There comes a point when you need a holiday abroad, not to mention the fact that there’s no better excuse for buying clothes than that all-necessary pre-holiday shopping. So the boyfriend and I decided to spend our first holiday abroad in Rome, for some sun, guilt-free spaghetti, and of course: shopping.
After many attempts at packing: sitting on the biggest bag which could still pass as hand luggage in an effort to zip it up, and googling any magic tricks that might fit five pairs of shoes and an outfit for every possible circumstance into my Longchamp travel bag for our 2-night city break, it was finally time to leave, and take a cut-throat approach to leaving half my shoes behind.
When we arrived in Rome at lunchtime, we were grateful for the private taxi I had booked in advance to take us directly to the hotel. The taxi man found my hair bouffant a hoot, and drove like a lunatic, making my driving look like the pace of the most undetermined snail. As usual, my skill of selecting a decent hotel did not disappoint, with very welcoming staff, roof terrace and a glass floor in the lobby revealing a maze of old Roman walls underground. We drop our bags off and soon head out for our first meal de l’Italia, in the direction of the Roman Forum - pretty much on our doorstep. At the Roman Colosseum, we are bamboozled by some Rotten Romans, pillaging us for money. They’re dressed up as Roman soldiers, and offering the chance for photos. However, after a slight misunderstanding on my part, I very quickly find myself dressed as a Roman empress, with crown and drape, and surrounded by several Romans posing for another Roman holding my camera. After four photos capturing my complete mortification and embarrassment, he asks us to pay 10€ each for photos I’d rather never lay my eyes on again. I haggle it down to 15€ but we both know we’ve been ransacked by Romans; duped into the tourist trap. I will also add that they too, found my bouffant hilarious, as it had a horrifying resemblance towards their helmet plumes.
Despite wearing my most sensible footwear (suede ankle boots), all the cobbles around Rome result in me hobbling around like a cripple - a slightly alarming fact as I am due to run a marathon in 2 weeks time. I insist we squeeze in a trip to the Trevi Fountain, always a favourite since watching The Lizzie Maguire Movie ‘When in Rome’. We toss our 20p into the vast fountain (the smallest domination of euro we have is a 20€ note and there’s no way I’m chucking that in) and make our wishes (I am a true believer of wishes, don’t mock). Traditionally, to throw a coin in means that one day you will return - neither of us knowing that our return would be that very evening, when I insist in seeing the fountain yet again as ‘It’s a totally different place at night, with the water lit up’. We end up visiting the fountain no less than four times in the two-and-a-half days.
Day two, and with the amount of pain my feet were in, nothing could have made me put my boots back on, so I choose to wear my most summery outfit, consisting of a crop t-shirt, a high-waist midi stretch skirt and the flimsiest sandals you could imagine. We head on the metro to the Spanish Steps, where I’ve already earmarked Via Condotti as designer heaven. When it starts to pour down torrential rain, and I’m standing on the Spanish steps in a thin cardi with bare legs and virtually bare feet, it looks like a whole new outfit is on the cards, with the only choice to make between Gucci, Prada or Vuitton. The boyfriend, being a sensible man every girl needs in her life, has already restricted me to a maximum of three designer shops, but I have to remind myself that buying a new handbag probably isn’t the most sensible thing at this current moment, and a coat and boots are higher priorities. (I also know that had I been on holiday with either my Granny or my Aunt, they’d have a) insisted I took a coat each day, and/or b) taken the worst raincoat possible so that when it did rain, I’d have to wear it, or rather, be begging to wear it.) In the end, my boyfriend (AKA knight in shining armour, or more precisely, in a nice looking coat), lends me his coat to keep at most half of me dry. By the afternoon I’ve given up stepping over the puddles forming between every cobble and dip as water has already seeped between my toes, and I end up dashing through puddles like a woman on a mission to buy new shoes.
We eventually make it back to the hotel late afternoon - surprised to see that the whole of Rome hasn’t submerged under a monsoon river - for a hot shower and clean clothes. I am proudly wearing my new Italian leather (of course, what else?!) cream biker boots, which felt like heaven when I slipped them on in the shop, and held out in the rain despite being cream. In the evening, after a nap and a refresh, we head out back towards the Spanish Steps to a small non-touristy piazza where we find, hidden away up a small side street (I would add ‘cobbled’ for the perfect depiction, but then again, all the Roman streets are cobbled) Italy’s best-kept secret, Al Granasso. It is bustling with Italian friends and couples, all sharing the scene from Lady and the Tramp - table for two, white table cloth, Italian music and a plate of meatballs. We sit downstairs in the wine cellar, sharing a carafe of house red, ordering bruschetta, two bowls of hand-rolled fresh pasta, sharing another carafe of house red and a side order of spinach (which in itself, turned out to be the highlight of my holiday, not to mention the evening being the best meal of my life!).
Day three and we venture back into the city to visit a few museums, with the boyfriend turning out to be the best tour guide I could have asked for - his knowledge on the sculptures, artwork and historical goings-on in the religious side of Rome (mainly learnt from the TV series, The Borgias) was particularly impressive! We also visit food markets for salami and olives, make the discovery of ‘Olives Ascolane’; the two greatest things I love rolled into one - a giant green olive stuffed with sausage meat, and then covered in a light breadcrumb shell, and stop off at a Gelateria in yet another tiny cobbled street, with a choice of 150 flavours of ice cream, sorbet and mousse, including to my great delight, Nutella ice cream. Despite only being two nights and two-and-a-half days, we’ve tried the tastiest pasta, the freshest tomatoes and the best ice cream to never want it again elsewhere, in fear of ruining the memory.
We arrive back to England probably more tired than before we left what with all the pavement-pounding and cobble-trodding walking we’ve done in the last 48 hours, but it was totally worth it and I’d highly recommend it! Do beware of any tourist traps that will empty your pockets of your holiday money by day 1, and never pose for photos with a group of hairy Romans, no matter how friendly they look.
the crazy happenings in my life