Italy…when NOT to go…and how to be VIP at Ed Sheeran Concert

Oh Italy, you are full of amazing history. Your tiramisu and gelato cannot be beat. Your coffee is delicious, but I wish you’d take a breakfast lesson from the British. While we’re on the topic of coffee, why do you charge more for people who want to sit and drink the coffee? Your weather….. just about killed me. If you’re new around here, this isn’t the first trip I have planned around an Ed Sheeran concert. If only these concerts were in winter time….

I am self-diagnosed allergic to summertime. My body completely shuts down in the heat. When I sweat, I am a grumpy old bag. Italy in June, was not a great fit for me. When you think of Italy, you want to envision all the pasta, all the wine, all the Instagram worthy photo ops at places like the Colosseum, the Vatican, Trevi Fountain. I longed for cold showers, air conditioning and endless gelato.

My travel companion (bless her soul for dealing with me in the heat) and I tried our very best to still take in all the sights of Venice and Rome. We even got to take an unscheduled trip to the US Embassy! Can we laugh about this yet?

Upon landing in Venice, we took a water taxi to our hotel. (Pro tip: if you are exhausted, get motion sick, or just want to get to your destination way quicker: book a private water taxi) Our journey to the hotel took way longer than expected. What I expected to be a half hour max, ended up being an hour and a half to 2 hours long. We stayed at the Hilton Molino Stucky. 10/10 would recommend. The rooftop bar/pool is amazing, the breakfast was what dreams are made of. The bartenders….were easy on the eyes. Being a Diamond Hilton member gives you access to their Executive Lounge, which provides snacks, appetizers, and drinks throughout the day. The only downfall of the hotel, was the location was a long journey from the airport. The water taxi’s were frequent, but it may be more convenient to stay on the other side of the city.

Rooftop Pool at Hilton Molino Stucky

After our time in Venice, we hopped a train to Rome. Our accommodations in Rome were booked through VRBO. I had read some reviews on Tripadvisor suggesting the Trastevere neighborhood. Our apartment was in a fantastic location…but we didn’t know until the last two nights there. Our host met us at the apartment to give us the keys, and show us around the place. Luckily my travel companion had the patience for unlocking the door, you had to wiggle the key ever so politely for it to open.

The bustling Trastevere nightlife lies just 5 minutes from our apartment

Our tourist schedules had us out and about for a good chunk of the day. By the time we returned, we needed an air conditioning siesta. When we discovered the (not so) hidden area of restaurants and shops we fell in love with the desserts. Ok, so the food was good too, but seriously, I will probably never forget the mouth watering taste of tiramisu from the restaurant that lured us in with a free glass of prosecco.

Concert time! I had bought tickets the second they went on sale for the concert at Stadio Olimpico. I didn’t really think much of the seating area, it just looked like it had a decent view of the stage. Turns out, these tickets were for a VIP area within the stadium. In fact, the Sheeran Family was sitting a few rows above us! Also present in our section was Zara Larson, who opened for Ed, “a very important actor” (that was the English translation of my neighbor’s answer to my question “Who is that?) and a couple other Italian celebs that we had no idea who they were, but everyone else was losing their minds. These seats had a bougie area inside to sit, fancy food and drinks, and separate non-peasant bathrooms. Surprisingly, this venue was the first place we found there to be a bit of a language barrier. The event staff were only able to speak a few words of English, and I had to use Google translate to figure out which entrance we were supposed to use. Despite our longer than expected walk home and passport mishap, we had a blast.

This trip wasn’t fully planned out before going. We had an idea of the things we wanted to do, but nothing booked too far ahead. No city trip is complete without me taking a Hop on Hop off bus tour. Rome at night was pretty magical. We also visited the Vatican, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon and the Roman Forum. We had booked a walking tour through Viator. The woman who took us around was very knowledgeable. It was 900 degrees outside with hardly any shade, but somehow I am still alive to write about it. We booked a tour for the Colosseum because I had read that you get a faster entry when with a tour, and the lines were not short for the common folk. Thanks for the tip, Rick Steeves.

Pro tip: There is a gelato place right by the Pantheon that serves 8 billion (give or take) flavors of gelato. I sure wish we stopped here every day, for every meal.

The most unplanned attraction was a visit to the US Embassy. My friend lost her passport at the concert. Womp, womp. A couple hour visit to the embassy, a few snapshots and an emergency passport fee later we were sitting in the Hard Rock Cafe ready for more Italian action. Since I’m kind of a badass travel agent, I had told her before the trip to have a copy of her passport with her in the event of losing it. (I keep a digital copy with me) The lady at the embassy said it was very helpful and made the process easier that she had that. She MAY have said I was a smart friend…but I could be fabricating that part a little.

Fun fact about drinking water in Rome, you’d never think so, but you can safely drink out of any of these fountains located all around the city, the water is cold and delicious.

Grazie Mille, Italy. I shall return….in winter time.

~Kel

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