Friday, April 12, 2013


ROME-in around. 
(Corny, I know! I am my mother's daughter. )

Thursday, April 4th

Thursday night Nick informed me that he had a three day weekend starting FRIDAY! Last minute we were trying to decide where to go with Europe at our fingertips. We narrowed it to Naples or Rome. With a lot of pulling teeth on my part, I finally convinced Nick to go to Rome. Rome is incredibly hot and crowded in the summer, so I thought it would be better to do in the cool spring time. Our next big decision was train vs. car. After much debate we decided on the car because tickets for the train were 400 Euro for both of us round trip. 
We were off like a flock of turtles! One of our first stops was at an Autogrill to get some fuel for the car and some fuel for us! Breakfast in Italy usually consists of an espresso and brioche of some sort. Nick spotted a delicious pastry with sugar on top. He leaned over the counter, pointed to the brioche and said, "Suuuugaaaar," in a very thick French accent. Haha! Not only did he not speak Italian, he asked for the pastry in English with a French accent! Haha! The clerk laughed and in almost perfect English said that it was a yogurt pastry not "suuuugarrrr." (I can't stop laughing!)
We hit the road again, and I started in on research in my Rick Steves' travel guide books, which I would highly recommend! (I have found out that Nick does not like Rick Steves' books. Gasp! I am still trying to figure out why or how he could dislike them considering 90% of our squadron uses them when we travel..tbc) 
With the help of our google map app on our iphones, we arrived safely to Rome. We ran a few red lights and went through a "light traffic zone," but none the less we we arrived safely! (Light traffic zone means you'll get a ticket for going through that zone, if you don't have permission. We had permission. :))
Our hotel was just a few blocks from the Colosseum, so we started our weekend off with a quick stroll around the Colosseum neighborhood. Most of the main venues were about to close, so we just took pictures from the outside...

These large stones are very pretty but not easy to walk on.

After admiring the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine, we walked along the Tiber River.
The sun was setting and the buds are blooming!

Campo Dei Fiori
For dinner we ate at a small restaurant in the Campo Dei Fiori (Field of flowers) It's a great place for people watching! There were mostly tourists and teenagers in the square. I got my Rick Steves' book out and started reading the history of the square. An older couple next to us laughed and pulled out their copy of the book. We had an instant connection! (Another reason to love RS books!) Turned out they live in Avila Beach not far from my hometown! What are the odds?!

Nick decided to order his favorite dessert: creme brulee. It's not exactly the same in Italy.
After dinner we took a self guided walk recommended in my RS book. Our first stop was Piazza Novana. Rome is not in short supply of beautiful fountains, pillars and arches.
Next was the Pantheon. This picture doesn't do it justice. It was breathtaking.
I just finished reading the book Cleopatra's Daughter, which takes place in Rome in the first century AD when this building was being built. It was so fun seeing the places that I had just read about.

Next we stumbled upon the Trevi fountain. This place is quite a spectacle at night. About a dozen men from Bangladesh offered to take photos of us. Luckily, I didn't just hand over my camera to one of the nice men offering to take our photo. After doing some research online when we returned to the hotel, I discovered that the men will charge you a fortune to take your photo. (Minimum 5 Euro!) Also, there are men in front of the Colosseum dressed as Romans that will charge just as much for a photo op.

The tradition is to throw a coin in the fountain over your shoulder in hopes that it will assure your return some day. I love Nick's face in this one. :) If you look closely at the photo, you can actually see the coin he tossed!

Many people have sat here and pondered including Keats, Wagner, Openshaw and Goethe. We thought we would join them. I wasn't as impressed with the Spanish steps. I think it's a less impressive version of Sacre Couer in Paris, but it was still a great way to finish our first day in Rome.

Saturday, April 6th

The next morning we made our way back to the Colosseum to do a behind the scenes tour.

I love his dimples in this photo. :) Maybe not the mustache. :)

There's kitties everywhere in the Colosseum!

The earliest tour we could get started two hours after we arrived, so after taking a quick peek inside the Colosseum we went across the street to the Roman Forum to kill 2 hours.

The flowers are in full bloom inside the Roman Forum

Nick found an "N!"

Here I am with my beloved Rick Steves' book. 

We discovered that the Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum are actually attached. If you buy a ticket for one, you are actually buying a ticket for both. This picture was taken in Palatine Hill looking toward the Roman Forum.

Arch of Titus in the Roman Forum

Roman Forum

This seagull must have been hungry because he hardly moved when we approached him.

Basilica Aemilia

I heard some rustling in the bushes and out popped these lizards that were fighting. They gathered a crowd because they couldn't have cared less that people were watching them.

Temple of Antoninus Pius and Faustina


Inside the Basilica of Constantine

This is what Nick thought of the Roman Forum. *yawn*:)

Back to the Colosseum for our  behind-the-scenes tour! It was very difficult to understand our tour guide because she had such a thick Italian accent. One of the kids on the tour turned to his dad and asked if the tour guide was speaking English. After ten minutes of straining our ears to understand her, we finally gave up and starting taking photos. :)

These white stones were not a part of the original Colosseum. They are replicas that were added somewhat recently.

There were so many cats in the Colosseum! This is where I would want to live if I were a cat!

Ahh! A gladiator!

The spectacular view from the top of the Colosseum. The Arch of Constantine was below us and the Forum is in the background.

He's always finding ways to entertain himself if he's bored. :)

We had to do at least one jumping photo while we were there! What better place than the Colosseum?

Next we headed over to Vatican city. We stopped by the Vatican Museum first because they closed earlier than St. Peter's Basilica.

