Today we toured Ancient Rome. I have only one photo because our tour guide (Mino from Three Millennia tours http://threemillennia.com/) was so captivating I didn't want to miss a moment of what he was saying.
Starting at the beginning--we had to get up early because we were to meet at 9am and wanted to go to Bar Farnese for coffee before walking over to the meeting place at the entrance to the Palatine Hill. We walked along Vittorio Emanuelle stopping for just a quick look at the Largo Torre di Argentina. (I discovered today it is named for some King from Strasbourg who was Argentus and has nothing at all to do with South America). We made it in plenty of time to meet charming, passionate and enthusiastic Mino.
There were just the two of us signed up for the tour so we began right away. Mino explained as we walked that we would do the tour in chronological order, for the most part. There was SO much information. I realized my embarassing ignorance of ancient history but at least I had a lot to learn. For me, one of the most impressive moments was seeing the burial place of Julius Ceasar, strewn with flowers, recently placed. Mino made the place come so alive, I could just about imagine men with robes strolling among us. Another moment I loved was seeing a small display of Roman glass work. It looked so modern, beautiful and accomplished; it was hard to believe.
At some point we were joined by a couple from New York who didn't have a guide and really wanted one. We really enjoyed their company although conversation only distracted from the priceless info from Mino.
We saw the homes of the Vestial Virgins and of Augustus, ancient frescoes in tiny rooms, small gardens, huge temples, learned about the different kinds of rock and techniques used for construction. Just so much...
We stopped at this privat field of Nero's (I hope I am rmembering correctly) and our now friend, from NYC asked me to take a picture:
This is the one that is newer--put in around the 5th century, covering up the original.
It all boggles the mind--especially my mind.
We finished in the Colosseum. Finally we said goodbye to Mino and our friends and slowly walked around the upper level of the colosseum, just mostly shaking my head and feeling overwhelmed.
Once we got our bearings outside (we have used Ken's iPhone compass a few times--very helpful) the walk back was easy. Stopped at a grocery stoer for a few supplies and made a bee line for the porchetta truck in Campo dei Fiore. If a better sandwhich exists on Earth don't try to tell me about it. Tired and hungry we unwrapped the warm panini in our sweet apartment and the satisfaction flowed.
We hadn't planned to go out for dinner. "Well, let's just go get a glass of nice wine somewhere" was how we began. So we strolled towards Gocetto wine bar. We tasted 2 kinds of Franciacorta, a champagne like chardonnay from Lombardia and anothe bubbly white from Trentino. As we were walking home from there, down via Pelligrino, I told Ken there was a restaurant "on my list" right on this street--Settimio. And of course in 2 steps, there it was. It was just 8:00 so we stuck our heads in and he told us it was too early--come back in 30 minutes which we did.
We absolutely loved our meal! Started with the gnocchi (it's Thursday, after all) with a perfect amount of rich pomodoro sauce. I loved how you could really taste the potatoes in the gnocchi; they were not "light as a feather" but substantial without being heavy. We followed with stuffed roast veal, stuffed with hard boiled egg and a little prosciutto. Two small slices were perfection -- delicious and tender. The cauliflower was soft, salty and yummy. We had the Mont Blanc for dessert. I had never tried it before--although super sweet it made the perfect finish to our meal.
Content and very full, we strolled home.