Well I’m not actually starting in Rome, I’m starting at home because as with all our journey’s this is where we began. For me it hadn’t been the best start to the week having being diagnosed with Pneumonia on Monday and being told I had to go home and have complete rest and do absolutely nothing. (Something I’ve never been very good at!) Not wanting to miss out on a trip of a life time I did what I was told and even though I wasn’t feeling great I felt strong enough for our trip and nothing was going to stop me from going.
Our flight was at six thirty in the morning on Saturday and because of this we had to leave for the airport around two in the morning we decided to attempt to pull an all nighter. Unfortunately Steph had never done this before and by eleven she was pretty much unconscious and to be honest by midnight I was the same. Luckily both of us had set our alarms to back us up just in case, so by half past one we were both awake and making final preparations for our departure. With Bertha fully loaded up and with one final check of our flat we were ready for the off.
After a brief spell of being lost we finally had Bertha parked up and found ourselves at the bus stop freezing our nuts off, and to be honest I really wasn’t feeling too great and I was craving a hot chocolate. After what felt like hours the bus finally turned up (it was more like five minutes but I was feeling sorry for myself). Finally we were at the airport and for the first time in my life I was about to experience everything Ryan Air had to offer.
What Ryan Air had to offer was absolutely nothing. I can now honestly say I now know how a sheep feels when it’s being herded because that is exactly how Ryan Air treat their passengers. There were members of staff circling the crowd barking and growling like dogs pushing up closer and closer together until we could literally feel each other ‘s breath, if someone in the crowd broke wind we would of all felt it. I just hoping it wasn’t going to be me that dealt the wind out. Thankfully it wasn’t and we were soon on the plane and leaving the UK.
Touching down at Ciampino Airport my tiredness was forgotten, now I was just bubbling with excitement and I couldn’t wait to get out and see all what Rome had to offer. With our bags collected we found ourselves outside the airport and jumping into a taxi and BOOM we were on our way. It was Christmas eve and we were in the Rome, life couldn’t get better than this. As taxi journeys go this one is up there with being one of the most entertaining; for a start the driver couldn’t speak a word of English but insisted on having a full conversation with me, which consisted of him talking at the speed of light and me nodding and making agreeing noises, which I think really confused him. As well as the utterly fabulous conversation I’m pretty sure he believed he was in some kind of banger car race, if someone was in his way he would simply push and bully them out the way including the pedestrians. Feeling lucky to be alive we arrived at our hotel (Best Western Mondial Hotel) and leapt out the taxi as fast as our little legs would take us.
We checked in and examined what would be our home for the next severn days and God it really didn’t disappoint us, the room was perfection with a super king size bed and a bath as deep as an ocean, we were ecstatic! We couldn’t of asked for any more. But Rome waits for no man so with a quick freshen up we were back in the street and ready to explore. With no plan in mind (apart from me stuffing my face with a real Italian pizza) we turned right out the hotel then immediately left onto the main road into the centre of Rome. I was tingling with excitement even down this road the architecture was stunning, my eyes couldn’t keep with everything I was seeing it was like all my senses had gone into overdrive and I loved it! I suddenly realised this was my dream and I was actually living it, but with one difference as I had the love of my life with me and this wasn’t a dream this was reality.
Apart from dicing with death on a couple of traffic junctions the walk to the end of the road went by in a flash and we soon found ourselves at the top of the some steps, feeling just enough air in my lungs we descended the steps, I had no idea what was about to open up at the bottom but I had a feeling I was about to see something special. I thought I had prepared my brain for what I was about to see, but nothing could of prepared for what I about to see. As we moved forward the buildings began to give way what they had been hiding form us, my brain went into hyperdrive, immediately in front of us was the Roman Forum over to our far left was the Colosseum standing in all it’s glory; flexing it’s ancient muscles and slightly to our right was the Altare della Patria, better known as the typewriter building. This by far was my favourite building, It’s presence was so masterful and it seemed like everything in Rome was drawn to it, including me. I’m not normally the type of person that’s ever lost for words, but in this moment I was utterly speechless and completely lost in the moment, I felt Steph’s grip get a little bit tighter on me, she knew I was in prime wondering off mode and if I wondered off here I doubt I would of been found for days.
