The Huarpi people of Argentina use the word “Tamari” to describe people who “do everything with passion.” I try to live my life that way- usually I talk about my passion for endurance sports, but last week I spent four days in Rome indulging and I wanted to share. I work hard and play hard but this semester and JFK were both brutal and tipped the scales too far in the “work” direction so I thought I deserved a bit of a celebration and some “play.” I love food, wine, art, architecture and beautiful men (hey, I’m just being honest here) so Rome was my kind of city- they had all of the above in abundance.

My trip to Rome was fairly spontaneous. About two weeks prior, my friend, Ryan, asked if anyone wanted to go to Europe with him so he could get some frequent flyer miles. I rarely say no to an adventure so on Thanksgiving me, Ryan, and his old roommate, Theresa booked our flights and hotel. Thanks to Ryan’s generous use of his Hilton points we were able to stay at the Waldorf in Rome which was nestled in the hills overlooking the city with a view of St. Peter’s Basilica. Before we even set foot inside the city walls it was amazing.

View from our hotel in Rome

Theresa was an awesome travel partner and totally my kind of girl. She’s a runner so I had someone else who pretended to want to wake up at 7 am (which feels like 1 am) to go for a run (okay, one day we didn’t pretend and we actually went, but we did much more sleeping than running).

The first morning we went to a breakfast buffet unlike anything I’d ever seen- a Japanese table, a table with easily 20 types of jam and 10 types of honey, 6 fresh fruit juices, gluten free items, and the list goes on. If it’s breakfast food in some part of the world, it was there with 6 different exotic variations of it. Theresa and I decided that every day we’d try something new. Can’t figure out what it is? Try it. I had a partner in crime. Between the breakfast, the executive lounge and the spa we ate quail eggs (one of my new favorite things, any quail in Pittsburgh better watch out), octopus, pickled radish, and passion fruit (never eaten one whole), drank fresh kiwi juice and bottles upon bottles of Prosecco, and watched the ceiling cry in a Turkish bath (when I become a millionaire I’m putting one of these in my house).

Theresa was also either like me or very good at humoring me in terms of our use of guidebooks. I had a Fodor’s guidebook and I swear either the book or my DSLR were in my hand at all times.

Really, DSLR in hand at all times. Even while relaxing in the lounge.

The days went something like this: Walk. Facts. Pictures. Awe and wonder. Repeat.

We roamed the city’s incredible cobblestoned streets lined with russet colored buildings with wrought iron balconies overflowing with flowerpots, dodged Vespas, stumbled upon ancient ruins and incredible art and stopped to eat chocolate and hazelnut gelato and snack on Nutella crepes (chocolate was created to go with hazelenut).

It was so gorgeous everywhere you looked.

Do I look happy enough about my gelato? (And notice my guidebook in the other hand )

I meditated inside the Sistine Chapel, laid on the ground to take pictures of the sunset behind the Vatican and drank wine at sidewalk cafes, one right in front of the Pantheon. I soaked up every second and relished being in such a beautiful place.

Really, I’m not making this stuff up. Me laying on the ground to get this picture:

Sun setting behind the Vatican

I was able to get an incredible night shot from the Castel Sant’ Angelo

One of my friends once said, “Life is what you make it. I make mine awesome.” I feel like that quote was appropriate for this trip. Check out my pictures (we saw everything from the Roman Forum to the Vatican to the Castel Sant’ Angelo to lesser known churches with amazing art and sprawling piazzas) with tons of fun facts about Rome here. A few of my faves:

The Colesseum

Altar at St. Peter’s

Isola Tiberina and Ponte Fabricio, the oldest bridge in Rome, dating to 62 BC

The Pantheon