Il Gabriello and Il Gelato di San Crispino – Rome

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The Spanish Steps is another tourist spot that you should visit when in Rome. Just across the steps, you will find tons of luxury stores but also more affordable brands further down. The Rick Steve’s book had suggested Il Gabriello, but my mom had thought it would be too expensive. Minutes after persuading her, we finally ask for a seat and were told there are none. So apparently, you’re supposed to make reservations here! We ended up making a reservation for the next night, and it was the best idea ever! Atmosphere is lovely, and service was great! The restaurant is underground so it’s pretty cozy. A huge variety of wines here too, but they didn’t even give us any attitude when we just asked for water.

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Complimentary Bread

If I remember correctly, the bread was complimentary, which was a bit surprising, since many places we had gone charged us for extras. Water, however was charged since they don’t give out tap water. The assortment of bread was really good though! The loaf was alright, but the little buns were so soft! The bread sticks were also really nice!

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Smoked Salmon Salad

The Smoked Salmon Salad was so good! The salmon was really fresh and mixed with the greens, it was a nice way to start the meal. Really refreshing and light!

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Octopus Salad

This is a must order for octopus lovers! At first, I was worried the octopus would be tough, but it was so soft, yet still had a nice chew! It came with some potatoes and a nice light dressing. Absolutely delicious!

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Lobster Linguine

K got the Lobster Linguine which was a simple tomato based linguine and came with a large portion of lobster. Very fresh, and the linguine was cooked perfectly to al dente. Keep in mind that we had also ordered the primi sizes, which are supposedly smaller.

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Mushroom Risotto

E got the Mushroom Risotto, which he said was also really good. It looked really creamy!

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Seafood Paccheri

C got what I believe is the Seafood Paccheri. Paccheri are large tubular pasta. Again, it came with a nice tomato sauce, and came with a variety of prawns, shrimps, and a lobster claw.

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Grilled Lamb Chops

For myself, I didn’t go for the pasta but opted for the Grilled Lamb Chops. I sort of wish I had gotten the pasta after trying the others. Still, the lamb chops were pretty good. They were simple, and the sauce wasn’t overwhelming so you could get the true taste of the lamb.

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Seabass

A got the Seabass, and she was surprised to see it come as a whole. I guess we aren’t familiar with seeing fish as a whole in Vancouver, other than in Asian cuisine. No worries though, since A loves her fish and enjoys eating a whole fish. It came with a tomato sauce on the side which also had clams in it I think. She said the fish was very fresh and grilled nicely.

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Pistachio  Hazelnut Crepe

For dessert, we had the Pistachio Hazelnut Crepe, which I found a bit pricey for the portion. It was quite delicious though, with tons of Nutella filling and pistachio nuts on the top.

Overall, I highly recommend going to Il Gabriello. Good quality and authentic Italian food! Remember to make those reservations!

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After, we headed to see the Pantheon, and also stopped by Il Gelato di San Crispino, which is known to be one of the best gelato shops in Rome.

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Pear and Chestnut

They have really unique flavours here. Made from fresh fruits or the actual ingredients. Here, we got the double scoop of Pear and Chestnut. Pear was my favourite as it was sort of like a sorbet. Very strong in pear flavour too! We also had the Chestnut which K really liked, but I thought it was only average. Overall, really cool place to try out some flavours you might not find elsewhere. The quality of the gelato was also really good.

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Alice Pizza and Vatican City

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Day three in Italy was a trip to Vatican City. I’ve been here as well, and my deepest memory is losing one of our classmates in this busy square. Luckily, we found her somehow. Anyways, this time I understood so much more about the history again. I guess things just make more sense when you’re older. Vatican City is actually the smallest independent state in the world in area and population size. A size of around 44 hectares and a population of 840! The State is basically ruled by the Bishop of Rome or the Pope. First stop was St. Peter’s Basilica, which does not require admission fees. However, you do need to line up, but it moved quite quickly for us.

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St. Peter’s Basilica is located at St. Peter’s Square. It’s a Late Renaissance Catholic church and was designed by architects including Michelangelo. It is one of the largest churches in the world and is known to be one of the holiest and greatest churches in the Christian world. I’m an atheist, so visiting these churches isn’t really my thing, but I think it’s worthwhile to just see the architecture here. It’s seriously magnificent..

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Here is the altar of the basilica, and Saint Peter’s tomb lies just below the altar. You’ll also be able to see the dome of St. Peter’s and it’s the tallest dome in the world.

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Then, we took a short walk over to the Vatican Museums. You need to pay for this museum, but you’ll see some incredible work in here. You’ll find Renaissance sculptures, paintings, and other artwork here. For instance, here is just part of the ceiling. If I remember correctly, this ceiling is completely flat, but the artist painted it so you feel like it’s 3D and sculpted. Seriously, how do people even do this!? Crazy.

