Posted in Holiday Happiness

Day Trip to The Aeolian Islands

A day trip to the Aeolian islands is a great thing to do whilst visiting Italy. These are several islands of Volcanic origin are located off the northern coast of Sicily. Easily accessible from Sicily the islands can also be reached from the town of Tropea, south Italy. Several companies offer the trip within the town departing from the local harbour. If my memory serves me right we paid around €40 (slightly less for a child) for our day trip to three of the islands.

Boat in Tropea harbour
The boat in Tropea harbour

Departing early morning from the harbour in Tropea, the sun was glistening on the water whilst we excitedly boarded our boat for the day. There were several boats leaving from here but finding the tour we booked was easy as there were plenty of people around to guide you.

We were embarking on a 12 hour round trip to see three of the islands in total – Volcano, Lipari and Stromboli. I have to confess here that my memory is pretty sketchy with timings of this trip, as in can’t really remember how long we spent sailing to each place and how long we were there (this is why I’ve just bought a travel journal for future trips). I know we were quite a while reaching the Aeolian islands, well over an hour.

Leaving Tropea port
Tropea harbour as we left

As we left the port we were soon treated to a view of Tropea town. I wished at this Point I had taken my DSLR for some better shots. But I still managed to get a photo that captured just how magnificent it looks perched on the rocks of the Calabria coastline.

Tropea town from the water
View of Tropea from the water

Aeolian islands stop 1 – Volcano

First stop on our day trip to the Aeolian islands was Volcano, an island known for its sulphur and wild panorama. Volcanic activity here has been going on for thousands of years and as we got off the boat you could smell a strange smell of sulphur in the air.

We wandered along past a few little shops and restaurants until we reached the therapeutic mud baths and hot springs the islands famed for. Unfortunately you have to be over 16 I think they said to bathe in them. I have to be honest though I wasn’t really feeling it anyway so the fact my son is only 11 was a bonus. That said they are suppose to have many beneficial healing properties for skin conditions.

Therapeutic mud baths Volcano
People bathing in the mud baths

Aside from climbing the creator and a bit of wandering there wasn’t alot else to do. So we stopped for pizza before boarding the boat to our second destination.

Aeolian islands stop 2 – Lipari

Lipari is the largest and most populated of the Aeolian islands. It makes a great base if you want to visit all the islands in your own time. We arrived in a busy port with a lovely looking pastel seafront.

Arriving in Lipari on our day trip to the Aeolian islands
First glance at Lipari

We meandered up the winding streets admiring local art work displayed in the shops. I am always interested in independent artists when I travel, you can pick up some lovely art pieces to remind you of your trip. I bought a wall hanging made from washed up pottery pieces and driftwood found on the beach.

Local art work in Lipari
I bought the one in the top left corner

We soon stumbled across Lipari Cathedral, Known as Basilica Concattedrale di San Bartholomeo di Lapari in Itallian (a bit of a mouthful!) Located right in the heart of Lipari, the cathedral is the oldest and largest church on the islandIt stands proudly at the top of a large staircase. My son lazily waited mid way up protesting that he could see if very well from where he was ha ha!

Lipari Cathedral
Walking up the steps to Lipari Cathedral

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering some more. Lipari is a pretty town and as we were there the end of May it felt very laidback much like Tropea. I expect in July and August like most places it is much busier. Out of the three Aeolian islands we visited, Lipari was my favourite.

Wandering the streets of Lipari
Wandering in Lipari

Aeolian islands stop 3 – Stromboli

Back on the boat we headed to our third and final Aeolian islands of the day, Stromboli. Stromboli contains one of the three active volcanos in Italy. Most eruptions consisted of small gas explosions creating lava to run down the rim. For this reason night tours are popular in hope of seeing the lava glowing. It is said that Mount Stromboli has been in continuous eruptions for the past 2000 years.

Mount Stromboli from our boat
View of Stromboli from our boat

Stromboli has recently hit the news (a week ago) after it errupted sadly causing a fatality to a hiker. In a guided group it is possible to hike up the volcano. We were only there less than two hours so just had a short look about and some more pizza! (How I didn’t turn into a pizza on this trip I don’t know?!!)

