A Week in Roma . . . and Venice

Happy Thanksgiving !!!!

Full disclosure here. . . this post is a bit like inviting family members to come over for dinner then subjecting them to a slide show of our vacation in Europe. But being that I don't have time to do "scrapbooks" anymore to remember all the little details from a trip I am writing this post so I can not forget all the favorite bits of our trip this past summer.  But hey, this may inspire you to #1 start saving those American Express points and #2 try an Airbnb !  Take a wander through Rome and Venice with me !  On this Thanksgiving Day I actually have time to write this, it's a laid back kind of day thanks to Keith doing 99% of the cooking.  I am pretty comfortable here on the big old sofa watching the NYC parade and chiming in with the kids !

So yeah, American Express points . . . I let them rack up.  Low and behold if you book your flights on line they give you back 50-35% of those points back, so Business Class it was, and on a night flight you can kick those seats totally flat and before you know it you are landing.  It was delightful for sure.

Airbnb's.  We first tried one a few years ago in San Francisco, at Thanksgiving actually.  Such a great experience I tried it again.  Now I am picky so of course it took an entire day to look all my options. VRBO offers a few more "designer" type houses and apartments.   A little more quaint and pretty.  The designer in me wanted that.  I found an apartment for the 4 of us with 2 bedrooms, living, dining, 2 baths, equipped kitchen, washer / dryer and bonus.. great wi fi and Netflix.  Our host Vito was great and arranged a pick up at the airport.  Take a look at his place here.  Not wanting a big hotel, it was just as I pictured in my head, down a quite cobble stoned street, it was on the 3rd floor with a tiny elevator.   Adorable and very Italian. 

All the nuances of a quite little European street were everywhere.  These water fountains, pulling water from ancient aqueducts.

Across the street from our apartment, a seamstresss, two cafes, an artist and a gorgeous apartment with pivot door.  Staying in an apartment did make us feel like locals ... a bit.

Gotta love a 400 year old apartment door.

The apartment had a big living room, dining room, two bedrooms  and great kitchen for us all to spread out.

So here's the Itinerary I made up and saved of course to my phone to keep on track... like I said, planner.

And here are the links to all of the above.

Day One & Two

Travel Days

Day Three

I like to get acquainted with the neighborhood and I'm a planner.  On our Third day, which was really out first in Italy we set up our apartment, found the nearby grocery store, coffee house and wine shot.  We then went for a quick walk up to Piazza Navona, just a few blocks away.  I wanted to find our meeting place for a walking tour with Walks of Italy later that day.  That's the planner in me.  I found them on line and booked a few simple tours, the first of which was a Twilight City Stroll (here).  I'm not one of those "figure it out when I get there types."  I like a bit of a plan, and thought that would be a great intro.

We met our guide  Sev, a trained archeologist around 5 in the square.  Piazza Navona is a large, fountain filled, meeting place and once a competition arena we learned.  With it's landmark family palace, the Palazzo Pamphili (now the Brazillian Embassy) and church of Sant'Agnese, designed by Francesco Borromini, it looks over the Fountain of the Four Rivers designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.  Interesting to learn of the feud going on between Bernini and with Borromini his former protege, and how they created their masterpieces with all their quirks poking at each other.  

The large square was filled with restaurants and gathering places.

We wondered down the narrow streets learning all sorts of interesting details.

Around the turn and boom, the Pantheon.  This square is sentimental.  We spent part of our honeymoon right there a mere 15 years ago.  

Amazing structure of 1900 year old engineering !

Our little digs way back when still a standing !

I really loved walking and soaking up all the colors and textures, people and mood.

We made our way over to the Trevi Fountain, the largest Baroque fountain in the city.  

Along the way finding inspiration everywhere ...

Loved this little door, Sev explaining it leads to one of the oldest aqueducts in the city.

Our last stop was the Spanish Steps.  In a part of town filled with high end design and artists.

