A few months ago, I went on a short European adventure. We booked round trip tickets to Paris for a week and were determined to make the most of our trip. I love being in a new city. My parents do too, but they worry about long-haul flights. So I decided that we would make the most of our time there.
One morning, we took the first flight out of Orly to Rome. The flight is about 2 hours, and the cost was about 50 euros a person round trip. When we landed, we took a cab straight to St. Peter's Square. I highly suggest that you book a tour in advance if you are looking to visit the Museum and Basilica. There are tons of people on the street trying to get tourists to book with them, but it's really expensive if you do it that way.
I felt a lot of emotions that day. My family is Catholic (me not so much), and we happened to be visiting on my grandmother's birthday, who had passed away a few months before. She would say her rosary every morning and every night, so I definitely felt her presence with me. The museum and the basilica are more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. It was immaculate. There was gold and velvet everywhere. All I could think about is the money that Catholics tithe every Sunday. Most of that money probably goes to the upkeep of all of this gold. It was so extravagant. The cost of maintaining the Vatican could probably feed and educate every child in the world - and I'm not exaggerating. It was just too much.
We bought some rosary beads and had them blessed by a priest in St. Peter's Square. You can actually get them blessed by the Pope if you are going to be in Rome for a few days. I believe the Pope does blessings twice a week.
After an afternoon at the Vatican, we headed back to the city for a tour of the Colosseum. This was also really personal for me. I studied Latin for 5 years, Ancient Greek for an additional year, and was pretty big in the Classics Club back in my day (local, state, and national). I actually considered majoring in Classics in college.
The tour guide was asking questions left and right and I was the only one answering them. I would whisper a random fact to my mom, and then the tour guide would say it out loud a minute later. My inner blerd was shining! It was a good time. It was also quite a bit of a workout. The stairs are steep and there are a lot of them. Bring water and be prepared to be exhausted.
Following our tour of the Colosseum, we decided to grab dinner before heading to the airport. we picked a direction and just started walking. We walked about 10-15 minutes before deciding to stop. A man standing at the door promised we would have a great meal - whatever we wanted! My sister stopped him and asked if the restaurant served gelato, to which he responded, "of course!" So we sat down. Our waiter spoke limited English but was bursting with energy and aimed to please. We enjoyed some wine as we waited for our meals. I can't speak for anyone else, but my oxtail and risotto was one of the best meals I have ever eaten. Nothing else that week could even compare to this oxtail. It was heavenly.
When we had finished our meals, a different waiter stopped and asked us if we would like dessert. I asked for tiramisu, and my sister asked for gelato. The waiter said they didn't serve gelato and you could hear my sister's heart drop. Our original waiter comes in with my delicious tiramisu and asked how our meals were. My sister mentioned how disappointed she was that they didn't serve gelato. The waiter says, "who told you that?! What flavor do you want?" My sister asked for vanilla, and then the waiter ran out of the store to buy some gelato. A few minutes later, he ran back in to plate it before bringing it to the table.
I have never seen that type of hospitality anywhere else that I've traveled to. The food was incredible, the service was top notch, and the city felt like family. I was disappointed that our time in Rome was so short. I would love to go back again and spend some quality time in Rome and other parts of Italy. Have you ever been? Tell us about your Roman holiday in the comments below!