Nights in Rome

[It’s been 7 months since this trip and 6 months since I last attempted to update this post. I knew this would happen – I’d get overwhelmed by the storytelling, then I’d drop the trail and pick it back up at some future date, feeling nostalgic. So, let’s pause in the midst of this cold winter and imagine it’s summer and we’re all in Rome. For a refresher, I already said a few things about the days in Rome. And if you want to see other stories, search by categories.]

I can’t even figure out what to say about the nights in Rome. At night, the city felt like it belonged to us. I was exploring with a night-owl friend, someone with a long bucket list and a short amount of time. Thankfully, we both walked quickly and laughed often. And even though we were lost most of the time, Rome is a kind, generous city with beautiful sights around every corner.

We quickly realized that the popular sights held no appeal – too many crowds, too many men trying to give/sell me flowers – so we set off on an unpredictable adventure, turning down any and every street that looked interesting. Somehow, with very little planning (at least on my part), we managed to find everything we were looking for. And I will never forget wandering into an open square in the middle of the night, facing the Pantheon for the first time. The beauty and charm of the city were already apparent, but this building taught me to look for more – it was ancient and huge and it just sat there as the city grew and changed.

#outontheprowl #nightlifeinrome Photo

We experienced this crazy intersection twice. Once while walking, and again in a taxi. Near-death experience both times. #slightexaggeration #somewhereinrome

image

image

image

image image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

The pasta and view that made me cry. #glutenfree #carbonara Also this.

image

Our only mis-steps came at the end of each night, when we remembered that public transit had restrictions. That meant taking a taxi our first night out, which was so terrifying and fun that I realized it’s something to be experienced, if only once, in every city. The second night, after a late, late, so late restaurants were almost closed dinner, a dinner that was so delicious (and late) that I cried tears of joy, we RACED back to the train station, just barely catching the final train. Once we sat down, the fact that we’d split a bottle of wine and I’d just sprinted through one of the most romantic cities in a dress and heels meant I giggled the rest of the way home.

Advertisements

Bernina Express

I decided to take a series of trains from Rome to London, mainly so I could travel through the Swiss Alps. (Last time I was in France, I found myself staring off into the distance at mountains, wanting to BE THERE.) It seems I’m not the only person with this instinct, because I found a train that follows a route so beautiful it’s been named a World Heritage Site.

I mutter under my breath every time I see these images, partly because I can’t believe ANYTHING is this awesome, and partly because the pictures don’t do it justice.

Bernina-4219

Bernina-4222 Bernina-4223

Bernina-4233

Bernina-4238 Bernina-4243

Bernina-4237

Bernina-4249

Bernina-4255

Bernina-4257

Bernina-4271

Bernina-4274 Bernina-4277

Bernina-4280

Bernina-4301

Bernina-4302 Bernina-4304

Bernina-4309

Bernina-4315

Bernina-4320

Bernina-4330

Bernina-4340

Bernina-4347

Bernina-4348

Bernina-4349

Bernina-4352

Bernina-4356

Bernina-4361

Bernina-4362

Bernina-4386

Bernina-4396

Bernina-4405

Bernina-4438

Bernina-4449

Bernina-4455

I know, right?

Now let’s all return to our normal lives, and dream of a time when we’ll be the hikers in those photos.

Nemi

“One of the days you’re here, we’re going to a strawberry festival. It’s a very Italian thing to do.”

Apparently, most small towns in Italy have an annual festival, celebrating their local harvest or a historic event. Nemi is known for their small wild strawberries – or fragolinas, if you’re feeling Italian. We spent the morning in Nemi, mostly confirming that it was a real place and not a beautiful mirage.

Rome-3566

Rome-3586

Rome-3686

Rome-3645

There was a parade. And traditional dancing.

Rome-3658 Rome-3667

There were many, many strawberries.

Rome-3706 Rome-3708

Rome-3821

Here’s the Nemi skyline:

Rome-3755

And now let me take you on a walking tour of almost every street in Nemi…

Rome-3828

Rome-3845

Rome-3838

Rome-3853

Rome-3854

Rome-3862

Rome-3859

Rome-3870

Rome-3873

There was a walking/hiking trail up here, which we didn’t have time to take. (There’s another that goes down to the water.)

Rome-3877

Rome-3864 Rome-3886

Rome-3914

Rome-3916

Rome-3923 Rome-3929

The water from this fountain tasted a bit weirder than most, but it was definitely the coolest.

Rome-3639

Rome-3635

Vatican Museums

I was really spoiled in Rome. Not only did I get experience it with locals, learning the rhythms of their neighborhood, but I also got to experience it with a friend who blew through town for a few days, wanting to explore as much of the city as possible. It was great to be with another tourist, especially one who had just watched a large number of documentaries in preparation for the trip!

One of the places I probably wouldn’t have dragged my friends and their baby, and wouldn’t have wanted to experience alone, was the Vatican Museum. Thankfully, I’d been warned beforehand that the lines are insane, but it’s totally worth the wait. I’d also been warned that the amount of incredible art inside would be overwhelming.

Rome-3241

Rome-3244

Rome-3246

Rome-3281

Rome-3296

Rome-3305

Rome-3308

Rome-3334

Rome-3332

Rome-3338 Rome-3358

Rome-3383

Rome-3404

Rome-3410

Rome-3420

Rome-3435

Rome-3444

Rome-3464

Rome-3488

Rome-3477

Rome-3508

Rome-3511

Yep.

These are just a sample of my photos. They don’t try to capture the art, or the scale, but mostly share snippets that entertained me – statues with resting bitch-face, the death star, the map room, that moment when my friend realized he was looking at The School of Athens, the crowds. We couldn’t take photos in the Sistine Chapel, but could stare at the ceiling (hoping not to bump into anyone or fall over or pass out) for as long as we wanted.

travel-related thoughts

Just throwing some thoughts up here so they stop bouncing around in my head. Photos added to break them up.

Bernina-4438

Andrea laughed at me yesterday, as I told her about my trip and kept mentioning places I want to visit again. She’s a much more seasoned (& avid) traveler than I am, and reminded me how I proclaimed to her, years ago, “Ugh! I just don’t understand why people travel. Can’t we just enjoy where we are? I have ABSOLUTELY NO DESIRE TO GO PLACES!” (Paraphrase, with added whine to emphasize how easy it is to judge younger versions of self.)

International travel is apparently an acquired taste. Also, since I tend to learn from my mistakes, it makes sense that this trip would be much more successful than the last. (And it leads me to hope that my next trip would be even better.)

Bernina-4347

Another friend, when I briefly told him about my trip and where we went, merely commented on how great it must have been to be exposed to so many different people and places. Instead of commenting on how beautiful or historical or exciting it must have been, he said, “That must have been eye-opening.”

I need to talk with him more about this, and learn his method of travel.

Bernina-4310

Before this trip, I not only read Art of Travel, which helped with managing expectations more than anything else, but I asked lots of questions. How do my friends travel? Why? What do they first notice when in a new place? What are their favorite ways to spend time while traveling? What do they hope to learn/understand? How much research do they do in advance? (In this area, I’m still trying to find a workable balance.)

Bernina-4409

Not included: a mini-rant about the frivolity of travel and the icky escapism that I want to lash out against. Let’s just wrap that up with all of our rants about instagram culture, and maybe let’s try not to be too judgmental, and instead I’ll just be thankful for the privilege and joys of international travel.

(Photos taken in the Swiss Alps, from the Bernina Express. You’ll hear more about them later.)