And then there was an Italian Honeymoon..

Sneaking in a kiss at the Colosseum
It was hard to leave Italy after our two week honeymoon was up. From the moment we touched down at Leonardo da Vinci Airport (best name for an airport ever, by the way) in Rome, I felt right at home and was totally smitten. When we arrived after our lengthy flight (and Dublin layover), we bellied right up to the espresso bar to energize ourselves enough to get to our hotel. In Italy, ordering espresso seems like a mess. There's the continuous clanks of the porcelain cups as they hit the marble counter while people shout their requests and stand with their beverage. (It costs only about one euro to stand and drink your caffeinated beverage of choice and in most places, it can cost up to ten times that much for the luxury of getting table service. So in most cafes, there's a disorganized mob of people standing around the bar. I loved the instant loud, chaotic atmosphere it created.) From the start, Italy had this energy that was tough to resist getting caught up in. 

The Colosseum
Brushing up on our Italian over some cocktails

Pasta near the Colosseum
I'm going to pause right there before I get any further into my post, just for a moment, so that I can tell you that I've decided, instead of trying to sum up two incredible weeks in Italy, that I will dedicate a post to each city that we visited. After all, it seemed like the only way I could attempt to do these beautiful cities justice. Since our trip started off in Rome, lets begin there, shall we?

Pretty early on into our trip, I claimed Rome my favorite European city that I've ever visited. It's stunningly clean, rich in deep routed culture and alive in the way I wish every city could be. It's truly amazing to walk through the city and see how they've preserved their history while carefully building up around it. It's the perfect balance of being old and modern at the same time. We often found ourselves enjoying just getting lost walking the streets and coming up to places and we settled into the relaxed Roman way of living very easily. While on our walks, we explored the Colosseum, Pantheon and Vatican, including the Sistine Chapel. We stood in awe at the Trevi Fountain, climbed the Spanish Steps and dined in Piazza Navona, which ended up being one of our favorite spots. 

The Pantheon
Espresso Break
One of the ceilings in the Vatican
The people of Rome fascinated me. They all exuded such a strikingly strong confidence, it made me feel like they were living life so deliberately and not caring who was watching. Men and women of all ages as well as children and babies were superbly clean-cut and dressed to the nines at all hours. Women nearly three times my age were walking past in 3-inch stilettos with such grace, I could help but feel frumpy in my cotton dress and flip flops. At one point, I even saw a woman that had to be in her mid-80's, wearing a very revealing belly shirt, embarrassingly short skirt, stilt-like heels and gobs of flashy jewelry. She was totally owning her look in a way that made you not question her outfit choice, but made you admire her confidence. 

Piazza Navona at Night
The top of the Spanish Steps at night
The Carbonara...
The Trevi Fountain at Night
More Carbonara
Last but most certainly not least, the food in Rome really is outstanding if you avoid the tourist traps. It wasn't too long before we developed our own method of picking restaurants: we'd stick to the side streets, look for restaurants that were on the crowded side and we'd take a peek at people's plates. If the food looked good and the prices seemed fair, we'd go in. This method worked really well for us and I can say that we didn't eat a bad meal throughout the entirety of our trip. One of my favorite dishes in Rome was the Carbonara. The pasta itself was delicate but had a texture and perfect chew that stood up to the lusciously eggy sauce and let you know it was there. Studded with thick, salty bits of bacon, when it was finished with a Parmesan shower, the whole dish really was a stand out. 

Rome, what can I say? You left me totally crazy for you.