Our Christmas in Rome (21st Birthday!)
Christmas Eve also happens to be my birthday! I grew up with my birthday being surrounded by Christmas lights, eggnog, ABC's 25 Days of Christmas, peppermint hot chocolate and cinnamon buns. Ever since moving to Israel, I've always felt a little bit like something is missing in December and in the days leading up to my birthday. That's why I decided that I'm going to try and visit a new city every year on my birthday to enjoy some of the Christmas cheer!
This year we decided to go to Rome. And when I say, "we decided", I mean that Daniel surprised me by planning it himself! We found ourselves in Rome for a week with half the trip in a hotel near the Vatican and the other half near the Colosseum.
The Vatican is absolutely beautiful! I think I appreciate going there even more after the fact since it's a much talked about location in several books I've read since (Blue by Danielle Steel and The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown). We even got to see the Pope there on Christmas morning, with thousands of other tourists and Italians.
We went for a guided tour to learn more about the history of the Vatican, Pope and artwork (highly recommended).
Aside from the guided tour, there's not much else to do. But it is a great way to spend half a day while you're in Rome!
We spent another half day walking around the Colosseum (after we changed hotels, obviously!). We went for a guided tour on the inside (finding tours is not hard at all - there are about 50 street sellers right outside). The tour on the inside was incredible. It's insane to believe how large the Colosseum is and the history behind the events they used to hold here. We walked for a couple of hours and then afterwards went for a tour of the park right across from it - this is where all our cool pictures are from! Can you tell we like our selfie stick? ;)
Rome was super duper cold and I think I was on the less prepared of sides (since I had to take Daniel's clothes on multiple occasions). But the BEST part for me on this trip to Rome was the outdoor heaters at every restaurant and and coffee shop. I loved being able to sit outside in the freezing cold and yet at the same time be able to take off my coat, gloves and scarf! Below you can see 1) Me taking Daniel's coat because mine wasn't warm enough and 2) enjoying the heaters outside!
The one thing I've learned from being in Europe on my birthday and Christmas is it's risky business going to eat on Christmas Eve. The taxi situation is slim to none, and the amount of restaurants that are open are just as slim. But we ended up finding a place not too far away and sat outside in the very empty restaurant to eat a surprisingly delicious dinner! I've realized that lasagne is my go to choice while eating in Rome and I was never disappointed! The pizza is nothing like the pizza in the US and also nothing like in Israel but it's different in a very fresh way. The crust, sauce and cheese are so fresh, simple and not overdone that I consistently over-did myself by eating the whole thing!
On Christmas Eve morning, Daniel went out before I woke up to get me a tiramisu cake with "Auguri Danielle" on it and a bouquet of flowers! We then went out to the Christmas Market to enjoy the celebrations while sitting outside in a cute cafe that was also warmed up by the outdoor heaters. We even had a guy come and set up shop outside the cafe with a violin and played beautiful music while we ate.. This was definitely a morning to remember!
We spent the rest of Christmas Eve walking around Rome and taking in the last bits of Christmas! We walked over to the Spanish steps and enjoyed street performers at every turn! And here, all of them are so talented! We even bought one of those spray painted paintings that the artist makes on the spot.
What they say about Rome is true, it really is a romantic city!
Here's a fail video of me trying to pop champagne on my birthday on our balcony! Let's just say that 21 started with a bit of a delay ;)