December 30, 2016
Bucket List Part II: Rome
As Janice and I spent time with our family over the holidays, we had the chance to reminisce on our anniversary trip to Italy in 2013. It was our first (but hopefully not last) trip to a wonderful part of the world and once again, I’d like to summarize so that you too can put this on your bucket list!
We flew to Rome – we landed around noon and immediately were inundated with the frenetic energy that is Rome. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” I guess that means that while you’re in Rome, go ahead and eat sumptuous Italian food (there are no calories on vacation), explore the ancient monuments while enjoying the city’s vibrancy, and have fun! Our hotel was a cozy hideaway in the heart of the city that was formerly a Baroque convent. The Pantheon beckoned, so we took off with a map for an afternoon (and evening) of walking and site seeing. We saw the colorful Piazza Navona and dropped in at the Church of San Luigi dei Franchesi for a look at rogue painter Caravaggio’s famous The Calling of Saint Matthew. Later that night, we had the opportunity for an after-hours visit of the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, including rooms not usually open to the public like the Gallery of Statues and the Cabinet of the Masks. No crowds, no hassles…just amazement. In the Sistine Chapel, we were left in awe over Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment and his famous ceiling paintings.
I think we slept for a couple of hours, though it felt like mere minutes. Then we were off to see more of Rome’s historical treasures, such as the Colosseum – built in the 1st century to hold 50,000 spectators and most famous for its gladiator fights; the Roman Forum, dating back 2,000 years to the peak of the Roman Empire; and St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, built in 313 AD. We saved an incredible amount of time thanks to some insider information about how the lines and tours work. After all, why wait in line like all the other tourists when you can be up close and personal with these iconic treasures?
On day three, we walked among the designer Italian boutiques along Via Condotti, visited Rome’s catacombs, and took an excursion to Tivoli, where Hadrian built his villa at the height of the Roman Empire. And of course, we ate, ate, and then ate some more! We even tossed a coin into the Trevi Fountain, which is said to ensure your return to Rome.
Our last day, we went to the Trastevere district, a medieval village within the city, and a fascinating escape from crowds. We couldn’t resist visiting the historic Basilica di Santa Maria, one of Rome’s oldest churches, with its gilded mosaics and coffered ceiling – incredible! We connected with the local culture on a walking tour of an open-air food market with a food and wine expert followed by a cooking demonstration on Roman cuisine and lunch. As we enjoyed antipasto, the chef demonstrated a mouth-watering pasta dish – with seasonal wines for our enjoyment, of course. Our final dinner was at a restaurant-museum housed in a former sculpture workshop on artsy Via del Babuino…one could say that we are now Italy “insiders!”
I wanted to share this with you because while we emphasize saving money and financial planning, we also want to show what the results can be. We believe that retirement should be a time of enjoyment, and with the right planning, we want to help you build a plan to achieve your retirement goals.
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