Thursday, June 21st
I arrived in Rome Thursday afternoon. I took the bus, which was 10 minutes "in ritardo" (late), from Cortona to Camucia where I caught the train to Rome. The bus drops you off in the town of Camucia and then I had to walk (about a 10 minute walk) to the train station. I took the bus the day before as a practice run. Because the bus was late, I only had 10 minutes to get to the train station and so I jogged partway, reaching the station in 5 minutes, only to find out that the train was also 10 minutes "in ritardo"!
The train was a newer regional train and was quite comfortable. I had a 1st class ticket. The 1st class section was full but luckily I found a great seat before it filled up at the Terontola station. We arrived in Rome 20 minutes late. I decided to go to the Trastevere station instead of the Termini to avoid the craziness and long taxi lines at the Termini station. This meant a change at the Tiburtina station. I printed out all the train options in case the train was late for my connection.
I was very glad that I had this print out as when I arrived at the Tiburtina station, I could not find a "partenza" board (where you find which binario or train track to take your connecting train). There was a list of train departure times with the destinations listed on the main board up on the TV monitors. I was not aware at the time that the train I was taking was the airport train. Because I had the train departure times and the airport train was the only train listed with the same departure times (2 airport trains were listed as they run about every 15 mins), I assumed that the airport train was the correct train to take. Interestingly, the airport trains did not have a binario listed. I saw a group of people standing watching the TV monitor. I asked a girl if she knew which binario to take and she said she was also waiting for it to be listed. This would not be so strange if the train was departing 30 minutes or later, but the train was departing in 5 minutes. Finally, with about 2 minutes to spare, the binario was announced (only in Italian) over the loudspeaker. The train was a nice train and if unless I decide to splurge and take a taxi to the airport, I will take this same train to the airport when I leave.
When I arrived around 1:20 pm at the Trastevere station, I went outside and saw one taxi parked in the middle of the parking lot and no taxi stand. I remembered reading all about the private taxis and how important it was to go to the taxi stand. I saw two policemen sitting in a car and asked them where the taxi stand was. They were not very friendly. They grumbled and pointed to the taxi stand. I went to the stand and stood there. The taxi in the middle of the parking lot did not move. A woman then got into the taxi. Now there were no taxis. I waited a few minutes and then called the number on the sign. The number was out of order.
I then saw a couple with luggage waiting near the entrance. I went over to them to see if they knew about the taxis. They also did not know anything about the taxi situation. I called the lady renting me the apartment and she gave me directions on how to take the tram. I am not good with directions and was quite concerned that it could end up taking quite a while to find the apartment. By now, the Termini was looking really good. Luckily just then a taxi drove up and again parked in the middle of the parking lot. The couple and I decided to take this cab and to share the cab. The taxi driver was extremely nice and the couple's hotel was quite close to my apartment.
They were very thankful that I rode with them as they did not speak English and so I was able to interpret what the taxi driver was telling them. He thought that we were traveling together and so he was telling us about the new change that it costs 40 euros to the airport by taxi no matter how many people and how many bags. I explained to him that we did not know each other. We realized while chatting in that taxi that we were both originally from Massachusetts and we are both huge Red Sox fans. Small world!!
We were dropped off at the Piazza Sant' Edgidio where my my apartment is located. He told the other couple that he could not drive directly to their hotel but it was just around the corner. We said our goodbyes and I located my apartment.
After being shown all the important things about the apartment and dropping off my things as the apartment was still being cleaned, I decided to go see if Sandra (another slow traveler) arrived at her hotel. We had made plans to meet Saturday night for dinner. We both changed our plans last minute after finding out about Friday's train strike and arrived in Rome on Thursday instead of Friday. She sent me very detailed directions on how to get to her hotel but that paper was still in my bag. All I had was a map of Rome. While walking over to the Campo de' Fiori area, I experienced the first craziness on this trip of crossing a street. It is amazing that everyone makes it across the street in one piece.
I found Sandra's hotel after asking a few people and we met for a drink. While we were sitting at this wonderful little caffè, the couple that I shared the taxi with walked by and stopped to say hello. I was so happy that they found their hotel.
After Sandra and I made our plans for Saturday night and said our goodbyes, I walked to the Campo de' Fiori and then to the Piazza Navona. What a feeling standing in that amazing Piazza. That was when it really hit me that I was back in Rome! I then walked over to the Pantheon. Again, another amazing sight to see once again. I went into the Pantheon, which although a little crowded, was so incredibly beautiful. I then walked back to Trastevere, went to a little grocery store, and then went back to my apartment to unpack and have some dinner. I was pretty tired as I did not sleep well the night before and so I went to bed early.
WOW, I am so very fortunate. What a great find! My apartment is located in a very peaceful little piazza and is very comfortable. I awoke this morning to the church bells. What a wonderful sound! I am not sure just what I will do today, but I am headed out to enjoy Roma!