Honeymoon Recap – Rome

Somehow it’s almost March and I haven’t gotten further than Ireland with my honeymoon recaps on the blog! Where is the time going?! You can check out my Dublin and Galway/Cliffs of Moher posts if you missed them, but there were so many more fun cities we visited on our honeymoon that I haven’t shared yet. One of my absolute favorites was Rome!

On day four of our trip we caught a 6 a.m. flight out of Dublin for Rome. A driver was waiting for us at the airport to whisk us off to our hotel just a block from the Vatican. All I can say is thank god we didn’t have to make that drive on our own – there appear to be no traffic rules in Italy!

We stayed two nights at the Relais Vatican View and I could not have been happier with this hotel. It was a small hotel with only a handful of rooms. After our tiny Dublin hotel room, this place seemed huge. We had a king size bed, a couch and room to spare – plus a very nice bathroom. The room was also stocked daily with delicious tasting bottles of wine. Coming from someone who normally hates wine, this is saying something. There was also a rooftop terrace all guests could use that you could see St. Peter’s Dome from. This was a bit of a splurge compared to our Dublin hotel, but worth every penny and I highly recommend it.

On our hotel rooftop terrace

On our hotel rooftop terrace

We arrived too early to get into our hotel room, but dropped our bags and quickly found a great lunch spot just down the street. We had the most amazing margarita pizza and pasta carbonara. It was definitely a great way to start things off in Rome and just a sample of some of the amazing food we would have.

RomeFirstLunch

We stopped for gelato after lunch as you can find it everywhere in Rome and we made sure to eat it early and often while there!

one of our several gelato stops

one of our several gelato stops

We quickly found the metro and made our way to the Colosseum. It was a really amazing structure and seeing it in person is the only real way to do it justice. Part of it was under construction, but given how old it is, it was still in really good shape. We took advantage of our Roma Pass to skip the line and head right in. It blows my mind how many people were waiting for hours in a line when the first thing I read in every guidebook was how easy it was to skip the line here. I guess not everyone else watched the Rick Steve’s videos!

Colosseum

Colosseum2

We also saw Constantine’s Arch here and wandered over to the Roman Forum, but it had just closed its gates for the day.

ConstantinesArch

We headed back to the hotel and cracked open one of those bottles of wine I mentioned earlier. This wine that we drank there must be magic wine because on top of tasting good it seemed to be hangover free and didn’t leave me with a headache or dry mouth the next day despite the fact that we may have indulged a bit too much.

magicwine

We set off for a dinner spot I found on Yelp not too far from Trevi Fountain. I have to say this is one of the first times Yelp has let me down. It was the only not so great restaurant we went to there although it was partially our fault as we got things off to a bad start when I accidentally ordered an anchovy pizza. Gross! Poor Ian had to eat most of it so they would bring us our next course. We also ended up not being able to find the Fountain that night, but that may have had something to do with all the wine.

Day two we got an early start so we could explore the Vatican. We started things off with St. Peter’s Basilica, which is an indescribably beautiful Church. It is much larger than pictures convey. We also made our way all the way up to the Dome. My fear of heights kicked in, but it was worth it. The view from the top of the Church was beautiful.

vatican

We didn’t stop there though. We kept climbing up narrow, terrifying stairs with a rope to get us to the top! The view from the top of the Vatican is one of the most amazing I’ve ever seen though. It was absolutely breathtaking. Ian snapped most of the pictures as it took me a few minutes to peel myself off the wall and inch toward the gate at the edge. It was so worth it – just beautiful and definitely a postcard type view.

viewfromtheVatican

viewfromvatican2

From there we headed to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. Again doing a little bit of research let us skip a line that was probably 3-4 hours long. We had printed off tickets we ordered online at the hotel and walked right in an empty online ticket entrance. The museum was very impressive. I don’t have the best knowledge of art history, but even I could appreciate how intricate many of the pieces here were. The Raphael paintings in the last couple rooms we checked out were incredible and then Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel was like nothing I had ever seen. I can’t even fathom how difficult that must have been to do.

