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Report 316: Two Weeks In Rome

By Debra from California, Fall 2003

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Page 5 of 7: Day Trips - Pompeii and Florence

We only took two, but they were good choices.

Pompeii We took this trip with Annie and family. We had agreed to use Alfredo's Shuttle service as the price was very good for the 5 of us. Alfredo himself picked up Annie's group at the Hotel Mozart and then us, at our hotel, in a comfortable van.

We stopped once going and coming from Pompeii at an Autogrill for a snack, cafe and restroom break.

Annie had set up a tour of Pompeii with a private guide, who would meet us at the entrance. I can't say enough good things about him.

His name is: Gaetano Manfredi he doesn't have a website but his e-mail is:

He gave us a 2-hour tour. That doesn't seem like it would be long enough, but believe me he really gives you a thorough, concise explanation of Pompeii from design engineering to sanitation and water systems to art, which included some frescoes that show fine examples of perspective!

He doesn't tolerate dilly-dallying though...if you want to take photos you will have to wait until the tour is over or try and grab them on the run.

At the end of the tour he leaves you inside the city to browse at your leisure. When we left, we found Alfredo patiently waiting for us just outside the entry. When we returned to Rome we asked Alfredo to drop us near the Piazza Navona as we were ready to start looking for dinner.

We all really enjoyed this day and felt it was well worth cost and time.

Florence: Jerry and I had decided before leaving home that one day trip would be to return to Florence. We bought reserved seat train tickets, on the Eurostar, second class, for the 8:30 a.m. train at:

Pantheon Travel Via S. Caterina da Siena 45 the total cost for 2 round trip fares was €117,76.

The train station in Florence is near the hotel we usually stay at, so we stopped in and visited Mario, the owner of Hotel Mario. It was really nice to see him, but it was a few days after the Italians had been killed in Iraq. He was very upset about this and the war in general. He really came close to tears talking about how sad things were.

Our next stop was to see the owners of Trattoria Antellesi, a place we ate at regularly enough to have things served to us we neither ordered or saw on the bill...but alas, they were away on a well deserved vacation of their own…oh well, that gave us a chance later to eat our lunch at another favorite restaurant:

Ristorante Celestino Piazza S. Felicita 4r (just over the ponte vecchio and to the right) 2396574 closed Sunday. This restaurant has been excellent every time we have eaten there, and it has always been at lunch. I couldn't talk Jerry into sharing a Bistecca Fiorentina with me, but I can still smell the one that was being trimmed and divided for the 2 gentlemen next to us. It looked perfect. I just have to get back there and experience it.

We were going to try and take the secret tour of Palazzo Vecchio, but the day we were there it was only offered in Italian. We had already taken the Vasari Corridor tour so I didn't feel too cheated about that...maybe next time.

If you are interested in either of these be sure to check the availability and dates for he English tour.

For some reason we had not been to the Pitti Palace on previous trips. We had been all around it, from the Vasari Corridor tour to the Boboli Gardens, but not inside. What a mistake that was!

We bought our tickets to the Galleria Palatina and were truly amazed at the selection of art that we had missed out on before. I am also truly amazed that I can't find any notes about this visit. I remember being thrilled as room after room offered such treasures as Botticellis, Titians, Raphaels and more. There was also a special exhibit that was included with our ticket to this gallery.

In one of the rooms (sala d arca?) we were caught completely off guard amidst an entire trompe l'oeil room. When we first entered the room, I thought, "Oh, they must be renovating the's all covered in cloth," but after really looking at it, we realized it was not cloth after all. The whole room was just wonderful...and since it was a room, it obviously wasn't part of the special was certainly an impressive illusion though. (I wish I had more specific information instead of my faltering memory.)

So, if you plan to go to Florence, don't miss the Pitti, (.....or the Uffizi, Museo d opera d duomo, Accademia, San Marco, the Duomo of course, Santa Croce, Palazzo Medici Riccardi, San Lorenzo, S M Novella...etc. etc. .gee, no wonder we never got to the Pitti!)

The rest of the day we wandered old familiar streets, bought a few charms, shopped at the Farmacia, which is beautiful in itself, popped into the Duomo then relaxed on the train back to Rome.

Which turned out to be a good thing because that less than €10 cab ride TO the termini jumped to €40 to get back to the hotel! We said "forget it" and walked back..(it was all downhill but we were ready for dinner when we got there!)

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