The Touristy Spots
After doing Vatican City earlier in the day today, I then spent the second half of my day exploring Rome a little more. I walked from Vatican City to the bridge past Ponte Sant’Angelo, Ponte Umberto I. Ponte Umberto I actually has the best view to take a picture of the Tiber and the Vatican from. I walked through a little market on my way there, and after crossing I made my way to Giolitti. Giolitti is located right by the hotel that I stayed at on my first trip to Rome four years ago so I went for sentimental reasons, but regardless it is definitely one of the top places to get gelato for a reason. It’s pretty fantastic gelato and the atmosphere inside is really unique and worth seeing.
Gelato in hand, I then made my way to some of the main tourist spots in Rome. Piazza Navona was my first stop. This is my favorite square in Rome and honestly is probably that for most people. It has a great vibe and there are always things to see. Personally, I like walking in the small church, Sant’Agnese in Agone. I sat and ate my gelato and just people watched for a while before heading to my next stop, the Pantheon.
There was a long line to enter the Pantheon, but it moved so quickly. Like, I was inside within two minutes. That didn’t stop two separate attempts by people to break me in line! I refused both attempts, but two of the guys just went behind me. They were Americans giving us a bad name, and I gave them a look throughout the visit. If you can’t wait two minutes in line then I think that’s a problem. The other would be line breaker (also American) thankfully went to the end of the line. I guess maybe I just look like an easy person to break in line in front of, but that’s not going to happen on my watch!
The Pantheon is interesting, but as it was my second visit it was definitely a quick walkthrough, as there is not a ton to see. Afterwards, I walked to the infamous Trevi Fountain. I found a spot to sit for a bit and, once again, just enjoy the fountain. I made sure to throw in three coins as is tradition, and it’s a good thing that I did - it means I’ll definitely make my way back to Rome someday!
If you were wondering, all of these stops are within really close walking distance to each other, so thankfully I was not running myself silly all over the city. My last stop before dinner was the Spanish Steps. The Spanish Steps, while not super exciting in theory, are one of my favorite things to see in Rome. They are beautiful and an amazing place to just sit and watch the city. The view from the top is great, and I just really love the vibe that I get when I’m there. After sitting for a bit I made my way to the top of the steps to take the metro to dinner.
I was going to try another one of the top rated pizza places in Rome, but unfortunately, I failed to realize that it was a national holiday until I arrived. This meant that, even though it was a summer month and Rome was filled with tourists, almost every restaurant was closed for dinner, which was obviously not ideal. I ended up walking back to Trastevere, but it felt completely different to how it felt yesterday. Yesterday it was lively and filled with tons of people, but today I struggled to find an open restaurant.
I eventually found a spot (after tons of walking) and ordered, of course, a Margherita pizza. It was really tasty, but the best part of dinner was making a new friend! Sitting at the table next to me was a man from Chicago. We talked about all sorts of things including my trip, his work in the music industry, and travel in general. It was a super interesting conversation and I really enjoyed it! After a longer than expected dinner, I then walked back along the Tiber towards the Vatican. I found an open gelato shop, L’arena Sto Gelato, but it is not one that I would recommend. The size was much too small for the price compared to much better spots in Rome! However, it was still gelato, so I wasn’t too disappointed.
I made my way back to Hearth Hotel for a good night’s sleep before an early flight back to the U.S. tomorrow!
The Travel Nightmare
Today started off like any other early travel day, but it quickly turned into a mess. I made my way to the Rome Airport (FCO) by taking the train from Roma Termini, where I would be flying on a family pass (non-rev) back to the United States on American Airlines. The flight had plenty of open seats, so it should not have been a problem. Easier said than done, however. In an earlier blog, I talked about how flying on a pass can be either a blessing or a curse, and today was the epitome of the curse.
With all of the open seats, myself and all of the other non-revs were waiting to be issued our boarding passes. However, they never called our names. Instead, after many questions and much confusion, we learned that they would not be allowing us on a flight (that has over 30 open seats) due to a weight restriction. I have flown a lot on passes throughout my life, but this was a brand new one to me and everyone else who was flying.
The worst part, though, was that they would not switch us to any of the other U.S. bound flights that were leaving at around the same time, and wouldn’t seat us if we switched ourselves. It was insane and unlike anything I had ever encountered. Left without any options, it looked like I would be waiting to fly out until tomorrow.
By this point, it was around noon, and it would be really expensive and complicated to go back to Rome for another day. Luckily, in the new international terminal, the Rome Airport has a ton of comfy chairs and even a couch. After a few hours, I decided to stay in the airport and work and try to spend the night there. I was joined by two fellow non-revs who were about my age who decided to the same. This worked out really well because we could watch each other's things when one of us wanted to walk around.
I worked for a while, walked around the airport for a bit, found pizza and gelato for dinner, and then made my way back to try and sleep for the night. We were worried that eventually, they would kick us out, but amazingly it never happened. I decided to sleep on the couch and actually slept quite a bit. Other than the sound of the TVs and the cleaning crews there was nothing to disturb us as we were literally at one point the only people in the terminal.
After a better than expected night’s sleep I made my way to my new gate and boarded within an hour of waking up. The best part about the entire conundrum was that I was able to get a business class seat on the flight back home. So I went from being entirely messed up by flying on a pass to having one of the best seats on the plane in twenty-four hours. Literally a blessing and a curse. I slept a few more solid hours on the plane before arriving in Chicago where I had a few hour delay before finally flying to Birmingham.
It was a very long two days of travel, but it could have always been much worse. I had an incredible time in Italy and am looking forward to having a few days to rest before leaving again for Europe!
35 countries down, 162 to go.
Read about my first day in Italy here.
Read about my day in Vatican City here.
To learn more about Hearth Hotel click here.