I think I totally forgot about day two.
So after a pretty exhausting day on Thursday, I was feeling it when we woke Friday. We did manage to sleep in though. I have to say the double-shudder system at the Cesari (shudders outside the windows, closed windows and then another set of shudders inside) not only blocked out noise but light. When we woke past eight, we thought it must still be around five in the morning, it was so dark in our room.
We showered, dressed, and headed to the rooftop bar where we enjoyed a nice, if standard (at least it seems to us) Rome hotel breakfast of assorted meats, cheeses, yogurts, pastries, cereal, juice and cappuccino or espresso upon request. Chris needed to check his e-mail from work, so I was more than happy to sit and rest and write in my journal in the breakfast room (it was a bit too chilly to sit outside this morning), and then I too headed down to the hotel lobby’s computer to check my e-mail.
Eventually, we did make it outside and decided to walk down the Corso, to the Victorio Emanuele monument (aka the Wedding Cake), named such, I think, for the steps and stark white marble used to build it.
We’d always passed by it without much thought, but this time we embarked on a slow climb to the top. Along the way, there were many great photo-ops, spots to stop and listen to a small group of rather noisy protesters (Italy is cutting some ungodly amount from school budgets), and at the top, your reward for climbing, a nice outdoor café.
Chris wanted to keep moving but I insisted upon an espresso in the café and some time to rest. Dr. M was right when she said if I overdid it one day, I’d feel it the next. After having to get a bit pushy with the attendants behind the counter (paying first and putting your receipt down with a coin, did not necessarily guarantee you got served), we sat down with our drinks to relax and enjoy the scenery for a while.
Eventually we finished and headed down behind the monument which lets you off behind the Campidoglio, on the steps that lead down to the Forum. Note: just because the steps still lead down to the Forum, does not mean you will get in. It’s an exit only (didn’t see a ticket booth around), and if you climb all the way down those steps, thinking you’ve discovered an entrance, you haven’t.
You Can't Get There from Here
We climbed back up, through the Campidoglio and realizing we did not have time for the Capitoline museum made our way towards the ghetto with a quick stop in the Church of San Nicola in Carcere (I must have an affinity for Saint Nicolas), which is build amidst Roman ruins (columns in the side wall) and debris in the courtyard (from current excavations). The church itself, while beautiful, isn’t as impressive on the inside as some, but could still blow any church in our area away. And though we missed it, apparently there are some Roman ruins under the church that can still be visited.
San Nicola in Carcere
Through the ghetto (on a quick pace – no time for window shopping but did manage to stop at a magazine kiosk to get a movie magazine, Ciak, for Becky’s Italian teacher, and a shot of some of the Obama covers for me – should have bought one), we arrived at Dar Pallaro about ten minutes early and didn’t see anyone else (heck, the tables weren’t even set up yet). So we headed up the street to Santa Andrea della Valle, a church I’ve seen many times from the outside but had never stepped in (I’m no longer fearful of stepping into random churches, so I do it all the time). This church was the opening scene for Tosca, I believe, and it’s beautiful inside, definitely worth a pop-in (ooh, for you Bernini hunters, there's one inside).
Eventually though the noon bell rings, and within a few minutes, a gentleman comes along to usher us outside as the church closes for siesta. No worries anyway, as we were on our way out to head over to our get together with a bunch of other Slow Travelers at Dar Pallaro.
There were something like 13 of us (I think) and the only one who couldn’t make it in the end was Maureen Fant, a bit disappointing, I had hoped to meet her but such is life. Now first the food, Dar Pallaro is nothing if not consistent. And I mean that – they serve the same meal at lunch, at dinner, every day of the week (well, at least every day that they’re open, not sure if there’s a closing day). It’s their shtick. You start with a large assortment of antipasti, prosciutto, salame, fennel, rice balls, some other fried things, mozzarella, and some of the best lentils ever (I’m sure I’m missing something). Next up the pasta in a basic tomato sauce and for the secocndi they serve a roast – don’t know if it’s pork roast or veal roast, but it’s usually pretty moist and good, accompanied by some of the best fries (more potato chips than fries), and well, what else, I honestly don’t remember. It’s all accompanied by white wine, red wine on request, all served out of pitchers, along with water and followed by dessert which is some sort of tart (which is great dunk in the wine) with a delicious apricot nectar and if you stay long enough (and pay), you get some grappa too.
Now for the people, the fact of the matter is, it’s hard to get a group of Slow Travelers together and not have a good time. Really, you’d be hard pressed and this group was no exception. In the end though (well after 4:00), Wendy, Rob, Chris and I closed the place and after a bit of bathroom antics (what are those footprints on the toilette seat?), the four of us headed out for a stroll ending up in the Piazza Navona.
There’s a funky thing that happens in the Piazza Navona around sunset, all the birds in the area seem to gather overhead in this ballet to which only they know the music. They swoop together, than apart and then rejoin and this goes on until the dark sets in. It’s really beautiful and we stood, watched that, watched some of the performance artists and tried to capture a picture of the carbarniere in the area before heading over to the Piazza Della Rotunda for another round of drinks (hey, it had been about 30 minutes at this point).
One thing I noted when we sat down, Wendy said to Rob, “Get me my usual,” and headed inside to use the restroom. Rob ordered her a café and grappa. I remember thinking how cool that is, that he knew, at that point in time, that’s what she wanted. It’s incredibly sweet. Chris continued with his wine and I switched to water. We sat there for a while longer, just talking, pretty much as we spent the entire afternoon and it felt wonderful. Seriously, I had been beat from the day before, and sitting all afternoon with good friends eating and drinking was just what the doctor ordered.
Eventually though, all good things must come to an end and Wendy and Rob headed back to their hotel to meet another friend before dinner. We on the other hand returned to our hotel for a rest before we headed out to dinner. Tonight’s destination was Chinappi, a primarily seafood restaurant, I believe relatively new to Rome’s restaurant scene (though they do have another location) and, of course, part of the Buon Riccordo union.
The restaurant is located at Via di S. Basilio 70 and we walked over, leisurely from our hotel. We found it crowded and covering several small rooms, but cozy; I think we were the only English speakers in the place and that included the staff. Tonight, Chris ordered the BR plate, because it was grilled squid and I have a love-hate relationship with squid (when it’s really good, I love it, when it’s not, I hate it – tonight I loved it). We all started with an appetizer (suggested by the house – some sort of fresh buffalo mozzarella garnished with a think slice of zucchini wrapped around some type of stuffing – very good and I’m glad they suggested it). See now, this is where I should be taking notes as I went, because I do not remember if I had a secondi that night, I do not think so though; I do remember ordering the pasta with clams though which was also delicious.
For dessert, Chris’s Buon Riccordo tasting came with a pineapple ravioli – we weren’t sure what that meant but as it turned out, it was pineapple, sliced very thin, filled with lemon sorbet – it really looked like a ravioli and was cool and refreshing. I, on the other hand, went for the gusto, tempted by profiteroles on the menu (I love profiteroles) but these tempted because they had a white chocolate sauce, not normal chocolate – figured I needed to try them and they were delicious! I have to say though, the white sauce reminded me a bit of Fluff, but it tasted darn good.
After dinner, we headed back towards the hotel, stopping at the ever-cheesy Trevi Fountain to throw our coins. We also stopped for a bit of gelato, which I couldn’t finish but was refreshing as I got some lemon, to clean my palate, yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket.
Tonight we went to bed with a 6:00 wake-up call and the inner-shudders open, so we wouldn’t sleep past our 7:00 pick-up to head back to the airport to collect Andy and Katy.