Friday, October 3, 2014

Roman Holiday


Last weekend was my friend Char's last weekend in Italy, so we headed for Rome on Thursday and we had an incredibly full schedule.  Since she had never been to Italy, or Rome, there are a few things that you just have to see on that first trip:  St. Peter's, Vatican Museums, Colosseum, Forum, Pantheon, Eataly, and all the famous Piazzas like Piazza Navona, Piazza di Spagna and La Fonatana di Trevi.  If you are coming to Rome be aware that most of the Colosseum is enclosed in scaffolding, so that outside shot you want to get may not be possible, and the Trevi Fountain is closed for restoration.
We had a beautiful apartment on the front side of Campo dei Fiori, and across Corso Vittorio Emmanuel from Piazza Navona.  Our first afternoon/evening, we took a nice leisurely stroll to Piazza Navona, and the Pantheon, then headed to Pierluigi for dinner.  An institution in Rome, this is a beautiful place to dine, in a uncluttered piazza with a table on the street.

Our next day was a marathon, with a car and driver with tour guide to take us to all the famous squares, (mostly an orientation) for Char, and a bit of new information for me.  It was great, 3 hours, and we had seen most everything in il centro storico.

Piazza Navona

After seeing these beautiful piazzas, we headed to the Aventine Hill and the Jewish Quarter.

The Aventine Hill is where many embassies are located, as well as a beautiful public garden, and a Benedictine monastery. 

The Jewish Quarter is a vibrant part of Rome today; there are many restaurants in the area that specialize in Carcioffi alla Romana.  (Fried artichokes) 

We had the rest of the day till 5:45 when we were having a tour of St. Peter's and the Vatican museums, so we headed to Eataly for lunch.  Many people say, "don't' go there" but I have had good meals there and for tourists, it's a great place to buy souvenirs like a bag of sea salt from Sicily for E1.

Pacchiere con Guianciale e Pecorino

Pasta with Fresh Ricotta
We had a lovely lunch, then headed back to our apartment to get our long sleeves and pants on for St. Peters'.  They have gotten even more strict with the dress code, and since this was her only time to see it, I wanted to make sure we weren't turned away.  Our guide from The Roman Guy, Irene, was terrific, full of pride and love for the city she was born in and this tour was great---I do learn something new each time I go.  This was the first time I had been in the Sistine Chapel in 15 years where I wasn't chest to back with the people around me, it was magnificent.  After the tour, it was 10 p.m. and we were ready for bed, since we needed to be at the Colosseum for our tour at 9 a.m. the next day.  

 We saw this bride and groom as we were entering the Basilica
 I have about 40 photos before we got to the one below, there was lots of fussing with everything
At this point, the groom was done; it was about 85 degrees and they were hot, and tired, but gorgeous!

Next morning we were up bright and early to get our morning cup of cappucino and a cornetto. There are NO Starbucks in Italy; they have such a coffee culture here, that I am not sure that Starbucks would ever take off.  Italians have such a sense of community, and pride, that the bar is where they meet their friends before work, and after work.  The only time to get a coffee drink with milk is in the morning.  After noon, it's straight black coffee, or a macchiato which has a bit of milk added to the espresso.  
So we were off to the Colosseum for the tour which included the Dungeon.  We actually got stand on the arena floor.  This monument seems huge looking down from the top, but when you look from the floor up it's overwhelming.

After seeing the Palatine Hill, and the Forum we headed back to Campo dei Fiori for lunch at Dittirambo, which happened to be behind our apartment.  Then a small passegiata through Campo dei Fiori looking for fun souvenirs, and it was home to get ready to leave in the morning.  Arrivederci Roma.
Author's Note:  This was taken last year when I was here.  It is now covered with scaffolding, and the Fendi company is paying for the restoration.  For restoring the fountain they obtain the rights to use it in their advertising.  The same is true of the Colosseum--the Tods company is paying for that.  

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