Saturday, 24 October 2015

Roman Holiday, Part Two

If you read last time's thrilling instalment of my holiday blog series you'll know that so far I've arrived in Italy, checked in at the hotel, had some food then gone to bed. Riveting stuff! Here's where it (hopefully) gets more exciting!

Saturday morning our alarms went off at half 7 (not gonna lie, this was a slight struggle) and we made our merry way into Rome. I did think about vlogging some of this, but I tried recording myself the week before and I could hardly bare to watch it back, so any plans for youtube might have to be on the backburner for a while (or, you know, forever.)

All excited on the train into Rome
We went to a gorgeous little bakery recommended by my trusty guide book, which we found very easily by the description (this was setting us up for a fall as things with the guide book took a horrible turn later) and chomped our way down to The Spanish Steps, past a delightful fountain.

The Spanish Steps are, main clue being in the name, a flight of steps which rose to fame in the Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday. We stayed there for a while, perched on the nice fountain at the bottom while we watched a fat pigeon taking his morning bath. Stephen also refilled our water bottle, not from the fountain itself but from the little bit off to the side. (We realised several hours later that we may actually have been drinking filthy pigeon water, but it was too late by then. OH WELL!)

Next we stopped by the Trevi Fountain which, despite largely resembling a building site thanks to the construction that was underway, was definitely worth a view!

We decided to go for a light lunch before heading to The Vatican and spent about half an hour looking for a mysterious pizzeria described in the guidebook. Frustratingly it even said in the book that it's "hard to find" so why there weren't more specific instructions is beyond me! After walking down the same street four times we just gave up and headed to The Vatican because the tickets were pre booked and we didn't want to miss our slot!

Some Vatican Advice:

Buy tickets online to avoid queueing (I got mine here)
It's basically impossible to see everything (unless you have a spare four years) so work out beforehand what you're most interested in seeing or if you're not fussed just go for a wander, taking it all in
The Gardens are a really pretty place to sit and take a breather 
If you want to see the Sistine Chapel be prepared for a long wait
Wear appropriate clothing, your shoulders and knees have to be covered

After the Vatican we were knackered, but ploughed on to the St Peter's Basilica, which is one of the largest churches in the world. This was maybe my favourite part of the day. I'm not particularly religious but I love Cathedrals. (If you're talking UK York and Durham are my favourites.)

The queue to get in always looks pretty long but it actually moves really quickly and is only for the bag check area, once you're past that you're laughing.

We paid extra to go up to the dome at the top (and paid extra to get the lift, which turned out to be a very good life decision since there were a ridiculous number of steps) which was well worth it because the view over Rome was amazing.

We then headed back to Frascati and went out for food at a restaurant called Al Gusto and honestly had some of the most beautiful food I've ever tasted in my life.

Ravioli with smoked cheese and Asparagus flowers, the stuff dreams are made of!
I'm now going to leave you with my favourite snap from the day. I'd just like to say that we didn't eat in McDonald's because you would have to be literally mad to want to eat there with all the delicious Italian food beckoning, but I did take this quality photo that I just had to share :

Lobster, in McDonalds!? The Italian's even do cheap nasty take away food better than we do!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Roman Holiday, Part One

Recently my boyfriend and I ticked another place off our Travel Bucket List and headed off to Rome for a long weekend. I've been to Italy before, albeit not to Rome, with my family several years ago so I knew we were in for a treat, and what a treat it was! The weather was amazing, the food was incredible and the people were wonderfully friendly. Rome - I love you!

We flew from Dublin airport, and it was a pretty short flight with the time in the air being just over 3 hours, which is nothing compared to the mammoth excursion we had coming home from Australia!

After some confusion about taxis at the airport (someone with the exact same surname as me took our taxi by mistake and hilarity ensued involving a series of bizarre interactions with their taxi driver and confusing phone calls to the hotel reception desk) we arrived at The Villa Grazioli.

I found this place when I was looking for hotels on expedia and nearly wrote it off because it's actually slightly outside Rome, but nowhere else looked half as nice and it was only a half hour train journey into the city centre, so we decided to just go for it.

It. was. gorgeous. The building is a villa dating back to 1580 which has since been renovated to turn it into a hotel. I've never stayed anywhere like it before, it had heaps of character and it was amazing staying somewhere with so much history to it!

We spent a stupid amount of time walking around taking photos, which I can safely say I have never done in a hotel before but it was just too amazing not to.

We didn't do too much for the first day, our flight in the morning was at 6am so by the time we got to our villa and recovered from the whole wrong taxi fiasco we were knackered. (Potentially this defeats the point of getting an earlier flight so we would be there early most of the first day but you live and learn!)

One thing we did do was venture into the nearby village of Frascati for food. We went to a restaurant called Belvedere that was recommended by the lovely man who worked in the hotel and it was amazing. Like, I want to quit my job, pack up all my belongings and move to Italy amazing.

Mozzarella & Rice balls

Zucchuni Flowers, Smoked Cheese & Bacon

Spaghetti Carbonara
Afterwards we went to a nearby pub for a few glasses of wine (that were like 3 euros each, did I mention that I love Italy?) and that was our first day! Tune in for Part 2 where I actually venture into Rome! (I promise we did go!)