A Southern Yankee in Rome: Parte Uno

The Streets of Rome

The Streets of Rome

All roads lead to Roma. That may have been true in 20 BC when Augustus erected the Milliarium Aureum. In this case, our flight descended on the city of Rome in the middle of a sunny Roman day. Italy was our first journey to Europe and I was eager to live (or at least holiday) la dolce vita for months. I practiced my Italian for weeks and weeks prior so I would be ready to converse with the locals, learning phrases such as “La scimmia mangia la banana” (The monkey eats the banana) and “La torta dolce e la tua.” (The sweet cake is yours). Although I never once used those phrases, we did have a good laugh about it at work before I left and at least I could sort of read things that were not translated to English. As far as conversing with locals, fuhgeddaboudit. It was a nice, if not misguided, thought.

Silly Guy

Checking Out the Local Bar

Vacations are funny things. You’re supposed to take time out of the rat race to relax and recharge. In my case they are rarely relaxing. There are so many sights to see and things to do and places to eat that I’m in turbo mode trying to take in everything. Italy was no exception. I need a vacation from my European holiday.

Red Vespas on the Street

Red Vespas on the Street

I thought Rome would be the best place to start the trip with Juston. After all it’s the historical epicenter of the Roman Empire and is chockfull of, well, everything. We arrived around midday in the middle of the week and after a quick ride on the train from the Fiumicino airport, we were well on our way to a Roman holiday. After bursting out on the street at the Termini Station with luggage in tow, a quick taxi ride deposited us on the doorstep of the Hotel IQ Roma.

Sunset Highlights a Church in Rome

Sunset Highlights a Church in Rome

I thought the jet lag wouldn’t be too bad since we flew at night, however not really sleeping on that many hour flight left us deliriously tired. We found our room to be spotless and the bathroom was very modern. We opted for a short nap before heading out to explore the city. The Hotel IQ Roma is a modern, mid-priced hotel not far from the train station and it is centrally located in Rome, allowing us to get around easily.

First Italian Meal

First Italian Meal

Probably the most difficult thing in Rome, aside from avoiding small cars and scooters, is deciding what to see first. You could be there for days and days and still not see everything. That first day we didn’t have anything planned, so it was off to explore the city, and eat (of course!). Juston is always starving, so he was intent upon having some grub. We both share a love of Italian food, so being in Italy was like a being a kid in a candy store. Every restaurant had something delectable to offer. My goal was to stay away from the overly touristy eateries as much as possible.

Chowing Down on Seafood Risotto

Chowing Down on Seafood Risotto

Our first meal was at a chic restaurant by the name of Amedeo Ristorante. I’m not sure if it’s considered touristy or not, but it was a good first choice. Juston is a fish and seafood kid (he gets that from his dad) and ordered a seafood risotto. I, on the other hand, am not about the fish. My choice? A filet of beef with fossa cheese, marinated zucchini, and caramelized onions. It makes my mouth water thinking about it. The beef filet was melt-in-your-mouth tender, the cheese had a good bite and texture, the onions were sweet, and the zucchini was tangy. Paired together, the meal was perfection.

Tender Beef Filet

Tender Beef Filet

I did try Juston’s seafood risotto, and I have to admit, even for a non-fish and barely any seafood eating girl like myself, it was really appetizing! The risotto was creamy and not at all fishy, even though the little clams and such were still in their shells. It may not be my first choice, but I would eat it if someone served it to me and might even order it on my own. That’s saying something.

Altare della Patria

Altare della Patria

The rest of the evening was spent wandering the streets taking in Roman ruins, churches, the Altare della Patria (Alter of the Fatherland, aka the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II), and the Fontana di Trevi. Around every corner in Rome is a spectacular sight or historic place; something that leaves you imagining what it must have been like all those centuries ago.

Fontana di Trevi

Fontana di Trevi

Verde Pistacchio

Verde Pistacchio

Our last stop that evening was at the Verde Pistacchio gelateria. I read several blogs about making sure you try a small batch gelateria while in Italy to ensure you get the best gelato. I’d like to say that was the case here, but I don’t know. Honestly, it was the pistachio green VW bus in the entrance that caught my eye and the sole reason we entered. Once inside, however, we saw all the flavors they offered and had to try. The strawberry gelato was refreshing and creamy and the chocolate was truly chocolaty. The best part? The server gets in the bus to ring you up and you pay through the side window!

Strawberry Gelato

Strawberry Gelato

We hiked up the road towards the hotel, savoring our gelato. By the time we reached the hotel it was around 1030 in the evening and we were jetlagged and exhausted. According to my FitBit, we only walked 6.5 miles and a total of 25 floors that evening. Rome is hilly! I was so glad to rest my head that night on crisp sheets while a cool breeze flowed from the open window. So restful…