Many posts to come featuring the wedding, but we wanted to go ahead and dive into the amazing honeymoon we just got back from. Both of us wanted to go to Italy (we love pasta 🍝 and pizza 🍕) and we also loved the idea of going on a group trip. This way, we didn’t have to do any planning and all the heavy lifting wouldn’t fall on our shoulders.

After a bit of searching, we landed upon the Italian Concerto by Trafalgar and we are so glad that we picked that tour group and trip. The last two and a half weeks have been a whirlwind. We got married at 6pm on Saturday, April 7 and hopped on our flight Sunday, April 8 at noon. After the 10 and a half hour long flight from DFW to Rome, we officially started our honeymoon.

Upon arriving at the Hotel Villafranca in Rome, we met our Tour Director Patrizia Tocco. Over the next few weeks, you’ll learn why we all ended up loving Mama Patrizia so much – but that’ll come. All you need to know right now is that we were so lucky and had the best guide of Italy anyone could ever ask for! The first night we had a welcome reception and basically got to meet everyone in our group.

We all arrived as strangers but definitely left as friends.  For the welcome reception, we sat with Darrin and Linda, a really nice couple from Virginia and had lasagna, chicken with vegetables and a delicious tiramisu. The lasagna was amazing – more creamy that I’m used to.

The group consisted of 38 people from all over – mostly the US, Canada and Australia. It sounds like a big group, but it really wasn’t. Each day, when we traveled by bus (a really nice, brand new one that had a bathroom on board) we’d rotate our seats so we could sit by new people.

Every morning in the hotel we’d have a schedule of events while we were in that particular city.

We started the day by going to the Vatican – what a way to start the trip!

What’s great about using a group like Trafalgar, is you don’t have to worry about waiting in lines for anything. When we arrived at the Vatican, there were people everywhere waiting in line to get in. With Mama Patrizia as our fearless leader, we just walked passed the masses and went right in.

We went inside the Vatican Museums which included the Tapestry Gallery, Gallery of Maps and then of course the Sistine Chapel. We were each given a little radio and earpiece which connected us directly to Patrizia or whoever our ‘local specialist’ was. This way we could hear them tell us all about everything we were looking at. Here’s Nathan in the Vatican Museum and here’s a really old sculpture of someone with a ton of boobs. Actually, she’s Artemis, the Greek goddess of fertility and made from marble.

Here’s yours truly, looking like a standard tourist with my radio and name tag and another sculpture. It’s crazy that so many of the buildings, and artwork we saw, was created over 2,000 years ago. It’s just so hard to comprehend.

The ceilings and tapestries are nuts. So elaborate – you just walk through these hallways in awe. Here’s a great documentary showing you behind the scenes of Vatican City.

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We obviously couldn’t take pictures of the Sistine Chapel, but it was amazing. Much brighter and more impressive than I ever imagined. It was pretty crowded in there and the whole time, the police/security in there kept telling everyone to whisper and saying “no photos”.

Next up was St. Peter’s Basilica. Y’all. It’s insane. It’s so big and massive, again, just hard to comprehend. St. Peter’s Basilica, is an Italian Renaissance church in Vatican City, the papal enclave within the city of Rome. It covers covers approximately 240,000 square feet and has a capacity of 60,000 people.

St. Peter’s Basilica is the world’s most renowned example of Renaissance architecture. Michelangelo, the architect responsible for designing the main dome of the Basilica, was also a world renowned a sculptor and a painter.

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St. Peter’s Basilica is home to more than 100 tombs, including the tombs of 91 popes, Holy Roman Emperor Otto II, and Queen Christina, the Swedish woman who gave up the thrown to convert to Catholicism. Swiss Guards, Italian Guardia Svizzera, corps of Swiss soldiers responsible for the safety of the pope. Often called “the world’s smallest army,” they serve as personal escorts to the pontiff and as watchmen for Vatican City and the pontifical villa of Castel Gandolfo. Please note below their amazing outfits.

After we finished up at the Vatican, Nathan and I grabbed some lunch. As you’ll see, we ate a lot of pizza and pasta. When in Rome… literally.

We then ventured across town and headed towards the Colosseum. It was cool that even driving across town, you could still see St. Peter’s Basilica.

Construction began under the emperor Vespasian in AD 72 and was completed in just 8 years.

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The Colosseum could hold between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators, having an average audience of some 65,000. It was used for gladiatorial contests and public events.

The amphitheater was used for entertainment for 390 years.

During this time more than 400,000 people died inside the Colosseum. It’s also estimated that about 1,000,000 animals died in the Colosseum as well.

We then went back to the hotel for a little nap. After that, we ventured out again and walked to see the Trevi Fountain. It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and one of the most famous fountains in the world.  The fountain has appeared in several notable films, including Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, the eponymous Three Coins in the Fountain, and The Lizzie McGuire Movie.

We then walked to the Pantheon, which was is a former Roman temple and is now a church.

Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 142 feet.

For dinner we ate at a little restaurant at Piazza Navona and of course, the food was fantastic. Here was my pasta and below that is Nathan’s dinner – two different steaks with potatoes.

The piazza is featured in Dan Brown’s 2000 thriller Angels & Demons, in which the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi is listed as one of the Altars of Science. During June 2008, Ron Howard directed several scenes of the film adaptation of Angels & Demons on the southern section of the piazza. It is also featured in National Lampoon’s European Vacation.

After dinner, we headed back to the hotel. Our first full day in Rome was so busy, but incredibly educational. There’s so much we did each day that I’m going to break down each day into it’s own blog post.

A few more fun facts about Rome:

  • Population in 2018 – 3,772,000 people
  • By the early fourth century, the Romans had built a road network of 53,000 miles throughout the empire. Each Roman mile was about 1,000 paces (about 4,800 feet) and was marked by a milestone. Hence the proverb “All roads lead to Rome.”
  • Every night at the Trevi Fountain about 3,000 Euros are swept up from the bottom of the basin. The money is donated to Caritas, a catholic charity, who uses the money to provide services for needy families in Rome.
  • Modern Rome has 280 fountains and more than 900 churches – surprisingly, only 30% of the population actually goes to church.

Comment below if you have any questions or let me know what you like seeing in the posts.