Friday, June 22nd
I have been to Rome 3 times before, either arriving or departing from Rome, but I have never stayed more than 2 or 3 days. I decided for this trip that I would not make any major plans and instead just wander and explore Rome to get to know her a little better.
As I mentioned earlier, I have been very fortunate to find a wonderful apartment in Trastevere. This apartment is usually booked up and so I was very fortunate to find open dates on the availability calendar 4 months before traveling. Usually the apartment is booked up months and months in advance. The piazza where the apartment is located right next to Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere. Trastevere is a maze of streets and I have already been lost a few times when taking just one wrong turn. It is always interesting though as I end up finding the most interesting places that I would have never seen if I stayed on the correct path.
I started out my day on Friday on a quest for muesli. The grocery store I shopped in the night before did not have any and so I stopped in a few local stores that sell a little of everything but usually only have 1 or 2 small aisles. The people of Rome have all been so very friendly and kind.
After searching most of the little stores in the area, I remembered that I needed to find an ATM (bancomat). When I was in Venice, my main ATM card would not work. I tried it in 2 different ATM machines (different banks) and each time I was able to put in my password but then when I went to choose the amount I wanted, the machine would take a very long time and then have a message that said there was no connection. Fortunately, I opened up a second account a couple of months before leaving and had a second ATM card to use. I decided to give my main card a try again here in Rome.
I found an ATM machine outside a bank on the corner of a street. I went to put the card in and saw the message the the machine was not working. An older man came up to use it when I left and I told him that it was not working. He thanked me and said something I did not understand and then went around the corner. I started to walk off the other way and then decided to check out where he went. There he was waiting behind a lady at another ATM machine a few feet away from the same bank. I went over to wait in line. He insisted that I go next. This time my ATM card worked!!
After I got my money, I decided to go inside the bank to get change as the ATM machine only gave me 50's and most places are not happy at all when you try to pay with a 50. Many times they are not even happy when you pay with a 10! I stood in front of the door waiting for it to open. After a few minutes of trying to figure out how to get in, I decided to push the red button. The door opened and then I was inside between 2 doors. There was a guard on the other side of the glass door I was enclosed in. I am not sure if he actually pushed a button to open the other door or if the door just automatically opened after a few seconds. Inside the bank, there were 2 tellers open. One had a longer line and so I went to the teller that had only 1 person in front of me. She took forever. People came in and out and I was still there waiting. At one point a man that just finished at the other line around the corner came up to me to tell me that that line was free. The teller was very friendly and happily gave me the change I needed. I was now set to go out and explore Rome.
I decided to head toward the Bocca della Verità. Crossing the street from the bridge (Ponte Palatino) was pretty harrowing as the cars went speeding by. I keep thinking about the problems on Oahu with all the pedestrians getting hit. I think 2 or 3 days training in Rome and the accidents would be down to zero. Here you have to look left, right, left, right, and again left, right and if possible cross with a crowd. There is no stopping to let a person cross here. Instead it is almost like a game where the car or motorcycle will actually speed up as they get near you. After seeing my life flash in front of me when falling in the middle of a crazy street in Naples a few years ago, I have always been a little nervous crossing busy streets. Well, as you can see, I made it safely across the street and have crossed many more streets since then.
The Bocca della Verità was packed with people and so I headed on to the Piazza del Campidoglio. I had never been there before and was amazed with the beauty of the area. In this piazza are huge statues, a replica of Marcus Aurelius, the Capitoline Museums which I plan to visit later in the week, and in the back is an incredible view of Roman Forum. I took a bunch of pictures and then headed onward to the Colosseum. It was very hot and humid and as I reached the Colosseum, I started to think about lunch. I figured out how to put text files on my nano and so I took it out and searched for the restaurant reviews I had gathered for the Colosseum area.
I decided on Hostaria da Nerone since it had such wonderful reviews and was nearby. The restaurant was easy to find and when I arrived I asked for a table for one. The waiter told me "no tables for one". He then smiled and showed me to a table and told me he would find me a handsome man to sit with me. I told him that would be fine and smiled. I ordered the spaghetti with clams which I thought was one of the best spaghetti and clam dishes I have ever had. I also ordered the Roman chicken with peppers. This dish was just ok. Some of the meat was pink which made me a little nervous. Since having a salmonella infection, I am a little more cautious with food. For dessert, I ordered a ricotta torta. Even with the minor concerns, I would definitely eat there again if in the area. I great find and an enjoyable meal.
After lunch, I walked over to the Colosseum. I have taken a tour during one of my past visits and so I just took pictures from the outside this time. I then went into the Roman Forum. WOW, every time I visit this area, I am amazed. I took more pictures and finally ended up back up at the Capitoline museums again. I was soo hot and thirsty by this point. I went to the bar that I read about at the top of one of the museums. I ordered a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and must have drank it all in less than a minute. I could have had 3 more glasses and still have been thirsty. It was time to head on back to the apartment and get out of the hot sun.
On my walk back, I went over the bridge that crosses the little island. On this island was a gelateria. I stood in line and ordered my usual combo: pistachio and nocciola. It was sooo delicious, definitely a gelateria to recommend to others. There was no name but it is located in the Piazza di S. Bartolomeo all' Isola next to Sora Lella.
I was exhausted by the time I got home and so I made some ravioli with burro and salvia for dinner instead of going back out again.
What an amazing day exploring some of ancient Rome and there is still so much more to see!