How to make the most out of your trip in Rome, Italy

As y'all know, this month I went to Rome, Italy, and was kind of shocked at how insanely beautiful everything was. So naturally, I thought that for this month's post, I would talk about all the best parts, my recommendations, what to avoid, etc, and then next month I'd do a full-detail description of my experience. Enjoy!

~ Cobbled grounds, back-street ruins, warm winds and stunning buildings, everywhere ~

Top six places to visit in Rome;

- The Roman Colosseum and Forum -
Of the top five places that I would recommend you to go to, this obviously would be at the top. Of course, it lived up to all its hype, being a truly astounding piece of architecture, with a truly dark history. It was big and imposing, and me being very into beautiful buildings, marvelled at every crack and crevice. We arrived early in the morning with pre-booked tickets, and honestly I cannot recommend doing the same enough. If you don’t prebook and arrive early you will spend precious hours waiting in queues. The same is if you arrive at lunchtime or after even with a prebooked tickets - there could easily be 200 people in a single line, instead of two (which was genuinely the case when we arrived). Along with it, and somehow even better, was the Roman Forum. 


- The Roman Forum - 
The ruins of a long-forgotton city, which has stood for hundreds of years since, surpassing an incredible amount of generations, is one thing I will never forget. The bricks are built high and with prefect workmanship, with ancient monuments scattered here and there, and large castle-esque ‘rooms’. It is probably the one place I would go back to time and time again, because it is all so insanely breathtaking. When you go up to the Palantine Hill, a walk that you will most likely find yourself on at the end of the Forum, you will also get spectacular views of the city, but, however, not as beautiful as the views from Castle Angelo..

- Castle Angelo -
Shout out to the new Apple update for not letting me rotate this image a tad
Castle Angelo is gorgeous in itself, but if you really want some remarkable views of the city, climb to the top of the castle. It was insane, and I think that it’s quite fair to say that I wasn’t expecting to be welcomed with such a remarkable view. You would climb up the stairs of the building, passing little side rooms filled with the most beautiful artwork, and then once you reach the top you can stop for coffees and whatnot, before going out onto the roof and being able to see even as far down as the colosseum. 

- Vatican City -
Your typical tourist photo ft. my new-ish pink hair
Vatican City, practically a small country by itself, is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. The Pope himself lives there along with an incredible amount of art and tourists, and the place is absolutely gorgeous. When you walk through the grounds, though, note that you will get bombarded by offers from self-proclaimed tour guides, all of which will probably charge you thrice their worth.

Sidenote about Vatican City:
By the side of the entrance to the main section, there is a small X-ray, the type you would expect at airport security. You can’t really see where it leads from your vantage point, but there is a large queue and an abundance of Italian guards, so you should go through to this exciting place, right? No. I did, however, and after taking off my jackets and shoes and bag and getting stopped because of my camera, my family and I finally made it to… a street that you could access from two feet away, dead ended. So we had to walk back around for nothing. It was kind of hilarious, but at the same time, utterly pointless, so I wouldn’t recommend it as a fun detour.

- Galleria Borghese -
This is why I always say to you guys to talk to the people at hotel reception, and ask for some recommendations. Not only did Antonio, the man who I think managed Deseo Home, my hotel, give us some brilliant places to eat, but he also recommended this gallery, calling it, I quote, “his favourite in Rome”. Now, you know when an art junkie says something like that, it’s pretty profound. Also, it was true, it was the best gallery I have ever visited, no kidding. I spent hours staring at each painting and sculpture, and it was all so beautiful. However, there is a little fee (I believe ten euros?), and you have to book in advance - for which we went at 11am, booked for 1pm, and wandered the ground for a couple of hours (which included a fun little rowing trip!). It is so, so worth it if you are in Rome, because, you know, “when you’re in Rome”.

- The Tomb of the Unnamed Soldier -
That annoying selfie-taking tourist really makes this photo
You hear absolutely nothing about this gigantic monument in tourist books, and yet everyone and everything mentions the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. Whilst the Trevi Fountain was beautiful, there were so many tourists you could hardly do anything, especially with the roaring football fans. Sure, it is a lovely ornament, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it. The Spanish Steps are all boarded up, so I couldn’t even relive Roman Holiday (any fans?). This tomb, however, was stunning, and at the same time, I had heard absolutely nothing about it. Hardly any tourists, and a gigantic white building, complete with the most impressive height and design. Now this, I would heavily recommend you to see. Not only that, but there is supposedly a museum inside, so go on, what are you waiting for?

