were. STOKED.

Vegetarian pizza

So yes, I got the vegetarian pizza. REB got the cheese pizza. And they were both so freaking delicious. Now that we’ve been to Rome as well, I can honestly say that I prefer Venetian pizza over Roman or Napoli. Roman pizza is far too thin and all the toppings just sort of slide off, which is unfortunate. Napoli pizza is slightly thicker, but again, the sauce is so watery that the toppings are kind of swimming in it and they just fall off. But Venetian-style pizza was a thin crust, that was firm, topped well, seasoned well and baked to perfection.

The next day, REB had gotten me a real treat. As an early birthday present to me, he arranged for us to have a private walking photography tour with a professional, around the city of Venice! It was unbelievable! The tour was super early that day; from 8-10:30 a.m. Normally I hate getting up early on vacation, but I was actually very excited. Most people know that the best times to take photos is really early in the morning or around sunset when the light is best.

Venetian sunrise <3

We were almost late meeting her at San Marco’s Square, but we made it just in time. We also realized that no one else had signed up for the tour so it was just us and her. So perfect.

I will say this here and now: Venice in the early hours is so beautiful. It’s so quiet, peaceful and not crowded. I’ll be honest, we weren’t the biggest fans of the city once everyone came to the island. It seemed like an amusement park to us. No one lives on the island and at 10:30 or so, it just becomes this ridiculous, crowded mess of people. Every two feet is a souvenir shop, people trying to sell you something, waiting in lines to get into stores, see the bridge, whatever. It just wasn’t our cup of tea. And then promptly at 8 p.m., everyone leaves the island and it becomes totally dead. But in those early hours when the city is starting to wake up, it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Eve, our photographer tour guide, was an amazing guide. She showed us these cute little streets, alleys, waterways, and houses that we wouldn’t have found on our own.

She also taught both of us how to take pictures at different angles, which I realized I don’t do nearly enough! She also showed us her favorite spots in the city where she likes to take photographs.

Like this bridge solely to look at the water for the reflection:

Or this water street for the bridge, colors and perspective:

REB held onto my shirt so I wouldn't fall into the water. Luckily there was a wall to help lean my camera

There’s no denying the entire city is filled with charm, beauty and old-world style.

So quiet in the morning

We learned some neat little facts about the city from Eve as well. Like how an area we were in was the red light district called “Casi no” or as you and I know it…casino. It literally translates to “bad house” or whatever. It basically meant that gambling, prostitution and other saucy things were taking place in certain buildings. And the way you knew if a house was bad was if there were wooden shutters on it. That was usually a good indication that prostitutes might be hanging out up there calling down to the boatmen.

casi no

Other things she taught was about the wells that were situated in areas around the city. The wells were the way people got water back to their house.

Or if you were rich enough, you had a courtyard in your home and a well of your own. Only a few of these houses still exist in the city today.

I love the light in this photo. So warm :)

So the tour lasted 2 1/2 hours but it felt like it flew on by! She showed us some fantastic parts of the city and even suggested some things for us to do on our own for the rest of the day. Anyway, we couldn’t navigate the narrow streets of Venice the way she did, but we did finally find the Rialto bridge and then….we saw this….:

I’ve never seen such a beautiful view! I had heard stories of the Grand Canal being pretty cool, but when you seen it in person it’s just as busy as the photo shows. But again, it’s only like this once the city wakes up. I kind of wish I could have seen it in the wee hours of the morning. But either way, it was just magnificent!

Walking around the city really worked up our hunger. We didn’t eat breakfast since we had to get to the Square so early for the tour. The best solution? Pasta!

I got the pomodoro and basil, and REB got the pesto. Both were pretty delicious

I don’t know how it happened but this place was actually a little past our hotel. We somehow got from the Rialto Bridge back to Canareggio. Lucky for us, we were in an area that Eve actually suggested for us to see that isn’t a big attraction. She told us that one of the oldest bridges in Venice was in this district. And we found it!

So searching around the city of Venice works up an appetite for an afternoon snack. What better snack in Italy than gelato!

I got the pistachio on the left there and REB got the mint chocolate chip.

Our journey continued and we decided to visit the three islands by Venice: Murano (where they do the hand blown glass), Burano (Italian lace!) and Torcello (…I’m actually not sure what it’s known for, but it’s old and pretty haha).

En route to Burano

So while we were in Burano, we actually didn’t stand around to see the lace demo. We wanted to take advantage of the 30 minutes we had on the island, so we walked around.

We may or may not have had gelato within a 3 hour span.

Coffee flavored nomz!

….but we did ;)

Torcello was a beautiful island. Really old, small and had this beautiful church on it. I think that might be what the island is known for, but I honestly can’t remember…

I looove those beams!

 

Pretty shadows <3

We also saw something I had never seen before in person: a pomegranate tree!

Hard not to pick one but I think the homeowners would have been mad...

So when we got back to Venice, it was about 6 or 7 p.m. and we were hungry again. Walking can do that to a person, I guess ;) Being a vegetarian in Italy isn’t so bad. You get to eat a lot of pasta, pizza, cheese and ice cream. However, I’m sure that can get pretty old and unhealthy. We totally indulged while we were there though! We walked along the Grand Canal to find some good restaurants and just decided to sit at one of them. REB got pizza and I had pasta (again).

Not as good as the one we had the night we got there :"

 

Arrabiata

When we were done with dinner, we had remembered something Eve had told us in the morning. The area where we were staying was apparently the Venetian nightlife hotspot. So that was exciting for us. We were ready to have a drink and just wind down before we had to get up early for our train ride to Rome. So we walked past our hotel and into the street she told us about.

The nightlife of Venice? It’s really just four bars lined up next to each other and they’re open until 10 p.m. while the rest of the city closes down at 8 p.m. as mentioned earlier. So anyway, we found this cute little bar and had a drink.

Bellini and white wine

So yeah…nightlife? Here’s the nightlife.

There it is. So the city might not be open super late and no one might live on the actual island itself, but we did have a nice time. I’m glad we were only there a day. I don’t know what we would have done if we were there for more than 2 days. Maybe go to Florence for a day (next time!) or something.

We did have a lovely time in Venice, but we were ready to keep heading south and spend the last part of our honeymoon in historic Rome. But the beauty we saw in Venice will remain with us forever. That’s for certain <3