Day Four

Planning kicked in again on day two.  Keith, Kate and I met up with Amandio,  a local guide working the a group called "With Locals."    He was great !!!  Theater Artist, Rome expert.  So yeah, Lucy wanted to sleep... damn teenagers... but ok it was her vacation too and she's not a big "foodie" like we are, so ok.  We started of course with coffee !  This casual tour is called "The Ten Tastings" and it was just the 4 of us wandering around with Amandio.  He had it well planned though, it wasn't too much food and wasn't rushed.

The market was flower filled and so quaint.

We actually hit the tiniest place to sample real Italian pizza.  Forno Campo De'Fiori  It was amazing.  Thin, thin with the real deal freshe tomato sauce.  No cheese, just crispy, buttery and perfect !

Wandering the square and learning about all the architectural details.

I really found this amazing.  This column dates back some 2000 years and imbedded in this brick wall only to be uncovered to add an alley.

Stop No. 2 a little cheese filled croquette while on our way to Trastevere.

We were heading over to Santa Maria just over the bridge in Trastevere.  No list of jaw-dropping churches is complete without this one.  Not only is it one of the oldest churches in Rome, supposedly build around 350 A.D.  it is one of the most impressive.  This 4th century church is most likely the first one where Mass was openly celebrated and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  Pope Innocent II rebuilt it in the 12th century and today it boasts some of the most impressive mosaics I have seen. 

While over in the Trastevere neck of the woods we ventured in a typical apartment building.  If only I could !!!!

Sign me up.

Now along the way we tasted chocolate and of course Gelato, made the authentic way, but one of my favorite stops was actually the last one.  This local butcher, wine & cheese shop goes back some 50 years + .  A gorgeous spread was laid out for us with the most amazing shaved meats and cheeses.  Wow.  Mortadella is my new favorite.

Day Five

Scooter Ride anyone ?  So fun !!!!!  We went on this trip in June.  It was a little on the hot side, not horrible but pretty hot.  I will say it didn't rain once, we got lucky.  When day five came around it was delightful to be driven around with the wind in our hair, seeing everything !!!

On the morning of Day Five, Ximena Amarales rolled up to our apartment on her scooter with four of the cutest Italian boys behind her on their scooters.  Ximena, is an Architect with a Masters in Urbanism.  She's cool, knew a lot but was funny, not stuffy at all !  We each road on the back of a scooter with Ximena leading the way.  She talked to us through headsets we wore as we cruised around.

We started on hill top to get an overall view of where we were going and seeing.

We hit all the hot spots.  Here's the itinerary she focused on from her site.

  • My Rome Tours are organized according to the customers’ needs. Not only do I share with them and their family my knowledge to provide an immediate experience of art in an accessible and interesting manner, but I also offer them the basic tools to engage with the language of the artists.
  • With my Rome tours you will appreciate not only the beauty of the Eternal City but you will be able to learn the significance of the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, of each monument, temple, building, square, painting or sculpture. With my help, you will feel the emotions that inspired each creation.
  • My Rome tours are arranged with care, elegance and simplicity. Together we will follow the footsteps of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius and Nero, walking along the Via Sacra and rebirthing Idis of March in the Roman Forum. With my Rome tours you will enjoy and understand the imposing architecture of the Coliseum, following the gladiatorial games, learning about the hidden goals of these spectacles in the social life of the Roman Empire.
  • With my Vatican Tour, you will avoid queues and chaos and be introduced to the political and artistic life of the pontifical era. Here you will be treated to the stories and secrets of the Popes and their entourage. You will rejoice the nobility, magnificence and perfection of Michelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, the grandeur and monumentally of the Renaissance and the Baroque in  Peter’s Basilica and the masterful work of Bernini.

Such a fun day with these boys . . .

We asked to be dropped off at the Pantheon, it was crowded the day before and Keith and I really wanted to go inside to see what we had visited all those years ago on our Honeymoon.

