M: I have always wanted to go to Italy. Even though I’m only 1/4 Italian, I really have always thought that it feels like home to me– just reading about it, seeing pictures, and hearing about it from others. And it does feel like home! Everyone looks like me here– aquiline noses, dark hair, olive skin, etc. etc. I love that. And the food is remarkable. Particularly the gelato. I have had it twice a day since we got here… favorite flavors so far include: hazelnut meringue, Nutella, grapefruit, strawberry, rosemary/lemon/honey, honey, and fig/cheese/almond. Don’t even get me started on the pizza… as you can tell, food means home to me. So hello, Italia. I am home.
J: I’ve been here before so everything should be, at the very least, familiar to me, right? Nope. Not even close. With Maggie here I’m taking in things that I would have typically waltzed right past without a care in the world. Today, she was pointing out delicate textures on paintings that were incredible. I never would have noticed them without her. She even looked up the best gelaterias in the city and so far we’ve hit them all! They’re incredible. I would have settled for second to best. Now I’ve had the best 4 times and the second best 2 times and third best once. It pays to have someone as dedicated and passionate about life and living as your partner. Maggs is great. Rome last time was cold and lonely. This time it’s warm and cozy. In fact, I’d say, since I’m here with her, it feels like home to me.
M: We are having a great honeymoon so far– thanks to the gifts of so many people at our wedding and other people who are letting us stay at their houses and give us recommendations for places to eat, things to see, stuff to do. It feels like a continuation of our wedding celebration– 1.5 years later! It’s as it should be. And as a nice surprise for continued celebration, we even got to hang out with some friends who happened to be in Rome at the same time as we were!
J: This is my favorite picture so far that we’ve taken. (I’m referring to the one above.) It was taken at the Spanish Steps by a friend of ours (see below on the right!) Maggs says I’m messing up the groove…which I probably am. So I won’t comment on the picture below that makes the friends that we got to hang out with for two days here look like nerds.
M: As I have raved about my husband’s photog skills enough on this blog already, I will just say he had the great idea to take pictures of the Colosseum at night when there were fewer tourists and neat lighting. So even though I had to pee terribly, I sucked it up and loitered while he took some great shots of this massive wonder. And then, as usual with historic things, I got freaked out that it was so old and so many people had been in there and been killed there… so we had to leave.
J: I, on the other hand, simply thought of the movie Gladiator (you know the one, I mean, of course you do. There’s only one after all…) which I thought was awesome and crazy. The people were about half the size of me back in the day and so when they went up against tigers and lions and such, they were outmatched not only in strength but also in size. They didn’t have a chance…
M: We have just wandered. Sometimes consulting a map, sometimes not. Mostly just being quiet. Sometimes we hold hands, and other times we go on opposite sides of the cobblestone alleyways only to join up again when the cavalcades of scooters pass. And we see awesome buildings like this one.
J: I really liked the colors on this balcony. I wish I could go and sit up there at night with a glass of wine because it’s just opposite the Trevi Fountain.
M: Self-timer in front of the scary historic monolith full of dead people and bad energy.
J: Ahhh, sorry, I had to stop laughing at what Maggie wrote before I could think of my own clever little caption. Here goes, so apparently, this giant arch is right next to the colosseum and was commissioned by Nero or something…(I could have made that last part up…not sure)
M: The Fountain of Tritone in the Piaza de Barberini. I think. Anyway, it’s a great fountain. And I’m pretty sure you can drink the water from it– but I didn’t, Mom, don’t worry. Although I already have an amoeba from Rwanda, but that is another story. But you CAN drink the water from all the ancient water fountains all around the city because many (most?) of them are still fed by the same ancient aquifers from Roman times. The water is delicious.
J: This is that fountain in that piaza. (But hey, don’t believe everything you read on the internet!) And the water is pretty good…
M: Justin has an obsession with taking pictures of doors and tiny automobiles. Jackpot. I think this one should be framed when we get home.
J: This is a red car. A very very very
very very very very tiny red car. Seriously, they make Smart Cars look like Hummers.
M: There are beautiful churches everywhere. I think we have said that before… and we try to go into them all, but they all start to look the same. In a good way, actually. It’s very beautiful and wonderful. We went to the Vatican today and saw the Sistine Chapel and all the other goodies of the Catholic church. Justin got kicked out of the Sistine Chapel for taking a picture, but who can blame him? The Church has done a lot of really bad things, but they’ve done a lot of really good things, too. Namely: Art.
J: I liked how the church was half in the light and half in the dark. And I especially liked what the couple sitting on the steps added to the pic as well.
