Roman Holiday Part I
Earlier this month we traveled throughout Italy for the first time. Traveling by train, we visited Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Venice, and Pompeii. The entire trip was amazing, but the city of Rome was indescribably magical – something about the centuries-old architecture, the ancient ruins, piazzas and their marble fountains, the fashion, the Vespas, and rooftop terrace breakfasts have us wishing we were back there now... While we here at our La Jolla headquarters dreaming of our next Roman Holiday, take a scroll through our Travel Diary of our favorite landmarks we visited, food we consumed, and places we'd go back to in a heartbeat.
Ahh Piazza Novana, the heart of Rome. Built in 1 AD as a stadium for Ancient Romans to watch chariot races and the games, now, it's a charming plaza lined with restaurants catering to the many tourists who visit daily. An entire day can be roaming the streets near the piazza. Just a few blocks away from the square are local cafes, restaurants, bakeries, and markets.
A "must-photograph" is the Fontana dei Quattro Fumi. Designed by Bernini, the Fountain of the Four Rivers represents the four major rivers of the four continents through which Catholicism and the Papal Authority had spread: the Nile represents Africa, the Danube represents Europe, the Ganges represents Asia, and the Rio de le Plata represents the Americas.
Cappuccinos where a breakfast essential in Italy. A delicious cappuccino begins with excellent espresso. The best espresso I had was at Sant'Eustachio Il Caffe in Rome. Sant'Eustachio is an ancient coffee shop and roaster located in the heart of Rome, just a few steps away from the Piazza Navona.
A few blocks south from the Piazza Novana, the Campo de Fiori is bustling square that hosts a colorful farmers market. Arrive early in the morning for the best and freshest selection of local vegetables, fruits, handmade pastas, spices, flowers, and limoncello.
Very close to the Piazza Novana is the Pantheon. Built nearly two-thousand years ago, the Pantheon's dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. The interior is stunning, with multi-color marble and an oculus at the top of the dome, letting in natural light which moves around throughout the day like a reverse sun-dial.
A few meters away from the Pantheon, a trip to the city's historic center is not complete without a visit to Gelateria Della Palma. This legendary ice cream parlor has over 150 flavors of gelato, ranging from basics like blackberry, strawberry, hazelnut, cherry, pistachio, crema, mascarpone, to more unique flavors like Kit Kat, Salty Peanut, Bounty Bar, Pear, Mango, Watermelon and Fig. I didn't stray too far from my taste for the tropics and chose Passion Fruit and Coconut (above). Good news for us in on the other side of the Atlantic, they've added locations in Los Angeles, New York, and Costa Rica... hmm considering a road trip up the coast for some right now.
Exploring the neighborhood of Piazza Novana can easily be completed in an afternoon. Just a short taxi ride away is Saint Peter's Basilica, the Trevi Fountains, and the Castel Sant'Angelo, which we suggest be included in your list of things to do while in Rome.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which includes the Vatican, more ancient ruins, and Piazza della Repubblica.