1. Old men playing chess outside one of our favorite bars in Rome, Bar del Fico. We spent most afternoons here having Campari sodas (my Italian equivalent for G&Ts) and these same men were there every day. 2. Jesse's good at taking cat pictures. I never noticed the amount of cats in Rome before this visit, but let's just say that Madeline book, The Cats of Rome? Well, it's exaggerating nothing. This one looked so scruffy and sleepy, I loved it. 3. It was about a month into our trip at this point and I hadn't had a hair cut since January so I cut my own hair for the first time ever on our Airbnb balcony. I have to say, I did a much better job than my most recent haircut here in Richmond (that I paid a pretty penny for). I think I'll take up cutting my own hair for normal life, too, and not just backpacking life. 4. Jesse walking the halls of the Vatican. 5. Truly the best coffee in the world. And this is coming from a Seattle girl. This was also a repeated visit for us, even though it was quite the trek from where we were staying. The girl at the register (you pay as you enter in a outer entry hall then, armed with receipt, you are allowed into the coffee bar) recognized us every time, because we were the only English speakers there. It's very much the real deal. None of this touristy Sant’Eustachio or Tazza d'Oro... Sciascia Caffe is the most perfect cup of coffee you will ever taste. 6. and 7. Playing with our camera in the Pantheon.
What not to miss while in Rome:
Bar Del Fico: Great people watching, generous Campari Sodas, a bit expensive but the decor makes up for it. The rough hewn floorboards, the mismatched metal and heavy wood tables, and the wide flung window seating that spilled out under the trees.
Gelateria Fatamorgana: Hands down by popular vote and by our taste buds the best gelato in Rome (don't take my word, google best gelato in Rome)! And best of all, it's completely gluten free (which, by the way is important... gluten is used in most other gelatos as thickener), even the cones! More than half of their selection was also dairy free. My favorite was the chocolate espresso hazelnut... oh my stars.
Sciascia Caffè: You will stick out like a sore thumb unless you are a perfectly tailored Italian business man (and I mean man, there were maybe two other women there in total besides me), and don't even dream of standing at the counter if you aren't (I know, that's what you're supposed to do there, but...)! It is worth it. The smooth, almost the texture of melted butter, and faintly chocolate (you aren't imagining that taste... they somehow pull the shots through chocolate in a magical way...impossible to replicate at home) nuttiness is definitely worth it. Plus, the cups are gorgeous, not to mention the heavy dark panelling and elaborately framed mirrors.
2 Periodico Caffé: located in the hipster Monti district of Rome, it quickly became our other go to bar for the afternoons (they also have good Campari sodas!). We really fell in love with the concept of aperitivo and took full advantage of the ability to sit for hours in one spot every single afternoon. This place had a garage-like front wall that was open during working hours, and lots of well worn, inviting couches and over stuffed chairs--all used and/or made of re-purposed objects. Basically, it looked like a giant version of our apartment. We were smitten, and even more so when we discovered a ballroom sized back room decorated like one of those massive lofts you see "starving" artists living in in New York (I'm calling bullshit on that one).
The Beaches: I know, you don't think of Rome as a beach town, but you can get there on your metro pass! We went a few times while we were there (we were in Rome for quite a while), and it was wonderful and tourist free! We went to Santa Marinella and loved it. There is a free bus that leaves from where the train stops and it shuttles people up and down the shore all day (and part of the night) long (we are pretty sure it was free... no one asked for money and no one seemed to give any). Just hop off at whichever beach looks good to you! The first twenty or so are pay beaches (which is kind of fun), but if you ride the bus long enough (maybe ten-fifteen minutes) you will see a public beach or two... it's where most of the bus gets off, so it's hard to miss!
And the countless hole in the wall gluten free restaurants that I cannot remember the names of because there seemed to be one whenever we felt hungry. If you have Celiac, just move to Rome already. Your pain will be over...mentally and physically.
You better believe I threw more than one coin into the Trevi Fountain... although Jesse may have messed up that wishing well since he hit a kid with his coin. In the words (and thick Russian accent) of the mother: "You are never coming back to Rome!" Really hoping she's wrong.