See, this is why I should have started my travel journal/blog a bit sooner. Luckily, I jotted down some notes while I was traveling in Italy, but I still wish I had properly journaled everything in much greater detail. Just as a quick background, I went to Italy in March 2012 (three whole years ago?!) to visit my friend Laura, who was an Italian study abroad student while I was in Spain. We ended up being placed at the same university and our programs frequently planned outings together. We’ve been dear friends ever since!
Anyway, from what details of the trip that I do remember, I wanted to share a quick trip report with you just in case anyone could find my itinerary helpful. Oh, and be sure to check out the photo gallery for more pictures from my time in Italy!
- My last class before Spring Break had finally ended, which meant it was time for Italy!
- Shuttled from campus to Indianapolis Airport
- Flight in Indianapolis delayed… canceled… then un-canceled (good job, Delta, for being super confusing and inducing panic for no reason)
- Flight arrived in Memphis and I literally sprinted to my gate as they were doing the last boarding call. Thank goodness that flight was delayed too or else I would have missed my connection.
- Flight arrived in Amsterdam… woohoo, I made it to Europe!
- Had lunch at a Mediterranean Market in the airport, which made me very nostalgic for Spain
- Boarded flight to my final stop… Rome! I think this is why my RT ticket was so cheap, so many connections. Maybe I’ll rethink that next time.
- Flight arrived in Rome (FCO) and I waited for my friend Laura
- Dinner at Laura’s home with her family: Mushroom/sausage risotto, pork with olive oil, and strawberry tiramisu with coffee
- Laura coaches a swim team, so I accompanied her to her students’ swim practice
- Breakfast: Biscotto and espresso
- Piazza di Spagna (Boat Fountain… aka “Ugly Boat”)
- Lunch: Pizza Rustica – Pizza by the slice, very budget friendly, we took it “to go”
- Ate our “to-go” lunch in Piazza del Popolo
- Museo dell’Ara Pacis
- St. Peter’s Square
- Castel Sant’Angelo and Ponte Sant’Angelo (“Bridge of Angels”)
- St. Peter’s Basilica – Climb up to the dome, such a beautiful view of the city!
- Piazza Novana (4 River Statue)
- I had the chance to meet Laura’s boyfriend (now husband, yay!)
- Las Palmas Gelateria – You must go here! Hundreds of flavors and so good!
- Dinner: Lasagna, Caprese (Mozzarella e Pomodoro), Olives – Laura’s Madre makes the best lasagna I have ever had in my entire life. Also, authentic fresh mozzarella puts anything we have in the States to absolute shame.
- Met up with Laura’s friends and went to a local pub
- Breakfast: Ciambellone
- Gianicolo – A beautiful park on a hill that offers a stunning view of Rome
- Lunch: Mondo Arancina – Authentic Sicilian street food in Rome, budget friendly, and incredible connoli!
- Walked by the Fori Imperiali
- Capitol House
- Altare Della Patria
- A “Gladiator” asked for my hand in marriage: See Photo
- Walked by the Colosseum – It looks so much bigger when you’re standing right next to it! I came back another day to tour inside.
- Roman Amphitheater
- Fontana di Trevi – beautiful fountain, but indeed incredibly crowded
- Dinner: Homemade pasta carbonara, one of my favorite classics
- Laura’s friends were invited over for game night, and we all played a card game called “Bang!“. It has a lot of confusing rules, which is even more confusing when you don’t speak Italian. Needless to say, I was pretty much useless (ha!), but I had a lot of fun making fun of myself.
- My friend Laura had to work this day, so it was time to explore on my own
- Vatican Museum – I loved this so much that I ended up spending a good chunk of my day here. For some reason it’s a big pet peeve of mine when people just rush through museums without actually taking the time to learn something and appreciate what they’re looking at. I found many tourists sped through the exhibits quickly, but I was fascinated by the history, the art, and the sculptures so I took my time.
- Souvenir shopping for family and friends around the market outside the Vatican
- Took metro to train station and boarded the wrong train back to Laura’s house (oops!). The train was going in the right direction but it didn’t make a local stop, just the bigger stops to the next town over (Cesano). It’s alright, Laura’s grandpa was kind enough to rescue me.
- Accompanied Laura to swim practice again. There was also an aqua-aerobics class going on at the same time, which looked super fun.
- Dinner: Fettuccine with tomato sauce and meatballs
- Day Trip to Tivoli with Laura!
- Parca Villa Gregoriana – Note: Bring your hiking shoes! A beautiful park with lots of scenic trails and dramatic waterfalls
- Lunch: Piadineria (piadina e crescione)
- Villa d’Este – Fountains and Gardens
- Dinner: Ordered in margharita pizza
- Then just vegged out and watched NCIS and Criminal Minds (some of Laura’s favorite shows). We were exhausted from all the hiking
- Laura had to work again, so another day of solo exploring
- There was supposed to be a transportation strike in Rome, but luckily this didn’t end up happening. I was clear to take the metro!