M: Another picture courtesy of the lovely Alissa Case. This is another fountain in another piaza. Just kidding. It’s the Trevi Fountain.
J: This is my favorite place in Rome. Well. It used to be. Last time I was here when there were no tourists (you know, the end of December) and I had the place pretty much all to myself. It was super peaceful. Now there are always about 2,000 people there making noise and taking pictures. Still beautiful, just not as peaceful.
M: This is that church I got kicked out of above the Spanish Steps for wearing a strapless dress. Viewed through azaleas.
J: She’s not lying.
J: I took this picture of this guy. (Obviously.) And I can’t remember if he saw me take it or not. And now, since that branch covers where his eyes are, I still can’t tell. What do you think?
M: Your creeper pictures make me very uncomfortable. Obviously, this man agrees with me.
M: The Piaza Navona with the Four Rivers sculpture by Bernini. It’s got so much movement in it. The Piaza is crowded with lots of painting vendors, these gorgeous cameo earrings that I would die for that were probably 900 Euro, and guitarists playing “Hotel California” to karaoke tracks.
J: Seriously, everyone there had the same set list. And it seemed like their “big money” track was “Hotel California” which, I have fond memories of from back in the day when my family (specifically my uncles Bob and Jim) played it on guitar/bass and sang it together. So these piaza people don’t have a chance stealing that memory away from my by creating another one. Sorry, isn’t gonna happen. Although, today we actually heard people playing real music without a CD track supporting cast…and that was nice.
M: The Four Rivers! And an obelisk.
J: True story. Bernini did this bad boy.
M: Another sculpture in the Piaza. Not sure who did this one. Bernini, too?
J: Also by Bernini.
M: You get off the metro at Flaminio, and then you see the entrance to Piaza del Popolo. Another Piaza. I wonder if you are sensing a theme here. I am. It is another one of Rome’s monotonous but welcome themes. Piazas are large open areas where people rest on steps, couples make out (a lot), and street performers and vendors bug the crap out of you while you are trying to people watch.
J: They are a great place to rest when your “dogs are barking” (Kevin, from The Office, anyone?) and then you can people watch!
M: I told Justin to title this picture “A man with a wooden leg named Smith.” Which is, of course, another movie/TV reference. From… I will tell you at the end of the post.
J: Somebody carved this. He was famous. He had given Julia Roberts and Pope John Paul II some of his carvings. This particular carving looks like it’s kicking it old school in honor of the late Beatie Boy.
M: Did we tell you about this already? I repeat my stories so bear with me. This is a site of sunken ruins– including the Senate House where Julius Caesar was murdered!– that is now a cat sanctuary. Piaza de Argentina, I think. If I was a cat, this would be paradise. Plenty of things to climb and jump from, long grass to stalk prey, other friends… kitty bliss!
J: Argentinians must really love their cats!
M: Karli, Justin found the most magnificent painting for you– reminds you of a certain sweatshirt, don’t you think?
J: Hint Hint, Von Herbulis, it’s a blue sweatshirt with a white horse on it.
M: Oh, look. Another creeper shot. But this lady was very neat. And had a dog in her purse.
J: I took this from my hip. Wishbone.
M: It’s like yin and yang. It’s like Rome is trying to balance all the bad energy from the murders at the Colosseum.
J: I named this picture “Halfsies.”
M: Kitties in their kitty paradise! And me and Alissa who were happy to see happy cats.
J: I think that it looks like Maggie is trying to feed cats pizza in this picture. Like she’s super proud of the pizza that she’s about to feed these cats.
M: We may or may not have spent more time at the cat sanctuary than anywhere else that day… including the historic Via Appia. And we are not ashamed.
J: Andrew and Hans. You can argue of who gets to be which.
M: Yep. I got nothing. I did not understand THIS pop culture reference until Justin told me. But the beer shop it was in had some neat Trappist ales that aren’t sold in the States!
J: Duff Beer. Please tell me at least some of you know where this is from. (If you don’t, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It happens to be from the longest running TV series ever.)
M: We rented an apartment 4 stops away from the Colosseum through airbnb.com. Which is the best site ever, by the way– people rent their apartments, spare rooms, villas, etc. So we got a great little place with a kitchen. And Justin cooked us dinner the first night!
J: So here I am, cooking dinner. Symbolic shoutout to the Scranton family and all my brothers!
M: I am here in our little apartment. Which, thankfully, has WiFi and a washing machine!
J: Yup, the WIFI gave her something to do while I
slaved away cooked.
M: Justin, don’t even go there. All the times I cook dinner… okay enough. It was delicious and I am thankful and excited to cook more WITH you in the future.
