Diem Mi and I headed out to the train station earlier in the morning and set off to meet up with our friend Chiara. The journey was easy and after about 8 months apart, it was so incredible to see Chiara again diem mi is always describing it as surreal. As Diem mi was getting cash, I was just waiting by the luggage storage scanning the crowd for our friend. We saw each other across the crowded room running and jumping to hug each other with excitement. Of course this moment was just like in the movies, but more importantly, moments like this remind me to be thankful. First for have such incredible people in my life all across the world and second having the opportunity to see them again so soon after Singapore.
After storing our luggage for the day we set off to see the city of rome. Chiara had strategically organized our day and made us a general path through the city. We started at the Piazza del Popolo with the Egyptian Obelisk, the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon.
Piazza del Popolo
Piazza del Popolo
Then of course we had to stop at the Trevi Fountain, take a few photos and throw our coins in together. Then we had a lovely pasta lunch before heading back out into the sun.
Next, with a few more hours left in the day we headed to the Piazza Navona and along the way we saw some incredible spray paint artwork on the street.
Spray Paint Art
Then after seeing this lovely square we headed towards the river and saw the supreme court, the Castel Sant’Angelo and crossed over the Ponte Sant’Angelo. We were even lucky enough to pass the building Chiara referred to as the “famous church” and after seeing this we decided we could not leave the city without was a fabulous tiramisu.
Finally after this we collected our luggage from the train station, we headed to Chiara’s home. There we met her incredible mother that was willing to take us in and little did we know she was also on a mission to see we were never left hungry. Every night we were there I think Diem Mi and I got more and more impressed by the amount of courses made, as well as the quality of cooking. I am sure Chiara’s mother would say it was nothing, but Diem Mi and I loved all the food and will always appreciate the family’s hospitality.
On the second day, Chiara, Diem Mi and I headed into the city when her mom went to work late morning. We started by visiting the Piramide di Caio Cestio, a fairly large pyramid grave for a rich roman magistrate. Then we stopped at Eataly a supermarket with many specialty types of oil, meat, cheese, wine and beer. They also made delicious looking fresh mozzarella and ravioli.
Piramide di Caio Cestio
Piramide di Caio Cestio
Piramide di Caio Cestio
After that we headed to the Terme di Caracalla, an ancient rectangular Roman Bath or Therme dating back to 216 A.D. and showing use up until 537 A.D. The day was again incredibly hot and when we stopped to eat our snacks i think both of my lovely friends fell asleep ..haha. Anyway, we toured the baths and it was lovely to see after visiting the therme in vienna and the baths in Budapest I could really imagine what the building used to look like.
Following the baths we headed towards the Mouth of Truth and passed the Circo Massimo on the way. According to the legend when a lying person would put their hand into the wall it would be chopped off, but if an innocent person did the same nothing would happen.
Mouth of Truth
Lastly, we headed to the Garden “Giardino degli Aranc”.. at the top of the hill. It was a bit of a hike. Ok well to probably wasn’t that bad, I would just not suggest doing it late in the day after you hiked around the city in the blazing 95f/34c degree heat. Despite the effort to make it up the hill the views were lovely and another few hundred feet further we stopped at the famous key hole. At this Key hole you can look directly at St.Peter with a
beautiful green arch surrounding the church.
In the morning we headed out to the Colosseum. It was the first sunday of the month so we go in for free and saw the ancient place of gladiators and battles as sports. We saw the museum inside and discovered it used to be a house at one time to a royal family, as well as a place for animals.
While we were finishing up with the Colosseum we finally got word that friend Serena, who Diem Mi and I had not seen since Singapore was finally arriving! We went out to meet her and it was really amazing seeing her again. After months of being apart we all made it back together, what an incredible gift.
Once we had all settled down a bit we got a bit to eat at a restaurant near that almost had a club like atmosphere inside. We ate slowly trying to catch up, talking about anything and everything.
Then after this we headed to the Palatine Hill. We wandered our way through one side of the ruins and it was very nice, but nothing I would say took my breath away. Sooner after completing our circle we realized that the MAiN ruins were in the other direction and it was massive. I have never seen something like it in my life and wow was it breathtaking. I could have sat there all day and looked out over them.
Altar of the Fatherland
Small Garden Terrace
View from Altar of the Fatherland
The last day in Rome we spent all day at the Vatican City Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. We stood in a hellish line to get in, but the views inside were pretty incredible.
oh and fun fact.. on the 5 cent euro coin for Italy there is a small picture of the Colosseum
And the next day we took off to
A beautiful coastal city in Italy that my wonderful friend Serena is from. We took a train from rome and arrived to Gaeta. Serena’s parents made a nice lunch for us of mixed cheese, tomatoes, breads, meats and fruits.
Then we just spent the rest of the day relaxing on the local beach about a 5 minute walk from her home. The water was clear and the soft sandy beaches felt so friendly after the hard rock beaches for Croatia.
However, we did spend a little of time by the Devil’s Punch Bowl. A really cool rock bowl maybe 50 ft deep that come up from the ocean.
Our second day in Gaeta, Diem Mi had a important interview call and had to stay behind until lunch. Meanwhile the rest of us hiked up to where the mountain is said to be split by the death of jesus called the Miracle of Split Mountain.
Then after we went further up into the woods and found some really breathtaking views over the city.
Just a few more photos from the city of Gaeta…before heading back to Rome and then to Vienna for me and Germany for Deim Mi.
Day Trip to Naples.. We walked around the city sort of aimlessly, just taking in its charm and beauty. The city may not be as wealthy as many European tourist cities, but it had a lot more character than I have seen and I was very impressed. I even saw a man drop his groceries into a plastic pail that his family member lowered to bring into the house.
For lunch we stopped at one of the most famous pizzerias called “Ancient Pizzeria by Michele,” where the Julia Roberts ate in the movie Eat Pray Love. Ok so I had no idea what to expect, but after a 45 min wait– we were served and it may be the best pizza I had in my entire life. The soft Naples style pizza is absolutely my favorite and although Punch pizza in MN is amazing. The fresh mozzerlla and tomato sauce there was to die for!
Anyways, after lunch Chiara’s Dad was nice enough to pick us up and drive us to some viewpoints over the city. It was incredibly beautiful and we got good unobstructed views of the city, as well as Mt. Vesuvius. Then he brought us to an delicious gelato place before dropping us off at the train station to return to Gaeta.
Last thing I have to do is say none of my experiences in Italy would have been as incredible had it not been for my loving friends and their families. They not only welcomed us into their homes, fed us lots of delicious food, but also made us feel completely safe and at home. I am so happy to have these girls in my life and look forward to seeing you all again soon!
And yes Chiara.. you were a good tour guide in rome, I appreciate all of the information on the famous churches, weird Egyptian things and important buildings 😉