- Breakfast: Mariotti – Located right outside Spagna Metro Station. I ordered the traditional: cappuccino, pastry, orange juice
- Window shopping around the shopping district with all the designer stores
- Toured inside of Colosseum
- Toured inside of the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill – This was another favorite
- Trajan’s Column – I actually also stopped at the pharmacy located next to here to buy bandaids (yay blisters). I’m always amazed at how much cheaper the pharmacies are in Europe than the U.S.
- I made a second trip to Las Palmas Gelateria (word’s out, I’m an ice cream addict)
- I got lost trying to find my way back to Piazza di Spagna but eventually found it
- I got on the right train!
- Dinner: Tortellini, deep fried mushrooms, mozzarella (at home)
- Dessert: Creperia Michelangelo – Located next to the Vatican Museum, it is a nutella lover’s dream. Probably the best crepe I’ve had in my life. Definitely. Wait, that would be dessert twice in one day… When in Rome, right?
- Laura showed me the Grand Illusions of Rome: At the top of Aventine Hill, there is a large old door with a keyhole that you can view St. Peter’s Basilica through, beautiful at night! Then, if you go back to Gianicolo via Nicolo Piccolomini, you will see the Dome of St. Peter’s, which looks very close, it’s huge. But as you are driving closer, it looks like it’s getting further away and looks really tiny. Pretty cool.
- Another day exploring on my own
- Lunch: Pizza Rustica again! So good, and so inexpensive
- Shopping, bought two pairs of boots
- Piazza della Republica
- Circus Maximus
- Piazza della Bocca della Verita
- Then I got very, very lost trying to find the train station. Thankfully, I managed to overhear an older Spanish couple speaking and immediately asked them for directions. Who knew studying abroad in Spain would one day help me out in Italy 2 years later? Another reason to study abroad, added to the list 😉
- Dinner: Spinach Ricotta Ravioli (homemade)
- Day Trip to Florence with Laura!
- Church of Santa Maria Novella
- The Old Bridge – I’m obsessed with cities that have bridges and waterways (guess that means I need to take a trip to Venice someday!)
- Lunch: Caprese Panini
- Gelato: Yep, more gelato. But I couldn’t say no because the flavor was bacio, which is my favorite Italian candy (Baci). It’s the perfect combination of chocolate and hazelnut. The candy also comes with a sweet little note for your love or a friend. Precious!
- Palazzo Pitti
- Giardini Boboli – Beautiful gardens and statues. Confession: I took a nap on the steps because I was so exhausted. LONG DAY.
- Piazza del Duomo
- Laura invited friends over for lunch: Bruschetta, sausage, and pomodoro
- Day Trip to Bracciano!
- Cestello di Bracciano
- Lago di Bracciano
- Caffe Grand’Italia for gelato and crepes (is it time to admit that I might have a problem?)
- Walked down to the shore of the lake, where there were tons of swans. It was so breathtaking, they were everywhere and so close. A very cool moment for sure.
- Dinner: Seafood Lasagna (homemade)
- Irish pub with Laura’s friends to watch game
- Bar il Maritozzaro – Late night bakery, it was MADNESS but so worth it
- Packed up my luggage (insert sad face)
- One last walk through Piazza del Popolo
- One last “pizza con nutella”
- Bought some last-minute souvenirs for family
- Parco Savello – The Orange Gardens of Rome
- Vanni – Pastry Shop
- Dinner: Pasta Carbonara, my favorite for my last night
- Bowling with Laura’s friends… I lost, ha!
- “Uva” – an inside joke or colloquial term with Laura’s friends, which is something they say to one another when saying goodbye after a particularly fun night
- Laura dropped me off at the FCO airport in
- I had a very unwelcome surprise of a 45 minute flight check-in line (grr this is why you travel light and don’t check luggage, lesson learned!)
- Then I waited for more than an hour going through security….
- By time I got to my gate, my flight was already boarding. I arrived to the airport 3 hours early, that’s insane. Too many close calls with flights this trip!
- Flight layover in Boston, which provided an awesome view of the city. Now I need to plan a trip to Boston sometime, I’ve always wanted to go.
- Flight arrived in Indianapolis
- Then finally, I shuttled back to campus for the night, officially bringing my Italian adventure to an end.
Going back through this trip report brought back lots of wonderful memories! If you have any questions regarding my itinerary or Rome in general, comment below or feel free to submit a contact form. I’m always excited to chat with you about your adventures!