Essays about life in Italy, traveling in Italy, and more
Two Nights in Rome, Italy
Thursday, September 26
Sunny but turning cooler
We left Vetralla in the morning and drove to the airport, going the same route that we went driving Paula there the Friday before. Dropped the car off with EuropeCar, struggled with our luggage into the airport, went down to the arrivals level, and took a taxi into Rome.
The last place for gas, when taking the A12 south along the coast, is after the second toll after Cittavechia. We got gas and paid in cash, but the guy did one of those confusing things that end up short changing you. We pulled away, but then stopped and went back. He gave us our money back.
We checked into the Lord Byron around 11am. The hotel is fabulous (and it had better be at those prices). We had a large, luxurious room with huge windows (and lot of light) and an outdoor terrace. It is on the edge of the Borghese Gardens, away from the historic section. It seems to be in a very upper-class residential neighborhood.
We were scheduled to meet Tom and Rob (Tom is on our message board) for lunch and Jim and Pam in the late afternoon (friends from Santa Fe). We had not heard from Tom and Rob, but they had just arrived a couple of days before and our cell phone had not been working in Vetralla. Luckily we had arranged a meeting place and time in case we could not reach each other before.
We took a taxi from the hotel to the historic center (got out at the Pantheon - my favorite building in the world). We waited for them at Cafe Sant' Eustachio at an outside table. We had not me Tom or Rob before, but I had spoken with Tom on the phone and Tom was active on the message board during its first year, so I felt like I knew him already.
They arrived - we all found each other - and then went to Ristorante Sant Eustachio (recommended by Bill from Italy). We had a fabulous lunch and loved both Tom and Rob from the first minute. They travel just like us - they are not history or art experts, they like to hang out in Italy and have a good time. We talked and laughed our way through a three hour lunch. Then we made arrangements to get together for dinner the next day. I must note here that Rob ordered a Diet Coke with lunch, much to Tom's dismay because, as he said, "She will put it in the trip report!!". And, there, I did. (I think Steve spilled a glass of wine, but I would not put something like that in a trip report.)
A big social whirl day for us. We all went to the Pantheon after lunch (posed for group photos), then Tom and Rob left and we waited to meet Jim and Pam from Santa Fe. More photos in front of the Pantheon, then we went to Tre Scalini in Piazza Navona for coffee and dessert.
We walked around a bit, went for more coffee at Caffe Tazzo d'Oro (my favorite caffe in Rome - I bought beans to take home), then visited their hotel (name escapes me now - but it was very nice, right in the center - Sally Watkins booked it for them).
As the sun set, it got really cold and I did not have a sweater, so we left them and went back to the hotel. There was a real chill in the air. We walked out in the hotel neighborhood and found a nice small, casual restaurant where we just had a simple bowl of pasta each.
The hotel was fabulously comfortable and the room was beautiful.
Friday, September 27
Breakfast in the breakfast room (very good) and I managed to leave my purse at the table when we left. Went back 10 minutes later and it was still there. I must be getting tired to do something like that.
Today was the Borghese Museum. We had not been there before and were looking forward to it. We walked from the hotel into the Borghese Gardens and to the museum. Got tickets. We had to wait with a large group to go in at our allotted time.
You can reserve your tickets ahead, but we just went there and got tickets. You can go in every two hours, starting at 9am. We went in at 11am. Arrive 30 minutes before and get your tickets. Your time on the second floor is supposed to be limited to 30 minutes with entry allowed every 30 minutes, but they were not enforcing this when we were there.
We had to check my purse for this museum.
The first floor is the Bernini sculptures (and some other older Roman statues and mosaics). We walked slowly around once, then did a second pass. Beautiful, beautiful statues. One of them was a partial nude of "Pauline"! (Someone posted last year "I saw Pauline naked" - so we had to see that statue.)
The second floor is paintings - Botticelli (Madonna), Raphael (Portrait of a Girl), Perugino (San Sebastian), Pintoricchio, and two boring ones by Sodoma (usually I love Sodoma paintings). I wonder how many paintings of San Sebastian there are in Italy? They must have loved painting all those arrows.
After the Borghese Museum we walked to Via Veneto. We have been to Rome many times, once for a week, yet had never been to this area. We liked Via Veneto. A long, wide street full of 5 star hotels and restaurants. We found a Chinese restaurant on a side street and had an excellent lunch (Jasmine Chinese Restaurant).
I think Chinese restaurants in Italy are good - and we are happy to find them. Being vegetarian in Italy can get boring after awhile, especially if you do not want to eat cheese all the time. The Chinese menus are in Italian and set up like Italian menus. We had antipasti (spring rolls and dumplings), primi (noodles) and secondi (Chinese vegetables, tofu, rice). 30 for two, no wine.
After lunch, we hit the bookstores along Via Veneto. Steve likes to buy books in Italian to take home. He bought a bunch. Then we walked to the end of Via Veneto to see two more Bernini statues - the little bee on the fountain on the corner and the huge statue in the fountain in the middle of the piazza.
Grabbed a cab back to the hotel to get ready for our evening. And then a cab to Piazza Navona for our last night in Italy for this year.
We met Tom and Rob and a women they work with in San Francisco who just happened to be in Rome too. While we were hanging around waiting, I called Nancy in Florence on my cell phone and she described the Bernini statue in Piazza Navona. It was behind scaffolding and I could peak through and see parts of it. I called her because Tom assumed we knew everything about every statue in the Piazza - and while I sure don't, I do know someone who does - so I called.
We all went to Da Baffetto, a pizza place not far from Piazza Navona that I love. We got a good table inside right at the open doors to the outside. You have to get here by 7:30 to get a seat outside (they are the best).
Their friend, whose name escapes me, was young and very beautiful and she loved flirting - so the waiters were around our table for the whole meal! It was fun! We had great pizza and bottles of beer. After we walked around Piazza Navona. Then the old people (me and Steve) left the young people. They continued on with the evening. We took a cab back to the hotel and packed.
Saturday, September 28
And that is the end to the trip. We got up and took a taxi to the airport. The expensive Lord Byron did not send our breakfast to the room as we had requested, so we had a last Autogrill breakfast at the airport. Then we hung around the first class lounge until flight time. Then we flew home.
I will always end our trip in Rome - it is such a great city and so much fun. A lovely high energy ending to a trip.
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