Hey everyone! If you’ve seen my social media posts recently, you would have seen that I recently spent some vacation time in Italy! I’ve never been before so when my company announced that the annual training programme would be hosted in Rome, I quickly tacked on some extra annual leave days to turn this trip into a personal holiday afterwards to see more of Italy. I was lucky enough to have a friend come along with me to explore the beautiful cities of Florence and Bologna. I must say that after countless busy days and late nights of studying for our professional exams, this trip was a well deserved break and a sweet present for aceing it! Won’t He do it?!
Our first two days in Rome were spent at our hotel hearing various leaders across the EMEIA region share the company’s vision peppered with insight and tips from their personal career journeys. This was followed by an innovation hackathon with lots of fun entertainment thrown in between including a black and white ball, “an all around” Italy dinner as well as a major dance party. Not too bad for a training event right?
Once this was over early Friday evening, the personal vacation finally began! A couple of us girls banded together and booked an Airbnb for our weekend stay in Rome which honestly exceeded our expectations. It was less than 10 minutes walk to Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and other major attractions to see in the city! I had the best pizza I had throughout this whole trip (heck maybe even ever!) at a small unassuming restaurant that first night that I still day-dream about. There was a Sephora two minutes away which had me squealing in delight! I must say however that the cities I visited in Italy were definitely not the business for complexion products, like at all!!! So alas, I was unable to stock on my Sephora bright gel concealer; let me know any recommendations you might have.
On Saturday, we initially had quite an ambitious itinerary with a guided tour of the Colosseum followed by a guided tour of the Vatican City and all its constituents that are up for show. We ended up missing our Colosseum tour (double-check the times you’re supposed to arrive by people!) and rescheduled it for Sunday which honestly worked out really well because we would have been too exhausted. For the Vatican City, our tour included the Sistine Chapel, St Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican museum among other grounds all of which were definitely worth the visit.The gallery of maps for instance with its gorgeous ceilings was such a beautiful sight to behold.
I honestly didn’t have much prior knowledge of the historical and cultural context of these monuments so paying for a guided tour was definitely a worthwhile investment. I’m not saying come quiz me on it or anything like that though 😉 After all that walking, we rewarded ourselves with a delicious Nutella crepe and some yummy gelato, all of which were very reasonably priced at Gelateria La Romana. *sigh* Dinner was delicious pasta variations topped with wine and free shots on the house that we somehow kept getting sent to our table; no complaints over here!
We saw the Colosseum in all its architectural glory on Sunday. While I personally find it hard to see any entertainment value in the sort of violence heralded at the amphitheater and the treatment of gladiators at the centre of it all, I still think that it’s worth seeing just to marvel at the pure genius behind its construction. And I’m not even an architecture buff or lover by any stretch of the imagination!
On a side note, I’ll say that getting around in Rome was quite interesting. The Uber drivers would circle round and round and eventually cancel, resulting in you incurring a €10 cancellation fee. Some of the taxi drivers would also try to rip you off once they realised you were a foreigner. We had one old man (tsk tsk!) start the meter before we got into the car and then add an additional charge because it was Sunday -_- where they do that at?! So definitely keep your wits about you!
Sunday afternoon, we bid adieu to the rest of the group and hopped on a really nice train, we’re clearly so easily impressed lol, and made our way to Florence. I had a Florentine steak that evening with rosemary potatoes that were so well done and just melted in your mouth! Oh and wine was of course a staple at all our meals! Ranging from 3 to 5 euros at most spots, you just couldn’t say no.
We got an all-inclusive pass for the Cathedral di Santa Maria del Fiore and hiked up the 412 stairs to the top of what we mistakenly thought was Brunelleschi’s Dome. Lost in the exquisite details of the Cathedral, we realised that we were almost late for Dome appointment and just ran to the first ticket entrance we saw. That ended up being Giotto’s campanile (bell tower, let me flex my Italian small lol) and it offered such an incredible view of the city along with the Dome. We also went to the accompanying museum which was probably the most interested I’ve recently been at a museum.
Google Maps led us to local spot, Tratottira Gozzi Sergi, for lunch and the pasta was so good we came back for seconds! I had a penne Lampredotto, which I spotted off a nearby table and boy am I glad I did! Lampredotto is typical in Florentine dishes and I’d definitely recommend that you try it if you’re ever there.
In some aspects I think I preferred Bologna, our next stop, to Florence. Don’t get me wrong, Florence was lovely but I think that it lacked a vibrancy that perhaps is restored in the summer. Bologna, with its non-Uber having self, felt completely different to our two prior stops. We didn’t do too much sight seeing other than the Museum of the History of Bologna but it had a nice chill vibe with great food and drinks.
The lasagna I had here made me a fan of the dish which I had previously not cared for. Again, Sephora was a disappointment not least because of a lack of complexion products for us melanated folks but even more so for a shop attendant who followed us around the store incessantly under the guise of a very ill performed stock take. *eye roll* To be fair, I guess it wasn’t just Sephora to because we had a similar experience at the Max Mara. By that time, we knew the gig and just left ASAP cos ain’t nobody got time for all of that.
So there you have, a ridiculously long recap of my recent Italian adventures! Each city undoubtedly had its own charm and feel and I am really curious to see what they’d be like in the summer! Can you imagine I at one point said, I was tired of the gelato? Silly, silly me! Comment below and let me know your experiences in Italy were like if you’ve ever visited or let me know what places are on your travel list for 2018!
Lots of love,