sights unseen, roma style

our recent trip to rome left both dan and i mesmerized by the beauty and culture and thirsty for more travel.  preferably we would visit every single european country first, before we move on to conquer asia, south america, etc. for now, however, i will share with you some highlights from our first day in rome. we arrived around noon, took a one hour power nap and then began the journey. we spent hours wandering around.

just across the street from our hotel was this beautiful beautiful church and basilica. it was an amazing guide for us throughout our stay, as several times we made our way home by looking for its high-reaching, well-lit dome.

churchnearourhotel

a majority of our first day was spent simply marveling over … ROME. the buildings, the traffic patterns, the architecture, the omnipresence of motorbikes…it was enchanting and so different from anything we’d experienced in the past.

romestreet motorbikes flags

after many miles of walking, we finally worked up an appetite, and looked for the most unassuming storefront to frequent for a late lunch. this bistrot was practically empty when we walked in, and no one spoke any english. we knew we’d come to the right place. we enjoyed the freshest, juiciest prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella plate in addition to a simple pasta dish with nothing more than herbs, olive oil and a bit of cheese adorning it. we ordered two espressos, though that would be the last time that happened. in rome, you simply order “caffe” and most of the natives drink it standing up at a bar, not lounging at a table following a meal.

bistroday1

we found the piazza de repubblica and its accompanying fountain to rest and soak up the beautiful weather (75 and sunny, NO humidity!). as we journeyed on, i snapped a shot of dan doing what he would be doing for a great deal of our trip – serving as navigator. he kept his map folded and discreetly hidden in a notebook so as not to draw attention to us as tourist suckers.

piazzaderepubblica danmap

around 5pm each day, italians all head indoors for a “siesta period.” shops close, restaurants take a break, and only the more touristy places frequented by americans remain open. on our first day, we unknowingly sat down at such an establishment, enjoyed cheap drinks with a view of a piazza while the rest of rome napped. again, this was the last time we made this mistake.

chalkboardmenu edandrink

later that evening, we took the advice from rick steve’s guide to rome and hit up a wine bar not too far from our hotel – i colori del vino enoteca . marco, bartender and host extraordinaire made wonderful recommendations for us to taste. as he poured us decadent italian wines and served plates of antipasti, he explained where each grape originated from in italy, how old the vineyards were and had an interesting story about each one. in addition to enjoying the selection of vino, i could have put marco in my pocket and taken him home as a souvenir. we loved him so much, that we went back again on our last night in rome – the only place we went to more than once.

inoteca

winebar

our walk home was lit with spectacular fountains and structures … plus one MILLION signs to let you know where the closest mcdonald’s is. it is the only chain we found in rome, and they want everyone to know how to find it. we actually went into one near the spanish steps to use the bathroom and it is RIDICULOUS! it was two stories tall with about 12 service windows on each floor. additionally, there were kiosks where you could order your food even faster. unbelievable.

nightfountain

mcd

and that is the sparknotes version of our first day in rome!

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