Finally something I have some pictures of! Originally, we weren’t going to take a honeymoon right away, but the more involved in planning we got, the more we felt the need to get away from everything. My big internal debate was whether I wanted a super adventurous or a super relaxing getaway. Then, we started tossing around the idea of Italy, and I couldn’t say no. This was the trip of a lifetime, and I still can’t believe it was real.
Leaving for a honeymoon right after the wedding was a good call. We departed Monday evening, which left just enough time to get over our hangovers and get our house and creatures set up but not so much time that we got restless. I felt those notorious post wedding blues starting to creep up on Sunday despite a year of swearing I’d never miss wedding planning. I totally get it now. It’s near impossible to come down after the best party of your life! The honeymoon was the perfect way to cap off the wedding and usher us into the next phase.
Our flight was scheduled for 6, but due to severe storms all over the east coast, we sat on the runway for four hours before finally taking off at 10. That was before we embarked on an 8 hour flight, so yeah, that was a long day. It actually worked out well because we arrived at the hotel in Rome to find our room ready and waiting.
I thought I’d be feeling the jet lag hard, but I think being in the number one country on my travel bucket list helped my excitement override my exhaustion and after a quick shower, I was ready to explore!
Our first stop was obviously food, and the only thing on my mind was pizza! Turns out there was a great pizza place right by our hotel. We actually ended up going back during our stay it was so good. We capped the meal with espresso which was a little less appealing to me. Still, if you like espresso, this is the good stuff. There aren’t even any Starbucks in Rome. The Italian coffee is just too good.
We walked into the city center and explored a little on our own before meeting up with our first tour of the trip, a twilight walking tour of the city. To our surprise, we were the only ones registered, so we had the wonderful tour guide all to ourselves! She was so incredibly knowledgable about Roman history, and we walked and learned all the fun details for three hours!
By the end of the tour I was starving and exhausted. It was nearly 3am in NJ! We grabbed a quick dinner at a nearby restaurant. The homemade pasta and house wine were the perfect end to our first Italian day.
The next day we set out to explore the city on our own and visited the Castel Sant Angelo which has amazing views of the city and the Vatican. Chris was pretty adamant about visiting this spot, and I wasn’t sure why until we got to the top. He stood in this one spot and asked me if it looked familiar. It kind of did, but I couldn’t place it. It turns out that’s where he took his Match.com picture when he visited Rome in 2009! It was so cute of him to find that same spot, so we had to recreate the shot.
The views really were incredible, and the audio tour was pretty informative too. We learned about the castle original start as a mausoleum and the several popes who lived in there while Rome was under siege.
Following our adventures, we had a fun “tour” planned for the evening. I wanted to do something a little different in addition to all the big attraction walking tours, so I booked us a wine tasting! We met our guide who led us to the wine cellar of a local restaurant sommelier. It was a small space, and we were only joined by two other couples, so it was a nice, intimate event. The som was super friendly and funny, and he knew so much about food and wine. He paired each wine with food and talked about why the pairings were significant and what regions the food and wine came from. I was totally fascinated!
We started the meal with samples of local burrata and mozzarella. They were, hands down, the best cheese I’ve ever had in my life. We learned that the mozzarella has to be served within 3 minutes of being cut or it starts to lose it’s flavor. This was not your local pizza place’s cheese. Unless your pizza place is amazing.
We had pesto as a palate cleanser and a ton of different cured hams. The salami we tried comes from an 84 year old man who the som says is the only one he trusts to treat the pigs humanely and cure the pork correctly. I typically don’t eat pork, but this was a once in a lifetime experience, and I really got the vibe that these pigs had a pretty good life. When in Rome… Harhar. We said that a lot.
We also had parmesan from Parma and the best olive oil I’ve ever tasted in my life. The wine wasn’t bad either 🙂 it was obviously also wonderful like everything we tried. I had never heard of any of the grape varieties we tried, and the som told us that Italy produces over 1000 types of grapes. I had no idea! He also talked about how it takes generations for a wine region to mature as the grapes change the soil and the soil changes the grapes and how today’s consumer culture is negatively effecting that symbiosis by causing producers to plant whatever grape happens to be most popular at the moment. I’m definitely guilty of this as he cited my favorite wine (Malbec) as a major culprit. Oops!
The tasting definitely made me feel more informed (and totally full and a little drunk) and inspired me to branch out and try some more established grapes and regions. I’m still finishing off some $3 chuck first.
We were pretty exhausted from a long day of walking, so we headed back to the hotel to freshen up and ended up too tired to walk back to the city for dinner. The hills were no joke.
We found a yelp recommended restaurant about a block from our hotel and decided to try it out. It ended up being the fanciest meal of the trip and one of our favorites. We each had homemade pasta. Mine was a pesto with shrimp and Chris’ was pancetta and asparagus with fresh tomatoes.
We topped the night off with gelato before collapsing into bed.