Food in Italy;
































Now when people think of Italy, they tend to think pure starch - pizza, pasta, you name it, anything with carbohydrates is the classic Italian cuisine that you have to try, right? Wrong. 
Although these are all delicious, with such a wide array of fresh fruits and fish and cheeses, it’d really be a shame to miss out on them. Here’s what I’d suggest:

First of all, I’d head down to your local mini-market. There was one relatively near our hotel called ‘doc’, which was swarming with locals (always a good sign). Having never shopped in a Roman market, I was quite taken aback by how much food they’d managed to fit in such a tiny shop. And how much pasta did I see? None. Instead, the shop was stocked with stilton cheese and olives-from-the-vine and serrano ham. Also, no chocolate, which was a shame for me, honestly.

The best Italian market food includes:
- Fresh fish (caught locally - ignore that giant swordfish)
- Fresh fruit such as peaches
- Fresh vegetables (especially olives, avocados and tomatoes)
- Cheeses (the thicker the rust, the better)
- Hams such as serrano*
- Nuts, like cashews, but honestly try to hold the salt if you can
- Hummus is typically seen as more of a Greek dish, but when made locally and yesterday, it is absolutely divine, and I personally think that it goes really well with bruschetta, another gorgeous dish.


Classic Italian dessert, stunning

Top five Italian dishes to order at a restaurant:
- My number one here has to be vegetable soup, because you haven’t lived until you’ve had Italian vegetable soup. It is perfect, complete with lumps of carrot and potato and chickpeas in a very watery, very tasty liquid made up of all the gorgeous vegetable juices. Honestly, I can’t recommend enough that this should be the first thing you let your taste buds in on Italy.
- If you must go for pastas, then I would recommend fettuccines, especially if they're homemade, as they are a very typical, yet tasty, Italian dish. Perhaps try mushroom or pomodoro, with some parmesan sprinkled on top, and you have a filling, flavoursome Italian dish.
- Bruschetta is one of my favourite dishes anyway, but Italian bruschetta? Woah. With everything so fresh, it really brings out the natural flavours in the tomatoes and olives as all the flavours come together. I would probably order this as a starter, as if you order it for a main then you will most likely also get bread as a complimentary starter, and honestly, that tends to be a bit much.
- A salad caprese is something that I had quite a couple of times, in quite a couple different variants. The most common form is having your typical salad (leaves, mainly basil) and including marinated mozzarella (fresh Buffalo), tomatoes, and possibly extras like olives and the such. On a warm Italian day, this is very refreshing, and also quite filling. Another option is to have it set out in a kind of bruschetta, but honestly that made for quite a lot of cheese.
- And for dessert - panna cotta! As mentioned below, panna cotta made with eggs is divine - imagine a soft, creamy pudding soaked in chocolate, caramel or forest fruit sauce - but I would recommend avoiding gelatine panna cotta - almost like jelly, but also weirdly creamy and yet stiff? So far, the best panna cotta I was served was in Da Vincenzo’s, a small family-based restaurant down by the British Embassy, as it was homemade, and as soft and fluffy as you could possibly imagine.

Side notes:
- When in a restaurant, there are hundreds of options of pizza, many with an array of cheeses and vegetables, and yes, they are gorgeous. However, take note that when in a restaurant, you are often served a complimentary dish of extra bread, so bear that in mind. Also related is the fact that the pizza is cooked with a very thin based, often in a wood oven for a few minutes at hundreds of degrees, lending a very crispy texture (something which Westerners may be very unfamiliar with).
- When ordering a hot chocolate at a cafe, note that by “hot chocolate” you are actually asking for just a small bowl of melted chocolate - quite a shock when I was just expecting some Nesquik.
- If you were to order an orange juice, it is most likely to be from a blood orange picked locally, so it will be pretty darn sharp. However, most waiters will serve it to you with an extra sachet of sugar, something a lot of people aren’t used to. If you do fancy a fruit juice in Rome though, blood orange is the way to go.
- If you are vegetarian and ordering panna cotta, make sure that it is done with egg and not gelatine. I had four panna cottas whilst away in Italy, and the egg ones were to die for - but the one made out of gelatine tasted like barf, and I simply couldn’t eat it once I found out the ingredients due to my diet. On a side note, if you are vegetarian then mentioning so in Italian - “sono vegetariano” - will make your stay a lot more hassle-free.
- We’ve all heard of the Italian coffees being the best, as is evident from all the coffee companies basing their recipes on the classic “Italian way”, and yet for some reason I was still surprised at how gosh darn strong they were. A word of advice - two sugars won’t be enough.

