Insight Vacations Luxury Gold trip to Italy: Rome
Trip review of Insight Vacations Luxury Gold trip to Italy, highlighting Rome.
Friends, on a recent trip to Italy with my good friend, Lori, from RecipeGirl.com, my experience was different than most. You might say that I was on a deluxe vacation, with special enlightened tours (yes, we saw Pope Francis!), fabulous food and experiences (being serenaded with opera at dinner), and history come to life. It was like I was on a spectacular cruise, in a sense, but one without sea sickness and Dramamine.
(After Rome, we visited Calcata, Umbria, and Perugia.)
I was on a trip of a lifetime, a vacation with Insight Vacations, their deluxe, luxurious gold line. And I haven’t been the same since …
A dream vacation to Italy has different highlights, and I was able to experience their exceptional culinary tradition, history coming alive, world-class art and architecture, and the most serene scenery.
From the Vatican City to the Sistine Chapel, Insight brings shares the secrets of Italy together to create a truly remarkable experience with an amazing Ultimate Italy itinerary.
Insight Vacations Luxury Gold Trip to Italy: Rome
Let’s start with our arrival in Rome, a city that is truly bustling! We were met at the Fiuicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport, and transferred to our elegant 5-star hotel, Baglioni Hotel Regina.
Hotel: Baglioni Hotel Regina
It’s situated on the strategic, central Via Veneto, a stone’s throw from the Villa Borghese, Piazza di Spagna and Via Condotti (the famous fashion street), and the Spanish Steps. This magnificent hotel is one of 3 of the luxurious hotels that we stayed at in Italy, which I’ll be sharing (Tuscany and Venice) in posts to come!
At the hotel, we were greeted in the lobby by our Traveling Concierge, Daniele, who for the next 7 days took us through some amazing places, to experience the “Ultimate Italy.”
The 5 star comfort deluxe rooms, in original Art Deco style, were spacious, posh, and overlooked spectacular Via Veneto.
Our posh rooms featured en suite Italian marble bathrooms, free Wi-Fi, sitting and dining areas with designer furniture, terraces and butler service, along with open bars, city views and in-room breakfast. The beds were heavenly, meaning comfort was at its finest.
Day 1 in Rome
Our first day took us on a walk through the city.
Let’s just say, Lori, Judi and I are not that great with directions. We ended up in places we never dreamed, but at the end of the day, we were happy when we got our #dailygelato and made it back to our comfortable hotel, to put our feet up and rest, before our delightful dinner.
We did take in some pretty fabulous shopping, I may add.
And visited the Spanish Steps.
Welcome dinner: Artisan Pizzeria
Our welcome dinner, at a boutique artisan pizzeria, was a grand way to meet people, enjoy true Italian pizza, and start the trip off with a toast to the Eternal City!
Day 2 in Rome
Day two of our incredible adventure with Insight Vacations went like this …
An added bonus of being part of an Insight Luxury Gold Trip is not only having surprises that we’d never dreamed of, but getting access to special passes into some pretty spectacular events and places.
The first one was admission to the Vatican Museum before it opened to the general public, and then we filtered one by one into the stunning, glorious Sistine Chapel, before thousands squished together to view Michelangelo’s ceiling masterpiece.
Our tour guide was top-notch, interesting, funny, she kept us moving, and a whole new world was opened up to us!
Then as we strolled to magnificent St. Peter’s Square, we were surrounded by thousands waiting to hear Pope Francis address us, as he spoke from the covered altar.
We squinted to see him, but they also had close-ups on the big screens, as if he was standing right near us as he was speaking.
My first time in Rome, I was in awe. Seriously, I had to breathe deep, so surrounded by all of this history and beauty.
The Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museums are the museums of the Vatican City, made up of 54 galleries, with a display of works from the immense collection built up by the popes throughout the centuries, including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world.
St. Peter’s Square
St. Peter’s Square is a large plaza located directly in front of St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the Pope’s enclave inside Rome.
The Sistine Chapel
The Sistine Chapel is in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope, in Vatican City. The fame of the Sistine Chapel lies mainly in the decorated ceilings, with the most popular paintings of history: Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement, but also The Book of Genesis, and The Creation of Adam. It was amazing to think Michelangelo worked on his back for 4 years to complete his art.
He painted it from 1508 til 1512 under the reign of Pope Julius II, it’s a large Chapel built within the Vatican Museums.
The Colosseum is an oval amphitheatre in the center of the city of Rome, Italy. Built of concrete and sand, it is the largest amphitheatre ever built. To visualize the 1 million animals that died fighting either men or other creatures in this arena (such as elephants, lions, bears, crocodiles, giraffes, rhinos and hippos) was unreal.
I loved the history that was shared, how the seating reflected the hierarchy of Roman society – the lower a person’s tier, the higher their position – Senators sat in the bottom level, closest to the action, while women, the poorest men and slaves could only sit on the top level.
And to find out that not everyone was welcome in the Colosseum, except mostly actors, the grave diggers and former gladiators.
Our group of 22 toured together in a European motorcoach equipped with wi-fi, led by our host, Daniele, and we were lucky to have CEO John Boulding along on the tour.
They took care of us, guided us, and shared fascinating history and stories.
Rome came alive not only on the tours, and walking through all of the history, but through the variety of stories shared on the coach by our fabulous director, Daniele.
He made everything feel effortless, and there were no wrong questions. He always had a smart answer! His smile and cheer, even in stressful situations when dealing with crowds and people, were inspiring. A true delight!
Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fountain in Rome with a width of 65 feet and height of more than 85 feet.
The Tiber River, Rome’s spouting fountains, and the daily gelatos that we indulged in under the hot Italian sun, are just the tip of the iceberg of what we experienced in Rome!
Dinner at Ristorante Le Volte
Excitement came when Daniele would say, “By the way. We are headed to dinner tonight with a lovely surprise, are you up for that?” We all knew that it had to be more than the delicious tiramisu served for dessert, in small bowls, creamy and delicate, so unlike the American version, with thick ladyfingers sticking out of the top. What Daniele had in mind on this occasion was 4 amazing musicians who shared beloved opera pieces with us while we enjoyed our meal!
Dragan and Daniele were so engaging with the crowd, for a minute there I felt like they were a part of our group, which they were for the evening.
Our meal consisted of antipasti with white focaccia, mixed tempura vegetables, roast vegetables, rustic tart of pecorino romano cheese, and then Roman lasagne and a fillet of sea bass cooked in a potato crust. We ended, in Italian style, with a mixed salad.
The food was fabulous and the ambience was out of this world! In my heart, they will always be a vivid part of this amazing adventure.
La Dolce Vita!
Rome was of course magical, the Baglioni Hotel elegantly completed our experience, and Insight Vacations gave us a passion for fine living!
“La Dolce Vita” or the “good life” indeed!
Insight Vacations generously sponsored and paid for my trip to Italy, but as always, all opinions are my own. More to come, my adventures to Tuscany and Venice. Photos shared are a mix of my own photos… and some from professional photographer Simon Boucher-Harris from Insight Vacations.