We stopped and sat in this courtyard to soak up some sun and to rest our feet for a few minutes...and take silly photos. :)

We walked through the Vatican Museum very quickly in order to make it to St. Peter's Basilica.  One of the things we really enjoyed were the faces on the statues. These sculptures look dumb-founded.

This was my favorite modern piece in the museum. :)

Unfortunately, I couldn't get any pictures of the Sistine Chapel. We tried taking a photo of Michelangelo's famous works, but the guards caught us and made us put our camera away.
There were hundreds of people sitting inside the chapel. A guard was standing in the middle yelling, "SILENCE," every 30 seconds. It kind of ruined the atmosphere.
I was surprised by how small the artwork was. I turned to Nick and told him I was disappointed because I had thought that the painting of The Creation of Adam was in the Sistine Chapel. He pointed straight up and said, "You mean that?" It was literally right above me, but I hadn't seen it because I was looking for a massive painting. I've only seen close-ups of the famous painting of The Creation of Adam. I didn't realize how small it would look in person.

Next we headed over to St. Peter's Basilica. By this point both of us were losing steam. We'd been walking for 9 hours, so we did a quick walk-thru of the Basilica. Fortunately, there wasn't a line at nearly 5pm.

The RS book recommends that you briefly become a Catholic if you're not one when you walk through the Vatican city. I would recommend this as well because I kept finding myself wondering how much it would cost if you put a price tag on this instead of being inspired by it. It was dripping in gold! 

We found a narrow passage that led to the basement, and eventually we ended up outside in line to go to the top of the Basilica. We could have paid to take the elevator up, but we chose to take ALL 551 steps because Nick's squadron in the 510. Our dogs were barkin', but we still did it!

The mosaics in the basilica were beautiful!
This was taken inside of the basilica at the top of the dome.

The view was beautiful from the top!!

This is part of the Vatican gardens.

The white building in the background is the Victor Emmanuel Monument near the Colosseum.

You can see the Sistine Chapel and the long halls of the Vatican Museum directly below us.

We had a quick and somewhat painful trip to the Vatican City, but I'd love to go back and do a guided tour. 

We hopped on the metro and headed to Piazza Del Popolo. It was here that I discovered how much I really like the feeling of having clean hands. The metro's are so dirty. 
When we got to Piazza Del Popolo we were welcomed with groups of teenagers sitting around listening to live music. A man from Bangladesh handed me a rose, and I politely refused. He got angry and shoved the bouquet of red flowers at me to see if I would try to catch them, but I didn't budge and he ended up shoving them in my face. I just laughed! They'll try anything!

That night we walked down Via Del Corso to do some people watching. There were hoards of people out enjoying the beautiful weather. We sat and ate some delicious gelato, and just watched. Afterward, we headed back to Campo Fiori for a delicious dinner.

Sunday, April 7th

We only had a few hours in the morning before we had to check out of our hotel. We headed to Capitoline Hill. It was massive and very impressive!

Trajan's Market

Another statue I was surprised by...this is the she-wolf statue that represents a symbol of Rome from ancient times. I thought it was going to be much larger than this.

Looking down into the Forum from Capitoline Hill.

That's a pretty good lookin' statue right there! :)

There was a marathon going on that morning, so they had the street blocked off. It was a great way to take a picture of the Colosseum from the edge of Capitoline Hill.

Legend says that if you're a liar the "Bocca della Verita" or Mouth of Truth will gobble up your hand when you stick it in. :) A few of the girls in front of me were terrified! 

After 2.5 days of traveling around Rome, I discovered that Nick doesn't like touring cities. We decided to take a drive along the coast, so he could stick his toes in the sand.

For lunch we ate in a sleepy little town of Civitavecchia. They had a statue of the famous photograph of the nurse and sailor in NY on V-Day. Kind of a funny place to have that statue!


When we first arrived to Pisa we entered the Field of Miracles (Campo dei Miracoli). It's the highlight of Pisa. This photo makes me laugh because it looks like the tower is peeking around the church.

We had to take a few obligatory photos. This one of Nick leaning over was my favorite. :)

..and a jumping photo!

We started "leaning" on everything. :)


There was no line to get into the tower. We bought tickets and were up in minutes! When you first go in they give you a 5 minute introduction with some history of the tower. My favorite part was when the guide said, "Notice how the tower is shaped like a banana." Haha! It looks like a leaning tower to me. :)

Beautiful view, sunset and weather!

These bells no longer ring because the vibrations were causing the tower to move more.

More funny faces!

It was hard to get a good picture of how much the tower leans from the inside. This was the best we could do.
 It was very difficult to climb the stairs on one side of the tower, but the other side was really easy. 

And the stairs are made of marble, so they're very slippery even when they're not wet.

The lawn in the Field of Miracles is known as one of the best lawns in Italy...and for good reason. Nick's comment when he saw this was, "I love a good lawn." :)

We had a quick but eventful trip to Rome, Pisa and the beach....

Can't wait to do it again....unless it's in the summer. :)


  1. And another marvelous Italian post from Joey with her trusty assistant Nic, whom, I may add, will grow OUT of his mustache soon. Bravo for visiting these magnificent beautiful places and sharing them with us. Love your photographs and comedic commentary which takes us along on your journey. And I am a fan of Rick Steves !

    1. Thanks, Jan! I am happy to say Nick has removed the 'stache. :) Thanks for reading! I'm glad I have another one on the RS team! :)

  2. oh my gosh, your pictures are 1. beautiful and 2. hilarious. nick is so goofy. every time i read your blog posts, it makes me wish i had gone on the trip with you :( we should visit a city together. this weekend.

    1. Heehee:) Thanks! I agree! Let's do more trips!!