*I, personally, am vegetarian, but if you are travelling to Italy and are not a vegetarian, then I would recommend the meats mentioned above.

What to avoid in Rome;
- Bioparco Di Roma - 
One of the poor elephants
On one of my days in Rome, I went on a stroll with my family, and we ended up at a zoo. Normally  I tend to stay away from zoos altogether, but I was honestly expecting this one to be very minimal, with just a few lizards or whatever. However, as it turns out, it keeps all kinds of animals - zebras, elephants, monkeys - from all different areas of the world. By this I mean they will have animals taken from Japan and the Himalayas, and animals from Africa and South America - and group them all together. Due to this, the first thing I hated about the zoo was that a bunch of the animals were adapting badly to their unnatural environment - think missing hair, hiding, etc. Horrible. Not only this, but you’d get stuff like the zoo people using a yard strimmer right next to the animals enclosures, which caused obvious stress.
My favourite animals are elephants, so I was kind of hyped to see them. However, guess how much room two fully-grown Asian elephants had? 50 metres. A fifty-metre enclosure was ridiculous, and one of the elephants spent their time swaying back and forth, whilst the other was facing the wall and not moving except to try and feed herself - mouth wide open, the trunk would drop halfway to her mouth and the food would fall back down.
All in all, the zoo was a horrendous sight, full of sad animals in small enclosures, freezing or boiling, with no entertainment and often very little companionship - even animals that run in prides (take the lions) would be left by themselves, or with just one more animal which they would probably be barred from (hi, electric fences). The animals weren’t allowed to do what comes natural to them (take the poisonous bark covering a tree which one breed of animals love to chew on), and they would be left with their only water source being filled with uncleaned animal faeces. The saddest part is the reviews you read. “Fun day out for the family”, “great entertainment”, all for some depressed animals in tiny cages. 
For these reasons, I would highly suggest that you stay away from this zoo, because it is just the most heartbreaking thing, and especially when you consider paying for tickets, money which will inevitably go towards capturing more animals, I would beg you all to avoid it like the plague.

Where I stayed;
I stayed practically in the centre of Rome in a place called Deseo Home. Deseo Home could be considered as a “budget hotel”, but at the same time offering services that most budget hotels don't - continental breakfasts, incredible cleanliness, helpful staff, and a chic and contemporary design - although technically it’s made up of a bunch of permanent residents, with just a sprinkling of tourists. With an 8.6 rating on trip advisor, we knew that this simple yet modern sleep-place would be perfect for a week in the city. It was within walking distance to the two metro lines, and even better, the Roman Colosseum, Tomb of the Unnamed Soldier, Castle Angelo - you name it, we walked it. I would highly recommend this hotel, mainly for convenience, but also service and price. A winner all around, really.


Photobombing priests, what are they like, eh?


