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Report 1803: Italy Whirlwind April 2010

By paceysgl5 from Massachusetts, Spring 2010

Trip Description: The vacation took place April 9th-26th, 2010. Just my husband (26 at the time) and me (27). Trying to get in at least one large trip before we start a family! :)

Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Amalfi Coast, Campania, Florence, Lake Region, Rome, Tuscany, Venice

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Vacation Rentals; Cooking Classes; Day Tours; Shopping; Sightseeing; Walking/Hiking; Wine Trip; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 7: Days 1 - 3: Rome

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Andrew & me at the coliseum

Day 1 – Friday April 9th

Had an overnight flight Boston-Rome and arrived around 8am. The Nicolas Inn was such a wonderful place to start our vacation, as they had our room ready by 9:30, and we pushed ourselves through the day and stayed out until 10pm in order to get acclimated. My plan was to see the Colosseum and Roman Forum but the lines were ridiculous at both so we ended up just walking around and visiting the Capitoline Museum, which was okay (though, I wish we’d done the audio tour as I didn’t get much out of the museum visit – being half asleep may have caused that as well).

We went to lunch after a recommendation from Melissa at the Nicolas Inn at Ristorante Cleto. I had a fantastic pasta, but unfortunately Andrew had a terrible shrimp scampi dish. They had kept the shrimp in their shells, which is fine, but then there were also a ton of broken shells throughout the pasta so he had to keep picking these out. Unfortunately this was his least favorite meal of the trip!

We went back to the Roman Forum to see about tickets and now there was no line. So we headed to the Coliseum and bypassed those lines and listened to Rick Steves’ commentary while touring. – we really enjoyed those audio tours BTW, though a few times we didn’t use them only because we’d forgotten the iPods in our room ... anyway after walking around some more and doing some shopping, we headed to the Spanish Steps to meet with the New Rome Free Tour group. This was such an excellent way to stay awake our first night! We learned quite a bit and also saw a lot of the main sights. Such a great introduction to Rome. There were only eight people on the tour and the group was really great. We ended this evening to a meal down the road from the Nicolas Inn, which was okay. Very touristy spot but we were too tired to find anything else.

Day 2

Today we got up early and were at the Roman Forum at opening and were the only ones walking around the forum. It was really great! By the time we had to leave for our scheduled cooking class (at 11:30 in the Trastevere neighborhood) the place was packed. Our walk over to the cooking class, at Le Fate restaurant, was lovely, and we arrived a little bit early for the class. A little about Le Fate – it is a family owned restaurant, and the son of the owner, Andrea, is the sole chef. The only other person in the kitchen is a dishwasher – amazing to think he does ALL of the work every single night. He teaches this class six days a week, and is the chef for dinner six days a week. Wednesday night he has off – and teaches at a local university! Anyway – one great thing to note is that he operates under a “zero kilometer” policy which basically means he gets all his produce, meat, wine, cheese, etc all from the Lazio region. On to the class!

There were eight people total. Two women from Scotland, two from the US, and two from Sweden. Pretty neat mix! Andrea’s helper, Erika(?), is from Michigan but now lives in Rome. She was great too! We started out with an introduction to the restaurant and kitchen, and then began with making a strawberry tiramisu for dessert as that needed to set in the fridge. Then we learned how to clean up artichokes, stuff them, and make roman artichokes, we made fresh pasta and a delicious cherry tomato, basil, and ricotta sauce, and then an orange chicken dish that was okay.

We were probably cooking in the kitchen for over four hours, and when we sat down around 4 or so, we got to eat everything we’d just made along with wine pairings. We both had an absolutely wonderful time! We left around 5:30 – I couldn’t believe the long day that Andrea puts in every single day. He was at the market first thing that morning, deciding what to cook that day, and of course after we left he had to then get ready for dinner that night.

I think we made it an early evening this night, as I can’t remember what we did! I think we did some additional walking through around the Pantheon area.

Day 3

On this day we had an 11am Borghese Gallery reservation so we started out around 9am, got breakfast at the nearby café included in our Nicolas Inn stay (which by the way was very nice and convenient!) and then started to make our way up to the gallery.

By the time we got there, it was pretty busy but there was no line to pick up our tickets. This time, we did do the audio tour, which we were both very happy we did! This was a fantastic gallery, and the artwork is spectacular (which is true all over Italy, but we both particularly enjoyed the Borghese).

Afterward, we enjoyed a stroll through the park while getting a little lost, and then went searching for Gusto, a restaurant I’d written down as one I’d like to go to. It was packed (Sunday brunch I guess) but we ended up at the pizzeria side and had a great lunch with a bottle of wine. They also have a kitchen store attached to the restaurant where we bought a prosciutto knife among other things.

During the evening we walked around some non-touristy neighborhoods and had a dessert and wine meal in place of dinner near the Coliseum (way to go!).

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