To celebrate my birthday Vito and I booked a trip to the one and only, eternal city of Rome. I have been to Rome a few times having studied in Italy, but it was going to be Vito's first time there. Quite a responsibility to introduce this magical city to someone and still have plenty of time to simply luxuriate in piazzas and people watch which is MY favorite thing to do. Oh and I must mention that we would only have two full days there as this was to be our maiden voyage outside of the country sans kids.
Clearly a strategic master plan would be needed in this race against the clock to discover all "must see" mysteries of Rome and still experience the dolce far niente (it's sweet to do nothing) lifestyle. Good thing I'm an expert in planned romance!
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1st Ingredient - A plush place to stay
The first ingredient in the recipe for a romantic getaway in Rome is plush accommodations. Sure you don't plan on staying inside much when you only have 2 days to see all of Rome but nothing will help to set a romantic tone better then waking up in a swanky private apartment with a sexy view of the city.
My go-to secret address is: Romeloft.com
2nd Ingredient - A quintessential Roman breakfast
There is no need to scour books and blogs to find out the best place to have breakfast in Rome because breakfast magic happens right in your "local" bar just down the stairs from wherever it is you're staying. Do breakfast like the locals meaning a cappuccino or a latte macchiato with a croissant (go ahead and make it a chocolate one!) while standing up at the bar counter. You must first confidently stroll straight to the register and pay receiving a little ticket which you then give to the bar tender along with your order. You stand at the marble counter with everyone else as you eat your breakfast. (Don't worry, you'll have plenty of time to sit later when its aperitif time. And just fyi, it costs extra to sit down at a table.)
3rd Ingredient - A strategic plan of action
We had just two full days to give Vito a complete Rome 101 overview as well as satisfy my desire for the relaxed dolce vita experience so knowing when and where to go was of the essence. My tool of choice - Jauntful. It's incredibly easy to use, you just click and add the sites, and they are magically placed on the map. You can then email yourself a nice printable PDF.
For day one we packed in all the historical sites in the morning starting at the Colosseum and working our way north. Slower activities are planned for after lunch such as the Spanish Steps and walk along a shopping street Via Corso. Absolutely build in time to relax before dinner, it breaks up the day nicely and serves to make sure you're fresh to enjoy a late dinner (8.30pm is the normal dinnertime) and some few glasses of wine...
For day two our first stop was the Vatican. (NOTE: Wednesdays and of course Sundays are days to have audience with the Pope, unless you specifically want to hear the service I suggest going on other days of the week when its a lot less crowded.) After that we headed to Trastevere for the rest of the day.
4th Ingredient: The WOW moment.
Every trip has to have one. The waw moment is that magical moment when you stand back and really acknowledge what an amazing time you're having. Sure you can't exactly plan for it, but you can certainly create a favorable atmosphere. The easiest way to put yourself in the mood to be amazed are view points, or "inspiration points" if you will. In Rome there are obviously plenty of those but the one I recommend is where you are on the other side of the Tiber river and can view Rome in all it's 360 degree glory. And this place is: Gianicolo or Janiculum Hill. Take a taxi up the hill to the gorgeous Aqua Paola Fountain and then walk up the rest of the way to the Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi on the very top. Ponder your life in general and how fantastic it is to be in Rome in particular...
5th Ingredient - Get lost artfully.
Now, there is lots of advice out there abdout getting lost in a new city and surprising yourself with what you discover. That's all nice for someone with unlimited amount of time. But like I said, Vito and I had 48 hours only, so getting lost had to be done in a productive, structured way. So! On the second day after a busy morning at the Vatican museums it was time for a few hours of relaxation. One neighborhood I really wanted to explore was Trastevere and after our WAW moment at the Gianicolo, armed with just a general direction of where we needed to head we made our way down the hill and down the stone staircase into the depth of narrow cobblestone streets. The only destination in mind being a picturesque place for an afternoon espresso... We discovered adorable boutiques, pretty hidden churches, tiny piazzas with fountains, every turn tempting us as we happily gave in.
Here is my "expert" summary of how to get lost artfully:
1 - Pick a location with many different things to see in a defined area.
2 -Know the outer boundaries of the area that will signal that you've wandered too far.
3 - Have an experience in mind and a plan "B" ready in case getting lost is not happening as artfully as you envisioned.
I had a map and an X on it for a place to have our picturesque espresso. What do you know, wandering about eventually brought us to that very piazza though we realized it only after we got up from our magic espressos walking a few steps further to walk right by the cafe "X" on my map.
Get the 2 day itinerary for --> Mixing Culture and Romance in Rome
• • • LESSONS LEARNED • • •
Don't wait for 'wow' moments to happen.
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