Tourist hacks and reminders:
- Italian guards are everywhere, and I’m not kidding when I say that they are on every single street corner. Just a side note - nothing is happening in the city that you should be wary of, they’re always just there.
- Due to the uneven and cobbled streets, if you’re going to Rome for a night on the town, I wouldn’t advise wearing high heels unless you fancy broken ankles and making use of your health insurance.
- Bartering is good. I went to a small street stall down by Vatican City to buy a souvenir, and long story short I managed to save a grand total of ten euros, which is pretty good when you’re a budgeting student.
- If you can try to learn even a tiny bit of Italian before you go, I can promise that it will make your stay a lot easier. I spent the time speaking in Spanish and trying to use the vowels and such to make what I was trying to say more understandable to the locals, and in return they were a lot more helpful and friendly than they would be if I hadn’t even bothered.
- If you’re going places like the Roman Colosseum, you will need to pre-book if you want to avoid joining more queues than normal, and if you want to avoid queues altogether, aim to arrive early.
- Stay central if you can. I cannot fuss just how much use it was for us to stay in the centre of the city rather than off to the side - it meant we were within walking distance of everything important, and especially when in a gorgeous city like Rome, believe me when I say you’d much rather have a sunshine stroll to the Forum than standing cramped on the metro.
- Talk to your hotel staff, because they will give you the best (unbiased) recommendations. We asked for the best restaurant and gallery (mentioned above), and boy was the staff in the right when they told us their favourites.
-Do plenty of research before you arrive in these big cities - especially by checking out smaller sites and books. We hadn’t read a single thing about the Tomb of the Unnamed Soldier before we went - and even if you type it into Google, you will need to be more location-specific to get the desired results - and yet it turned out to be even more incredible than the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. Without research on the little things, you may never see the small incredible monuments like this.

-And finally, don’t walk too close to the outside walls of locals' homes - I learnt the hard way that that’s a sure way to ensure you get covered in watery plant juice from the flowers hanging on their balconies.


One last Colosseum photo, for luck
So that's all the advice and recommendations that I can suggest for tourists in Rome, Italy. Stay tuned for next month, where I will let y’all know, in classic Amy detail, what adventures I got up to in Rome.

Until next month,
~Amy

*** I never do sponsored posts anymore, and I would always state if I wrote one, but for this almost review-like post, I'd like to reiterate that all opinions featured in this post are my own, and I am not getting compensated in any way for writing about Rome - I just like spreading travel tips and help.)

82 comments:

  1. Rome is one of my favourite places in the whole world! I love the rich culture and history there, and the food!!! This post brought back all my fond memories of my trip to rome. Like the thick hot chocolate that is nearly pudding - I can't say how many of those I have ordered and enjoyed. Much better, in my opinion, than a watery hot chocolate.

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    1. Ohmygosh me too now xD Yes yes yes, the history was incredible - probably one of the most historically-enriched places I've ever been to. But whaaaat? The hot chocolate was even too much for me ahaha.

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  2. Italy is so on my bucket list ♥

    tipscapsule.blogspot.com

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  3. i am italian and you gave great tips :)
    kisses
    www.carmy1978.com

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  4. It sounds like you had a great trip - someday I would love to visit Rome! Thanks for the pointers and brilliant photos, as usual. :)

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    1. Dude that's brilliant, you definitely need to go if you ever get the chance c: and thank you!

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  5. THIS WAS AMAZING AND I WAnT TO GO TO ROME RIGHT NOW. *hyperventilates slightly* I loved how you mixed in all the down-to-earth facts and tips too. And the food. *drools all over laptop* I also need the panna cotta immediately.
    I'd heard about the hot chocolate before, but that still is odd to me. XD Do you just drink it?? Like drinking melted chocolate straight?! I mean, it's chocolate, so it can't be too bad...

    Ohhh, but the zoo note makes me sick. D: That is so so wrong.

    Also I adored your photos!! I'm 1/4 Italian and would loooove to go to Italy someday. :')

    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. THANK YOU SO MUCH! AND HEY, WHAT'S STOPPING YOU c; And aw aw your comment is so sweet, thank youuu! And yeah, you drink it like a normal hot chocolate xD And it was horrendous >_<

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  6. Hi Amy,


    Nice post... I will visit Europe this July, still confused which part of europe I want to explore first.. this Italy seems very amazing, can be my list to go there...

    btw I try to follow your blog via GFC but they said its "forbidden error", will try again soon.. thx for visit my blog, if you don't mind we can follow each other, and if you need english version of my post just give me a buzzz.

    xoxo

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    1. Aw thank you, and you don't know where abouts you're planning on going? I'd definitely, definitely recommend Italy though xD

      And ah that's a shame, I'll take a look at that.

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  7. It's my dream to visit Rome. Love the last picture btw!


