The air was crisp, the leaves were golden, and the lights were merry and bright.
Last weekend concluded my second trip to Rome, and it was even more magical than my first visit back in May. This time I had a better grasp on the overwhelming layout of the sprawling city and more time to enjoy it.
Rome in December
December is a splendid time to visit Rome. The weather is mild (50-60 degrees F, 10-15 C) and there are significantly less tourists. My boyfriend was skeptical of my assumption at first, but when we visited the Sistine Chapel, we spent half an hour gazing at the paintings, versus the 5 minutes you get when it’s overrun with tourists. Parts of the city had hung Christmas lights and almost every business had greenery lining their doors and windows. The small streets, which are iconic to Rome, were particularly charming with their sparkle. But the large, touristic areas had their own charm as well. I stumbled upon the Valentino Atelier which had covered its entire building in twinkling fairy lights plus an enormous, sparkling Christmas tree in the front.
There was pumpkin in all the foods. Not the American pumpkin spice way, but actual pumpkin in or topping the food. My favorite was pumpkin pizza! The shaved pumpkin slices were paired with gorgonzola, star anise, and pine nuts. It was purchased from a boutique bakery along with potato pizza, assembled the same way. Shaved potato slices with gorgonzola cheese. It was sort of like having French fries on a pizza. I also tried lasagna with pumpkin and smoked cheese. Friday evening I had paired pistachio gelato with caramel pear gelato that was absolutely divine. It was light but deep with hints of cinnamon. I took no photos of the food because food pics are not that aesthetically pleasing plus they make me more hungry than I usually am. 😉 But here are some more pumpkin decorations!
After we arrived, we dropped our bags at our hotel bright and early, and we headed toward my *favorite place in the city, the Foro Romano, or Roman Forum, which consists of epic ruins of ancient Roman government buildings. The ancient Romans used the forum as a meeting space for countless activities, which you can read more about here if you’re interested. The Foro Romano was the epicenter of Rome at the prime of the kingdom.
*Okay, so it’s hard to pick a favorite in Rome because everything is epic and beautiful. But Foro Romano is high up on my list!
On the way, we passed the Colosseo and the Arch of Constantine, which were basking in the morning sunlight. (Something we rarely see as we are not morning people lol). In our usual fashion, my boyfriend and I stumbled upon charming new places simply by exploring the nooks and crannies, including this small church near the Foro Romano and its beautiful, peaceful courtyard that houses my new favorite fountain. Oh and we had pizza for breakfast!
Buon Natale! Merry Christmas!
On Thursday we started the day with Indian food (why not?) and by passing by my favorite place once more en route to the other usuals such as the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, and the Pantheon. We actually prefer exploring the smaller streets to the tourist attractions! We felt like Italians here on the west side of the river. We stopped in another supermarket to stock up on bread, olives, cheese, and ham.
Tiber River Stroll
Before the sun set at 4:30 (!!!!) we concluded the day with a walk by the Tiber River and an impromptu picnic at golden hour. We shared spiced olives, mozzarella di buffala, and speck ham, sitting on the stairs of a boathouse on a small river island. The cover photo of this post was taken on the way to the island!
After our little picnic, we were naturally hungry again. Actually, I’m positive that we ate the entire trip. We had dinner at a Jewish restaurant called Nonna Betta’s. Its claim to fame is a visit from Anthony Bourdain. I had egg noodles and roasted potatoes. L had a tuna steak. I ordered baklava for dessert. It was almost too delicious to bear.
I took too many photos for just one post! Stay tuned for the second installment of the Rome series! 😉 Up next: The Vatican City!