Friday, June 29th
Friday morning, I turned on the TV to check out the latest news. The apartment has Sky TV, a cable network which includes Fox, Cnn International, and some British news channels. I checked out the weather on Meteo 24 hours and then flipped to the US news. There I saw the information about the car abandoned in London set to explode. This story was on every news channel. Thankfully there was a witness that realized that something was odd and called the police or I could have been watching a horrific story instead.
I made lunch at my apartment and watched this story for a while. When I finally left my apartment, it was about 1pm. I stopped in the Santa Maria in Trastevere church since I had not visited it yet on this trip. There was a wedding taking place, so I only stayed for a few minutes. This is a very beautiful church with amazing mosaics inside. I took a couple of photos and then headed on to the Pantheon to finally try that espresso at Tazza d'Oro.
At Tazza d'Oro, I felt that the service was friendly. My opinion on the coffee was that it was very good but nothing spectacular to go out of your way for. It is pretty difficult to find a bad tasting espresso here in Italy. One of the wonderful things I love about being in Italy.
After leaving Tazza d'Oro, I decided to make a dinner reservation near the Pantheon. Because of the difficulty at times getting a table, especially a table for one at dinnertime, I figured making a reservation in advance would help. Someone wrote on a restaurant review of Antonio al Pantheon, "This is the place where you want to get your next meal and die". I figured it had to be good and it was easy to find. I went inside to make a reservation. The waitress asked me for how many. I said, one. She then told me that there are no reservations available for one. I was not very happy. There had to be tables available or she would have said that there were no tables available instead of asking me how many. What is this with the "table for one" attitude this year. I have had this happen occasionally in the past but it seems like a conspiracy this year. Maybe I should start saying a "table for two" and then act surprised when my "friend" does not show up.
I left the restaurant trying to figure out where to try next. Meanwhile, I thought "gelato", that's the answer! So off I went in a quest to find the Gelateria al Teatro. It was located on an easy street but was hidden up an alleyway. Luckily there was a sign out front pointing the way. Excellent gelato! I had my usual pistachio and nocciola. Yummy!! While searching for this gelateria, I stumbled upon a street called Montevecchio. I read a good review by Stella about a place called Osteria del Gallo on Vicolo di Montevecchio. The review also mentioned how a single diner was treated well at this place, so I stopped by and made a reservation for dinner. They happily took my name and did not react when I said "a table for one".
After getting dinner figured out, I started walking toward this huge building I could see in the distance. It was some sort of government building and was on the other side of the Ponte Umberto bridge. The building was located at the Piazza dei Tribunali area. I then walked along the river a while and back over the next bridge to head towards Piazza del Popolo. I ended up right in front of Ara Pacis Augustae. Unfortunately the museum was closed for restoration, so I continued on towards the Piazza del Popolo, stopping in a few shops along the way.
Pizza del Popolo is a very large and beautiful piazza with lots of statues and fountains and the Egyptian Obelisk. There I stood taking a few pictures, when this clueless kid (using the nicest description I can) ran over the same foot that was swollen earlier on one of those stupid segways. Now I call them stupid (the segways although the description would also fit the kid) because at least there should be some minor education on how to not run over people before they are rented out. The piazza was not crowded and so there was no reason why this kid needed to run over my toes, not that he would need to run over ones toes if the piazza was crowded, but there was plenty of room for him to not have to get so close to me. Just as I felt pressure on my toes, I heard a lady nearby say "Oh my God, did you see that, that kid just ran over that lady's foot!". The kid did not even stop, say he was sorry, or ask how I was. Fortunately he only ran over the tips of my first 3 toes and missed the bones. That was all I needed. A little bit of skin was torn off and my foot was sore for the rest of the day (by the next morning it was fine once again). For the rest of my time in that piazza, anytime he came near me, I gave him the evil eye and he would head the other way.
After leaving the piazza, I headed back to the Spanish Steps nearby to see them in the daytime. The area was packed with people! I would have to say that yes, all of the popular spots are packed with tourists - the Campo, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain and a few more I am forgetting at the moment, but the rest of Rome does not seem crowded at all and I have really enjoyed walking around Rome this summer without the hassles of the crowds. While at the Spanish Steps, I walked to the top as I had not yet done any big steps for the day. I then headed back down and stopped at the beautiful Caffè Grecco for a glass of peach juice and the use of a toilet.
It was now about 6pm and so I headed back towards the Pantheon area. I peeked in another church, the Basilica di San Lorenzo in Lucina where I saw that another small wedding was taking place. When I reached the Pantheon, I was debating whether or not to head back to my apartment for hang out for a while waiting for dinner. I found a great spot to sit under one of the huge columns of the Pantheon and did some people watching for a while. It was interesting to watch the silly dressed up Roman Galdiators in action. I am amazed at how many people will shell out 5 to 20 euros for a photo that they take with their own camera.
Dinner was lovely. I was treated wonderfully and the food was delicious. I had mussles and clams for an appetizer and then a pasta with calamari dish. I was pretty tired after another long day of walking all over Rome and headed back to my apartment to pack as I was moving to another apartment nearby the following morning.