Friday, 7 August 2015

Monthly Wrap-Up | July 2015 | When in Rome...

I got up to quite a bit last month, so let's get on with it!

by Katherine Addison

by Nicola Yoon

by Jane Austen

by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

by Diana Rowland

July was a bit of a slower reading month for me as there was almost an entire week where I didn't read at all, but I still think it was a pretty decent month. I know there are so many other bloggers who usually read five books in a week, not a month, but I stopped making myself feel bad for 'not reading enough' a long time ago. All I care about is that I enjoy what I read, and that reading doesn't become a chore.

I enjoyed pretty much everything I read this month - especially The Goblin Emperor, which has quickly become one of my favourite books of all time - and I'm looking forward to reading more fantasy in August!

by A.F.E. Smith

by Harper Lee

by Katherine Addison

by Nicola Yoon

Season 2 of Penny Dreadful came to an end in July, and what an ending it was! I'm so glad it's been renewed for a third season, because if that had been the end I would have been pretty devastated. Sadly I did find some aspects of this season a little problematic, primarily with the characters they chose to kill off, but I did enjoy the show as a whole and it's certainly not as terrible as some shows out there (*cough*Game of Thrones*cough*). I'm looking forward to seeing all these characters again, especially my beloved Ethan.

Look at this nerd
Hannibal is now back in full swing and it's so good! I'll be honest Season 3 did start out quite slow, but it was all building up to probably my favourite episode to date, S03E07. It's just fantastic and I really hope someone picks it up because I can't bear the thought of it being cancelled. How can Hannibal, an amazing show, be cancelled while every other mediocre show out there gets to keep returning with the same crappy storylines? It's not right, I tells ya!

And after I read Northanger Abbey I decided to watch the 2007 adaptation, too. I think it was a pretty decent adaptation, although I think they could have made General Tilney far more intimidating than they did. Felicity Jones was a lovely Catherine, though.

Strong hat game this month

I went to Rome!

My friend Elena and I decided to go to Rome for a long weekend, and it was fantastic! I've been wanting to go to Italy for years, and now that I'm back in the UK I've really missed being there. The people were so helpful and friendly, and the architecture was stunning and the food. The food might be what I miss most. Especially the ice cream.

Vanilla, lemon and apple ice cream
We flew to Rome on a Thursday afternoon which meant we got Thursday evening in Rome to have some dinner - I had a really, really yummy carbonara - and get acquainted with the city. We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Medici (called that because the building used to be owned by the Medici family!) which had the friendliest, most helpful staff and both of us fell in love with the place pretty quickly. Everywhere we went there was the most beautiful architecture, it really is an absolutely stunning city.

Me! This gorgeous fountain was just around the corner from our hotel.
We had three full days in Rome - Friday, Saturday and Sunday - and we were out and about on all three days. On Friday we went to the Vatican, which was amazing. We joined this tour group led by a lady who flitted from English to Italian to French to German like it was nothing, and the woman was an encyclopaedia of Vatican knowledge.

The Vatican and a pretty fountain. The sky was so blue.
We saw the Sistine Chapel and St Peter's Basilica while we were there too, and I still can't quite believe that I've seen them. The Sistine Chapel is just... unreal. You're not allowed to take pictures in there (a lot of people still did, which was annoying) and I liked that; you can't do it justice in a picture, you must see it for yourself. It's gorgeous.

We jumped onto a tour bus, too, to try and get an idea of where everything was. It's strange how small Rome seems when you're in a taxi or on a bus, nothing seems too far away from anything else, but when you try walking it... We got distracted by a lot of pretty side streets.

Elena and I on the bus. Such tourists.
On the Friday evening we found the Spanish Steps and had dinner in a lovely restaurant where I had the most amazing pizza. Seriously, it was so yummy. I miss Italian food so much.

World's tastiest pizza.

Me on the Spanish Steps

On Saturday we visited the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, which was equally as amazing as the day before. It's astounding that all these parts of ancient culture are still here; there's even a 2,000 year old door in one of the temples at the Forum, and the lock still works.

It sounds silly but the Colosseum was so much bigger than I imagined. Or rather, I hadn't really considered its presence until I saw it myself. I'm so used to seeing it in films and documentaries that when I first saw it - we stepped out of the metro station and it was right there - it was kind of jarring. There it is, this huge staple of Roman history, surrounded by 21st century roads filled with 21st century cars.

Me outside the Colosseum!
We had an audio tour of the Colosseum that was really interesting. One of the things I found most interesting was that there's a huge cross erected in the Colosseum to commemorate the Christians who were slaughtered there. However, there's no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Christians were ever thrown into the Colosseum. They were in danger - Nero started a fire in the city just so he could blame the Christians for it and massacre them - but not necessarily from gladiatorial combat. That doesn't mean they weren't thrown in there, because they may well have been, but any writings claiming such were written approximately 200 years after they were supposedly killed in the Colosseum. I thought it was an interesting fact, anyway!

The cross to commemorate the Christians

I think my favourite thing at the Colosseum, however, was this 2,000 year old mirror we found in one of the display cabinets. The glass itself is long gone, but the rest of it is in pretty amazing condition. We stood and stared at it for about 5 minutes wondering whose face it was that looked back the last time it was used.

After the Colosseum we had some lunch in a little cafe just across the road from where we'd just been.

