Rome, Italy - Day 1
Let's start at the beginning, shall we? This past May Megan and I embarked on an "EPIC" European vacation that took us to three different countries, eight areas throughout Italy, two areas in Spain and one in France. On May 18th we boarded flight AA720 in Charlotte bound overnight for Rome, Italy. This was the first time Megan has traveled internationally and both of our first times flying across the pond. The flight overall was good. We got to know our neighbors really well and come to find out they were on the same cruise as us and even the same deck. We arrived in Rome at around 10:30 AM and proceeded through the customs process which moved pretty quick considering there was a ton of people arriving around that time. Once we got through customs we got our bags and started looking for our transfer. We found our ride and proceeded to the center of Rome where we were staying at the Relais Maddalena. During our ride into the city, our driver was telling us all about Rome and pointing out landmarks. The first thing what was immediately noticeable was complete lack of rules of the road. It seemed like it was every man for themselves driving around while dodging people, scooters, and other cars coming at you from all over the place.
When we arrived at the Piazza De Maddalena we had a beautiful view of the Santa Maria Maddalena.
After getting settled in it was time to meet for our first tour through Viator at 2:30 PM to Visit the Domitilla Catacombs, Basilica of San Clemente, and the Capuchin Crypt where we were able see a chapel made entirely out of human bones. The catacombs were incredible and vast. We took a short ride out near the old wall of Rome and entered the sunken church on our way into the catacombs. The Domitilla catacombs are the best preserved and extensive with over 11 miles and over 150,000 burials.
Next we took a quick ride to our first of many Basilica's we visited and arguably one of our favorites. The Basilica of San Clemente from the outside doesn't look like much, but once you get inside it reveals itself to you it's an incredible experience. Upon entering the Basilica you immediately notice the gold and shadowy frescos that outline the alter. This Basilica is made up of three complex structures that have been excavated with the possibility of another one underneath, but they aren't certain yet. You can read all about the history of the Basilica on this Wikipedia page - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_San_Clemente_al_Laterano.
Lastly, we ended our tour at the Capuchin Crypt which was quite interesting and surprising. I guess we were both expecting something else, but never the less it is always good to get out of your comfort zone and experience new things such as this. The crypt contains the bones of 3,700 Capuchin monks arranged in six chapels that signify the passing of life on earth and death. You can read more about this on this Wikipedia page - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capuchin_Crypt.
After the tour Megan and I walked around the center city of Rome to see all the sights around where we were. We visited the Pantheon and was blown away by how amazing this structure is and sheer beauty of it. Next, we walked up to the Trevi fountain and hung out there for a bit. Both places were really packed with tourists and locals trying to sell random things.
After awhile Megan and I were getting pretty hungry so a few blocks from the Trevi we found a great place to eat called, That's Amore. Based on some recommendations by the young British couple sitting next to us I had the Carbonara and Megan had the Diavola pizza. Both were amazing!
There's three rules we made sure to follow when eating around Italy that we got from those who have been before.
Never go to a restaurant near a tourist area, especially if they have a tourist menu because it will be more expensive and the quality of the food will be less.
Steer clear of restaurants with pictures on their menus or if they have been translated into several different languages.
If there is someone trying to convince you to come inside their restaurant you probably don't want to go there.
After dinner we walked around for a bit more and found a gelateria near our hotel called Grom to enjoy some gelato. It was good, but definitely not the best as you will hear about in another post from another day in Rome.