During our European adventure last fall we spent two days in Rome! We were on our way from Lubriano to London and decided to spend some time in Rome before flying to London. I honestly have mixed feelings about our time in Rome. It was one of the most “touristy” experiences of my life! Lots of feeling like we were being hustled by aggressive people on the streets, getting duped into taking an expensive shuttle from the airport instead of a basic taxi, watching an older man try to steal Anderson’s watch while we were walking down a street, and getting up at 2:00am to catch a flight to England. It was just a lot to process! I hate feeling like I have to be defensive while traveling. It’s exhausting, and takes so much out of the fun. And that’s exactly how we felt for much of our time in Rome. But despite all of that, the city was incredible. And I’m so thankful we got to explore it! I just want to be honest about our travel adventures. They’re so exciting, and we love the experience! It just doesn’t always look like Instagram portrays it!
Before our trip, I did a lot of research about Lubriano and London, but wasn’t very inspired to research Rome. So I decided to book two tours (one for each day, so we didn’t overbook our schedule) with Walks of Italy. I chose this company, because their reviews are amazing, and also because they showed up at the top of my Google searches. Told you I didn’t want to do much research about Rome! The reviews were right – we had the best experience with both tours, so I want to share a little about them.
On my favorite morning in Rome we got up before the sun, grabbed some coffee and pastries, and took the metro to St. Peter’s Square. It felt surreal being in the quiet square so early in the morning as only a few other people wandered around in the beautiful morning light. We met up with our guide at St. Peter’s Basilica for the St. Peter’s Basilica from Top to Bottom tour that took us all the way up to the dome! We didn’t even realize it was possible to go up to the dome until a friend told us about it! Walking through the largest church ever built was incredible (did you know every mural inside is actually a mosaic made of the teeny tiniest pieces of tile?!) but climbing all the way to the dome and looking out on Vatican City is something we’ll never forget! We weren’t able to do the crypt part of the tour, because they were getting the basilica ready for a visit from the Pope and security was really tight by the time we finished the rest of our tour. I emailed the company once we were home and explained that we didn’t get to experience the full tour, and they refunded part of our fee. Another reason for their great reviews: exceptional customer service! The first group of pictures below are all from this morning.
Our other tour was Gladiator’s Gate: Special Access Colosseum Tour with Arena Floor, an afternoon visit to the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Roman Forum. So many dramatic, grand structures! We learned lots of interesting, and often, heart wrenching facts about life in ancient Rome. Did you know it took an estimated 60,000 slaves about 8 years to build The Colosseum? Kingston was in his element. He stood 6 inches from our tour guide the entire time and asked lots of good questions. 🙂 He wanted to know if Christians were really killed in the Colosseum, and if they flooded it for war games or not. Our guide said that while the Romans did brutally kill Christians, there’s no historical evidence that any of the murders took place in this particular arena. The structure is massive and looks exactly how you’ve pictured it in your mind. The Forum was my favorite area though – when you get to those pictures look at the size of the remaining structures and columns! We felt like tiny ants walking through all the ruins!
The rest of our time in Rome was spent exploring the city, looking for tasty food, and walking down every side street we passed. I tried to capture the people and places from a more photo-journalistic approach than I normally do – shop owners sweeping in front of their stores, a priest shopping at a flower truck, restaurant workers smoking from an upstairs window – and the result is some of my favorite travel photos ever. I hope you enjoy all 3,000 of them. 😉