Travel Log: Rome, Italy (Colisseum, Trastevere, Campo Marzio)

Have you seen my Mykonos, Santorini, and Athens travel logs from my recent Greek vacation?  In August, my boyfriend and I spent nine days in Europe including three days in Mykonos, three days in Santorini, a ten hour layover in Athens, and two days in Rome.  Today I want to talk about Rome.  Bella Roma, as it is also called by many, is an enchanting city with a remarkable history that stretches back to the eighth century BC.  It is amazing to walk the streets and imagine how Rome looked back when it was the capital of the the Roman Republic, then the Roman Empire, then the Christian world.  Today, the historic center of Rome is a UNESCO World Heritage Site full of ancient architecture, museums preserving artwork and sculpture, and an amazing food culture.  Please read on for photos and details from one of our days in Bella Roma.

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Clutch: exact (on sale - 40% off!) here
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Sunglasses: old, similar here 

We arrived in Rome about 2:00pm in the afternoon, and it was hot (over 100 degrees F)!  I was thankful for this cool, comfortable outfit.  We dropped our bags at our hotel in the 4th Rione, Campo Marzio, then headed for the Colisseum.  Pro Tip: purchase your tickets in advance through the official Colisseum Ticket Office (http://www.coopculture.it/en/colosseo-e-shop.cfm), so you can skip the massive line and walk straight in.  It was so worth it!

Once inside the Colisseum, you can walk around the main level and the upper level, but in order to walk down below you need to book a tour (for an additional fee).  We arrived too late in the afternoon for a tour, but we were were armed with a Rick Steves guidebook and basically just walked around reading straight from his Colisseum guide.  Two thumbs up for Rick Steves!

The Colisseum arena used to have a wooden floor covered with sand, so that you would not see the corridors below.  A partial reconstruction has been done on the east side of the Colisseum, which you can see here.

One of the coolest things about the Colisseum structure & layout is that it was built to allow crowds to quickly and efficiently enter and exit their seats through eighty separate entrances with their connecting staircases and corridors.  Up to 80,000 people could exit the Colisseum in only ten minutes with this ingenious new design!

Colisseum Selfie!

Did you know that the current standing exterior of the Colosseum is actually the original interior wall?  The only pieces of the original outer wall still intact are on the north side of the Colisseum.

After touring the Colisseum, we decided to walk around the Trastevere neighborhood and have dinner there.  We took an Uber to Ponte Fabricio, the oldest Roman bridge in Rome that still exists in its original state.  This bridge was built in 62 BC and connects the Colisseum/Forum neighborhood to Trastevere via Isola Tiberino, an island in the middle of the Tiber River.  This photo is taken from the bridge looking northwest toward the Vatican.

On recommendation from a good friend who visited Rome last year, we chose Roma Sparita for dinner.  This restaurant was featured on Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" back in 2010 for its cacio y pepe.  You can tell this restaurant now is heavily visited by tourists, but they seem to appreciate the business as they didn't give me any trouble when I politely asked (in Italian) for a table.  Case in point: an American couple came in after us, sat next to us, ordered only cacio y pepe, ate and left within twenty minutes!  We had barely ordered wine and an appetizer in that amount of time, although we were in no hurry.  This proscuitto-wrapped melon was our first course, and it was heavenly--just the right amount of sweet and savory.

The cacio y pepe arrived in a parmesan bowl, and it was definitely worth the hype.  I love all kinds of fresh pasta, but this dish is so simple and delicious.  Cacio y pepe means "cheese and pepper," and I could eat this every day.


In addition to cacio y pepe, we also ordered gnocchi with clams.  I really liked that this dish was also simple and light with just fresh pasta, tomatoes, clams, and chopped parsley on top.

After dinner, we walked back across the Ponte Fabricio and caught a cab to Trevi Fountain.  We intended to throw a coin in the fountain to ensure we would return to Roma (per tradition) and then walk back to our hotel.  Unfortunately, the fountain is still closed for restoration (since last summer), and the entire area was walled off.  I believe the restoration is supposed to be complete this fall or winter, so it gives us a a reason to make our way back to Rome at some point to throw that coin in the fountain.

The path back to our hotel took us by the Spanish Steps, which are packed with people on summer nights.  We did take some photos here without anyone else in them - read on below to learn how you can get the perfect Spanish Steps solo photo!

Top: exact here
Shorts: old, similar here
Shoes: exact here
Clutch: exact (on sale - 40% off!) here
Watch: exact here 
Sunglasses: old, similar here 

 As packed at the streets of Rome are at night, they were wonderfully quiet in the early morning.  We woke up around 5:30am both mornings and explored the Campo Marzio neighborhood near our hotel before breakfast.  The only people up that early were a few shop owners setting up their stores and the occasional delivery driver.  In addition to being quiet, it was also much, much cooler than the heat of the day (the perfect time for a nap).

 Look at the difference at the Spanish steps!  This photo was taken at 6:00am, and we had the steps to ourselves.  The lighting was perfect, too.  Now you know my secret to the perfect Spanish Steps photo.  =)

One gentleman walked by and offered to take a picture of us together, so of course we took him up on the offer.  By the time we left the Spanish Steps about 6:30am, we started to see a few groups of tourists headed our way, but no crowds by any means.

This photo was taken above the steps, looking toward Vatican City.  You can see St. Peter's Basilica in the morning light.
We continued walking above the Spanish Steps, along the Viale della Trinita dei Monte for more beautiful views of the city.  In the background on the left, you can see the The Altare della Patria, a monument built in honor of Victor Emmanuel (the first king of a unified Italy) and also known as the "Typewriter" because of its shape.

The road continues past the Borghese Gardens and to the Piazza del Popolo, which means "People's Square."  There is an Egyptian obelisk in the center with four fountains that were also being restored during our visit.

The "twin" churches of Santa Maria in Montesanto (on the left, built 1662-75) and Santa Maria dei Miracoli (on the right, built 1675-79) sit on the southern side of the Piazza del Popolo. The Via del Corso sits between these two churches and runs south all the way to Piazza Venezia by the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.  Via del Corso also took us back to our hotel and completed our morning stroll.

This completes part one of my Rome Travel Log--I hope you enjoyed reading about the Colisseum, delicious food in Trastevere, and early morning walks in the Campo Marzio neighborhood (4th Rione).  Please stay tuned for one more travel log with photos and details of Vatican City and more iconic places in bella Roma.  Thank you for visiting my blog today, and I hope you have a great week!  Stay tuned for the next group giveaway details too!

Linking up with Cha Cha the Fashion Genius, More Pieces of Me, Michelle's Pa(i)ge, Northwest Blonde, Pink Sole, Sincerely Jenna Marie

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