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Report 1396: Roman Holiday

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Fall 2007

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Page 3 of 16: Sunday September 2 – Walking Tour of Rome ... and Melanzane alla Parmigiana

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Castel Sant' Angelo

Rome is a walking city, as we discovered early in our stay. Shortly after 7:00am I went to the nearby Pasticceria Giaocchino Belli for an espresso and a brief consultation with a couple of guidebooks while the others slept. I began to appreciate how well situated we were. We were within a few minutes walk of three bridges across the Tiber, even closer to a bus and tram stop, less than 10 minutes from Campo dei Fiori. Plus there was a nearby tourist kiosk, which we visited several times in the first few days of our stay.

Off by 9:00am to roughly follow a walking tour from Spiral Guide Rome, our favourite guidebook series. Over to the Capitoline Hill, where we walked up the broad ramped staircase designed by Michelangelo to the Piazza del Campidolgio and the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, where we paused to watch a wedding before stepping outside to enjoy the great views of the city. We walked down the steep monumental staircase of the church over to, and up the Victor Emmanuel II monument, before proceeding over to the Piazza Venezia and continuing on our walking tour. We stopped for espresso at Giolitti, the well-known cŕfe, pastry shop and ice cream parlor, popular with tourists and locals alike. We departed from the walking tour route for our first visit to the Pantheon. While it was full of tourists like ourselves, our time in this best-preserved structure from the time of the height of the Roman Empire was still an impressive experience.

The Pantheon

We rejoined the path of the walking tour until we were faced with a choice at a corner near the Tiber. We could continue the tour by turning left or turn right and pay a visit to Castel Sant’Angelo. It was no contest – the impressive building a short walk across the Ponte Sant’Angelo acted like a magnet. And of course once across the bridge on our left was the broad Via della Conciliazone that led to Saint Peter’s. The walking tour was abandoned. We walked over to Saint Peter’s. After determining the location of the entrance to our scheduled Scavi Tour the next morning, we attempted to tour the interior of the church, but were only partially successful. Steve and I passed though the first screening with no problem, but BW was turned away. The problem? Her shorts ended above the knee, although many others similarly-attired made it past the scrutiny of the Knee-and-Shoulder Squad. But I guess it's better to be on the discreet side, just to be sure of getting in. Brad stayed with his mother on the outside while Steve and I proceeded through the security checkpoint and toured the interior of the church before meeting up with BW & Brad.

We had about a 30-minute walk along the same side of the Tiber back to our apartment. Around 9:00pm we had a very enjoyable dinner at a nearby restaurant just around the corner – Ristorante Pizzeria Villetta – a big improvement on the previous evening. One item on the menu proved irresistible – Melanzane all Parmigiana. It was a much more cheesy version of a dish I had made a few times at home earlier this summer.

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