    S.
    http://subhamrai.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Ohmygosh dude you should totally go. And aw thank you c:

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  8. Replies
    1. Ah it's great seeing people appreciate their hometown c:

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  9. Lovely post :) I love Italy

    Would you like to follow eachother? Let me know on my blog :)
    In Fashion Chains blog

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    Replies
    1. Ah same, it's probably my favourite country c:

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  10. I would love to go there one day!

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  11. So in love with your blog! You've got such a fresh style and it really is a pleasure to read it!
    Would you like to follow each other on GFC? If yes just let me know once done and I'll be right back!
    xoxo
    Patricia http://patriciacori.blogspot.ch

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  12. One of my fave European cities! Thanks for sharing! Beautiful photos!
    xx
    cvetybaby.com

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  13. Great pictures, have a good day

    http://historiassparacontarr.blogspot.com/
    https://www.instagram.com/

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  14. What a fabulous guide! I visited Rome last year and felt as though I made the most of my stay, though you've definitely mentioned a couple of things I would have added to my itinerary had I known of them beforehand (particularly foods!) :)

    Gabrielle | A Glass Of Ice
    x

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    1. Nawh thank you dude! And aw that's cool, it's nice to know I've given some ideas c:

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  15. I studied abroad in Rome and this post really made me miss it!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

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  16. Simply magical, sweetie! Gonna make that my next destination! xoxo

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  17. I love this post. Rome is a city I've always wanted to visit-it always looks so beautiful. Love your pink hair btw. I LOVE Roman Holiday-Audrey is my icon! Great foodie tips too, I don't think I could manage pizza and a side order of bread but I'm sure my boyfriend could!

    Kay xx
    www.idreamofcoco.co.uk

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    1. Thank you! And if you ever get the chance to go then you should totally take it. And oh wow thank youu! And lmao I bet mine could too xD

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  18. I don't expect coffee to be anything but strong and bitter! Judging from the few I'd had in Europe previously that wouldn't surprise me. I was pretty surprised by the blood oranges used for juice. That is actually really cool, but maybe too tart. I'll remember the sugar then hehehe. I'd love to visit Italy. I've known a lot of Italians over the years and most of them tell you to stick to the North, the Southern parts are places you wouldn't want to visit, except for the obvious tourist attractions. I would love to see the colosseum, it's got to be one of the most fascinating and enchanting ancient places to see. I'll remember to book tickets in advance too, thanks for that FYI

    Sxx
    www.daringcoco.com

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    1. I've found that bitter coffee is quite prominent in Southwest Europe in particular, actually. That's interesting, how come they say to avoid the Southern parts? I find the South to be beautiful, even if tourists are everywhere lmao. And yes, you need to book in advance if you don't want to waste a half day waiting in one single queue.

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  19. Beautiful post dear! I like this a lot.


    ** Join Love, Beauty Bloggers on facebook. A place for beauty and fashion bloggers from all over the world to promote their latest posts!


    NEW POST: Ever Bilena Advance Matic Lipstick in High Heels Review and Swatch
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  20. Lovely post! Maybe we could follow each other on GFC? If yes, follow me and I follow back as soon as I see it.
    Let me know with a comment on my Blog

    http://allbymilica.blogspot.co.uk/

    kisses

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! And I don't really do that, but I'll be sure to check out your blog anyway c:

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  21. Replies
    1. Thank you, Maggie! And it's insane, isn't it?

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  22. Amazing post

    Love Vikee
    www.slavetofashion9771.blogspot.com

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  23. These photographs are breathtaking. Rome has been on my bucket list for years now.

    Connie | Sponsored by Coffee | Etsy

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    1. Awh dude what's stopping you from buying a plane ticket right now? xD

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  24. I know Rome is fantastic right? Much love dear! Baci, Valeria - Coco et La vie en rose NEW POST

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  25. Ótimo post:)

    Beijokas da Camila e Carol
    já estamos de volta

    Vamos Papear 

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  26. I always wanted to visit Rome! It was amazing trip :D

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  27. Nice tips and experience, is always eternal and awesome that city

    Melange-Boutique Blog || Instgram

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  28. hey, just stumbled across your blog and it is beautiful.

    The pics of Rome are very nice. I may never be able to visit it but pics made my day :)

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    1. Awh dude thank you so much. And what's stopping you from leaving right now?

