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Report 1920: Rome, Tuscany, Venice & Amalfi for Beginners

By nikkihop from USA, Summer 2011

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Page 15 of 16: June 14, 2011 Day 14: Return to Rome and the Opera

photo by nikkihop

View of St. Paul's from La Terrace restaurant

I woke up early with an allergy-induced asthma attack and sore calves from all the steps down the mountain into Positano yesterday. Of course, I forgot my inhaler, which I never thought I would need because I only get asthma about four times a year. Chest tightening, I head downstairs for some coffee, hoping the caffeine will help. It does, a bit.

DB and I pack up and check out of the Palazzo Abagnale at 9:30am and head on over to the Circumvesuviana train station for the trip to Naples. It's only a couple of blocks away and easy to roll the suitcases there on the wide sidewalk. That's another excellent point in favor of staying at the Palazzo Abagnale -- it's only two blocks from the train and bus station. We sit on the train for a while chatting up a couple from Argentina about the political referendum and Berlusconi, and saying yes to about a dozen people who ask in various dialects if this is the train to Pompei. Si. Yes. Oui. Da. Ya.

Finally, the train starts rumbling and a band gets on, serenading us with gypsy music and La Bamba and passing a hat around. The band gets off a few stations later, and a French couple with a cute baby and the worst body odor possible sits down next to us. We turn our noses to the five inch gap above the open window and tough it out. Please God, let them be getting off at Pompei too.

We arrive without any trouble at the Rome Termini and walk a couple blocks to our last hotel - StarHotel Metropole. We love the location (close to the train that will take us to the airport tomorrow and to the opera we're seeing tonight.) Other than that, it looks like any nice Doubletree or Hilton back home. Much more Americanized and plush. We're given free wireless access for 30 minutes or so in the lobby so we can print our boarding passes for tomorrow. DB falls face down again on the king-sized bed and I'm restless, so I hike off to see the things I missed during our first three days.

I power walk over to the Piazza Navona from a different route than I've taken before and watch some break-dancers and BBoys spinning and dancing in the piazza. I stop into several shops looking for last minute souvenirs. I pop into a couple of churches and then I head back so I can get ready for the opera.

DB and I shower and dress up -- the first and only time we've bothered while in Italy. We have tickets for a performance of a medley of famous opera arias at St. Paul's Within the Walls just a couple of blocks away from the hotel. I would have loved to book tickets for a full opera like Tosca or Madame Butterfly, but we just missed the opera season and this was the best we could do on our schedule.

We ate dinner at a nice restaurant right next door to our opera site, La Terrace on the via nazionale. Living up to its name, the restaurant is one wide terrace with a shining view of Rome at sunset. We could see the angels and trumpets on the Vittorio Emmanuel monument in the distance and a sea of Roman red rooftops. We had a mixed seafood appetizer, the Trancio di bacca and the filettino di maiai. It was all delicious. We paid around 75. The staff were a bit taken aback at our speedy progress through dinner and immediate request for the check once we received our entrees, but we didn't want to miss our performance.

We walked over to St. Paul's, a beautiful church practically next door to the restaurant. The performances were good, although not up to the caliber of a true opera, of course. Still, it was entertaining and a perfect last-night-in-Rome activity. Not too formal, which was nice. For any ladies wondering about dress code, I wore an ankle length maxi dress in Mediterranean colors and nice flat sandals. DB wore slacks and a button down shirt. There were folks much more casual and some much more dressed up, so I felt we hit it just right.

We strolled back to the hotel slowly and went to bed early since we were getting up at 5:00am to catch the train to the airport, which leaves at 6:06am.

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