There was just enough time for a few quick photos at the foot of the island before we boarded the boat for the trip back to Tropea. My son picked up a small piece of volcanic rock as a souvenir.

On Stromboli, just before leaving

Would you like to visit the Aeolian islands? We think a day trip was perfect. Have you visited one of the islands I haven’t? I would love to hear.

Next stop on my Italian travels will be Venice…. stay tuned 😉

Rachael 🙂 x

Posted in Holiday Happiness

A Week in Tropea

At the end of May I travelled to Italy for a week in Tropea. Tropea? Where’s that? A common response from many when I shared where I was going. Tropea is located in south Italy within the Calabria region and it was instagram that lead me to this destination. I follow many travel pages and Tropea just looked oh so dreamy but could it be as nice as Positano?

Getting to Tropea

With no flights from Manchester I had to fly from London Stanstead. Tropea can’t be that popular a destination for us Brit’s as there appears to be very few direct flights a week. I took a Ryanair flight to Lamezia Terme, a short bus ride to the station and finally a train to Tropea.

Where we stayed

With Tropea being a town there are very few options of places to stay with pools unless on the outskirts. However is a pool really necessary in a beach town? After initially booking a hotel just outside Tropea I had a last minute change of heart and decided to stay in a boutique hotel centrally located instead. Colomba D’Oro met all our needs, spacious rooms, modern whilst retaining an Itallian charm , a good selection at breakfast and friendly staff.

Instagram perfect?

In a world of editing apps, tweaking and filters would this seemingly picturesque place really live up to my expectations in real life? Well I have to confess that the first few days the weather was less than desirable. But as the grey clouds lifted and the sun shone down if you had dropped me off on Tropea beach and told me I was in the Caribbean I would probably of believed you. Clean golden sand and turquoise waters that needed no filter at all.

Tropea beach
Tropea beach from above

As if that wasn’t enough the backdrop was something else… the stunning majestic houses of Tropea perched right on the cliff edge. I tried to do some research on the buildings but struggled to find much information other than Tropea town dates back to Roman times.

The houses of Tropea
Houses of Tropea

Tropea town sits around 70 meters above sea level meaning you must descend down several steps to enjoy the beach. However before making your way down you are treated to this stunning view of the sanctuary of Santa Maria Dell’lsola. It Sits high upon a large rock outcrop with the Tyrrhenian Sea sparkling in the sunlight behind it. An iconic image for the town of Tropea – it’s picture perfect.

 Santa Maria dell’Isola
Santa Maria Dell’Isola

When to visit

We visited at the end of May which is deemed to be relatively quiet time. Apparently in the months of July and August it is extremely busy mostly with European travellers. The Italians in particular love to holiday here, I mean why would you not if this was on your doorstep?! May is a nice time to visit but you are dicing with the weather slightly. We had about four overcast days.

Wandering…

A week in Tropea was ample to explore this Italian town. We wandered down the cobblestone streets, explored the pretty alleyways and stumbled across little hidden squares. It is everything you would imagine Italy to be.

A week in Tropea wandering
I love to wander…

The buildings had a charming faded feel about them. Traces of the old town remain and we noticed some beautiful old architecture in amongst the new.

Beautiful architecture in Tropea

Watching the world go by

Tropea definitely has a laidback feel, nothing is done in a hurry. My son and I chilled out in restaurants, played card games and chatted without a piece of tech in sight which was a nice change. We noticed lots of elderly men sat around on benches through out the day and I learned they are referred to as ‘Noni’ – grandfathers. They looked like they didn’t have a care in the world – how wonderful.

‘Noni’ watching the world go by
Resting ‘Noni’ in Tropea

Just when we thought Tropea could surprise us no more we would stumble across another part. It might have been a town but venture just to the edge and you were reminded that indeed you were still in Italy with its lush greenery.

Red wine with a view
Cheers to that view!

Eating in Tropea

It seemed every corner we turned there was tables set out encouraging you to stop again for a glass of wine or some yummy Italian food. Eating in Tropea is very reasonable. You could pick up a freshly made pizza for less than ten euros.

Tropea restaurants hidden away
What a charming Italian restaurant

Lots of seafood dishes are on offer and not forgetting what Tropea is know for – it’s sweet red onions. There was no shortage of them to buy around the town.

