How in the world has it been over a month since we headed across the pond to our favorite country to celebrate Carson’s 10th birthday?? I know I have made you wait long enough for the official recap posts so I thought it would be easier to divide them by cities: first Rome and then Venice.
You know I have a tendency to get very long-winded when it comes to travel guide posts so I can make the most of these recaps [and hopefully help those planning their own adventures] so I am trying to include as many details as possible… starting things off with the full Rome itinerary, brokwn down by days:
First things first, I am going to mention the travel debacle one time and one time only… my best advice: Don’t fly United. Their international flights were substantially less $$$ than Delta which is what we usually fly when we head abroad and now I’ve officially learned my lesson. The missing luggage, cancelled flights, delays on every single leg of our trip therefore making us run through multiple airports to catch our plane = I’ll never do it again. I will say that having AirTags saved us multiple times and I’ll never check a suitcase without putting one in there again.
OK, now onto the good stuff: once we arrived in Rome, we found our transportation guide and driver and they took us to our apartment. We had rented an apartment last year in Paris and it went so well we decided to try our luck out again and boy did it pay off. The neighborhood was fabulous, super convenient to many of the highlights of Rome and very walkable with lots of shops, restaurants and everything you need close by. Here is the apartment we rented. We spent the afternoon getting settled, exploring the streets, taking in a few stops nearby and of course stopping for lots of gelato and cocktails before calling it an early night!
The next morning, it was full steam ahead with a full day tour with our guide and driver. We hit SO many of the tourist hotspots and favorite sights to see, but I’ll be honest and say it was SUPER helpful to have not only a guide with us to help access these important places quickly and efficiently, but a private driver for some much needed air conditioning in between our stops = it was REALLY hot during our first few days in Rome topping the charts at 99 degrees. So another note to pack lightweight sundresses + outfits!
That day, we visited The Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, the Colisseum and Forum and then made our way to Piazza Novanna. A lot to see and take in for one day, but it was amazing to be able to see all of it with our girls this time around. I cannot recommend these enough… and try to get to the Colisseum early in the AM or later in the afternoon to avoid that direct sunlight while you walk around.
We ate lunch at a restaurant called Cafe Emma for lunch which was a recommendation by our tour guide and it was fantastic… an authentic local eatery with all the fresh pasta, pizza, cheese, and of course beverages to keep you cool!
That night, we hit up Roma Sparita for an al fresco dinner, which was DELISH… super tricky to get reservations because they only open up tables 15 days prior to your visit, so be sure to set an alarm to remind yourself if you’re wanting to eat there. Definitely a quiet, quaint place to relax and people watch, too.
Finally… the day where our bodies and sleep habits finally got accustomed to Italy, which was a good thing because this day was jam packed. First, we started off with an outdoor breakfast in the gardens at the Vatican = a new activity none of us knew about before this trip, I absolutely recommend it. It allowed us to enter before anyone else, skip all the lines and enjoy a quiet + calm dining experience at one of the most famous places in the world. Plus, the pancakes were just what the girls were dreaming of!
From there, we started our early Vatican tour… we started wondering where the massive crowds were when our guide Elena mentioned that one of the security guards had told her that the Pope was having a private event in the Sistine Chapel, therefore we practically had the entire museum to ourselves for the first few hours. It was an incredible way to see so many of the amazing tapestries, art exhibits, paintings, sculptures and more and I told my girls never to forget that moment = it won’t ever happen again!
After we finished touring, we walked to St. Peter’s Basilica. Given that it was super hot, we had worn sundresses and summer-geared outfits, but we brought denim jackets to wear over our shoulders when entering the church as their dress code is strictly enforced while in the basilica. Just another thing to keep in mind to pack for when you visit ;).
This was my second time visiting the church and even more impressive than I remembered. The sheer size is just absolutely breathtaking, but focusing on the architectural details is even more amazing when you get the chance to see it again. The girls absolutely loved learning about St. Peter and seeing where his final resting place is as well as learning more about the Catholic church and the popes.
That afternoon, we headed to lunch at a small bistro called Il Chianti before walking back to the Spanish Steps for some much needed retail therapy with the girls… all the luxury boutiques in one square?? Swoon! I love getting lost in the piazzas and finding cute little souvenirs to bring back and of course we added a new Christmas ornament to our travel tree collection = a favorite tradition of our family’s for sure!
For dinner that night, Jeff and I took everyone back to one of our most memorable restaurants from our prior trip, Hostaria Costanza. It’s a MUST for anyone looking to eat at an authentic Italian restaurant that’s filled with amazing staff, the best food and more of a family atmosphere where all feel welcome. Super kid friendly and if you order one thing off the menu, it has to be the chateaubriand = just take my word for it!
The best thing we did for our itinerary was build in a “buffer day” in the middle of our time in Rome. We were wiped out from all the tours, walking expeditions and such so we opted to add in a day to just explore and shop and it was good for eveveryone… Pappy got to spend the day taking pictures at some of his favorite places, we did some shopping at Rinacentre [the coolest department store in the city!], hitting up more hot spots for gelato and then getting lost wandering through the neighborhoods, buying souvenirs for family, etc.
That evening, we walked to Piazza Navonna and dined al fresco while listening to live music and people watching = it was simply superb!!
Our last full day in Rome started off with one of the most fun activities… an authentic Rome cooking class at In Rome Cooking Classes campus. We did this in Paris last year and loved it so much we decided to do it again, this time Italian style, and it was something we will always remember = we did the private cooking class with the master chef and we enjoyed every minute of the 3 hour experience. We made homemade spaghetti carbonara and classic pizza and then got to enjoy the fruits of our labor with lunch afterwards… and now we know exactly how to make our very own pizza dough + homemade pasta = absolutely incredible!
That afternoon ,we decided to take it easy and get packed up for our next adventure to Venice. We then went to another highly recommended restaurant for dinner, Babette, which was packed full of charm and ambiance… a perfect walking destination at night too, to take in the sights and sounds of everything so wonderful about Rome!
Our time had come and gone in Rome and it was time to say arrivederci to this incredible city… we had our driver meet us at our apartment with all our luggage and help transport us to the train station so we could make our way onto Venice. Due to a strike from some of the staff who normally helps with your bags, we got a bit derailed [no pun intended] and had to get the logistics figured out on our own, but it definitely made for some funny memories trying to navigate through the station with 12 bags and lots of language barriers. Onto Venice we went.. all aboard the high speed train for 3 hours of resting, relaxing and possibly a nap 😉 Next up, the City of Bridges!