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I’m not an art person, and I forget who did this painting, but its pretty impressive how you see paintings all over the walls. Seriously, you won’t find a blank wall anywhere in these rooms. My favourite rooms had got to be the Raphael Rooms, with my personal favourite – The School of Athens. I learned about this in school, and it was so cool seeing Aristotle and Plato in the picture. After the Vatican Museum, you can connect to the Sistine Chapel, which does not allow photography. The chapel is in the Apostolic Palace, which is the Pope’s official residence. It’s basically famous because of the frescoes, the ceiling and The Last Judgment created by Michelangelo. You’ll also find the Creation of Adam here! Michelangelo was definitely a pure genius.

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After an afternoon of arts, we looked for some afternoon snacks. We found Alice Pizza, just minutes away from the Vatican Museum. I believe the store is actually outside of Vatican City though. The pizza was so good! It’s not your normal toppings, but with toppings like arugula, zucchini, eggplants, and more. You’ll see trays of pizza and you just let them know how much you want, and they slice them up for you. It’s priced by weight. Luckily, we were able to snatch the last few slices, because people were buying them so quickly and I think they had just taken out their last batches. So get there early and be aggressive about what you want! Some of the best Italian pizzas I had in Rome.

Ristorante Da Giovanni – Rome

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Our next stop was Rome! We arrived late at night by Ryanair and landed at Ciampino Airport, which is not their primary airport. Oh god… it was a nightmare in the airport. The arrivals was so small, but that wasn’t the problem. It was the fact that people were sleeping everywhere on the floor (waiting for layovers?) and the fact that people just smoked indoors. We were all pretty disgusted with the smoke just surrounding us. I have to say that the departure side is much better though and I had no problems with that. Anyways, we took a taxi to our hotel called Hotel Romae, which is just minutes away from the Termini station. A nice, comfortable hotel at a reasonable price and they even had Pantone chairs! How stylish. The next day, we were off to see the Colosseum. I’ve been here before, but I felt like I learned so much more this time around. If I remember correctly, we got the full entrance ticket, which gives you access to the Colosseum, the Roman Forums and Palatine. This was around 12 euros. We also paid an additional 9 euros for the Guided Tour, where the tour guide takes you underground and also to the third ring.

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The Roman Colosseum was the largest amphitheater of the Roman Empire and is also the largest in the world! This was where spectators could come watch gladiators fight animals. The guided tour was pretty cool since were were taken underground and could see where the elevators used to be to rise the animals up. This here is the underground structure called the hypogeum. It used to be covered by a wooden floor topped off with sand. Now, you can only see these structures, but you can imagine the tunnels and cages where the animals were kept.

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Since we bought the guided tour, we were also given access to the third floor. You get some nice viewpoints here.

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We then made our way to the Roman Forum. I think some of us were a bit disappointed with it just because it’s literally just ruins. Just looking at the place with no understanding really doesn’t impress you. We were lucky to have the Rick Steve’s Rome Guide book, and we instantly were much more interested. So basically, this area used to be a plaza and this was the center of the city. It’s where government buildings, marketplaces, temples ans such were located. Here, you will also find the Temple of Caesar, where Julius Caesar is buried. We also headed to Palatine Hill after, which is sort of an extra if you have time. We didn’t find it too intriguing. You’ll basically see what’s believed to be the residence of Augustus’ wife and also the Flavian Palace, which housed the Roman Emperors.

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At night, we ventured the streets, wandered into shops and ended up at the Trevi Fountain. It is the largest Baroque fountain in the city and obviously, it’s well known due to many films being filmed here. The fountain actually is located at the end of the road and is the terminal point for the aqueduct. Well in pop culture, we are often told that if you throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain, you’ll be coming back to Rome again in your life. I did this just 7 years ago, and here I am. I did it again this trip, so hopefully I’ll be back again! Do keep in mind that there are many pickpockets here, so grab on to your belongings!

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Spaghetti alle Vongole

For dinner, we went back near the Termini station to look for dinner. We ended up going to Ristorante Da Giovanni, which was recommend in Rick Steve’s guide book. It’s a family restaurant, but unfortunately, we were not too impressed with the food.  I got the Spaghetti alle Vongole, which is very popular in Italy. Basically spaghetti with clams made in the “bianco” way. This means with oil, garlic, parsley and white wine. Maybe, this is the traditional way, but I found it very bland. It wasn’t like “wow this is amazing”, but more like “it’s average.” Prices were definitely very reasonable at around 7 euros a dish though, and service was quite friendly. I guess if you’re just looking for something simple and cheap to get filled up, then it might not be too bad. Otherwise, I would skip this restaurant.