Red onions of Tropea
Red onions of Tropea

What to do

There is no denying Tropea is not a place with tons to do but that is its charm. It’s a seaside town so if sun, sand, relaxing and dining sounds like a dream to you then pop Tropea on your bucket list. We spent our days mostly doing the above. So what else is there to do?

Well Tropea is on a main railway line so exploring in either direction would be an option. However nowhere in the surrounding area looked quite as charming as Tropea so we stayed put.

Bike riding

Bike riding in Tropea
Bike riding with the port behind

We did hire bikes to go exploring a bit further one day. Firstly we headed for the port but the hill it was at the bottom of made us decide to just stop mid way down as my son was moaning about having to ride back up!

As we rode out I enjoyed the scenery but we never made it as far as another town. I would have kept going but my son was not happy in the heat. That said Italian drivers are a little crazy! We had to be extra careful on the roads. I think in the height of summer this may not be a great idea when it’s busier.

Trips

There were a few trips available out of Tropea. Two of the most popular being a visit to campo vatico and the nearby Aeolian islands. Campo Vatico is essentially a beautiful beach and given we had already spent ample time at the beach we opted for the latter. We visited Stromboli, Lipari and Volcano, but more about this in next weeks blog post.

End of our week in Tropea

As our week in Tropea came to an end I was grateful I was lead to such a stunning destination through Instagram. I felt revived after a week of doing very little, however I was ready to go home. This is a destination perhaps to be enjoyed with your lover not a tween! My son who requires constant entertainment was bored quite often despite my attempts to make it fun. However the quality time did us both good and there is no denying that south Italy is truly beautiful.

Amazing sunsets in Tropea
No caption needed!

Have you visited Tropea or anywhere in the Calabria region? What did you think? If my blog post has inspired you to visit let me know…

Rachael 🙂 x

To book Colomba D’Oro hotel in Tropea

Posted in Holiday Happiness

One day in Capri (Italy)

One day on the island of Capri in Italy

The last part of our Italy adventure was to be one day on the beautiful island of Capri. We were up early, the birds were singing, the sun was shining… what could possible go wrong?! Let’s just say the day didn’t get off to such an easy start… my son was not in the best of moods as I had bollocked him for losing his new trainers! But as he sulkily wandered down the jete to board the boat I took what would become one of my favourites shots of the holiday. It’s funny how the images we share, seemingly perfect do not always portray what’s really going on in the moment. A photo can say a thousand words but it can also hide them…

Vico Equense Harbour

Getting to Capri

As mentioned on a previous post we were staying right by the harbour in Vico Equense so this was ideal for reaching our destination. It took around 40 minutes to reach Marina Grande, the busy main port where our day in Capri would begin!

Marina Grande Capri

Here there are lots of souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants to choose from. We had a wander about and then decided it was probably best to take a boat tour of the island. It was soon easy to see why Capri is said to be home to some of the worlds most amazing natural scenery…

Island of Capri

The islands majestic peaks and rocky terrain contrast with the most turquoise blue waters. Sat peacefully on that boat with the wind blowing through my hair and the smell of salty sea air I was in heaven (Note to self: must buy add buy a yacht to bucket list!!)

One day in Capri? Start with a boat tour!

Our boat tour was about an 90 minutes and had the waves not have been so choppy it included a trip into the blue grotto. This is the famous sea cave where the sunlight reflects off the amazingly blue water illuminating the cave. It can be entered only via rowing boats and is suppose to be spectacular… I was really gutted to not go inside. However the water around the island did not disappoint in general… this photo below was taken at the Emerald grotto.

Blue Grotto

The Faraglioni rock formation is probably one of the first images that springs to mind when you think of Capri. The rocks jutting out of the sea range from 80-150 meters high. The middle one has an arch which legend says that if couples kiss as they sail through they will forever stay together. The rocks jutting out of the sea are really quite something…

Faraglioni rocks Capri

Other sites included Marina Piccolo and Punta Carina lighthouse that’s been there since 1866. If you only have one day in Capri be sure to take boat tour, it really is a must… it’s a fantastic way to appreciate the Island.