Day Six

Had to go to the Coliseum on Day Six.  We had whizzed by it the day before on our scooters and it was being renovated while we were there 15 years ago.  It's was just as amazing as I remember.

I loved this . .  a little zillion old graffiti !!! Wonder what they were saying all those years ago.

Ended the day with yet another carb explosion...

Day Seven & Eight

I really wanted to break up the trip when I was planning it with a quick jaunt out of town, I went back and forth about where - Florence, Positano... Venice.  Yes, Venice.  Why?  Well I thought the kids would get a kick out of the street of water.  Honestly I expected it to be a little on the dirty, smelly side so I booked a killer hotel.  But I am here to say I WAS SO WRONG... it was GORGEOUS !!!!

Took the train up, just about 2 hours thought gorgeous country side... yeah - I'm daydreaming out the window.. Kate please look up !!!!

We arrived and were immediate taken away on a water taxi to my dream hotel.  Look at this place !!! It's soooo amazing.

We pulled up in front of The Palazzinag G.  No words how gorgeous this place is. 

Take a look.

Glamor galore.  I completely splurged.  Put the kids in one room and Keith and I had a suite with our own outdoor veranda.  Yep indulged.   But with the $$ I saved on the apartment I figured why not, we were only staying 1 night. 

Located in the historic centre of Venice, it's centrally located in the heart of a sixteenth-century structure looking onto the Grand Canal, in the enchanting historic lagoon scenario, in an exclusive location with a very special appeal.  First designed in Italy by Philippe Starck in 2009 it has an incomparable setting where historic tradition and contemporary style blend seamlessly into a Hotel that allows to be a truly Venetian: a noble building in which coexist embedded materials and architectures, to create an unconventional host.  Atmospheres and light such a home atmosphere, steeped in the charm, and with an extraordinary allure of rooms and settings, further enhanced by unique furnishings and furnishing accessories. That is for sure !!
Luxury is outside ordinary routines and is translated into an experience able to make every guest feel “temporarily and authentically Venetian-citizen”, far from the classic tourism imagery.

We checked in and immediately went for a walk.  I was so wrong.  Without all the cars, it was quite and oh so clean, filled with such age and glamor.

Peeked in a gallery or two.

But mainly just wandered in amazement.

It was so hard not to want to bring home such gorgeous art and sculptures I found.  We went back to heaven on earth and took a little power nap in our divine suite.

The walls in this place were the real Venetian plaster - that was something to see.

Kid's were in a deluxe room, similar to this (take from their site)

We had this killer suite with veranda.

But take a look at some of the other rooms available.  Wow right !!

Keith, Lucy and I crashed . .  Kate - well she's got creative - so her.

We headed out at dusk, what an amazing day.  Wandered a little more. 

Ok yeah - had to do it.  A little gondola ride. 


One of my favorite pictures !

High on my to do list - the Peggy Guggenheim Gallery.  Located right smack on the Grand Canal, this was once her home.. I was amazed.

A must see if you are a fan of Twombly, Warhol, Pollock, Cuissi.

After our little visit we wandered even more . . 

Came across this shop.  Keith and I both stopped in our tracks.  Powder Pigment - wow.  We immediate placed an order - shipping to Charlotte !!!!

I had my heart set on a little Murano Glass.. bummer this was to big to carry.

Early Dinner, yep you guessed it.  This time with clams.

Another spot I found, this Fortuni showroom.  I was promptly ditched as I spent a good 30 mins asking a million questions and just getting close up looks.

We got back on our gondola and headed back to our beautiful digs.  Magical day for sure !

On the way out I spied these Murano candle sticks.. now those I can pack !!! Done.

Day Nine

Nothing !   We woke up in our little apartment, walked a block for a latte and grabbed fresh pastries, watched Netflix, took a few more neighborhood pictures and packed.  

What an amazing time  - xoxo 

1 comment: