Back in 2014, I had the good fortune to spend three weeks in Rome, Italy. In retrospect, I don’t really know what got into me that I decided to go to a city I’d never been and spend such a long time, but I have no regrets. I got myself an Airbnb and arranged a discount with the owner for the extended stay, then headed out after several weeks in Amsterdam.

Even though I enjoyed the city, I wasn’t as struck by it as I thought I would be after hearing about it for so many years. There’s no doubt it’s a beautiful city, and I think what struck me the most was the size and scale of all the monuments there. I was most certainly in awe of the architecture there. However, I left with no urgency to return anytime soon. Two years later I was hired to tour a small group around a couple of European cities, one of them being Rome. When I returned the next time (in summertime), I had a newfound love for the city.

Still, since I had left after Christmas and hadn’t jumped on editing the photos, I didn’t immediately take the time to go back, reflect, and appreciate the images. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking about it and have wanted to go back through these and share them with you all. I think about Rome. I have been sitting on these beautiful photos for far too long and now am so pleased to share them with you.

As I look through them, I fall back in love with the city, I hope you do, too.

(As always, all the images are available for purchase.)

Julia Willard, Christmas in Rome, Falling Off Bicycles
Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Arias, bike in France, American in Rome,, Christmas in Rome, cycle Rome

At the Market

Campo de’ Fiori

I absolutely loved going to the Roman markets during my time there. I have always enjoyed it in Paris, and even Amsterdam, and Rome is right up there with the most pleasant. The vendors are often vivacious and fun and the products are always beautifully displayed. The colors changed from fallish oranges and yellows to reds and green over the three weeks I was there. And there were even Christmas trees eventually. 🌲🌲

Julia Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Julie Willard, Julia Arias, Paris, France, fob bike, biking in Paris
Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Arias, bike in France, American in Rome,, Christmas in Rome, cycle Rome

Shops

From tea rooms with specialty flavors, charming old bookshops, stationery shops, and of course ice cream shops, Roman shop façades are some of the most charming in the world. Although I didn’t do much shopping while I was there, I did fall in love with the imperfect storefronts donned with lights and greenery.

If you’re not familiar with Italian stationery, I would highly recommend visiting some of the beautiful paper shops next time you’re there.

Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Arias, bike in France, American in Rome,, Christmas in Rome, cycle Rome

Restaurants

The Roman restaurant… this is where I think I had the most trouble with the city. Because I was alone, I mostly ate my meals at my accommodation, but when I did want to go out for a meal at a restaurant, I was hard-pressed to find anything other than Italian restaurants. Do Italians really eat that much pasta and pizza? I couldn’t believe it. I finally found a couple of vegetarian restaurants and even a couple of juice bars I would frequent, but other than that I mostly stuck to photographing the restaurants from the outside.

Julia Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Julie Willard, Julia Arias, Paris, France, fob bike, biking in Paris

Nativities

It’s not surprising, given its history that Italy is full of churches. I once read there are over 900 churches in Rome alone!! Can you imagine? It is therefore not surprising that there are also references to Jesus and the nativity all over the city. And you don’t even have to enter a church to spot them! Here are a few nativity scenes I came across in a park, in a hidden courtyard, and indeed in a beautiful church. The best part? They’re all beautifully crafted and gorgeous.

Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Arias, bike in France, American in Rome,, Christmas in Rome, cycle Rome

Bicycles

I didn’t try it, myself, but I’d love to cycle Rome one day. I hope you enjoy the bicycle photos sprinkled in among all these Christmas scenes. I especially love the two together! 🚲🎄

Julia Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Julie Willard, Julia Arias, Paris, France, fob bike, biking in Paris
Julia Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Julie Willard, Julia Arias, biking in Rome, Rome, Italy,
Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Arias, bike in France, American in Rome,, Christmas in Rome, cycle Rome

The Vatican

I had seen this staircase on Instagram for years, so naturally it was on my list to see when visiting the Vatican Museums for the very first time. As I made my way through the massive rooms and halls, I wondered if I had made a wrong turn and missed it somewhere along the way. Alas, it wasn’t until the very end of the visit – at the exit – that I finally came across the stunning spiral staircase, known as the Bramante Staircase. It’s beautiful on its own, but I was fortunate enough to see it with the beautiful Christmas tree at the bottom.

Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Arias, bike in France, American in Rome,, Christmas in Rome, cycle Rome
Julia Willard, Julie Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Julia Arias, bike in France, American in Rome,, Christmas in Rome, cycle Rome

Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas!

Julia Willard, Falling Off Bicycles, Julie Willard, Julia Arias, Rome, Italy, mailboxes, mail, pretty mailbox
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All images are © Julia Willard and may not be used without express written permission. Click any image in this series to be taken to my photography shop. Don’t see the one you want? Just email me!