when in rome
Sooo, Rome, huh?… We probably didn’t do Rome “right.” Ryann had already been to Rome before and told Devin about all the main places to visit: the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, the Forums, the Spanish Steps, and Vatican City to name a few. Well, we managed to do two of those, um kind of. Rather, we decided to spend more time near our Airbnb in a neighborhood called Travestere. We’ll get to that later.
We walked about 30 minutes from our Airbnb in Travestere, crossing the bridge and following the crowds of other people. Along the way, you know you’re getting close because of all the other people and because of other ruins in the city. We turned the last corner and there she was! We stood in the forever long line, waiting our turn. After what seemed like forever, we purchased the overpriced tickets at € 12,00. As usual, it pays to be in the E.U. for a discount.
We walked in, stood on our tippy-toes and tried our best to peak over the tour groups. We walked around, getting different shots and view points. One great thing about the Colosseum is that it does have posts located around the circumference of the stadium, providing a few historical facts for those interested. If that doesn’t give you enough, do what we did. Go to the onsite book store and read the information there out of the tour guide books. The popup art ones are the best! Sounds super cheap of us, but it’s such a shame that these ancient historical places don’t have more information on hand for visitors! Plus, who has the time or the money to do group tours all the time?
We walked around, envisioning the gladiators fight to their death against the lions, bears and crocodiles. We couldn’t picture it actually happening, to be there in the moment. It was later deemed illegal and the fun was over, but still. Devin thought that’s where Suzanne Collins got her idea for The Hunger Games. He could be right. If you do go in the book shop, it was cool to show the re-enactment drawings of what some of the scenes looked like. They had a pirate ship setup! It’s mind-blowing what they were capable of at that time. This is one time where you might want to do your homework a bit before visiting, you get more out of it.
Leading up to finding the fountain, Ryann explained to Devin how it is featured in almost every movie set in Rome, at least it was in The Lizzie McGuire Movie. Anyway, we headed towards this glorifying statue of water and currency tossing, trying our best not to give into the temptation of the gelatería on every corner. Then finally, we made it! But what was all that crap on top? Oh, it’s under construction. What the Zeus! There was a line you could queue in to get closer, but for what? Ryann told Devin that they’d be back again (maybe?). Until then, maybe we’d check out the replica at Epcot! Please, dear?
Torre Argentina Cat Sanctuary
Over and over, Ryann was telling Devin that there was a place full of stray cats. She vividly remembers waiting with her tour group back in high school and watching all the stray cats lounge around on the ruins. She was certain it was at the Forums, so as we walked around the boundary, Ryann tugged on Devin’s arm to try and spot “all the cats.” Super sad, she assumed that maybe they had been removed or maybe even all the more realistic, all adopted! Obviously, not the case. We had been wandering back from the letdown that was the Trevi Fountain and ohmygoshwouldyouknowit? THERE IT WAS. So many cats. SO MANY CATS. If only Ryann could jump in and give a little love to all the cats there, without the threat of rabies or worms, arrest or deportation. So, we gazed from afar at a safe distance. There is an organization that takes care of the cats (they ask that people don’t feed them), providing immunizations and sterilization. They must really enjoy their home among the ancient ruins though, because they’re all happily sprawled out on the marble, basking in the sun with content smiles and full bellies. They’ll be alright, even if most look like they need a bath or a comb.
This was our last stop in Rome. We saved it for our last day and made the trek across the city, preparing to get lost inside the walls of this other “country.” (No, they don’t give you stamps on your passport, either!) Interestingly enough, we did see a group of LGBT activists looking like they were about to protest, petition or educate, not sure which. We continued on, ready to storm the grounds. Maybe we’d see the Pope. Devin and him could have a full conversation of Argentina, ask if he was upset about the World Cup too? Anyway, we finally arrived and yikes, there was a long line up ahead.
We walked there, bypassed at least 24 people(not exaggerating) asking if we wanted to “skip the line and go on a guided tour.” We toyed with the idea because the line looked pretty rough. The travel books say to go in the morning, but everyone else will suggest to go later in the afternoon since, well, everyone goes in the morning! We played it safe and got there around noon and it was still pretty busy. Devin wandered to take some pictures while Ryann had duty standing in line for the next 20 minutes. She managed to take a couple steps by the time Devin returned and asked if Ryann really wanted to go. Not unless you do. So, the decision had been made. We made the people behind us celebrate a small victory as they stepped forward and away we went for a walk around the lesser-explored areas of Rome.
Molte bene, in our opinion. Long lines, way too many people, and we aren’t religious so we couldn’t justify taking the time out of our last day in Rome for something we just didn’t have the interest in. It’d be cool to see the famous Michelangelo ceiling painting but since Ryann’s already seen it and Devin could care less, what was the draw? We wandered and ended up playing air hockey…
This was where our Airbnb was. The neighborhood had definitely more of a local feel and was significantly cheaper than central Rome. Devin even decided to get his haircut at a barber shop from a man who probably worked there his entire life.
There were plenty of restaurants and cafés to choose from, but our favorite was Baylon Café. The café was best at breakfast. They arrange a layout of croissants and other pastries, self-service. WHAT?! It was like Whole Foods. The coffee was super cheap too if you order at the bar, not at a table. We managed to get breakfast (pastries) there three times while visiting. We chose Baylon to rest up, take a break from sight-seeing and work on the blog, etc… There was enough room.
Another restaurant we recommend is Il Duca. We sat at a table in the cobblestone street, watching the stray cats beg. One woman at a table next to us was flicking water at the cat to shoo it away. You can imagine the fury in Ryann’s eyes seeing this. Who did she think she was? But, all was forgotten when we watched women trying to walk in the streets with high heels. There has got to be some instances with twisted ankles, etc., due to the construction of the cobblestone. Once the food came, Ryann ordered gnocchi and Devin ordered pizza. Italy had been horrible for us, health-wise. But all that olive oil is good for you, right? It’s really not that easy to say no.
Besides the food, Rome has a rich abundance of history, shopping and things to do. Whether you prefer the Vatican or air hockey, to each their own! We had a great time in the city… until next time! Maybe the fountain will actually be open for viewing!