Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1672: Our First Ever Trip to Italy! Roaming in Rome and Climbing in Positano
By JMarie from Massachusetts, Spring 2009
Trip Description: May 13-26, 2009. My husband and I took our first trip to Italy. It was perfect, thanks to SlowTrav advice. Rome for five nights and Positano for six nights.
Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Amalfi Coast, Rome
Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Vacation Rentals; Beach; Day Tours; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 2 People
Page 1 of 2: Which is the Skim Milk? Part 1 Rome (May 15-20, 2009)
How do you say skim milk in Italian?
Well, hello to all Slow Travelers! We had a wonderful trip and I want to thank all of you who gave me such excellent advice. I cannot tell you how comfortable I felt during this trip. The apartment rental, the advice about the trains, driving (or not driving as in our case), the buses, subways, tours - all fell into place. I had been so overwhelmed at first, but the SlowTrav website helped me through the process and when I finally got there, it was like I had been there many times before.
OUR FLIGHT (LUFTHANZA -Boston to Frankfort, Frankfort to Rome)
The airline is great. Free meals that actually taste good, free liquor (wine, cognac, mixed drinks), no fees for anything. They were efficient and on time. This was economy class!
... in Rome airport and picked up by DolceRoma (apartment owner) arranged taxi driver (€45). If anyone is considering staying in a DolceRoma apartment, I recommend this option. After flying for several hours, the last thing I wanted to do was take a bus or a subway while lugging my luggage around.
We stayed in a Colosseum 1, an apartment that was recommended on this website. We were close to most of the tourist sites and walked everywhere easily. Walter is the apartment owner and he was great. He introduced us to the neighborhood, gave us maps and info to help us get around, and also showed us how to use all the appliances (washing machine, coffee maker, stove, dishwasher, air conditioner, etc.).
So - after he left, we headed out to explore. We first found the supermercato (the supermarket) and got a few essentials - wine, cereal, wine, beer, cheese, and oh yes, some milk for breakfast. It was a dilemma as after we found what we thought was milk we couldn't figure out which was the skim (fat free). I was too embarrassed to pull out the dictionary and so we decided to try to figure it out by ourselves. I think that we did not find it. It might have been cream - even though the salesclerk was helpful, he did not understand what I meant when I said "skim." Well - whatever it was, it tasted good in our coffee/espresso the next morning.
It was starting to get a bit dark as we headed to the Colosseum which was at the end of the street. Amazing to say that! It was closed for the night, but all lit up and absolutely stunning. My husband was so excited. We walked around the perimeter and peered in as much as we could. He actually "caressed" the walls. I should include the fact that his father's family is Roman and I think that he thinks he was an emperor or a gladiator in another life.
We also walked up and down streets in the neighborhood - felt safe and were impressed at its cleanliness and the friendliness of the residents. I had been told that Rome is dirty and littered - but I did not see that ever.
Next day - we took a "hop around bus" around the city. I did not like it as it was bumpy and hot and crowded. No more buses for me! We either walked or took the subway (actually quite easy to use!) We stopped for quick views of the Trevi Fountain, Campo dei Fiori and St. Peter's Basilica. We wandered around and got lost a bit, but not very much.
We had panini (yummy) and wine sangria at a cafe in the Campo dei Fiori. We watched the trash trucks clean up the plaza (quite entertaining), and the teenagers hang around the statue of Bruno.
Third day - we headed to the Colosseum for a tour. We found RomAround Tours at the entrance and they helped us get a Roma Pass. Both ideas worked out great. RomAround Tours guides were very knowledgeable and the price was very fair. The tour was two to three hours (included Colosseum, Palatine Hill and Roman Forum) and we saw the INSIDE of the Colosseum finally, and then headed up Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. It was 85 degrees (F) and a gorgeous day. My favorite was Palatine Hill - wandering around the top through all of the ruins of the old palace was breathtaking. The views from the top of the hill looked over the city.
Don't miss this part of Rome.
Fourth day - we took the subway to the Spanish Steps and then we went to lunch with ROME ADDICT and her husband - Mary and Tom. We ate in a great place that Mary and Tom recommended at the top of the steps. I am horrible with the names of restaurants - I think it was Campeneri? I will double check and try to amend this. I had a saffron risotto that was to die for - I can still taste it. It was fun to meet Mary and Tom. Mary gets around Rome in her motorized chair - and does reviews for Accessible Rome.
After lunch we spent some time on the Spanish Steps (not all that impressive unless you are into steps) and we revisited the Trevi Fountain. The Trevi Fountain is an amazing place - we sat around and had a gelato and watched the people. It was a very warm day for May and the teenagers and some who wish they were still teenagers took off their shoes and dangled their feet in the fountain. It was fun to watch them and wait for the police to come by and lecture them - not allowed, unfortunately! Who is to know?
We wandered around little streets, from one plaza to another - found the Campo dei Fiori again - and a few other piazzas.
We also found St. Peter in Chains Basilica - Michelangelo's Moses is in front - amazing place. The chains are housed in a glass display case - quite impressive. These are supposedly the chains that bound Peter before he was crucified. But this time, an angel came and the chains dropped and he walked out of the prison. He was captured again later and finally met his death.
Another stop was the Pantheon (perfect dome). I cannot believe that there is actually a Mcdonald's right across the plaza from the Pantheon. This is a great stop - try not to miss it. (the Pantheon, NOT Mcdonald's - there should be a law that forbids fast food chains in view of famous historical monuments).
On the way home we found a little grocery that sold pizza by the slice - but this is NOT your ordinary pizza by the slice. It was heaven - For €2, we got two huge pieces - not gooey - very thin with fresh tomato and mozzarella cheese - that is all. But it was wonderful and it filled us up. We took it back to the apartment and had it with some wine and beer.
Fifth day - we signed up for a ContextRome Tour of the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica. It was expensive. But it was worth every penny. There were only six of us in the group and the docent (John) knew everything about everything. We waited in no lines and went right in. He showed us what he thought were the most magnificent things to see and also what everyone usually expects to see. The Pieta, the Sistine Chapel, the St. Peter's Basilica - but also his favorite statues and mosaics. I am not going to go into details. Read the ContextTours website info. I will just tell you that it was everything I had hoped to see and more. It was a four hour tour. I plan to do it again next time I go - wow.
We ate at only restaurants near the apartment. They were all good. Sometimes we just had pizza, sometimes pasta, sometimes panini. It did not matter what we ate - it was all fresh, and authentic. Both of my husband's parents and my mom are Italian Americans and we know how to eat real Italian food. I never eat Ragu or anything horrible like that. So I know Italian food. We were never disappointed.
Next morning, our last few hours in Rome. Walter came by to say good bye and to make sure all was well. He had given us a cell phone to use but we kept forgetting to turn it on. So his attempts to call and check on us were never known to us!
He had arranged for us to be taken by the taxi again - only this time he took us to Rome Termini station so that we could take the train to Naples (and then to Positano).
The wonderful part about this trip to Rome is that we saw so much, relaxed, wandered, ate, drank, and did it slowly!
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