Italy · Rome

Day 15

HADRIAN’S VILLA and VILLA d’ESTE – SEPT. 25

Our first stop for the day was Hadrian’s Villa. Personally I think villa is a bit of a misnomer, because this place is more like a mini village. It was hard not to be impressed by all of it. The only downside (and I do mean only, this tour was absolutely amazing) was that there was an annoying American on the tour 🙈. I swear she was complaining the whole time to the tour guide and since he was miked up we all had to listen to her.

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Apparently this tour did not adequately warn her that there would be stairs and steep (in her opinion) hikes. First off, this is a half day walking tour, but furthermore it’s Rome, there are steps everywhere and inclines and patchy walkways! This wouldn’t have bothered me–if you’ve never been to Rome before then it is completely understandable that you might not know this–but she kept talking about how she specialized in Roman archaeology when she was in school…so yeah. Also there was an older couple on the tour and the woman had to use a cane and would constantly stop when she needed to and she never complained. It just reinforced a lot of the negative stories I have been hearing about American tourists which makes me sad.

Okay, rant over, back to the fun stuff! As cool as Hadrian’s Villa was Villa d’Este somehow managed to be even more. It is “newer” than Hadrian’s Villa, so it is still intact as opposed to the ruins of Hadrian, but the villa itself is hardly the centerpiece of what makes it such an amazing sightseeing designation. The gardens are unlike anything I have ever seen and I’m just sad that my photos cannot possibly convey just how magnificent it was to see.

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All of the water fountains that you see in my photos are natural. There are no pumps or any other modern interventions to keep the water flowing. The villa was designed to utilize the hill it is on, so each waterfall is located further and further down the hill so that the water from the top fountains end up supplying all of the subsequent fountains. The overall effect was stunning.

When our tour was over I was seriously craving some good gelato. After some hardcore research on the bus ride back to the city I found out about Gelateria dei Gracchi which was a 20-30 minute walk from where we were getting dropped off. The walk over got us by the Colosseum and other neat views. There was only one negative to this walk which was that once we got to the main shopping street there was just soooo many people. I felt like a salmon swimming upstream!

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But it was all worth it, the gelato was incredible. My mom stuck to just hazelnut (and I do mean hazelnut, this was not Nutella gelato) whereas I got hazelnut, stratchiatella, and caramel pear. The hazelnut was beyond words delicious, but the caramel pear was just so unique tasting that I might love it just a little bit more. The jury’s still out on that one!

Learning from last nights mistake we went nuts researching places to grab dinner. Ultimately we agreed on a place called Cantina e Cucina. Wow was it good, like really really good. We started off with calamari before having our pastas: a carbonara and a cacio e pepe. To finish off the meal our waitress brought over a complementary shot of sambuca. Not wanting to be rude, my mom and I somehow managed to swallow all of it. I’ve had sambuca before, but this was especially bad. Eh, it’s all about the experience, am I right? My mom and I will definitely be laughing about this for a long time!

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Say hi mom!
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