J: Double fistin.
M: The chef at work!!
J: I got that sweet little diddy on my head in Uganda for $5. It was also on sale in Miami at the Urban Outiftters I worked at (no comments about this) for about $35. So I’ve decided to open a Ugandan Outfitters when I get back and sell everything that Urban does but for 75% of the cost!
M: Isn’t it beautiful?? We had wine and bread and everything. Delish. Excellent job, house husband!
M: These are more things carved by that man who carved Pinocchio, pictured above.
J: I was trying to take a picture of these pigeons but all these signs got in the way and ruined the picture…
M: We so fly. And this picture so blurry. But we still so fly.
J: We so blurry. And this picture so fly. But we still so blurry.
M: There it is again. You haunt my dreams, Colosseo. And are built on the site of Nero’s “Colossus” statue of himself, for which you are named. And you are stained with blood and filled with tourists and the popes tried to redeem you by putting crosses in you and their names on your sides.
J: Behemoth of a death building.
M: More cat sanctuary! See? Wouldn’t you be blissfully happy there if you were a feline?
J: Feline Haven.
M: Guess where this one was taken?
J: I like how this little black guy stands out among all of the white(ish) stones.
M: This is an ancient temple. And the cat kept sticking his head down the hole in the altar. All I could think was ‘Curiosity killed the…’
M: Note the frescos behind Capt. Curiosity.
J: I would like to imagine this cat yelling at me for taking his picture in Italian…or at the very least, in English with a super deep Italian accent.
M: Where is this? The Maria del Popolo? With the Caravaggio and the Berninis that were covered up?
J: Yes. I thought it looked like a tree that had been burn. Which I thought was cool because of how it covered up the/accented the organ pipes.
M: I think we may be able to fill a whole book with pictures of beautiful Roman doors after this trip is through… another good one, babe!
J: This is a black door. It’s about 12 feet high and the paint is peeling off of it.
M: Reflection. That is the word that came to mind… and then a song in “The Little Mermaid” and one in “Mulan.”
J: I really liked the plants on this windowsill. But after I took the picture, I liked it for the reflection much more.
M: Roasted chestnuts! Which remind me of my Nana at Christmastime. And a small cone was 5 Euros, which surprised me so much I didn’t say no. So I bought them. And left a trail of shells around the city like Hansel & Gretel. I even found some later that day. So my trail worked!
J: Walnuts. (That’s what I thought they were.)
M: UP, UP, AND AWAY!
J: Look up next time you’re in a city. It might surprise you.
M: All the alleyways in Rome look just like all the pictures. Cobblestoned, ivy-covered wonders. Magical.
J: I really like the texture and character that the walls show here.
M: Google has been my best friend on this trip. I Googled best gelaterias and secondhand stores. So we found a gazillion gelaterias and three thriftstores. They were expensive, but really neat to look in! And Justin got a sweet vintage tank-top. And I tried on some glorious vintage sunglasses that were too much.
J: You weren’t supposed to take pictures inside, but the owner let someone into the fitting room and I snapped this while he wasn’t looking.
M: I wish we had more money and more luggage space for treasures, but we’re on a budget. Which is actually quite fun– it’s like a game to see how much you can get for your money. So places like this were more window-shopping. But still fun.
J: I loved this little alleyway. I thought it was super sweet with the cobblestone and ivy. Plus the window shutters. I don’t know why but I think they look awesome too. And I’m glad I was able to catch the guy on the bicycle before he escaped.
M: Es-CAP-ey! (Finding Nemo).
J: This is that church that was halfway covered in shadow and halfway still in the sun. This is the top half.
M: There is a road that goes from the side of the Piaza del Popolo to the Spanish Steps. The Cases told us it had some great views of the city and geez, were they right! Rome is all flat so you can see across the whole thing.
J: Step 1.
J: Step 2.
M: My favorite church again. Ha! No, it was beautiful. I need to go back there before we leave.
J: Piaza di Spagna.
M: Clown car! Oh, they’re so small. Two could fit in a Smart Car.
J: I’ve seen golf carts bigger than these things.
M: We went down the Via Appia with the Cases on their last day. We got glorious Italian pastries and then this nice old Italian man drove us to the top of the road because it was like 2 KM from the Metro Stop. Oh well. We went down in the Catacombs (another scary, death-energy place!) and saw these sheep.
J: These sheep were right next to the catacombs that we went into. The particular one we went into happened to be the largest in the world. It was incredible. Can’t believe Christians used to have mass and celebrate Eucharist down there together…
M: This is Angelo’s Castle. I am not sure who Angelo is, yet. I’ll have to Google it. But I DO know that there is a delicious gelateria not that far from there! Which is the most important thing.
