As we left our hotel in Florence for Rome (that had numerous gluten free bread options for my – I might have stocked up) we took a pit stop to Orvieto, a town up a cliff. Obviously that means beautiful views and a quaint town. We took a tram up the cliff and explored the town for a few hours. The main focal point is a beautiful cathedral, Duomo di Orvieto. I lit some candles for my grandparents, again. We grabbed lunch (mine was Presecco, but I had an Rx bar in addition), and took some scenic photos.
View on our way to Orvieto
View off cliff
Views off cliff
Ciao ROMA! We made it to our last destination (at least where we were staying). Rome is beyond beautiful. So many historic spots (the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Spanish Steps) and just a wonderful atmosphere. Italy is really just a beautiful country, all the regions too. After our stop through Orvieto we headed to our hostel in Rome, Meininger Hotels. We had a few hours of free time and I just lounged before as a group we headed off the the Trevi Fountain. We hopped on the bus to the square, and made a wish!
Near the Pantheon
We then grabbed dinner, and I had my first gluten free pasta while in Italy. I had said to myself that I had hoped to at least experience gluten free pizza, gluten free pasta, and dairy free gelato in Italy. So far I had had two of the three.
Gluten free pasta
It was a busy day ahead, and it started with a guided tour of Rome, beginning with the Colosseum. It still hard to believe that all of these photos that I have taken I experienced in first person. Like I was right in front of the Colosseum while I looked up and took this beautiful picture (don’t let the blue sky fool you though, it poured later in the day). I honestly cannot tell you every single thing I heard about the Colosseum during the tour, but I WALKED WEAR GLADIATORS WERE! Like it is nearly 2,000 years old. Just so much craziness knowing that a whole bunch of (very smelly) individuals battled in front of spectators. It started to drizzle by the time we left the Colosseum and headed towards the Roman Forum. Rome has so much new construction compared to these areas, but the fact that they are still standing is amazing, and the fact they they want to preserve and restore these areas make the history mean so much more.
So, those blue skies were gone by the end of our guided tour, and it downpoured! I was soaked, at least my pants were. So we stopped and grabbed lunch to dry off. I also found a dairy free gelato place, Günther The trifecta was complete! I got a scoop of lemon gelato and it was DELICOUS, I should’ve gotten another scoop!
After lunch we headed to our final country (yes, it is a separate country), Vatican City, Vatican. Yup, where the Pope is. I was raised Roman Catholic, so I know a whole lot about the Pope. I had been carrying a rosary with me the entire trip to get blessed by the Pope. It was my dad’s rosary that was made with rose petals from my grandma’s funeral. I kept it in my wallet, on my body. I was able to get the rosary blessed by the Pope, in addition to a rosary I purchased in Venice, a few ornaments for my family, and a cross for my dad. I didn’t meet the Pope. The store that I bought most of the items from brought the items to be blessed and got them back to us the next day. I wish I could’ve shared this experience with my grandparents when I got home, as all of my grandparents were religious Roman Catholics, but all of my grandparents have passed away. I had been lighting candles across various churches around Europe for them, and I always know they are with me. But it would have been wonderful to tell them about my experience in the holy city. We first went through the museum, and to be honest, it was SO cramped that it was hard to experience. It was hard to listen to the tour guide, and we just tried to push through the crowds. Once we got out of the museum we entered the Sistine Chapel. We were not able to take photos in it, but it was beautiful. I can’t imagine all of the work done. ON A CEILING! CRAZY! After the Sistine Chapel we were able to walk through St. Peter’s Basilica. Walking through the Basilica is surreal. It is SO big! Our tour guide let us walk through it by ourselves and I was able to embrace the beauty of a major Basilica.
St. Peter’s Basilica
After getting back I grabbed a snack from a grab and go shop and got ready to go out to a local bar. I had more presseco and listened to American music. Obviously could tell a bunch of Americans were around.
Last day in Rome, and on the trip. I had a free day the entire day. A group of us we through the Pantheon. We then walked to the Spanish Steps (we didn’t walk up them, because it was very busy), got lunch at McDonald’s (you know one last bout of French Fries in Europe), found another Günther and got diary free chocolate gelato!
I did some last minute shopping before our Farewell Dinner, which I had so much food, and it was so delicious. After our Farewell Dinner we went back to the hotel and exchanged some written words with each other on post cards and got one final drink before our flights home tomorrow.
Part of my dinner
Best tour director
Last drink in Europe
I only got about 3 hours of sleep before I left for the airport. I ate breakfast on the way and got ready to head on an 11 hour flight to Chicago before my layover. I did not sleep on the flight. I tried watching the last three episodes of Game of Thrones (it didn’t work) before I gave up to watch Crazy Rich Asians, First Man, Aquaman, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. I had gluten free options on this flight, as well (not as good as my flight to London), but I got McDonald’s French Fries when I got to O’Hare. I watched an episode of Game of Thrones during my layover and had an hour flight to Grand Rapids where my parents picked me up from the airport. I didn’t fall asleep until around 11pm EST, and wasn’t jet lagged until Thursday. As I had never traveled this far from home I had never experienced jet lag like this. I was SO tired that every yawn literally took it out of me (and was somehow painful). I slept 10+ hours for like 4 days straight, and eventually got back to my 6-7 hours of sleep a night like I had never traveled.
I am not sure when my next trip out of the country will be. I am starting a new job soon, but I already have a million ideas floating around.
Until next time!