So, these pictures are not necessarily in order (and actually mainly in reverse order). But this is a brief photo-log of our adventures in Rome. There are a few stories to go along with pictures, so scroll down for those.

First, I love this picture with the mask. But the best part was when the little, Asian store clerk started yelling at us, “No picture! No picture!” It was seriously amusing.

So, when we arrived in Rome, we were staying at a hotel in a neighborhood that Erika wanted to stay in. It was kind of ghetto (which, interestingly enough, I am normally fine with in Europe, but something about spending Christmas there and traveling with money this time made it so I was a spoiled brat…and I wasn’t the only one).

When the taxi driver pulled to a stop in front of a nondescript building, none of us noticed the building because we were all looking at the car accident and the dead body (graphic, but true…under a sheet thank goodness) on the road. Romans driving abilities are…interesting.

Upon entering the hotel, things didn’t get worse…but they didn’t get better. First, we could barely get into it because the door was working, and while the “hotel” was clean, it felt a bit like an orphanage…a smoky orphanage. The thought of spending Christmas there started to break my heart. That night, after eating a delicious meal at midnight, we decided we couldn’t stay in the hotel and for the next several hours (we finally went to bed around 4 am) we figured out where we could stay and what we would say to get out of our current situation.

We ended up at the Central Park Marriott. It was incredible. Our room was a) not in the orphanage style and b) had an amazing balcony with a perfect view of St. Peter’s and Vatican City. The photo above is the view from our patio. Christmas was absolutely perfect!

Christmas Eve and an American gospel choir was singing on the Spanish Steps. It was one of those perfectly serendipitous moments…it felt like Christmas.

We were in Vatican City on Christmas Eve and the paparazzi were setting there cameras up…anxiously anticipating a view of the Pope. We, however, did not stick around long enough to have that experience ourselves.

My darling cousin with the cutest little restaurant manager ever. Ever. He joked with us about Governor Schwarzenegger (my cousin, like me originally, is from California). It was pretty much hilarious. It was not the pizzeria I was hoping to find (my friend, Kyle, recommended Buffeto’s off of the Piazza Navona…but I couldn’t remember the name), but it was pretty dang good, nonetheless.

The delicious gelato (the best in Rome according to my friend, Brian) that I happily ate even though it was pretty freaking cold outside. And I have to say, it’s the best gelato I can remember ever having.
These last three pictures are of our delicious Christmas dinner experience. Again, a restaurant manager/owner enamored by my lovely cousin. It was hilarious. First of all, he lured us into the restaurant with his fabulous Italian charm, then he made recommendations, with stories about how his wife makes the pasta fresh, and at the end of the meal we had racked up a bill worthy of dinner and a show.

The good news is, we got the show. Mr. Owner was absolutely hilarious. (And yes, Tanya and I are have a sword fight with bread sticks…because we’re mature.)

While I can’t say that Rome is my favorite city in the world, it is definitely worth visiting. And considering that I didn’t get to do the shopping I was hoping to do (Christmas Eve and Christmas can really cramp a shopaholic’s style), I will be going back someday…hopefully when it’s just a little warmer.

Yes, this post is mainly about food…but I’m me and it was Italy, so it all makes perfect sense.

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