It was 4 weeks from departure and I couldn't be more excited to be jumping on a big jet plane and escaping life for a couple of weeks. Manchester awaited and the bags were starting to get packed so was it that I ended up 1700km away, Roaming Rome?
I had been planning this trip for months. 2017 was a special year for our family as my sister was turning 30, so being the brother that I am and her loving Lady Gaga, I bought a couple of tickets to her latest tour. The only catch was that she actually wasn't playing in Australia at all and she just so happened to be performing in Manchester, on the actual date of my sister's 30th birthday. It was decided that I would totally spoil her and take her across the world to see her favourite performer live. It was just under 4 weeks out from departure when we received the news that Lady Gaga was unwell and would no longer be performing the concert that we had tickets to. Disappointed, we looked at the travel plans, cancelled the accommodation, changed our flights and on the 14th October 2017, we landed at the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport, Roma.
For as long as I could remember I have always wanted to go Italy but Rome in particular. This was truly cemented after exploring and learning about the history and design of Ancient Rome whilst studying my Bachelor of Design in Architecture. I knew that I would like the Roman lifestyle, what I didn't realise is that I would absolutely fall in love with it, every single aspect of it.
We were lucky enough, under 4 weeks out, to secure accommodation at Mood Suite Tritone, located about a 2-3 minute walk to the east of Fontana di Trevi. It was chic, quaint, and modern, exactly what we were looking for. Our room was upgraded to include a full kitchen as well as a gorgeous terrace, somewhere we enjoyed bottles of prosecco in the afternoon Italian sun.
After settling in and getting to bed after a long flight and delay, we woke up early and were standing in front of the Fontana di Trevi at 7am. The sun had risen and there was absolutely no one there so we took the opportunity to take some amazing photos which just wouldn't have been possible later in the day. We did return later in the day as we walked back to our suites and you could hear the crowds there before you saw them. For the low season, there was still people 15-20 rows deep surrounding the fountain, trying to get a photo.
Rome is so incredibly walkable, so much more than any other city I had been to before. We had the most perfect weather for Autumn so it wasn't too hot or too cold to comfortably walk around the city without the need to lug a jacket around either. After enjoying the fountain to ourselves, we walked on to find our first breakfast, learning that a quick espresso at the bar and a danish was the done thing, don't even attempt to find anything else.
The first day Roaming Rome saw us see sights like the Roman Forum (at a distance), the Pantheon, Piazza Venezia and Castel Sant'Angelo before we stumbled right into St Peter's Square, taking in the sheer size and beauty of this space. We had walked long enough and decided to head back home, taking a street in the general direction and before long we had designer stores from side to side and the Spanish Steps emerged like the light at the end of the tunnel.
The next day saw us grab another quick espresso and croissant on our brisk walk down to the Colosseum to meet up with tour that my sister arranged for us. I am not a fan of tours at all, but this one was truly worthwhile and fascinating. We skipped the line and explored the external and internal spaces of the Colosseum, from the top right down to the bottom. To imagine the sheer scale and opulence, for what was a venue created to keep people busy and civil unrest at bay, back in 80AD is mind-boggling! We were then lead from here to the Roman Forum, the most ancient of ruins in Rome. Interestingly, the buildings that were protected and preserved were those that were built as churches or buildings that were later converted, the rest were used as mines for their marble and travertine. Fun fact - the travertine you see in St Peter's Basilica is what once covered every surface in the Colosseum.
Lunch was calling. Pasta and prosecco were on the menu and we needed fuel to get us through the rest of the day exploring the Vatican. We were guided through the Vatican Museums, through the Sistine Chapel (totally impressive), and straight into St Peter's Basilica. The scale of that building and the thought of engineering that 1,000 years ago is incredible. Of course, seeing the Swiss Guard was a highlight.
And so, after a few more days of exploration and shopping, we found ourselves packing our bags, ready for the next city and our next adventure but it was the most important day of the trip, the birthday day! I wanted a very special dinner to really cap off the trip and Mirabelle was no disappointment. The level of service, the quality of the food and the view were all exemplary and we both agreed that it would have to be one of the best, if not the best, restaurant we have both ever been to. I know that that is a big call, but it is absolutely warranted. Mirabelle sits on top of the Hotel Splendide Royal with 180 degree sweeping views of Rome from the tree tops of the city gardens across to the Vatican and beyond. You should expect nothing less than the best 5-star service here with elegant candlelit tables (with lighting that changes from candles to lamps to candles depending on where you are in the dinner), multiple dedicated servers that take care of every wish you may have (including a group of the staff that sung Happy Birthday, accompanied by a live pianist with the whole restaurant joining in and applauding) and a wine list that could rival a decent novel.
Rome. The food was truly amazing, the shopping was heaven, the sights were incredible and the people so friendly. This city completely set my heart on fire for Italy and I absolutely cannot wait to return.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MATTY BULGER
Shot on an iPhone 8 Plus // Buy
WE STAYED AT MOOD SUITES TRITONE
Via Rasella, 152, 00187 Roma, Italy // Website
TOURS BY OVEROME
DINNER AT MIRABELLE
Hotel Splendide Royal, Via di Porta Pinciana, 14, 00187 Roma, Italy // Website
Matty is the brains behind the beauty that is Groom + Guy. Dreaming up the concept while browsing bridal magazines, Matty started Groom + Guy from his kitchen, designed the launch-in-print edition on his iMac and continues to be the publisher, creative director and editor behind the whole site.
On top of that he is one half of The Chroniclers and runs a digital creative agency, Hello Thrive, creating websites, defining brands and marketing a range of businesses from wine to hair & beauty salons.
Bendigo born and raised, Matty now makes home in Melbourne and his loves outside of business are his partner Tony, his miniature dachshund Aleksandr and a good french rosé, champagne, pinot noir, well any drop of wine really!