How do you begin describing a city that's literally been active since the 7th century? No idea. We took the train into Termini Station around 4pm... so we'll just start there.
We arrived at the main train station with my massive backpack, and wheeling my sister's 2 suitcases from studying abroad. We decided to couch surf during our stay to get as authentic an experience as possible, so my sister had the address saved on Google maps and began navigating us through the packed streets of a city much busier than San Diego- in 90 degree heat. I still don't understand how, but we made it to the apartment with a 50 pound backpack on my back, 20 pound computer backpack on my chest, and each wheeling 45 pound suitcases.
Through cobblestone streets.
In 90 degrees.
All smiles :)
Our hosts lived a mile or so away from the station in a less touristy, hip, slowly becoming gentrified part of the city. Now is when we're going to start calling them friends because they were AMAZING! Julian is a tour guide for Rome so we were literally sleeping on the couch of a better source than Google.
(If you're ever coming to Rome and want a specially designed tour just for you from a true local, and maybe include a cooking class or two, let us know and we'll put you in touch with him! The cooking class includes going to the market to pick out your own ingredients, and if you're lucky a rooftop dining experience :))
Julian lived in Rome on and off (off because he went to New York for college) his entire life, and his girlfriend grew up in Belgium but is fluent in French, Italian, and English. #winners
Our first night we had dinner around 10pm, and we ate whatever they told us to order on a tiny table in the street. They walked us around the neighborhood that was full of young couples, old couples, babies, single guys looking for any single girl, and old friends who could finally meet up in the "cool" night. We went to bed happy, full, and safe, ready to take the next day head on with an early start.
We woke up at 10:30am. Oops. We all had cereal then went our separate ways- our friends went to the sea, and we headed straight into the tourist mecca. We dressed in our comfy, airy, Pi Yoga pants, slathered our faces in Solistick sunscreen, and took our watches off for no absurd tan lines. That day we wandered through the streets and saw the outside of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Arch of Constantine, Arch of Septimus Severus, Arch of Titus, Atrium Vestae, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the President's home, a few gelato shops... and so many ruins just hanging around next to the street! We couldn't believe how casual this all was.
We walked 8 miles that day, had gelato 3 separate times, and sat in a park with our feet up for an hour to collect our sanity. We weaved our way home through now shadowed streets to find our friends had returned from the sea and planned a rooftop pasta dinner for us! We picked basil from the roof, cut up fresh tomatoes, and made the most delicious pasta we've ever tasted (the secret is to cook the pasta in water as salty as the sea, undercook it by 2 minutes, and finish cooking in the sauce, or in our case fresh tomatoes :))
Homemade pasta, on the roof, at sunset, in Italy. We should end this whole thing here but we visited the Colosseum the following day so buck up.
We bought our Colosseum tickets the day before so there wasn't much of a line for us, and we arrived around 10am so the sun wasn't directly above us. We walked through the massive stone pillars, up the steep steps (Romans must have had incredible glutes), and finally saw the Colosseum from above. The seats Romans sat on had been destroyed so it looked more open than we expected, and you could see into the maze of rooms that were once underneath the stage so it was difficult to gage the original depth of the arena.
The sun wasn't directly overhead so we found a small alcove of shade to sit in for me to people watch, and my sister to sketch. This was also a good snack break :) We walked through the informational tour on our way out, saw models of what the Colosseum originally looked like and chunks of the original marble that covered the stone. Our friend met us for lunch before he gave a tour, and took us through the non touristy streets where he grew up. We somehow managed to befriend the one vegan Italian so we had fresh pressed juice, a vegan platter of greens, grains, and veggies with freshly made bread for dipping.
We were free for the next couple hours because that morning we dropped our luggage off at Bags Free, and small bag holding company near Termini Station. We slowly wandered the streets, buying fresh market fruit, tasting more gelato... expertly killing time before our bus trip out to Ciampino airport. Our time in Rome was relatively short spanning 3 days, but it was the perfect amount of time in a bustling city that allowed for moments of friendship, good food, and watching history come alive. We hope you enjoy our pictures below!
Stevie + Christina
Ps. Best travel pants- Pi Yoga Pants
Pps. Best travel sunscreen- Solistick
Ppps. Best travel snack? Come on.