Anacapri

We docked back in Marina Grande keen to explore further. Anacapri located on the higher west side of the island was to be our next stop. Catching a bus seemed the easiest way to get there. But let me tell you it was crowded!! They literally stuff the bus but thankfully it was only a short ride.

From the centre of Anacapri you can catch the chair lift up Monte Solaro to the highest point on the island. I was excited but my son decided to sit this one out staying at the bottom with a gelato. Honestly he missed out, it’s not scary!

Monte Solaro chair lift

It was amazing going up, at first you could see people’s gardens below, little vegetable patches, I even spotted some bird of paradise flowers growing. As you get higher the only thing you can hear is the birds singing beautifully then silence… just total peace and quiet. The views you are treated to on the way up are spectacular…

Mont Solaro view

The ride is about 15 minutes long and upon reaching the top you must get off. There is a cafe if you want refreshments or simply take in the views… I didn’t stay up there long at all given my son was waiting at the bottom but my head was literally in the clouds.

Top of Mount Solaro

Once my feet were back on the ground it was time to explore Anacapri. Said to be much smaller, quaint and authentic than Capri town itself it did not disappoint. We meandered around it’s little streets, browsed some of the boutique shops and stopped for some baked goods and a cocktail (for me only obviously!) by the beautiful church of San Michele.

San Michele church Anacapri

Capri town

Conscious of the time we caught the bus back to Capri town. It was much busier, but no less charming to explore. Designer stores and expensive boutiques were plentiful, catering to the rich and famous the island attracts. We stopped off for Pizza where my son actually fell asleep with his head on the table… could I finally have burnt him out? Ha ha!

Time to head back to our ferry. Many use the funicular to transport them between Marina Grande and Capri town but the queue was too long so we braved the descent walking instead… not too challenging but probably not recommended if you have bad knees. Just before heading down one last look at the view…

View from Capri town

Stay in Capri!

We were ready to leave Capri as a full day exploring left us hot and tired. But honestly it was a mistake not to stay on the island. I suspect once the day trips depart much like Positano a different more relaxed Capri emerges. I would have liked to have sampled some cuisine, fine wine, done some walking and just soaked up all it has to offer. However if you do only have one day in Capri the above could be the perfect itinerary. We really felt we got a good first taste of the island.

Will I return to Capri? For sure… along with Positano it was definitely the place I loved most on my Italy Adventure. I feel I have only just brushed the surface of this amazing country so guess what?! I return in May but to a different region… stay tuned!

Rachael x

P.S If your looking for a more private experience check out Gianna’s boat tours. I would love to use him next time – https://www.giannisboat.com/

Posted in Holiday Happiness

Italy Adventuring… Visiting Pompeii and Sorrento

Leaving behind Positano for the third part of our adventure was exciting. It was an hours drive to get to our destination, a little town just outside Sorrento called Vico Equense.

Where we stayed

Hotel Le Axidie was situated by the harbour and had it’s own beach, a swimming pool (my son was over the moon!) and was far enough from the crowds of tourists that flock to Sorrento. On arrival the reception staff were most welcoming and helpful. The hotel also offered a free shuttle to the train station and into the centre of Vico Equense which was perfect.

The first day there was spent relaxing on the beach and my son made an English speaking friend (always a bonus!) playing in the pool which meant I could wile away my day with a good book and a few cocktails. From the beach you could see mount Vesuvius… if you look to the left of this photo it can just be seen.

After a good nights sleep we were up and ready to go to Pompeii. My son was so excited for this trip… he had learned quite a bit about Pompeii at school and had been sharing all the facts ever since we got on the plane. First though we fuelled up with a good breakfast… a great continental selection and views of Napoli bay, the harbour and mount Vesuvius made it extra special.

Pompeii

We took the hotel shuttle to the train station and easily bought a ticket to head to Pompeii. On arrival it was pretty confusing… there were lots of options of tours, I decided we should take a guided one after regretting having no guide at the Coliseum. This was definitely a wise move, aside from the museum part I would literally of had no idea what I was looking at other than a bunch of ruins! Also it quickly became apparent you could easily get lost in there… it’s huge!!

Get a guide if it’s your first time!

