My friend Steve who also lives in Palm Springs is spending the summer in Barcelona. We decided we would meet each other in Italy for a week since it was so close to both of us.
I have been to Italy several times but he has never been so we decided to do two nights in Rome, three nights in Florence and three nights in Sorrento.
My flight from Split, Croatia was a quick 40 minutes to Rome. I took the train from the airport to our Air B&B which was in the heart of the Trastevere area in Rome.
This area is very hip and happening with a younger crowd enjoying the many restaurants, bars and cafés. The area at night was so crowded you could hardly walk through the streets. The lines to get in the restaurants and bars were ridiculous. When I return to Rome I would prefer to stay in the area around the Spanish Steps.
Steve had bought his little long-haired dachshund named Archie with him. We set out to explore the city with Archie getting a lot of attention as we walked around the city.
Our first stop was the Piazza Navona . This is a beautiful public square that used to be the site of an arena were 20,000 spectators would watch athletic competitions. There are three big fountains in the Square designed by the Italian artist Bernini. It is said that prior to the 19 century they used to plug the fountains and flood the square so people could cool off in the hot summers.
After walking around the Piazza Navona we proceeded to walk to the Trevi Fountain which was so crowded with tourists it was overwhelming. All we could think about was jumping in the fountain it was so hot and the water looked so refreshing Archie was the lucky one who got dipped in the fountain to cool off. After tossing our coins in the fountain as per tradition, we set out for the Spanish Steps. We walked up the steps and I showed Steve 2 of the top hotels in the world called the Hotel Hasler and the Grand Hotel Palace.
People no longer are able to sit on the steps as in years past which allowed for some nice photos and easy passage.
Walking away from the Spanish steps we stopped at the Hotel de Russie for a refreshing gin and tonic on the patio. This is my favorite hotel in Rome. I love the peaceful, beautiful garden setting . I was fortunate enough to stay at this property with my "Travel Diva " friend, Michele who had been invited to stay a few years ago.
After reviving our spirit and cooling off we continued on to the Piazza del Popolo. At the edge of this piazza sits the church Celica of Santa Maria Del Popolo where some major works of the Italian artist, Caravaggio are displayed. Caravaggio is one of my favorite Italian artists along with Botticelli. In a small chapel in this church are two paintings of his called the Conversion of Saint Paul and the Crucifixion of Saint Peter. The central painting
depicts the Assumption of the Virgin by
Annibale Caracci. I love the display of these paintings because in order to see them you need to pay one Euro to have the lights shine on them. It's always a breathtaking experience when the lights come on.
There are also some magnificent paintings by Raphael Bernini in this church showing some of the best examples of Renaissance art. This church is so worth a visit.
With travel days we only had one day to visit the sites of Rome. You cannot go to Rome and not see the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel. When we finally arrived at the Vatican everything was closing down for the day. As we later learned the Sistine Chapel was sold out for the week. If you intend to visit make sure you book tickets far in advance.
The Vatican plaza is magnificent with some amazing architecture. It was exciting to see the balcony that the Pope steps out on to deliver his message to the crowds below.
it is mind boggling knowing that Vatican City is the smallest country in the world and the only existing example of a country within a country. Rome is a large, exciting city with so much to see it would be worth returning to spend a few more days. We saw most of the famous sites walking almost eight miles that day with Archie prancing along side of us. I strongly suggest avoid going to Rome and Italy in general during the summer because the crowds and the heat can be overwhelming. By all means make a point to visit, you will not be disappointed.