The Skies in Rome are bigger, I swear!

This was the first real holiday I went on with my Nan and we weren’t sure how she was going to manage. She did great and this became the first of my trips with her. Rome had long been on my to visit list and it did not disappoint. I will say though, if you’re doing a tour of Europe, do Rome last. Nothing else will compare. We had an itinerary before going, of course, but it was a bit more flexible because I knew we may have to change stuff depending on how my nan was getting on with the walking and if we needed a chill day. My nan is 84 now and was 80 at the time of the trip. She’s my hero. 

Day 1 we just wandered around where we had booked our apartment, and found our way to the Piazza Veneza. We were just wandering with no real idea where we were heading and just admiring the city and avoiding the INSANE traffic. There are a shit load of steps up and my Nan knew she wasn’t able so opted to stay down the bottom and enjoy the view. I asked one of the guards standing there if there was a lift for older people and indicated to my Nan and she said no. I found out later there was and if we had booked in advance she could have joined us. I was particularly annoyed because the view from up top was one of the highlights of the trip. The sky up here was the biggest and most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Looking out over Rome, even though I know a marginally small amount of its history I couldn’t help feeling I was looking down over where the world had started. The bits I had picked up in documentaries and being best friends with a mega history nerd meant I understood some of how much of what we know today came from Rome, including the mega straight and organised roads. 

I could have spent hours up here but was conscious my Nan was waiting at the bottom, probably very bored and hot. When we got back down my poor Nan had been told she was not allowed to sit on the steps and had been standing there the whole hour I was up there. Point is, there is a lift. Plan this. It’s a highlight. Also, you have to pay a small fee to go right up to the top, somewhere in the region of €10-15 and it’s cheaper if you have a student card.

Day 2 we did the Big Bus tour. Figured this would be a good way to see some of the city, pick and choose where we got off and hit two of the sites we wanted to see with slightly less walking. Spanish steps were first. One of my favourite things about Italy is the thunderstorms and they’re no different in Rome. They’re so dramatic and loud and you actually feel closer to the sky, you can feel it as well as hear it if that makes any sense. Maybe I’m just a massive empath even with the weather now. The heavens opened as we reached the Spanish steps and hundreds of people were trying to hide. Luckily me and my Nan had poncho’s! We stopped for pasta, hit Sephora (always a highlight) and then got back on the bus to go to the Colosseum. 

The Colosseum. We had bought a skip the queue ticket which meant we could join the smaller queue.We got the audio guides and just wandered. To be honest we listened to the guides for a few minutes and then gave up. Amazing a structure this old is still standing and such a significant reminder of how humans fought animals for thrills, entertainment and how grateful I am to be alive today. 

More wandering and we came across Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore when trying to find some nice gelato. Carry cash for gelato, not many places took card. Also avoid the big colourful piled up gelato, the good stuff is under lids! 

Day 3: My sister had recommended we do Florence so I of course accidentally booked a day trip to Tuscany instead. Numpty. Wine tasting in Tuscany was nice, if a little dull. I’m not into red wine or fancy cheeses or olives so it was just lots of white wine and donated bread! If wine tasting is your thing though you’d probably enjoy it. We stopped in a beautiful little town called Montepulciano. I don’t mean to brag, but I spelled that correctly the first time.

Montepulciano: I do not recommend a tour of this town for older people or people with reduced mobility as its basically a town built on the most extreme cobbled stones hills. Seriously people move out of there to have kids and when they get old. They filmed scenes from the Twilight series here though. Remember that scene where Edward was gonna rush out into the sunlight in front of the Volturi because they wanted to destroy Bella for becoming a vampire? Yeah, me neither. Well those scenes were filmed here.

Managed to find the Trevi fountain that night whilst Nan had an early night (three coins). It’s crazy busy and can take a while to actually get the stand at the outside of it. I hear early mornings are very good, if you’re that way inclined. Following day we went off to Pompeii, a childhood dream. I’ve been a bit obsessed with Pompeii since I learned it erupted on my birthday 79AD. I think it was also when I fell in love with geography, I wanted to be an archaeologist for years as a teen. This changed when I discovered it wasn’t just finding old people and dinosaurs in the dust and that was the very rare part of the job. I digress. 

Day 4: We did a day tour from Rome which included climbing Mount vesuvius, and Pompeii. The tour included a stop in some hotel place where I got the best pizza I have ever eaten. I still think about it. Napoli pizza for life. Next stop was climbing Mt Vesuvius, I didn’t make it to the top as we were on a time limit and I had wasted time queuing for the loo at the start. This was an actual dream come true, the climbing bit. Annoyed fellow climbers for pics. No regrets. 

For Pompeii itself our tour guide was a man from the region who was in his 90’s and had been doing the tours since he was a teen. His family had been tour guides for generations. He was at times hard to understand so we missed a lot but I still kind of loved he was still working there. At one point in the tour we reached what looked like a bit of a mini colosseum where you could climb up the steps. What was hilarious about this was that my Nan, who had stayed down at the bottom and was chatting to the guide, didn’t understand that he had a microphone attached to him. The guide started flirting with my Nan and to my great amusement she started flirting back, not realising that the 30 other people on our tour could hear them. The others smiled at me and after I had to tell my Nan, she was of course mortified but kind of chuffed she still ‘got it’.

Pompeii itself was incredible. So bizarre walking around and seeing the homes, businesses and functioning aqueducts that were still in place and seeing how people had lived in 79AD. The water from these is drinkable and people were refilling their water bottles from it no bother, which is insane when you think about how long these regions of Italy had basic plumbing. When we got to what looked like the main square we got to see more of the remains. The people’s body positions, kids and animals in particular got me. The juxtaposition of it all. Thousands of lives lost due to a volcanic eruption, of a volcano that is very much still there and we still don’t know when it will erupt again or how big it will be next time.

Tips for this tour, keep hydrated, pee after the climb, take the walking stick for climbing the mountain- it helps, get the pizza, bring a bobbon (hair tie) and maybe a hat! Oh and if you’re bad with heights keep your eyes closed on the way up to Mount Vesuvius, the roads are very small and windy with a drop off the mountain on one side. 

Day 5: the Vatican. I’m not religious at all but visiting here was well worth it. We bought skip the que tickets, which were worth it. St Peter’s Basilica was unfortunately closed for reservations when we went so we wandered around what was essentially a museum with art. This bit is not suitable for older people or people with mobility issues. My poor Nan had to sit down whenever something that resembled a seat and wasn’t art presented itself. We found out after there was a lift here. Again I had asked on entry and told no. She really loved seeing all the art and the Sistine Chapel was Bucket list stuff. When I think back, what I remember most about the Sistine chapel is “shhhhh”. If you know, you know.

I fell in love with Rome when I was there and found myself wandering the streets wondering what I could do for a living if I moved here with no Italian. I hope to one day to retire here, or maybe have a holiday home in Italy somewhere. Somewhere with some greenery and beautiful sunsets. Discussions about getting to Florence with Nan are happening. Watch this space ❤ ❤ .

2 responses to “The Skies in Rome are bigger, I swear!”

  1. I learned a lot about the Roman Empire and the Medici family in Florence. Funding artists like Michelangelo to create amazing works of art


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m dying to go to Florence!


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