Country #34 - Italy Day 1

The Food

It was a great (albeit hot) day in Italy! Italy is, and always will be, one of my favorite countries in the world. There are so many unique cities (I love Venice, Florence, and Milan) and so much amazing food to eat. I could literally eat pizza and gelato from Italy for every meal of every day and not get tired of it. Other than the U.K., Italy is probably the foreign country that I have spent the second most amount of time in, and with very good reason.

Today lived up to my standard for another great day in Italy. I have been to Rome before, but it has been four years since my initial visit, and last year I only transited through. I’m really looking forward to seeing a few new sights, but also to revisiting many places that I have been to before. The Colosseum, for example, will never get old. I’m also going to spend more time at places that I quickly walked through last time, which I’m looking forward to.

I started the morning off with breakfast at Hearth Hotel. I then headed to Mass at the Vatican! I’m not Catholic, but I wanted to see the Pope so I made my way over. It was very crowded. I arrived about thirty minutes early and waited in line for security. Once I was in Mass started right away. It was entirely in Italian, but it was really cool to see the Pope! He was in a tiny window and very far away, but it was definitely him! It was over within ten minutes but it was a really cool experience if you are ever in Rome on a Sunday.

I started the morning off with breakfast at Hearth Hotel. I then walked to St. Angelo Bridge to make my way to the other side of town. It is a hot day, but it’s still definitely worth walking everywhere to really enjoy the city. The bridge sits directly in front of Castel Sant’Angelo, which I have been to before and am not visiting again, but I highly recommend. From there I walked through Centro Storico, one of my favorite parts of Rome. The buildings are old and historic and it looks exactly how you would expect Rome to look. In Centro Storico I grabbed my first gelato of the day at Frigidarium. It was highly recommended by my hotel, and I think I have a new favorite gelato place in Rome. It was so good! You get great value for your money, and they dip your gelato in chocolate for free! I definitely enjoyed my strawberry, lemon, and chocolate cone.

From Frigidarium I then made my way towards the Colosseum. I walked in a beautiful church, as well as past the Largo di Torre Argentina ruins, and the Altare della Patria building. I have visited Altare della Patria before, which has an amazing view on the roof that I highly recommend! The sun was absolutely killer, and it wa over one hundred degrees today, so the walk was pretty brutal, but definitely enjoyable as well. It’s hard to be upset about the weather (or anything for that matter) when you’re in Italy. I really appreciated how in Rome there are lots of places to refill your water bottle, because it definitely came in handy today.

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When I got to the Colosseum I walked around and took pictures for a little while before heading inside. Yes I’ve been before, but like I said earlier, it’s a place that to me will never get old. There was a line for tickets but thankfully it moved pretty quickly. You can buy them online ahead of time, but I completely forgot until it was too late. Once inside I got an audio guide which I actually really enjoyed. It was nice because I could find a spot in the shade to listen to it, then walk in the sun again, stop and listen, and on and on. I walked around / sat and listened / marveled for about two hours before heading across the street to the Forum.

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The forum is a really unique spot that you definitely shouldn’t miss. The entire area is huge, and although I had been before I feel like last time I didn’t see most of what all there was to see. I took my time and tried to see everything. The ruins are fascinating and there are many great views to be had of the Forum itself as well as of Rome and the Colosseum from inside. After spending another two hours in the Forum and staying until closing time, I then made my way towards dinner.

On my way I walked past Circus Maximus only because it was on my way. It’s probably the most disappointing sight in Rome if you go in having any sort of high expectation, which you shouldn’t. It is literally just a field that you walk by on the side of the road. The walk took about thirty minutes as I headed to the Trastevere area. I had done a lot of research on the best pizza places in Rome (of course) and tonight I decided to try Pizzeria Nerone. Man, was it a good decision. It was one of the best pizzas I have ever had! The restaurant itself was really small and quintessential Italian. The Margherita pizza was just so good, I definitely recommend it!

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After dinner I had another thirty minute walk. This time, it was along the River Tiber. It was about 9pm, but Rome is always so lively that I have never felt unsafe here. I really enjoyed walking along the water because the views are amazing, especially once you get closer to Castel Sant’Angelo and The Vatican. After the long walk I was ready for my second gelato of the day! I tried Old Bridge Gelateria which was really close to The Vatican and Hearth Hotel. It was my second great gelato of the day!

When I got back to the hotel I met the owner, Guido. He was so cool and I loved talking with him about travel. At this point, he has been to more countries than me! I love that he turned his love for travel into such a warm and welcoming hotel. He told me he hopes that one day I can help someone like he helped me, which I hope to do!

By the time I got to my room my feet were dead and I was so tired, but it was all around an amazing day. I am really looking forward to day two tomorrow, as well as my time in Vatican City!

34 countries down, 163 to go.

Read about my day in Vatican City here.

Read about my second day in Italy here.

To learn more about Hearth Hotel click here.