Our trip to Italy in June was truly a vacation of a lifetime. 17 days spent throughout countless regions of Italy and it still wasn’t enough. We’ve been back a month now and I’ve filtered through over 1,000 photos and I’m finally ready to share our incredible journey with you. Let’s open the travel log and get started where it all began for us in Rome, Italy.
Since we were taking the trip with my parents, we flew back to Wisconsin a few days early before our flight took off from Madison. We had a short layover in Detroit before taking a Delta flight straight into Rome for 8 hours. As a suggestion, spend the extra $100 to get a seat with additional legroom. In the case with flying Delta, that included getting Comfort + which includes complimentary drinks and movies the entire flight.
For our stay in Rome we rented a gorgeous apartment on AirBNB that was minutes from Vatican City. Our host, Andrea, arranged a car to pick us up at the airport and take us directly to the apartment. Since we arrived in the morning and the place wasn’t ready yet, he let us drop off our luggage and get a key to return later. The first thing we did once we left the apartment was walk down the street to a café and ordered ourselves a cappuccino, fresh pressed orange juice and croissants. Needless to say, I was pleasantly satisfied with the ease of our first meal and how good it was!
Since we could see Saint Peter’s Cathedral from where we ate, we decided to take the short walk and get our first glimpse at the stunning architecture and history that is prevalent throughout Rome. The size of the structures are indescribable until you are standing beneath them. I was in awe of the detail and sheer magnitude of what was in front of me. Since we only had 2 full days in Rome, we didn’t end up taking a tour of the Vatican. After seeing countless other churches throughout Italy, I can only begin to imagine what the inside of the Vatican looks like! Maybe next time…
From the Vatican we wandered a bit and ended up walking along the Tiber River. It was a very warm day, the lack of sleep was kicking in and I was hungry for a full meal and my first glass of Italian wine. Even though we were fatigued, we walked the extra bit to the Trastevere neighborhood. This was my favorite area in all of Rome and the restaurant options were bountiful. Opting to go off the beaten path and walk down alleyways, we found Trastevere Trattoria Ristorante da Otello. I should actually say they found us. The sweet, vivacious gentleman came out to my Mom and reeled her in until we had a picturesque seat right in a courtyard. Whether it be that we were overly hungry and simply eager to get our first taste of Italian food, that lunch might have one of my favorite throughout the entire trip. We sipped on 2 bottles of house white wine, nibbled on fresh bruschetta and devoured the most incredible pizzas. We were fat, happy and now really tired.
Wine Bottle Count : 2
After a walk back to our AirBNB apartment for a siesta, we awoke with newfound energy and headed on foot back into the heart of Rome. Without a direct path in mind, we knew we wanted to see the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. Again, we opted to wander down little alleyways and ended up walking directly into Piazza Navona. You’ll find that Piazza’s pop up throughout Rome when you least expect it and if time allows you, find a seat and take in all the scenery, the people, the culture. The statues are pretty marvelous as well!
Not much further of a walk is the Pantheon. In all honestly, this monument is an incredible piece of architecture that was somehow built two thousand years ago and has still held the test of time. I caught myself walking up to pillars and just starring upwards in amazement. I just couldn’t fathom how this could be done in that period of history. It was closed the evening we walked up to it, but we did come back through the following day to tour the inside. Don’t pass up walking through the inside (as we almost did)!
The sun was setting and before we sat down for dinner, which we knew was going to be a 2-3 hour endeavor, we wanted to get over to see the Trevi Fountain before it was too late in the evening. It was really really busy when we arrived, but that didn’t stop us from meandering down to the bottom, getting our Euro coins and tossing one over our left shoulder. As speculation ensues, it’s meant to symbolize that we will be returning some day in the future. Something tells me it’s going to come true!
It was finally time for our first Italian dinner! We found this great little spot, L’Arcano Ristorante, again in an alleyway that had a beautiful setting of outdoor seats where we could watch the locals pass by. This is where I encountered my first cacio é pepe. The simplicity of this dish’s ingredients add up for the most delicious pasta meal I’ve ever eaten in my life. I may or may not have gone on to order this 5-6 more times throughout our trip. It’s that good.
Wine Bottle Count : 4
Day 2 in Rome kicked off with another quick breakfast of chocolate croissants and coffee before we hailed a taxi destined for the Colosseum. We booked a 3.5 hour “Underground Colosseum Tour” that was $120 per person and worth every penny. The tour included walking the grounds of the Forum, Palatine Hill and then inside the Colosseum where we had special access to the underground areas where the gladiators, slaves and animals were kept. It was truly remarkable to be standing in an area that was built 2,000 years ago and had such a historical impact on the world. Our guide was a wealth of knowledge and studied 5 years before taking the test to become a Rome tour guide. I’m telling you, book a tour in advance and forgo waiting in excruciating long lines the day of.
After the tour we wandered back into the heart of the city and found a great little restaurant with outdoor sitting where we could rest our legs for a bit. Of course that meant ordering Peroni beers and house white wine, but the real treat was when I ordered a meat plate to start and it came in a basket! Everyone looked at me like I ordered some feast meant for the whole restaurant, but they serve it with a cutting board and knife and you slice off what you can eat and get charged a flat rate of 12 euros. After we dined like kings on more plates of pasta, they graciously placed an entire carafe of Limoncello on the table and boy did my Dad indulge in that!
Wine Bottle Count : 6
We continued wandering back through the city and this is where we stopped back at the Pantheon to go inside. Sitting down for apertivo is part of the culture in Italy and we certainly did our fair share of learning the culture! We wanted to have dinner again back in the Trastevere neighborhood, but on our walk over we stopped down below next to the Tiber River where they had all these white tents with restaurants, cocktails, little shops and foosball tables galore! A little unknown fact about the Mansky’s is that we happen to be pretty competitive foosball players. Sean learned this real quick. Dad and I had some good laughs over many of games down by the Tiber river!
Wine Bottle Count : 7
Another fabulous dinner back in the alleyways of Trastevere at Da Meo Patacca. If you aren’t sure where to go (we weren’t), just start wandering a bit and there are plenty of options beckoning you to come in. I really don’t think you can go wrong. We always loved the restaurants that had their menu written in Italian. It may have taken a bit more effort to figure out your meal, but boy was it worth it! With that being said, do note that they prefer to cook their beef on the rare side. All of us enjoyed it, but my Dad was not a fan. We had some good laughs over watching him eat his steak!
Wine Bottle Count : 9
It was a fast-paced, fun-filled 48 hours in Rome! Set out on foot and everywhere you look is incredible architecture, stunning churches and history around every corner.
Stay tuned for the next installment of our Italy trip in southern Tuscany!
Keep Living a Stylized Life.