Tap, tap. Is this thing on? In over 16 years of blogging, I don’t think I’ve ever gone this long without posting. It feels like learning to ride a bike all over again! You don’t forget how, but you feel a little rusty at first. In fact, this is the first time I’ve opened my laptop since I left home last Wednesday.
We’ve been so busy and having so much fun discovering the joys and trials of international travel that I didn’t even miss it. (And so far, I’m happy to say, the trials have been few and far between.) I have Stacey Blum and WhirlAway Travel largely to thank for that.
She planned this trip flawlessly. All we have to do is show up in the designated spots at the appointed times, and practically everything else is taken care of. This trip is not sponsored; I just want to give credit where credit is due, and also share for those who may be looking for a full service travel agent. I can’t recommend Stacey highly enough!
I titled this post Greetings from Rome, but I’m actually posting from Perugia, Umbria this morning. I started writing this post yesterday, but I got sidetracked trying to get everyone packed up and moving along so we could meet our driver on time. I want to make sure to get my Rome recap posted before I start to forget all the things I wanted to share.
It’s amazing how distant it already feels, after just a day exploring another city. Now I know why people keep travel diaries! I guess this blog is my travel diary, so let’s start at the beginning.
We took a direct flight from Philly to the Rome–Fiumicino International Airport and made our way through customs without a hitch. We did end up checking one medium-sized suitcase, but that’s another post. It was already on the baggage carousel by the time I got there, so I easily retrieved that while Paul found our driver, and the next thing I knew, we were on our way to our hotel in the heart of Rome’s City Centre.
We stayed at Hotel Hassler, which is absolutely sublime. It has all the old world charm and modern amenities we could have hoped for. The five us shared two rooms (a double and a triple), and that worked out nicely. Here’s a picture from my room, as well as the view from our small balcony.
Hotel Hassler is located at the top of the iconic Spanish Steps, so we were able to easily walk to shops and restaurants, as well as many of the historical sites and piazzas that were on our bucket list to experience.
We didn’t have anything on our itinerary other than dinner reservations for our first night in Rome, so we got settled into our hotel and then wandered around a bit to get the lay of the land before walking over to dinner at Da Francesco.
We sat outside, more or less on the street, which made for excellent people watching opportunities. The staff was accommodating to our myriad of food allergies and lack of the Italian language, and the food and wine was delicious.
It was extremely hot and humid, without any real breeze to speak of, but I was surprised by how well we all handled the heat.
In fact, I’d say that’s true for the entire trip. I’ve never been hotter in my life, but somehow it didn’t make it any less enjoyable.
On the way back to our hotel, we sat for a while on the Spanish Steps. By that time, there was a bit of a breeze, and the air temperature was a balmy 90 degrees, haha!
Here’s a picture of Becca and me sitting on the Spanish Steps, as one does.
I slept pretty well our first night in Rome, but I woke up with an upset stomach that prevented me from going on our morning tour, which included the Pantheon and the Trevi Fountain… and the shopping mall built around an ancient aqueduct. It was actually discovered during the construction of the mall, so they left it there and built the mall around it.
I was sad to miss that, but thankfully I rallied and was able to join them for the afternoon tour of the Colosseum, Forum, and Palatine Hill.
That tour was absolutely amazing, and our tour guide did a wonderful job explaining what we were seeing and putting it all in historical context without getting too bogged down in the nitty gritty details.
Paul and David are both history buffs, so they enjoyed interacting with her the most, but she was also able to make it interesting and relevant to the girls. Plus, she had tickets that allowed us to bypass the very long lines, and in that heat, that feature was priceless!
After a rest at the hotel, we all split up and did our own thing that evening.
David and Caroline both enjoyed wandering a bit on their own. And Paul, Becca, and I had dinner together at a lovely spot near our hotel, overlooking the Spanish Steps and Piazza di Spagna below, before turning in early that night.
We had some free time the next morning, so Paul took me to the spots I missed the day before. We went to the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon (although we didn’t go inside), and the shopping mall built around the aqueduct.
Also, this might have happened… Yes, I treated myself to a special bag from Italy.
I was planning to buy an Italian brand, but this is one I’ve admired many times in the mall at home and on some of the influencers I follow, so when I happened across it shopping in Rome, I decided to go for it.
The prices are lower here, plus I’ll get the 12% VAT refund when I go through customs on our way home, so it’s a great opportunity to make a luxury purchase.
After that little excursion, we had time to grab a quick bite of lunch at the hotel, and then we met our tour guide for an afternoon visit to Vatican City.
There’s so much more to see there than I realized, and I particularly enjoyed all the art and sculpture.
They were starting to have mass when we were inside St. Peter’s Basilica, so we could hear the choir singing, which made the experience even more memorable.
By the time we got back to our hotel that night, everyone was pretty fried… everyone except Caroline, that is. She decided to go shopping while the rest of us took a nap.
Becca and I went out for a while on our own, and then we met up with Paul and David for dinner at Babette. It was probably our favorite meal of our time in Rome. Nice atmosphere, delicious food, and gracious restaurant staff. We sat outside in a little courtyard area, and there was a bit of a breeze. Highly recommend, if you’re ever in Rome.
We took our time walking back to our hotel to savor our last night in Rome. There was a breeze, so even though it was still quite warm, it felt nice. For some reason, the police were not allowing people to sit on the Spanish Steps that evening, but we stood around Piazza di Spagna and just enjoyed the view and the sounds of nightlife in Rome.
Back at the hotel, Becca went on up to her room, and Paul and I wandered into the Palm Court for a cocktail and live piano music.
As we were leaving, I asked the piano player if he was okay with me taking a video, and he obliged. I shared it on my Instagram Story, if you’re interested. (I’m saving all my Stories to a highlight called ITALY.) It was the perfect way to end our short stay in Rome!
I keep thinking of more photos and information I’d like to add, but I think this is enough for now! I don’t want to take too much time away from the family, although they’re all resting at the moment. I appreciate that our itinerary allows some down time each day for us to do our own thing.
As I said, we’re in Perugia now, and I hope to do a similar post before we move on to Florence. At the very least, I’m taking notes so it’s not so much to recall all at once. It’s amazing how everything seems so vibrant in the present, and as soon as we’re in a different city, the memories of the previous one start to feel distant.
If you have questions, I’m happy to answer in the comments, but I may not be as prompt with my replies as I often am.
Ciao for now!