My friend Katharyn and I had had an incredible time traveling with Contiki through Italy, France and Spain earlier this summer and I am excited to finally sharing photos of our Europe adventure. Of the three countries I visited, Italy was my favourite—the food, the wine, the people, the history, the culture…I simply loved it all!
I took about 1000 photos on my trip so needless to say I had a hard time narrowing down which photos to share on my blog. If you were following me along on my trip on Instagram, then you may have seen some of the photos I am sharing today.
Here is a recap of the first two days of my trip that I spent in Rome, Italy. Or I should say Roma?!
We arrived in Rome on June 22, 2015 around 11:00 a.m. CEST. After retrieving our luggage and finding our way to the Contiki kiosk in the airport, we made our way to Hotel Borromini, our home in Rome for the next two days. Once at the hotel we checked-in to our room and met up with our tour group for introductions with the other Mediterranean Highlights travellers; there were 43 of us in total on the tour.
Our first night in Rome we went to a local restaurant for dinner where we were taught how to make Italian-style pizza (while enjoying unlimited wine, of course!) From there our Contiki guide took us on an evening walking tour of Rome, which included visiting the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona and Pantheon, before stopping for our first taste of Italian gelato!
Day two in Rome was a day I will remember always. We woke up bright and early, and headed with our group to the Colosseum. The Colosseum, known as the Piazza del Colosseo in Italy, is simply magical; an extraordinary piece of history that is the iconic symbol of Imperial Rome.
If you saw my Packing for Italy blog post, then you will recognize the dress, hat and sandals I wore on day two in Rome. I also toted around my Lo and Sons camera bag, which also acted as my purse, that was featured in my Europe Packing Essentials roundup. It really was the perfect outfit to wear for a day of historical sightseeing in Italy. Italians are quite the stylish bunch with a passion for fashion so having them comment on my outfit was a huge compliment.
After exploring the Colosseum in the morning, we travelled across the city to the tiniest country in the world, Vatican City, where we had a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica, the art of the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel. It felt like a dream visiting these sites and absorbing their beauty and history.
Following the tour, Katharyn and I explored the streets of Vatican City before stopping to eat at a local restaurant . One of the things I just love about Italy is how the restaurants often occupy the sidewalk in front of the eatery. There is nothing more fulfilling than absorbing a new culture while enjoying italian music, good food and wine!
Late afternoon we headed back to our hotel to get ready for dinner. I threw on a navy high-low spaghetti strap dress and my favourite earrings from Lisi Lerch before heading to the restaurant La Dolce Vita. Anyone who knows me well can tell you I have a secret love for opera so I was thrilled that dinner that evening included live performances from Italian opera singers! The highlight for me was really when one of the female sopranos sang my favourite opera song, “O mio babbino caro,” a soprano aria from the opera Gianni Schicchi (1918) by Giacomo Puccini. If you’ve never heard it before than you must click here. It gives me goosebumps every time I hear it!
The night didn’t end there. After dinner we walked to a bar where we spent the next few hours socializing with locals and other travellers before continuing the party into the early hours at a local disco.
The next morning (after having very little sleep!) we began our journey north to Florence. In my next Travel Tuesday blog post, I will be sharing highlights of days three and four of my trip, which included a stop in San Gimignano, Tuscany’s charming medieval hill town that we visited before arriving in breathtaking Florence.