I need to apologize in advance for the avalanche of Rome pictures coming at you. I spent an entire day trying to whittle it down, but try as I might - there were too many I absolutely could not, in good conscience, leave out.
Blame it on Italy, who so confidently whisked my heart away on a speedy little Vespa and has yet to return it. The nerve.
Going into Italy, I had extremely high expectations. For everything. The food, the sights, the sounds. Rome met them all, and then some. However, everything was unfortunately closed on New Year's Day, so we didn't get to actually go into the Coliseum or visit the Vatican, but even walking around and breathing in the sweet Italian air was nonetheless a huge treat.
Upon arriving in the early afternoon, we took a casual stroll in the areas close to our hotel, which was very centrally located.
Before dinner, we stopped by the nearby Dagnino for my first taste of (real) gelato. Y'all. At that moment, I reached the pinnacle of my life. It's all downhill from there.
They didn't have many flavors at the ready, but I had coffee and hazelnut, and I'll tell you right now that it was a spiritual moment. AND THE WHIPPED CREAM ON TOP. The end.
Afterwards, we headed out to dinner at Osteria 44, which was also extremely close to our hotel. As it was New Year's Eve, we decided to send 2013 off and welcome 2014 with a bit of a gastronomical splurge. But boy, was it worth it.
Moments after sitting down, we were greeted warmly with complimentary prosecco and oysters. Yum. (Also, seeing that I'm in Europe now, this was technically my first legal drink!)
Next came generous helpings of octopus carpaccio and a platter of delicious cured meats.
Stop everything right now and admire that heaping of cheese in the middle. It was drizzled with honey, topped with walnuts, and laid on a bed of arugula. Lord help me. Eyes rolled back, mind in the clouds.
For our mains, we each had pasta. I don't remember what everyone else had, but I inhaled a really delicious serving of pasta cacio e pepe (so innocently plonked on top of a delicate layer of crispy cheese). All I know is, when in Rome.... eat pasta.
Ridiculous, right? As people who live for pasta, we know it.
And finally, you can't send off a year without sugar. It's disrespectful. Behold - our spicy, fudgy, lava-y, amazing chocolate cake.
After our very long and very enjoyable dinner (you can tell that the owner lives and breathes this restaurant, and it was so wonderful to bear witness to that), my family headed back to the hotel. On the way, my mom sprained her ankle. She's a trooper and braved it through miles on miles on miles of walking the next day and in Paris, but she decided to sit out our NYE midnight plans.
Thus, my daddy, sister, and I walked all the way over to Piazza de Popolo. What an experience. There were no countdowns, nothing akin to structure - there were just a freakin' lot of people, smoke everywhere, fireworks, loud pops and noises, shrieking, champagne being sprayed. And while I can't ever regret such an experience, let's just say... this girl, who hates loud, sudden noises more than anything except pigeons... shouldn't really thrust herself so close to so many fireworks again.
Then, my dad saw how traumatized I was and pushed me into the closest gelateria. Everything was good again after that first spoonful. Funny how something so little and so caloric can heal so much.
I can't imagine welcoming 2014 in a more exciting fashion. Cheers, New Year's Eve!