Rome

I didn’t expect to love Rome.

It sounds silly in hindsight, since really, what’s not to love about Rome? But after our trip to Florence last year, I’d started to think that Italian cities might not be my thing.

In Florence, I tired quickly of the big tour groups clogging up the streets and the sights. I was annoyed by the seemingly endless scooters flying by, their roar echoing off the stone buildings. The streets felt too small for the incredible number of people traveling on them. To me, being in Florence felt like being in a crowded museum and everyone wants to see the same painting.

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But while Florence felt cramped, Rome was expansive. Its sites were huge: the Spanish Steps, the Colosseum, and the Trevi Fountain are all big enough for lots of people to see at the same time.

Perhaps Florence had prepared me, but it seemed like there wasn’t as much scooter traffic in Rome and fewer tour groups (except for at the crazy-crowded Vatican museum with everyone looking up waiting to see the Sistine Chapel). Perhaps there were fewer scooters because Rome has a subway, the Metro, solidifying another belief I have which is that real cities have subways.

We stayed close to the Termini station which was tourist-filled and a food wasteland. We wouldn’t stay in that area again. Had we known better we would have booked an apartment in the Piazza Navona or Campo de Fiori areas, but since there’s a Metro stop at Termini, our location hardly mattered. We were two stops from the Colosseum on the blue line and three stops from the Spanish Steps on the red line.

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Rome also confirmed that for me to really like a place, I have to eat well and eating well was easy in Rome. There were many Slow Food restaurants to choose from, and most offered delicious, simple pastas: carbonara, gricia, cacio e pepe, amatriciana.

Some of my favorite food in Rome — aside from that unbelievable gelato at San Crispino, of course — was at Antico Forno Roscioli. Our first lunch there satisfied my need for simple, fresh food. We shared a bowl of farro salad, a side of spinach and a slab of their fabulous pizza with squash blossoms and anchovies. Naturally, we went back the very next day for more.

Note to those planning a trip: don’t just look for good restaurant recommendations. A good, casual lunch option is a life-saver after a long day of walking and sight-seeing.

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As if Rome wasn’t dramatic enough in the sunlight, we had thunder and lightening almost every night of our stay in Rome. While I was initially grumpy about getting wet, it was a thrill to suddenly see the Pantheon and Trinit√† dei Monti, the church behind the Spanish Steps, flash white as lightning brightened the night sky.

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