Waking up in Italy is a revitalization experience of a life time. I recall feeling more refreshed and rejuvenated than ever before. I guess any leisurely travel you do after the first day puts you in a state of euphoria. You know it's good when you wake up naturally and feel hungry.
We were greeted by the morning staff of the Residenza di Ripetta with a smile and an amazing continental breakfast. Hardboiled eggs, cereal, sausages, muffins, pastries, etc. The weather was perfect. That European morning air is really something.
After breakfast, we had a few stops in mind that we wanted to hit up before we got a start on the day. Money exchanging, figuring out the metro systems, and figuring out how to get back to our hotel from the stops... these were the obvious things to get out of the way before we could do any real tourism on foot.
Let's begin with the money exchange. Every place that you go to outside of the airport will charge a commission of 9% or more. There's really no way to get a better rate, so unless you go to a post office or a government building... you won't get back exactly what you give.
The metro system for the most part is pretty self explanatory. Download a map of the layout if you plan to get around this way and find out which directions you want to go. You end up covering more ground this way and you get to see an underground side to Rome that is never really covered in the travel guides.
Our first stop was the St. Peter's Basilica. In order to go into the actual museum, you'll need to book it online or pay an actual tour guide to get you past the line.
It's probably about 20 €, so whether you think it's worth it or not... you can do it. We just decided to hit the square and take pictures. No matter what time you go or what day you go, it always draws a major crowd. Another thing that you'll learn is that all the souvenirs, food shops, and carts in the square are extremely overpriced. I think the souvenirs are worth it mainly because it's just what you should do when you're around this area.
There's a restaurant that I discovered around this Vatican area that I can safely deem as the best Italian place that I've ever been to. Bella Napoli. Search it, google it, Yelp it... it's amazing. Some of the best Italian dishes are often the ones that rely on simplicity to get the message across. No heavy sauces, creams, or cheeses.
Just simple pasta, pizza, and salad. If there's any restaurant I can recommend to you, this is the one. Please find it when you're in Rome and thank me later. :)
Most of the day was spent walking around and eating great pizza, pasta, and gelato. The first day exploring is always the most exhausting. During 2 - 4 PM is when most of the restaurants close down for a period of time, so there's not much to do but walk around and shop. We just ended up walking back to our hotel and taking a rest until dinner. Ah, the European lifestyle...
Our hotel gave us a complimentary dinner to go with our stay, so we took advantage of it while we could. Loved everything about it. The simple antipasti dish, dessert wine, the pork chops, pasta, salad, and dessert selections... everything you could ask for in an Italian dinner. We started dinner off a bit late, but they were willing to accommodate us. This is why they get bonus points with us. After that, we took a nice stroll around the city for our usual gelato. Where you ask? Venchi, of course.
Yes, we love Rome. We love it enough to go back to the same places.