Knowing that if we went towards the Colosseum I would of popped with excitement, we decided to turn right and head past the typewriter building and for Steph this was a challenge in itself, I was too distracted to concentrate on where I was going. I felt Steph pulling on my arm on numerous occasions to steer me back on course. To be honest, at this point I’m pretty sure all she wanted was some kind of dog lead to keep me on the correct path, even though with how distracted I was I doubt it would of done anything. With the Typewriter building now behind us and out of sight we found ourselves down a narrow but very busy street (it was Christmas eve after all) we slalomed through the sea of people, Steph doing her best to keep hold of me and failing at times, but I was starting to focus so we always found our way back to each other. Again dicing with death to cross the road we arrived at the most amazing chocolate shop with the most amazing smell and it actually had a waterfall of chocolate (a chocolate fall) spanning the whole of the back wall. We suddenly realised we were absolutely starving, we couldn’t actually remember when had last eaten, with this in mind we decided it wouldn’t be a good idea to go in the chocolate shop this hungry and I wanted pizza, I needed pizza, I had to have pizza!
We prised ourselves away from the chocolate shop and we soon found ourselves down a narrow street with restaurants setting up on either side of us and this was a smell sensation, we saw a sign advertising pizza for six euros and I started to wonder towards it. Steph; realising I was in full on wonder mode; soon pulled me back and informed me it wasn’t even midday and we had to wait! Moving away from the 6 euro sign, we carried on down the street and it suddenly dawned on me that Steph knew where she was going and to be honest I wasn’t really paying attention to where we were going as I was too busy fantasing about pizza and being fascinated by my surroundings. Anyway we continued walking down these narrow streets, weaving thorough the people until without warning the streets opened up and revealed their secret, the Pantheon! This is a place I dreamed about seeing and suddenly it was standing in front of me! I was overwhelmed. It was even more stunning than I could of ever imagined. Walking in I had goosebumps and as we stepped through the doors, I began to develop tears in my eyes, I couldn’t take it in and not for the first time today I was overwhelmed but this time it was simply too much for me to handle. Everything was hitting me and I couldn’t take any of it in, I knew this was not the right day to see the Pantheon another visit was going to be needed.
With our visit to the Pantheon at a premature end, it was just coming to lunch time and there was one thing on my mind… PIZZA!!! We made our way back to the 6 euro pizza sign and within minutes we had taken our seats and we had our menus, not that I needed one but Steph needed one and knowing her she was about to take way too long to decide what she wanted, so I accepted the fact I was going to have to wait just that little bit longer. The restaurant was simple but clean, there was a group of American lads on the table next to us and they looked to be on a ‘lads lads lads’ holiday, a strange place to have one of them but hey who am I to judge? They were very entertaining to listen to though and made my unbearable wait for a pizza a little easier. With Steph finally making a decision my pizza was ordered and 15 minutes later I was having my first taste of Italian pizza. As I was tucking into my pizza I failed to notice our waiter downing two glasses of wine on the quiet which, considering it was only just past midday I figured the waiter must of had a bad morning. Apart from the alcoholic waiter and Steph’s lasagne being too small lunch was splendid and I could of eaten it all over again. Lunch was now over and we decided it had been a long enough day for now and that some down time was needed, so our walk back to the hotel began.
Approaching the typewriter building yet again I could feel Steph’s grip tighten on me again and for good reason. I was fascinated with it and I couldn’t stop staring and without Steph’s guidance I would of walked into everybody in my path and not even realised I had. I was off and gone into my own world. Snapping back to reality with the Roman forum now behind us we began climbing the steps back onto the main road to the hotel, I was starting to grow tired quickly… rest was needed. Luckily the journey up the road passed by in a flash and before we knew it we had arrived back at the hotel and were stepping into our grand old room. The bed was inviting and I needed no invitation so I flopped on the bed and almost instantly fell asleep.
Waking up after the sun had gone down we felt hungry and as earlier on the receptionist had recommended the restaurant next door (Ristorante Cotto) when we checked in, so we decided to go with that and made our way downstairs. Ristorante Cotto is one of those restaurants where you immediately feel at ease when walking in; the waiter guided us to our seats and handed us our menus. Not having had my fill of pizza earlier on, I already knew what I was going for; Steph on the other hand still needed to examine what was available to her. In fairly rapid time Steph settled on a prawn risotto and so our food was now being prepared in the kitchen. Then we settled down and discussed the days events and even though my voice was fading fast we didn’t stop talking until our food was placed in front of us. I thought my pizza from this afternoon was good but this one was mind blowing, the cheese was perfectly done and the crust had just the right amount of crisp to it, God I loved this city. Steph’s prawn risotto looked really tasty with a huge prawn resting on top still sitting in it’s shell. The waiter feared this was going to be a problem for her, but no not Steph the shell was soon whipped off and we both tucked into our evening meals. With our plates complety polished off and our waiter informing us he had a brother living in Stoke on Trent (of all places) we decided it was time to hit the sack as tomorrow was going to be a busy day and within in minutes we were back in our room unpacking the rest of our clothes. Day one was over and it couldn’t of gone any better, all I could think as I drifted off to sleep was “I wonder what day two will bring?”