The guide very informative about the ancient Roman city and the catastrophic eruption of mount Vesuvius in 79AD. She pointed out all the different areas of Pompeii – former streets, tracks of the chariots, and the stepping stones in the street – so you didn’t have to walk in the actual street if it was flooded -, to water “fountains”, to uncovered ovens for baking bread, the baths, the amphitheater and of course the brothel!

Please note: don’t let your kid climb on the ruins… you will get told off! Which thinking about it makes sense… they need to preserve the area. This photo was taken before we got a royal telling off, whoops!

Wandering around Pompeii is very hot… there is not much shade so be sure to take some water in. I think our tour was two hours and it was enough, my son was getting bored towards the end. Definitely not ideal for children younger in my opinion. It is really a fascinating place and must be seen to be fully appreciated. Remains of mosaics and paintings can be seen through out the site – it amazing how well preserved they have remained.

Where’s all the bodies?

Like many visitors we were intrigued to see the bodies. Excavators who uncovered the human remains noticed that the skeletons were surrounded by voids in the compacted ash. By carefully pouring plaster of Paris into the spaces, the final poses and faces of the last residents of Pompeii were revealed and can be seen today.

A little research would have told us that the bodies are not just strewn all over the site and that many have been moved to a museum in Naples. Apparently a few can be seen on the southern western side of Pompeii but on our two hour tour we didn’t see any whilst walking around. However we did see them close to the entrance in a little museum.

It was originally assumed that most of the victims were asphyxiated by volcanic ash and gas but further studies have shown there was no time to suffocate. The contorted postures were not the effects of a long agony but were the result of spasming due to heat shock. So devastating and pretty eerie to look at.

I know we only brushed the surface of Pompeii but I was happy with what I saw and learnt. I have to confess I’m not massively in to history but it held my interest and was definitely worth the trip.

Sorrento

We hopped back on the train foot weary and hot and guess what? Accidentally got one that went straight to Sorrento. Much to my sons dismay I decided we may as well get off and explore it. We had planned this for another day but no time like the present!

A short walk from the train station is Piazza Tasso, the bustling centre of Sorrento. From here you can catch the land train for a tour, begin your walk down the alleyways and main shopping street or eat and drink in the bars that are located on this square. 

We meandered down the little cobbled streets where lemon themed goods are the name of the day. Be sure to try some lemoncello – after all it is here that is originated. Shops selling gelato, clothing, leather goods and ceramics are plentiful.

Sorrento is a lovely town to wander about. We reached Marina Piccola and could see down below the little spots for sun bathing by the sea on little piers that jutted out. I would have liked to spend some time down there but we didn’t have swimwear with us. Soon after we headed back to the hotel after our busy day.

Sorrento is very charming but not a patch on Positano in my opinion… definitely worth a visit though. Have you been to Sorrento and Positano? Did you prefer one over the other? Let me know!

Rachael x

P.S Don’t miss my next post all about the beautiful island of Capri!

Hotel Le Axidie – http://www.booking.com/Share-d2D5VQ

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Posted in Holiday Happiness

Italy Adventuring… Perfect Positano

If you had asked me a few years ago where Positano is I would have had no clue. I’d never heard of it or the Amalfi coast for that matter if I’m honest. Instagram has a lot to answer for when it comes to travel. You see I know it’s a big wide world out there but Instagram has really opened my eyes. So many beautiful places and I want to visit them all. When I first clapped eyes on Positano I knew I had to go… that cliff side village cascading down to the pebble beach is the epitome of the Amalfi coast.

Following on from my last blog post we left Rome for part two of our adventure. The thought of driving the narrow winding roads through Italy made me feel anxious so we travelled on the train from Rome to a place called Salerno south east of Naples. The trains are really easy to navigate in Italy, they were clean, efficient and station staff were very helpful. The journey took about 2 hours.

Salerno looked a lovely little place but we were to head straight to the ferry port and onwards to Positano. Ferry’s to the Amalfi coast only run in summer and this essentially was the start of the season being the end of May. Tripadvisor had warned me that if it’s even slightly choppy they don’t run but we were lucky, the ferry was set to go shortly, yay!