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  29. How beautiful! I'M SO DESPERATE TO GO TO ITALY. Your picture of the Forum is gorgeous.

    I LOVE YOUR HAIR SO MUCH! It really suits you. I think hair has metaphorical significance. If you get through your teenage years without making any significant change to your hair ... I feel that represents a lack of anything important in your life? (I'm partly joking but partly ... not?)

    The best gallery you've ever visited?!??! WOW! I am so desperate to see galleries in France and Italy. Ugh. TAKE ME THERE.

    That elephant pic is so sad. I've been thinking about it a lot recently and I really don't think I agree with zoos or especially sea parks, or even keeping birds in cages or cats in flats where they never leave, or worms in wormeries ... I recently went to Chile (pics on le blog, ~cough cough~ you should look) and there was this pet shop in a craft village thingie and they had this turtle in this tank? Which was like six times its size, imagine spending all your life in area six times your size??? So yeah. I am not in favour.

    That was a bit of a rant!

    Anyway, great post!

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    1. Omg duuu what's stopping you? Just throw yourself onto a plane, right now. I dare you.

      AND THANK YOU (I think I'm dying it blue on Friday lmao), and I kind of get what you mean. Like I pass people in the streets with their brown and blonde hair, and I know it makes me snobby, but everyone's so borrring (ahhh sorry).

      And exactly. Honestly, I don't think I'm going to go to a zoo again. And sea parks are the worst, have you ever seen Blackfish? They're horrible, and I would never endorse them.

      Thanks for your beautiful comment as always, Emily c:

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  30. Oh man, someday!! Someday I hope to get to see what Rome and the rest of Italy has to offer for myself. This post is giving me some serious wander lust! Although that zoo is kind of horrifying, I'm sorry you had to experience that.

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    1. Yaaas, team Italy ^_^ and me too, tbh. But zoos suck in general, especially for the poor animals >_<

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  31. Italy is a country I've always wanted to visit but never had the money! I'm fascinated with volcanoes and love pasta and pizza! Thanks for visiting my blog!

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    1. Sounds like the country for you then aha.

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  32. Your pictures are gorgeous! I was actually in Rome in January and thought it was beautiful, but I was really disappointed with all the graffiti. And goodness, I was so sick of refusing selfie sticks.

    I agree, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was beyond gorgeous. Did you get to go up? We went to the top of the building and the view from up there was just amazing. I couldn't get over how big the angel statues at the top were.

    That zoo looks terrible! I wasn't even aware there was a zoo there but I'm glad I didn't go. Thanks for visiting The Endless Oceans of my Mind!

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    1. Ah really? And I wouldn't say I was disappointed with the graffiti - I adored it on the trains, giving character to otherwise dull machinery, you know?

      And we didn't get to go all the way up unfortunately, but there's always next time c:

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  33. Oh my goodness, after reading this I so want to go and visit Rome one day, especially the Colosseum. Something about that dark history is so fascinating. Those photos are gorgeous too. Also, Italian pizza sounds delicious. It must be so interesting to go to a country and find out what these national dishes are actually like, compared to the versions we get in our countries.

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    1. Did you know that Christian martyrs didn't actually get killed at the Colosseum - instead, it happened at the cirque nearby. And that's a good point, I've never really thought of it like that.

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  34. OH MY GOODNESS I AM ITCHING TO FLY TO ROME ALREADY. I've only been to Europe once but Italy is definitely on my to-visit list. Vatican City in particular sounds super cool -- although shame about that underwhelming dead end, ahaha -- but omG THE FOOD. Like basically all the food. I'm really hungry right now, ahaha.

    Thank you for stopping by The Devil Orders Takeout!

    PS: Hot chocolate that is melted chocolate? YES PLEASE.

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    1. OMG DO IT. And ooh, whereabouts did you go? And yesss the food, I'd go back just for the food alone, tbh.

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  35. Love the tips, very useful
    Thanks for sharing
    xx
    https://theonethattravels.wordpress.com/

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  36. This is so fun! I have to live vicariously through this post. I'd love to visit Vatican City. Although I'd like to avoid the dead-ends, tehe!

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  37. I like Rome and Italy! Beautiful city!

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