J: Yellow with shutters…and a lamp.
J: This is a shot from that road that leads towards the Spanish Steps. It’s pretty sweet because you can see out over the rooftops of Rome.
M: I helped J line up the spires and domes in this shot.
J: I pushed the button. Ta-da.
J: This is Maggs enjoying the second best gelato in Rome. Although, it’s got some unique flavors that are really awesome (like Lemon Cheescake and Passionfruit).
M: Most of Justin’s pictures of me are me eating. Which is me happiest. This gelateria has those fancy flavors like rosemary, lemon, & honey and fig, almond, & cheese. Delish! They also serve gelato in the traditional Sicilian style in a brioche bun.
J: Another interesting building. Another sweet balcony w/ plants. Another blue sky.
M: Sun flare.
J: Up. Orange.
J: Down Orange.
M: Ivy. Dang, there are a lot of pictures on this post. Keep going! It’s a marathon! Augh!
J: More ivy and more Roman roofops!
J: Okay, so we decided that we would sit down at this touristy restaurant and eat a night ago.
M: Oh look. Me eating again. It wasn’t that bad, actually… for a touristy joint.
M: We wanted to rent a scooter so badly here, but it looks dangerous and is wicked expensive. Next time??
J: But more importantly, there is a dead bird about 10-15 feet from where our dinner table is. Look at the picture above again and you can see it there too. It wasn’t just dead, it’s insides were on the outside.
M: Locks at the Piaza del Popolo.
J: Kinder egg!
J: Jesus by Bernini!
M: THIS is that gourmet gelateria by Piaza Navola. They make all their artisenale gelato in small batches using only the finest ingredients– like their coffee gelato is made with expresso from Jamaica.
J: This beautiful horse was tied up in front up this sweet looking door and I couldn’t resist.
M: Three people were riding their horses down the Via Appia and one of them looked like he could have been from any of the past 3 centuries… his riding boots, old leather saddle… and then he put on a camo-print plastic poncho.
M: And, another door for your viewing pleasure.
J: This is a house off of Appia Antica. It was incredibly beautiful.
J: Here’s another window from that same house. The green is…just soo pretty.
M: Another view from that road above the Spanish Steps. To the leftish is the white building with a million columns and winged chariots on the sides. That is the monument to Italy’s first king, Victor Emannuelle (I think that’s his name). It is the biggest thing we’ve seen here.
J: Lots of green…
J: Sweet stairwell.
J: Gloria In Excelsis Deo. Indeed.
M: I think this is what Justin called my “fake smile.” At the del Teatro Gelato place.
M: Then I went back to eating my gelato.
M: Seriously, every street– especially those off of the tourist beaten path– is just splendid.
J: Fat cat subway.
J: Down below, scooter row.
M: This is that massive monument to Italian nationalism I wrote about above. It was raining so we had our Sprite-colored raincoats on.
J: Lemon-Lime! A combo that has stood the test of time.
J: Oh look, Maggs! Another door!
M: Oh look, Justin! My shocked and amazed face!
J: Feeling the vino.
M: It was SO great. We found this great little eatery down the street from the Colosseum (thanks to Kate Miller’s recommendation!) with cheap, delicious pasta and cheaper, delicious, smooth wine. It was packed with locals every night! We’ve been back three times.
J: So the other night we ordered Chinese food and had to wait in the restaurant for it. I wanted to take a picture and this is what Maggie decided to do.
J: Another door, another day. (But actually this is the same door as the last one and from the same day…)
J: Tiny car license plate!
J: A better picture of us from the Chinese place.
J: All of the lights, all of the lights.
J: Heart pizza.
M: Tiny pistachio-encrusted canoli for 1 Euro? Yes, please.
M: Sign at our train stop. Which is, as I told Justin, ironic. Because I think if you stopped and read it long enough, you’d get pick-pocketed.
J: Okay, I’m sorry for all of these pictures. I hope they’re somehow redeeming for how long this damn post is.
M: They really are beautiful, babe. We’re just tired so all these captions seem long. But they’re so awesome! They are going to be such great memories for when we’re old. Or just later this year.
J: Please see up above about the redeeming qualities.
J: Another door. Pretty sweet though, huh?
M: My tiny canolo of goodness!!
M: My wife is beautiful. Seriously. Look at her!
M: Aw babe it’s been great writing this with you and being on Facbeook separately. Let’s go eat dinner now.
(The movie reference? Mary Poppins!)