Sat on the top of the open top ferry was the best place to be… a little breezy but let me tell you it was well worth it for the views. The Amalfi coast is beautiful… lush green rugged cliff sides dotted with white washed buildings, the odd church steeple, villas and small pebble beaches. I literally sat on top of that ferry breathing in the sea air and pinching myself… it was indescribably magical. We stopped off at Amalfi first, time for a quick selfie!

As we approached Positano I recognised it instantly… you know when you see things on Instagram and think is it really that nice? With all the filters and editing these days you could be disappointed. It’s safe to say I wasn’t, it was everything the picture perfect images promised. Even my 10 year old son was impressed. I don’t actually have a photo of when we docked… I was far too excited and taking it all in.

We were staying at Casa Teresa situated 100 meters above sea level! Paying for our luggage to be taken up by porters on a golf buggy was definitely a smart move. We wandered through the town resisting the temptation to stop at any of it’s boutique shops and up the steep winding hill. The views were spectacular…

Casa Teresa was the perfect base… if your fit, healthy and don’t mind walking. It may have been a climb but the views from up there are totally worth it. The rooms were antique style and charmingly Italian. Breakfast was plentiful and served on the sea view terrace. But what I remember the most is the birds… throwing open those wooden shutters and standing on the balcony with the sun streaming on my face to the beautiful songs of those birds is a moment that will stay with me forever.

We had scheduled only two nights in Positano which would be plenty if I hadn’t fallen in love with the place but I challenge anyone not to. Our days were spent meandering down the 300 hundred steps to spend time on the Arienzo beach.

Marina Grande beach is where the ferry’s come in and much busier than Arienzo. We spent time on both but favoured the smaller quieter one. The beaches on Amalfi are made up of pebbles which I wasn’t sure I would like but honestly it made it all the more charming. I loved sitting there watching my son play in the water and the world go by. Reading my book, paddling and having some lunch in the beachside cafe.

Positano is a lovely place to wander around. Littered with boutiques selling handmade goods, chic linen clothing, ceramics and what they are particularly know for is sandals. Of course I had to indulge. Just a little further up the hill out of the main shopping area (if you can even call it that?!) I found Mastro Positano to make the most exquisite handmade Italian sandals. Honestly it’s so hard to choose… they make and fit your shoes right away. Not cheap at over €100 but well worth the little indulgence.

You are spoilt for choice when it comes to eating in Positano. Locally sourced ingredients, fresh fish, seafood and homemade pasta make it hard to choose. The area is known for its lemons so be sure to make sure you try something lemon infused whilst there. The lemon sorbet is served in an actual lemon by Marina Grande and is so refreshing. I didn’t pay massive attention to where I dined (being pre blog attention to detail is lacking here) but I can tell you to wander about as restaurants are in the town and scattered up the hill. We didn’t have trouble getting in anywhere but we did dine rather late one night waiting for a table at restaurant with a spectacular view… so worth it!

I spent 2 nights and 3 days in Positano… and that is a good amount of time to absorb its charm. Day ferry’s are in and out of the port through out the day and honestly if I had come for the day I would have felt completely robbed. When the day guests depart and the sun sets a different Positano emerges, a more relaxed vibe.

We were really sad to leave Positano, although I know I will return one day. It stole a little piece of my heart… it definitely earns the title of this post… it’s simply perfect.

Have you been to Positano? Or the Amalfi Coast? I would love to hear what you thought…

Rachael x

P.S Keep an eye out for Part 3 of our Italy Adventure – Sorrento and Pompeii.

Casa Teresa link – http://www.booking.com/Share-Ji5hC4J
Posted in Holiday Happiness

Italy Adventuring… Two Days in Rome

Italy has long been on my bucket list… my Grandma was a real lover of Italy and the Italians, when she talked about her eyes would sparkle. With my son getting a little older (he’s now ten) I decided last year it was time to break away from your typical European holiday destinations (we’ve pretty much done them all and more than once) and go and see for ourselves what this wonderful city had to offer.

When you start looking into Italy you realise that it is indeed going to take several trips so we had to choose carefully where to go. Now I have to confess here travelling around Italy via train, boat and taxis was very daunting. I’m the girl who won’t even get the train alone at home. This was a self planned trip, it was all on me. We planned 10 days at the end of May/beginning of June.

