Asher on Aspen: Roman holiday

Gelato in Rome,Italy.
Sofitel Roma/Courtesy photo

The aroma of rich espresso and the rhythmic hum of Vespas flooded my senses, setting the stage for a sensory overload. Wandering the uneven, cobblestone streets, even the floating laundry lines seemed to be dancing to some Italian serenade. The charming neighborhoods showed off narrow lanes, intimate piazzas, fanciful fountains, and some of Europe’s best people-watching.

It was my first day in Rome, and I was already in love.

Rome, a city that had lingered in my dreams for years, finally materialized as I booked this solo trip to Europe on a whim. The city wasn’t just a destination; it was a living, breathing saga with ancient sights and a modern vibrancy. With every stride, I felt like I’d cracked the spine of a history book, ready to soak in the narrative of emperors, artists, and everything in between.

Now, waking up in the Eternal City, I had this burning desire to be awestruck. I needed something to make me feel like a mere speck in the grand scheme of things.

The natural choice? Vatican City.

As I stepped into those sacred halls, a tidal wave of opulence and history consumed me. The pinnacle, however, awaited in the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo’s magnum opus is a masterpiece that silenced not just my camera, but also my very soul. His brushstrokes, laid bare on the ceiling, conveyed a divine narrative that surpassed mere artistry. I left with a sore neck and a newfound appreciation for my 12 years of Catholic schooling – thank you, Sister Bernice, for that art history class.

Exiting the chapel and entering St. Peter’s Basilica (notably the largest church on Earth), I was blown away by the vast architectural display. The grandeur of the basilica – from the intricacies of Michelangelo’s Pietà to the panoramic view from the dome – was quite impressive. The culmination of the tour was attending mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, which felt like a surreal nod to my upbringing. The assembly of art, history, and spirituality left a memorable mark on my journey through Vatican City.

As for my humble abode in Rome, the Sofitel Roma Villa Borghese was the cherry on top. A 19th-century palazzo? Check. Elegant ambiance and an extravagant Italian breakfast? Double-check. It was the perfect launchpad for my solo adventure, and I was living my best royal fantasy. This elegant four-star hotel is situated in the heart of Rome in Piazza Venezia. It was regal and grand, with ornate artwork and classically designed guest rooms.

From here, it was incredibly easy to explore every inch of the city on foot.

The Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, Rome.
Sofitel Roma/Courtesy photo

So, there I was, standing at the foot of the Spanish Steps, feeling like I stumbled into a movie set. The grand staircase was like a red carpet leading me to a world of gelato and Roman glamor. People lounged on the steps like they were auditioning for the role of “Chill Roman Holiday Extra.” I thought, “If only Audrey Hepburn could see me now, snacking on sweets while posing like a faux Italian.”

And then, the pièce de résistance – the Trevi Fountain. I approached it like a pilgrim seeking blessings from the water gods. The sound of cascading water was like a lullaby, coaxing coins out of every pocket for that wishful toss. I don’t know what’s in that fountain, but if it can make my wish of finding an Italian husband come true, I’m in. People were tossing coins with such passion and excitement; I started wondering if the Trevi Fountain’s wishes were like the Roman version of 11:11 wishes – you must believe for them to come true.

Then came the Colosseum, and suddenly, I was Spartacus. Okay, maybe not Spartacus, but the echoes of gladiator combat were loud in my imagination. The colossal structure, with its maze-like corridors and towering arches, stood as a testament to architectural mastery. As I ascended the worn stone steps, I envisioned the amphitheater in its heyday, the roars of the crowd, and the clash of swords beneath the scorching Roman sun.

Streets of Rome.
Sofitel Roma/Courtesy photo

Standing on the arena floor, I could almost sense the anticipation that must have filled the air as gladiators and wild beasts awaited their fate. The layers of history embedded in the Colosseum spoke volumes, narrating tales of conquests, entertainment, and the enduring spirit of a bygone era.

As I stood amidst these iconic landmarks, Rome seemed to possess a magical knack for transforming every corner into a moment worthy of a postcard. And let me tell you, in between brushing up on history tours, I accidentally stumbled into a different kind of historical romance – a whirlwind affair sparked by a bold move on Bumble.

But hey, my love affair with Federico is a story for another day.

Four nights in Rome were like a fleeting dream, and saying goodbye felt like leaving a party when it was just getting started.

Florence was next on the agenda, promising another affair, and this time, pasta would be the star. Off to there, with my heart still carrying a promise to return for another rendezvous with carbonara, history, and maybe a few more unexpected love stories.

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