By this point we were absolutely starving! Just around the corner from the Vatican Museum was a great little sandwich shop a friend had recommended called Ducento Gradi. This spot is worth putting on your list if you’re in Rome. It was inexpensive and delicious. After devouring our sandwiches, we stopped for some more gelato because as they say…when in Rome!

gelato

We headed out again that evening and managed to find the Trevi Fountain this time! It is much easier when you are sober, but it was closed for repairs so it wasn’t much to see.

trevifountain

We moved on to the Pantheon. This was an awesome plaza and an unbelievable structure. This was easily one of Ian’s favorites – he really liked that it has been a working building it’s entire life and was made around the time of Jesus! It  also has an intentional hole in the roof – that’s baller, he says!

pantheon

From there we wandered our way over to and up the Spanish Steps for some people watching before heading back to the hotel to crack open another bottle of wine!

Spanish Steps - great people watching here.

Spanish Steps – great people watching here.

We drank a bottle on our rooftop terrace taking in the incredible views before heading out for dinner. This time we went with a recommendation from the hotel and had a delicious dinner at Dal Toscano. So freaking good.

Before heading to the cruise ship the next morning we woke up early to get back over to the Roman Forum and take in some more cool sights before leaving. It was nice to walk around here when it was practically empty and very interesting that it is still an active archaeological site where they continue to find and learn new things.

We ended our time in Rome like we started it – devouring some pasta carbonara before hopping on a bus to our cruise ship. I cannot say enough about the food and the sights here – a place I would love to go back to and spend more time in for sure!

Ian made a last ditch effort to send some postcards from the Vatican (they have a special stamp since they are their own country) before we left as I packed up the hotel quickly before our ride arrived. His plans were thwarted though as it turns out it is much more difficult to get into the Vatican when the Pope is supposed to be speaking shortly than on a normal day! Let’s just say that is the last run in he wants to have with the Swiss Guards – don’t underestimate them even if they do wear funny outfits!

swissguards

Thanks for making it all the way to the end of this one with me if you’re still reading. More to come soon on our adventures at each port that our cruise stopped at taking us to Italy, France and Spain!

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Spirit of the Marathon II

I’m a bit late with this post, but I was very excited to get to see Spirit of the Marathon II last week. Thanks to a last minute change in plans for the evening, I quickly ordered tickets online and Ian and I hopped in the car and drove up to the Ballston Theater. I still remember watching the original Spirit of the Marathon in a packed theater with my friend Lindsay and have since watched it too many times to count on Netflix.

I was a little disappointed that the theater wasn’t packed like last time, but it also worked out well since we cut it pretty close to the start and probably wouldn’t have been able to find a seat otherwise. I absolutely loved the movie. It began at the start of the Rome marathon in Italy – talk about some great scenery to run to – and then told the story of seven runners competing in the marathon occasionally coming back to clips of the actual race as they progressed through the course. I loved the diversity of the runners. There were elite runners, a charity runner, first-timers and locals including one 73-year-old who began running late in his life, but had since run all 18 Rome marathons since its inception.

 

I read a lot of reviews saying they liked the original better, but I have to disagree. Full disclosure – I haven’t seen the original in a while, so maybe it’s just because this one is fresh. The original that focused on runners training for the Chicago marathon was no doubt amazing and inspirational and still one of my favorites. It focused more on the training aspect of getting ready for the marathon while this documentary looked more at the life stories of each person being portrayed and how the marathon was changing them/how it fit into their life. I already know all about the ups and downs of marathon training – learning about these people was really interesting and made for a great story. Ian – a non-runner – actually enjoyed the movie too and I’m not sure he would have liked the first one as much, so if you’re picking one to watch with a non-runner I’d go for this one!

There was also some great history of the marathon interlaced throughout the movie and interviews with some pretty amazing people in the world of running including Bill Rodgers, Frank Shorter, Hal Higdon, Kathrine Switzer, Paula Radcliffe, Nina Kuscsik and more!

If you didn’t catch it’s one-night only appearance in theaters, this is definitely worth a watch (or two) once it comes to DVD/Netflix!

Did you see the movie? What did you think?

Also, it totally made me want to run an overseas marathon again. I’ve done Dublin and Greece. I don’t think it’s in the cards for awhile with everything else I have going on, but maybe someday. How about you – have you ever run a marathon overseas?