I ran to hug my sister, nearly knocking her to the ground. It had been three months since seeing her at Christmas back in the States. This reunion was a little far from home, however. We were in one of my favorite cities in the world – Rome, Italy.
Whenever I express my love for the eternal city, it is sometimes met with opposition. But let me explain…Rome is a sentimental place for me. It is the very first European city I have ever visited. It is the first international city I lived in and eventually called home and where my yearning to travel was ignited.
Close to 4 years later, I was so lucky to be back in this special place. This time I was with my baby sister who was now experiencing her first trip abroad. Rome was our home base for a week as we set out on daily adventures throughout the city and beyond, most notably to Tuscan villages and Florence.
While Rome may be known for its host of historical monuments – the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica – I appreciate the quieter moments of this bustling capital city. Wishing to scope out Rome’s everyday charm, we stayed right along the tram line in Trastevere, my favorite neighborhood. Located across the Tiber River, hidden away from tourists, Trastevere sits between cobbled streets and hilly avenues. One of the best routes to Trastevere is by foot over the Ponte Sisto Bridge, which offers a delightful view of St. Peter’s to the north.
As it was my sister’s first time in the city, of course we made the necessary stop to the sites dotted along Rome’s historic district – the first most certainly being the Colosseum. Enjoying a terraced lunch just feet away from this famous ancient amphitheater is what vacationing is all about. My first of many plates of cacio e pepe for the week and a glass of Tuscan Chardonnay was the perfect accompaniment for the beyond stellar view.
After tossing a coin in the Trevi, wandering up all 135 of the Spanish steps, and stopping for a gelato break (or two); we were spent. A crisp glass of Sardinian Vermentino was calling my name at an outdoor café in the center of Piazza Navona. An accordion tune danced through the square as we chatted and sipped and soaked up the warm March sun. Time felt still in the late afternoon of the crowded Roman piazza.
The next day was equally warm and sunny – perfect for venturing to the world’s smallest sovereign state. The Vatican City is home to the Pope, a large collection of Italy’s most precious artworks, and the larger-than-life St. Peter’s Basilica. Independent from Rome, the Vatican has its own postal code, currency, and army. The ostentatious Swiss Guards are hard to miss in their neon orange uniforms, a dress code that has been implemented for centuries. Not to miss is the Vatican Museum which also grants access to the world-famous Sistine Chapel.
Rome is a trove of everything that makes Italy so great – the food, the wine, and the sites. It will always be a place of fond memories from my study abroad days and now wonderful moments cherished with my little sister. Getting the chance to rediscover this gem of a city while sharing it with her was priceless. We will always remember this trip from the unseasonably warm days to the endless pasta bowls at night. Now let’s hope I do not have to wait another four years until my next Roman holiday…