No trip to Italy would be complete without Rome I don’t think so that was our starting point. I’m not a great city lover… I can appreciate them but show me the beach or rolling green hills any day over the hum drum of a busy city. But let me tell you there was a lot to love about Rome. Every corner you turned was steeped in amazing architecture.

We stayed in B&B Roman Rooms which was chosen based on location. It’s was only 3 blocks away from the Termini train station and next to the metro. The apartment was good for a budget stay close to everything. Worth a mention here is the manager who met us there was so helpful in advising us about sightseeing. He gave us a map and carefully pointed everything out.

Day One

Our first stop was the Vatican. We had pre booked our tickets through viatour thankfully as the queues outside were huge. We stopped for gelato right outside the Vatican and as expected it was not cheap. I took this photo of my son and right after he realised there was some slight toffee sauce on it and refused to eat it – bloody kids!!

The Vatican felt huge… the museums displays are endless and it was VERY busy. In fact it was a little overwhelming. We wandered around and tried to take it all in. They reckon you can do it in half a day and that is correct, but if you want to absorb every bit of information I guess it would take weeks! Luckily I’m more of a admire it and tick it off kind of girl so I was happy browsing for the afternoon. The Sistine Chapel designed by Michelangelo is absolutely incredible… not to be missed it! That was by far my favourite part. They don’t allow photos or filming but just to give you a slight idea… here’s just one of the ceilings in the corridors leading up to it.

We spent the rest of the day into the evening just wandering about taking Rome in. A bit of shopping, pasta, pizza and of course red wine was consumed. It’s a lovely city to wander around. It felt like every corner we turned there was another amazing building, we stumbled across many.

Day 2

Day two’s adventuring started at the Coliseum. We had pre booked tickets and got there early, it was busy but not as bad as the Vatican. Now the day before we didn’t end up using the audio guides we had booked… so we opted for a tour without them this time. Admiring the coliseum from outside was magical… the sun was shining gloriously through arches. Time for a quick selfie!

From both outside and in it’s easy to understand why it’s considered one of the greatest wonders of the world. It stands 48 meters high and covers a total area of 6 square meters. We wandered round taking in the information boards and just marvelling at the thought of the entertainment that it once housed.

I kept hearing other snippets of information from other people’s private guides. I quickly regretted not getting one myself… as it sounded very interesting. I would advise a private guide so you can ask questions and really take it all in. We stopped at the gift shop and bought a book – which was great as we did learn more from this when we walked around again.

Afterwards we checked out the arch of Constantine, Palatine hill and the Roman forum. All worth a look round and probably better without a bored hot 10 year old… he loved the coliseum but tired soon after. It is a lot to take in and makes you foot weary. I loved just looking around it all but by mid afternoon I was done with looking at ruins too.

We still had a few other sites to catch so after some lunch in a cafe, the Spanish steps was next on the list. I can’t lie we were a bit underwhelmed, but your probably bound to be after seeing the worlds largest amphitheatre! The area was busy, we hung around for a while people watching but being the animal lover I am I enjoyed stroking the horses, ha ha!

Next it was off to Trevi Fountain – one of the oldest water sources in Rome. It is simply stunning but it was absolutely heaving. It was near impossible to get some nice photos. Whilst there we witnessed 2 proposals which would have been so lovely and romantic of it wasn’t for the sheer amount of people!! Still we spent a bit of time around it and threw in a coin each. I would have loved to have gone back at night to see it lit up but we were pretty exhausted by dark.

I think Trevi fountain was my favourite sight I saw in Rome, closely followed by the Coliseum. My advice for the fountain would be to get to and go super early – in the hope everyone’s not had the same thought! We would have done this the next day but it was time to move along in our Italy adventure.

Rome is a fascinating city and it is indeed one of the rare ones that I would definitely revisit. I enjoyed my time there but I definitely need to return to fully absorb the wonders of it. Have you visited Rome? How many days do you think would be perfect?

Keep an eye out for part 2 of my Italy adventure… all about the beautiful Positano.

Rachael 🙂 x

Link to B&B Roman Rooms – http://www.booking.com/Share-JGXGEL