Lonely Planet Writer

Just back from... Rome

AM1 Amanda, thankfully battling tourists rather than Gladiators at the Colosseum © Amanda McCadams

Amanda McCadams, Front End Developer at Lonely Planet, has recently returned from exploring Rome and the surrounding regions in Italy.

Tell us more… My daughter, Zoe, and I spent two weeks in Rome for her high school graduation trip. We had originally planned on going to Iceland, but my brother and his family were planning a holiday in Rome (they live in Sri Lanka and we miss them terribly) so we decided to rendezvous with them there instead. We rented an apartment through Airbnb, spent our days jaunting around Rome, catching up with family and taking day trips to see all the sites.

In a nutshell… This was our first time in Italy so we unabashedly did all the touristy stuff. We saw the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums, the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and the Pantheon; took day trips to see the ruins of Pompeii and the Leaning Tower of Pisa; and even saw the Pope. Along with hoards of other sweaty tourists, we braved the long ticket lines and and crowded gelato shops to gawk at the amazing creations of the Ancient Romans. And I LOVED every second of it.

Rome The Colosseum is impressive from every angle © Amanda McCadams

Defining moment? Going to Pompeii with my daughter. I’ve always been obsessed with ancient ruins. When Zoe was five, we spent three months in Ecuador and backpacked down to Peru to see Machu Picchu. Seeing those ruins was a huge goal for me and, as a single parent, dragging a 5-year-old through South America to make a dream of mine come true was challenging, but so worth it.

During that trip, we talked a lot about the Ancient Incas and how they lived; I tried to make it meaningful to her too. And even though her memories of that first trip are foggy, it formed an impression. In middle school she did a report on Pompeii and the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and became obsessed with learning more. She never lost that enthusiasm for understanding Pompeii, so to bookend her school years with those trips was a wonderfully personal and meaningful experience for me and for her.

AM3 Mount Vesuvius overlooking the ruins of Pompeii © Amanda McCadams

Good grub? Are you kidding? The good grub was everywhere! Tasty breads and coffee in the morning, gelato and pizzas for lunch and a delicious pasta or fish plate for dinner, with copious amounts of wine (and then maybe a little more because we were on vacation).

Get any souvenirs? The leather shops in Italy live up to their reputation! I came home with a gorgeous handbag and a wallet and my daughter got a really cool black leather jacket that is sure to make her look like a badass on campus this fall.

Leather A leather shop in Rome © Amanda McCadams

Fave activity? I’ve always heard the light in Italy being described as just magically beautiful. I’m a photographer at heart and have yearned to experience it for myself. I wasn’t disappointed. I photographed and photographed and photographed. It was awesome.

Quintessential experience? I wore my newly acquired fedora, sat in an outdoor cafe, ordered a glass of wine and wrote in my journal. How’s that for a dreamy tourist in Italy? I laughed at myself when I realized what was happening. Then I went on doing it anyway.