We started the day as per usual with our hotel-provided breakfast. Following that, we began our day with a walk down the via del Corso towards the Piazza Venezia. We passed monuments such as Trajan’s Column as we neared the white marble monument to Vittorio Emmanuele II. On our last trip, we had a snack at the cafe on top of the monument, which provides a nice vista of Rome. The massive building sits at the head of the via del Corso, which terminates in a busy traffic circle. From that vantage point, you can see the Colosseum in the distance. Behind the monument is the Capitoline Hill, another of Rome’s seven hills, which houses the Capitoline Museum (we have never actually toured this museum but it is open to the public). We decided on this particular route so that we could see the Roman Forum. We looped around the via di Monte Tarpeo, which turned into the via di san Teodoro to approach an indoor farmer’s market called Mercato di Campagna Amica del Circo Massimo, another find from Katie Parla’s website. This market is only open on the weekends and is closed in August. The farmer’s market is another good place to buy gifts for friends and family. Whenever we go to a farmer’s market, whether it is at home or abroad, we make sure to bring a reusable bag like this and we have plenty of cash in small denominations to facilitate transactions. We bought various jarred spreads, olive oils, and cookies to bring home. After leaving, we passed the Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus) and the Boca di Verita (best memorialized in Roman Holiday) and crossed the Ponte Palatino to arrive in Trastevere. We turned right after crossing the bridge and walked along the Tiber until we came upon Piazza san Pietro (St. Peter’s Square). We took small back streets to get to the piazza and encountered a mass of people. Every Sunday when the Pope is in town, he gives a papal blessing to those gathered in the piazza. We settled in amongst the crowd and waited for Pope Francis to come to a window on the top floor (denominated by a burgundy flag with the papal seal). He gave a benediction that lasted about 10 minutes, then the crowd began to disperse. We walked back to the apartment to put away our purchases and to rest for a little while, then made our way back out into Rome.
We decided to do a ‘highlights’ walk of our favorite places while on our way to lunch, passing through the Piazza Navona and by the Pantheon, ending up at our lunch destination, Open Baladin. This is a gastropub that serves Italian craft beers and the kitchen is run by the same chef that owns Pizzarium, Gabriele Bonci. After our pub tour in London, we were craving beer by this point so it was a good time to hit up this restaurant. The vibe is very laid back and we ended up eating at the bar. We enjoyed the food here most of any of the restaurants we went to in Rome. I had a veggie burger and my husband had a hamburger and both were fantastic. We also took advantage of the free wi-fi and hung out for awhile. There is an enormous selection of Open’s bottled beers as well as a great selection of their own beer on tap.
Feeling satiated, we left and made our way back past the Largo di Torre di Argentina and headed towards the Colosseum, along the via di Fori Imperiali, stopping first to get an espresso in Rito Caffe, overlooking the Colosseum. We ended up in the church of St. Peter in Chains (Basilica di san Pietro in Vincoli) after getting a little lost. Afterwards, we headed through the Monti neighborhood and wandered through an indoor flea market and got gelato at Fatamorgana, which was (of course) awesome. Our next destination was the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, a large basilica with beautiful mosaics. After leaving, we headed towards my favorite church in Rome, Santa Maria dell Vittoria. There are alabaster angels all over the ceiling and portraits of my mother’s favorite saint, Saint Theresa, holding bouquets of pink roses. There is also a sculpture by Bernini called Saint Theresa in Ecstasy, which was being restored so we were unable to see it this time around. There was an organ playing and we just sat down for a few minutes to take in the beauty of the church. Feeling a huge sense of tranquility, we left the church and continued on our path and meandered through the There were ominous clouds but we stayed ahead of the rain and the sky gave way to a gorgeous sunset as dusk settled in.