Day one of my three day journey began in the heart of Rome. Landing early in the morning, I hit the ground running and made my way from the Leonardo DaVinci Airport all the way to the city center - roughly 30 minutes from the airport by bus. The shuttle bus transportation isn't a bad option if you are on a budget.
After checking into the hotel where I was staying, I set off to see as much as my legs and back would allow. Prior to leaving for Rome, I had mapped out and planned my route. However, once I was there I found myself wandering through the old city streets, mesmerized by the history and beauty that covered every inch of this place. Thanks to Google Maps, it's a lot easier to let yourself just "get lost" and explore.
Piazza Navona was my first stop. Here I made my way over to one of the many cafes where waiters are waving you in to enjoy an overpriced meal (for Italy). I succumbed to the tourist bait and sat for a coffee while looking out over the piazza. I've had better coffees for cheaper, but it was worth it for the atmosphere alone.
Once I had a jolt of caffeine in my system, I carried on winding my way to the Fontana di Trevi which was filled with people trying to get photos of this beautiful landmark as well as, of course, a selfie with it. After a brief pause here to admire the overwhelming amount of people I made my way over to the Pantheon - also crawling with people - and then down to Il Vittoriano where I checked out the Botero exhibition that happened to be taking place during my trip.
My final stop was to the Trastevere neighborhood. If you are going to Rome, Trastevere is a place you should definitely plan to explore. Restaurants and cafes line the narrow streets of this quintessential Italian neighborhood. Here you will find the outdoor patios filled with people eating and drinking, as well as some of the locals passing the time with card games and small talk. Although still a tourist filled location, it had a bit more of a local feel to it. A perfect last stop before slowly making my way back to the hotel to rest my aching legs, feet and back. Walking around with a heavy camera is no small feat.
One thing to note is that if you decide to go in the summer, you will be one of a million others winding through the narrow alleyways, and trying to get photos of the many sites. Low season might be something to consider if crowds aren't your thing.
Since the goal of my trip was to capture photos (ones that did not include herds of tourists), I opted to scout and discover as much as I could throughout that first main day, and then to wake up early the next day to get the images I wanted - people free and with beautiful morning light.
Being a morning person, after coffee has been fully consumed of course, waking up early to get the best of the morning light is always a treat for me. There is something very peaceful about the stillness and quiet of the city, just before people start making their way to work or to their local cafe. In Rome, the smell of freshly baked bread and pastries filtered through the air as I captured it's beauty bathed in the soft morning glow. It was a perfect ending to my stay in the city center, taking away some incredible images.
A day in Rome is not enough to see all it has to offer. I left wanting more, and with a strong desire return to the Eternal City.
LA POSTA VECCHIA
After a beautiful day in the heart of Rome I was off to La Posta Vecchia (the Old Post House), This special Roman villa is situated just thirty minutes by car from the Leonardo Da Vinci Airport, on the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The property was built in the 17th century and used to be part of ancient Alsium, a port city which was originally Etruscan but later Roman.
The villa's recent history began in the 1980s when the private home was purchased by the Scìo family who used it as their private residence until 1989. In 1990, Roberto Scìo returned it to its original function of hospitality, opening the doors to the public.
Although it has been returned to its original function of hospitality, there is still a strong sense that you are arriving to an old friends home. The villa is intimate and inviting, the staff are friendly and very helpful, and it felt as though I had the whole space to myself.
Upon arrival, you are greeted by one of the friendly staff members, who after checking you in for your stay, shows you around the villa, introducing you to the space you will be making yourself at home in. La Posta Vecchia has a total of 19 hotel rooms and suites where the furniture, the art pieces and the personality of every room are unique. After my tour of the property, Francesca showed me to the Olive Suite where I would be settling in for the next couple of days.
As I entered, I was greeted by an incredible view of the sea shining in through the suites sitting area window, as if a painting on the wall. Windows in all three rooms (sitting area, bathroom and bedroom) showcased this serene and spectacular view. The large and spacious suite, decorated with Renaissance furnishings and antiques from J.Paul Getty's personal collection, was something out of a dream. It took all I had in me not to jump on the king sized bed and dance around the room like a silly high school girl. I waited until Francesca left, of course ;).
Breakfast on the outdoor terrace overlooking the sea, a quick dip in the indoor pool, spa pampering, or a fine dining experience at The Cesar are just a few of the things you can enjoy while here. If you are visiting the Eternal City in the future, my recommendation would be to stop here for a couple of days prior to departing Rome. A stay at La Posta Vecchia is a perfect way to end your trip to Rome, leaving you feeling refreshed and recharged for whatever may lie ahead of you.
Detour - the Italian Countryside
A visit to Villa Tirrena was on the itinerary for my last day in Italy. Just a short two hour drive ;) from where I was staying, but I thought what better than a road trip through the Italian countryside? Situated between Florence and Rome, in front of Civita di Bagnoregio, UNESCO patrimony, the estate is surrounded by thirty one hectares of vineyards, a beautiful sculpture garden, and breathtaking views of the Calanchi Valley.
Owned by Paolo e Noemia D'Amico - Paolo the chairman of d'Amico International Shipping and Noemia a Dior representative for 15 years - the estate houses a cellar where tastings along with the tasks of processing, storing, bottling, labelling and packing of their award winning wines are carried out.
With advanced booking, the property is open for wine tastings, tours of the sculpture garden, and events. In addition, if you feel like escaping the crowds of the city, this 16th century estate is an ideal and very private retreat, sleeping 12 people across 6 ensuite double bedrooms, with a full staff including your own private chef.