My world has always felt really small. I came from a tight, close knit family who vacationed at Myrtle Beach and went camping in the summers. We lived a relatively quiet, simple life and I always thought that traveling internationally was something that was out of my reach…we never really went on trips that meant we had to fly, because flying was so expensive. I did live in Germany for a few months when I was 5 since my Dad was in the military, but I don’t remember too much of it, being that I was so little. I didn’t fly again after we moved back to America until I was 24! I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have the chance to go back to Europe, but I hoped that I would one day, though imagined it would be in the far distant future.
Visiting Italy has been a dream of mine since I was maybe ten or eleven years old. Every year, growing up I got some kind of calendar for Christmas. Sometimes it was dogs or cats or other random things. And then one year, it was Italy. The photos in that calendar were so beautiful to me! They were unlike anything I’d ever seen (that I could remember, at least). I kept the photos from the calendar for lots of years until they finally got lost somewhere, but I never lost the desire to see Italy!
It didn’t feel real when we bought our tickets ten weeks ago or even when I was there last week walking the cobblestone streets, my jaw constantly on the ground, stuffing my face with pasta and wine. It still doesn’t feel real now, even though I know it really happened AND I have photos to prove it! I kept thinking to myself “I can’t believe it! I can’t believe I’m here!!” It was so crazy to me that I got to go on such an adventure, when I never could have predicted I would get to go. It makes me feel like anything is possible. Anything at all.
I tried to make just one blog post of my trip, but I couldn’t do it! It’s funny, because I don’t always take tons of photographs when I travel…maybe it’s because I feel like it’s nice to take a break from “working” (and yes, taking pictures does often feel like work, even when it’s not for clients) but also because it’s nice to see things with both of your eyes. Ever heard John Mayer’s 3×5? It’s kind of like that. Anyway, something about Italy (and probably being away from my bestie, John and wanting to show him everything I saw) really inspired me to photograph. My personal gallery has about 650 images including phone photos and “nice” images. Take into consideration that doesn’t even include all of my snapchats!!!! Craziness. This blog post will be extra long because I want to share this trip with you guys and hopefully help anyone else who is planning a trip over there soon. I devoured any and all blog posts about it before I went, so hopefully this can help or inspire someone else and not just serve as my own journal about it 😉
So come with me to Italy! Here’s part one of the trip, which started in Rome.
When we first arrived at our hotel, it was already the afternoon and we’d been traveling for a LONG time, but we decided to just drop everything in the room, freshen up a little bit and hit the streets. Naps are for suckers! Or for people who are at home 😉 We set out towards the Colosseum, and immediately stumbled across this building! It feels awful just to call it a building…because it’s so beautiful, it seems like so much more! This is what Rome was like to me though…walking down any given street and running into something grand, beautiful, and possibly ancient.
I was really surprised to see palm trees in Italy!
The Colosseum was one of my favorite sites! I didn’t think I would be that impressed by it, since I have seen it in pictures, but it was really amazing to stand next to it and see how huge it really is. It is crazy to me how they made something like this without modern machinery!
One thing you don’t see in these photos is all of the guys running around trying to get people to buy selfie sticks. Ha! I refused to get one, just on principle, but it didn’t stop them from trying to get me to buy one. Once we left the Colosseum we had dinner at Ai Tre Scalini. We shared fresh ricotta and honey and I ate eggplant parmigiana and had a glass of local red wine. SO GOOD! I was very picky about choosing places that weren’t “touristy” restaurants and this place had so many good Yelp reviews…and for good reason! SO delicious.
Iphone photos of the meal:
One of the best parts of the trip was just randomly walking in the direction of something we wanted to see and then exploring an entire area. We were able to see so many neat things this way!
The Pantheon was UNREAL to me! I was shocked at how much seeing it impacted me. We went inside and looked around and it blew me away. I am not very religious, but the details and the beauty of the ancient temple moved me nearly to tears. I don’t have many photos of the inside unfortunately…I had only brought my 50mm with me in an attempt to travel light and there was no way for me to capture how enormous and amazing the space was with that alone. Just do yourself a favor and check it out for yourself and you’ll see what I’m talking about!
The image on the right is the BEST COFFEE I’VE EVER HAD. I actually rarely drink coffee because caffeine gives me horrible headaches and stomachache, but I figured “when in Rome, right?” and went for a coffee with lots of cream and sugar. It was amazing!!! And I didn’t feel terrible at all, surprisingly. I would highly suggest Osteria da Fortunata if you’re in Rome. They hand make their own pasta there and it’s so delicious! I had the spaghetti carbonara, which was excellent.
How cute is this farmer’s market?? We walked into it after having lunch nearby. I wish we had something this adorable here!
The Roman Forum was also very impressive to me. Standing next to these huge ruins (look at the tiny people in the bottoms of some of the photos for scale), I couldn’t help but think about life and what a small part of the universe we all really are. We rarely get to see things that are THOUSANDS of years old here in Virginia, especially manmade ones, so this was especially fascinating to me.
I was so excited to meet this Italian kitty!! I like making cat friends everywhere I go 🙂
The only two major sites that we saw that I didn’t photograph were the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. The Spanish Steps were CRAZY. There were so many people sitting on them it wasn’t really worth it to try to get a “good” photo so I just sent a snapchat and saved that. I think they are something I would have really loved if it weren’t for the massive hordes of tourists and the fact that they’re basically in a shopping center. That took a bit of the romance away for me, personally. I would suggest for others thinking about visiting Rome, get out and check out the Spanish Steps early EARLY in the morning…like Sunrise. Otherwise, you honestly won’t be that sad if you skip it. We did get to walk up them though on our way back to our room for the night and I counted each stair…there are 135! Whew. We walked a total of 27,850 steps that day according to the Health app on my iPhone!
In case you’re wondering, we stayed at the Una Hotel Roma, which we both really loved! It’s right across the street from the train station and it’s a short walk from everywhere in these photos. The only times we took a cab were to the Sistine Chapel, which is a bit farther out, and back to the area of the Spanish Steps because it was pouring rain. If you’re looking to visit Italy and see a few different cities, I would definitely suggest looking at booking through Emirates air. The planes were really nice and the experience was so good…they were constantly feeding us and taking care of what we needed. Free food, free wine, beer, and liquor. Free movies in the back of your headrest. Basically, a 9 hour flight FLEW by for me. Haha pun intended. See what I did there??? We flew into Milan and took the train to Rome and the train is awesome too. I would highly recommend it. Spring for business class if you can (it was about the same as economy!) because they serve free wine and champagne!! And the seats are larger, leather seats too. But seriously, there’s not much free in America anymore, so this was such a nice touch that I really appreciated it. The flight was an incredible deal…$399 bucks per person. If you’re interested in this deal, I would recommend signing up for TravelZoo emails, since that’s how I found it. Financially, I wouldn’t have been able to afford to go on this amazing trip if I hadn’t happened across it, so I’m a TravelZoo subscriber for life now! Ha!!
That’s all for this installment of my trip recap! Check back next time for the Sistine Chapel and Florence!!