Elena outside the Colosseum!
Then we were off to the Roman Forum! There was so much to see, and when we eventually left to go back to the hotel and shower and get ready for dinner I'm pretty sure we still hadn't seen it all.

I saw two things at the Forum that were my absolute favourites. Firstly, we found the Temple of Castor and Pollux.

Just look how blue that sky is
I got really excited about this because I love the story of Castor and Pollux, and I didn't even know they had a temple in Rome. Actually I didn't even know they'd have a temple in Italy at all because I associate them so strongly with Greece.

And I also loved this:

At first glance it might not look like much, but just look at what this was 2,000 years ago:

How beautiful does that sound?

We spent our third and final full day in Rome trying to see as much as possible that we hadn't already seen, including the Trevi Fountain, Villa Borghese and a bunch of museums. We did find the Trevi, but unfortunately there's no water in it and they were doing repairs on it, which was a real shame. I hope water leaving the Trevi isn't some kind of omen...

The Trevi minus water :(
But the lack of water didn't stop us from throwing a euro in - apparently if you throw a euro into the Trevi you're guaranteed to return to Rome! Also, fun fact: approximately 3,000 euros gets thrown into the Trevi each day.

Elena throwing her euro into the Trevi

We decided to check out Villa Borghese, which is basically a huge expanse of beautiful gardens, complete with museums, a casino and an open air cinema. It was very cute. We kept stumbling into authors, there!

First we found Victor Hugo...

... and then Elena was very pleased that we found Lord Byron.

Elena, AKA Mrs Byron

I also saw this statue outside one of the museums and I had to snap a picture of it because I thought it was lovely.

And in one of the museums we visited that day we found this statue, which I also loved:

One of my nieces loves faeries, so I had to take a picture of her, and I thought she was beautiful.

I'm going to wrap this up because I feel like this blog post is long enough already, but before I do I have to mention an absolutely stunning ice cream parlour that was just around the corner from our hotel. It was open from around 10pm to around 1am - yep, late night ice cream! - and sometimes people would be queuing around the corner to get in. For just 3 euros you could have 4 scoops of the most delicious ice cream I have ever tasted. Ever.

Just look at some of the cakes they sold:




Basically Elena and I had a fantastic holiday, and I can't wait to go back to Italy because I'll most certainly be going back!


  1. Thanks for the mention, Jess! :)
    It seems like you had a lovely time in Rome. My husband and I spent a week there as our honeymoon two years ago and I was enchanted with the City, there's just SO MUCH HISTORY and art everywhere, it's amazing. I'm sure I'll return soon (for the food, as well, gah!) :)

    1. You're welcome!

      I had a fantastic time, and I definitely want to go back. I think it's make a brilliant honey moon destination. Now I just need to get married...

  2. I feel like I've seen Everything, Everything EVERYWHERE lately even though I have no idea what it was about! And... um... you just popped over to Rome for the weekend? WHAT IS YOUR LIFE?! Haha! People think it's crazy that I just hop down to Disney World for the week every now and then, but you just drop in at ROME? Haha! It looks like you had a great time! :D

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

    1. Hahaha, well the two of us just happened to find a very good deal about a month before, so we booked it while we could and it was brilliant! ^_^

  3. Oh, thank you for the mention, Jess! Your photos of Rome are *TO DIE FOR*. I want to go please!!! I've been to Venice before for a weekend, and that was magical, but Rome has so much culture and history and gorgeousness! Uh. And now I'm trying to think of a reason not to jump on a plane and head out to Rome right now...
    Beth x

    1. You're welcome!

      You should definitely just drop everything right now and go to Rome. Definitely. Right now. It's a beautiful city and I had a really great time - I hope you get to go soon! I'd love to go to Venice. :)

  4. Thank you so much for the mention Jess ♥ And AHHHHH ROME! That's the very first place I remember dreaming about visiting when I was younger and I WILL go someday. In the meantime, I appreciate you sharing your GORGEOUS pictures to help me live vicariously through you :D Ice Cream!!!! *drools* and all the magnificient sites. Gah! It looks like you ladies had a blast soaking in all the culture, history and delicious food there was to be had XD

    1. You're welcome!

      Hehe, well I couldn't go to Rome and NOT share my photos. It was a brilliant holiday, and I'm dying to go back! I'm sure you'll go soon, but be warned: you'll never be able to eat ice cream again, unless it's Italian ice cream. ;)

  5. Thanks so much for mentioning my post! But let's talk Rome here! Your pictures are AMAZING, I am so glad that you had such a wonderful time! I was only in Rome for about a day, and I would LOVE to go back, I feel like I barely scratched the surface! I would love to go INTO the Colosseum, I only walked around the outside, and old things fascinate me so, so much. I also love the Castor and Pollux temple, and basically ALL the things at the Forum! And the food- I am drooling, for real! You're so right, Italian people are REALLY nice! I wonder what they do with all the Euros in the Trevi fountain... I mean, they can't just leave them there, right?

    Anyway, I am so happy you had such a great time, thanks for sharing the trip with us!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    1. You're welcome!

      Thank you, Shannon, we both had a wonderful time. :D I hope you get to go back to Rome soon! Our theory is that they put the euros in the Trevi towards all of the museums historical sites - at least I hope that's what they do! If not, perhaps they donate them all to charity. :)