Saturday, November 19, 2016

Italy Day 1: A Roman Holiday

At the very end of August/early September 2015, I visited Italy and have been planning on posting that trip for over a year.  I'm determined to post before the end of 2016, but I really enjoy Christmas posts in I better get going! 

This was my first trip where my traveling friend Katherine and I arranged everything ourselves, including all the hotels and the moves to different cities.  So lets start at the Roma! 
I met Katherine in Rome, so I flew and made my way by train into the city alone (also a first).  She met me at Roma Termini and we walked to our nearby hotel, Hotel Raffaello.

(lobby area, with the breakfast room up those breakfast served there every morning)

(the pretty room!)

 After dropping off my luggage, we started to check off the churches Rick Steves describes as "Pilgrim's Rome," the first of which just so happened to begin not that far from the hotel--so perfect first day activity!  (Just so you know, I'm a huge Rick Steve travel guide fan, and highly recommend  his books for European travel) 

The first church we saw, St. Peter in Chains, a minor basilica, was first built in 432-440 to house the chains that bound St. Peter when he was imprisoned in Jerusalem.


It has of course undergone many restorations since that time,

including the addition of the tomb of Pope Julius II, designed by Michelangelo, including Michelangelo's Moses.

And the chains, of course. 

We then to the next church on our list, the basilica of San Clemente al Laterano, built in the 1100s.

This church was built ontop of a previous church from the 9th century, and, under that, a pagan temple, the ruins of which we went underground to tour.  This is a perfect illustration of how old the city is and how new buildings have been built on top of old. 

This church was particularly memorable as it was my first glimpse of the gorgeous mosaics in so many Italian churches.  

Just a bit up the street was the Lateran Baptistery--especially appropriate because the Lateran "church" is dedicated to St. John the Baptist!

San Giovanni in Laterano, is the Archbasilica of St. John of Baptist. 

 It was definitely awe inspiring with its size, gorgeous gilded ceiling,

and numerous statutes.

When the Popes resided in the Laterano Palace, this was their church, and it is today one of five Papal basilicas.

(gorgeous 14th century baldacchino--the canopy over the alter)
Even the cloisters were gorgeous, 
with the remnants of some of the old mosaics still present.

The next stop on our itinerary was closed for riposo, so it was a perfect time to stop for lunch--my first pizza slice in Italy!  This was definitely not the best of the trip, but I was really too tired to appreciate it regardless.

Our next stop, Scala Sancta (Holy Stairs), has a famous set of marble stairs (thus the name), said to have been ascended by Jesus during his trial by Pontius Pilate that were, by tradition, brought to Rome by St. Helena in the 4th century.
Pilgrims ascend the stairs on their knees praying under gorgeous frescos depicting the Passion of Christ. 

The steps were placed in this building (a part of the old Lateran Palace) to lead to up the Sancta Sanctorum (the Holy of Holies) which was the personal chapel of early Popes and the home of many relics.
(Mosaics on the site of Holy Stairs)

Here ended Rick Steve's Pilgrim's Rome and the first part of our planned itinerary.  Next we went way back in time to ancient Rome, starting with passing the Coliseum

and picking up the subway (extra cramped) to actually head back to where we had first started...the train station!  

Right up the street are the ruins of the Baths of Diocletian.

which were huge!

 Interestingly, a basilica, Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (St. Mary of the Angels and the Martyrs)) was built incorporating some of the ruins, which was very apparent from the outside,

 if not the inside.

which includes a meridian line from the 1700s!


Next we walked to the National Museum of Rome (price included in the ticket to the Baths)

to see more Roman statutory, carvings, and mosaics,

but I must admit my favorite were some gorgeous surviving frescos from Roman homes.

We had reached the end of inside touring (since it was about 7 and most things had closed).  We set off on Rick Steves' Baroque suprises walk (architecture from the 17th and 18th centuries), but it was actually a bit lackluster.  Although we did pass some pretty fountains (aptly named the 4 fountains),

as we wandered down to the Trevi Fountain.

Unfortunately, it was covered in scaffolding, but you still get the idea.  I threw in a coin to make sure I will return one day :).

We ate pasta at this cute outdoor taverna on a side street, 
(an eggplant ravioli for me)
which we passed on our way to see the Pantheon at night.

Here we ate gelato while we listed to live music.

Rum raisin--yumm! We then caught a taxi back to the hotel because we were exhausted, which after going over the day again with this post, I completely understand!


  1. Wow, that is so great! Thank you for sharing. Everything is so beautiful!

  2. So many wonderful pictures from Italy..

    Please visit:

  3. I nostalgiasquee-d SO MUCH while reading this. “Awwww! Our hotel! Awwww! The hotel breakfast nook!"

    The photos of San Clemente make me laugh because I remember how stealth we were trying to be with our illicit picture-taking. “The sign doesn’t say that we can’t stand in the courtyard and zoom in…"

    The photos of the Lateran Baptistry make me laugh because I remember thinking that we could get to the front of St. John Lateran by just going around the corner…which was definitely not accurate, but we walked foreverrrrrrrrrrr before turning around. Oops. Sorry.

    The photos of the Holy Stairs make me laugh because of how we (and really especially I) sought out non-holy stairs to climb up instead.

    FOOD PICS. :-D

    I still can’t believe we did all of this stuff on the day you landed. I didn’t even remember that the last little walk was a first-day event; in my brain, that happened days later (although I trust your timeline/notes way more than my brain). I honestly don’t know how you didn’t immediately die of jetlag.


Thank you so much for your comment! I hope you have a wonderful day :)