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Report 872: Italy: A Story of Vespas, Vino, and Vistas

By newsgal from Pennsylvania, Fall 2005

Trip Description: September 20 - October 4, 2005 A two-week adventure in Rome, Umbria, and Venice

Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Rome, Umbria, Venice

Categories: Vacation Rentals; Cooking Classes; Day Tours; Foodie Trip; Sightseeing; Wine Trip; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 15: Rome: Walk with Confidence, and NEVER Hesitate to Oncoming Traffic

photo by Dan ODonnell

Our first glimpse of the Colosseum

The title of this particular section comes from the wise words I received from a tour guide when discussing how to cross the street in Rome. It seemed an appropriate title to begin this report, for as I look back on my Roman adventure (after months of poring over this message board and others and arming myself with everything from pickpocket warning notes to laundry instructions), I learned that advice holds true for all of Rome - a little confidence and forward thinking gets you far.

But anyway ... I digress, and it's only the second paragraph of my trip report. A little background. This trip to Italy was the maiden voyage for my husband and me, a 30-something couple from Pennsylvania with no kids (unless you count the four-legged variety) and a love for good food, good wine, and a usual loathing for large crowds and traditional "touristy" stuff. This trip was to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, and believe me, we couldn't imagine a better way to spend it.

We touched down in Rome mid-morning on Tuesday, September 20, after a long (and thankfully, uneventful) overnight flight. The travel gods were immediately smiling on me - not only did I refrain from having my semi-usual pre-flight panic attack (long story - suffice to say my first time in the air was with a stunt-flight crew - when they learned my flying status, they decided to have some fun), but the infant sitting two rows in front of me slept in blissful silence for the entire nine hour flight, AND, as soon as we deplaned and headed in our semi-zombie-like state to the baggage carousel, there were all of our bags, right in front. A good sign.

We met our driver at the airport entrance (we were staying in one of Natalia's Dolce Roma apartments and had taken advantage of her wonderful offer to have a pre-arranged driver take us to our apartment), loaded our bags into the back of his car, and off we went. Now, I'd been reading incessantly about the Italian maniac drivers, but when I looked and saw the speedometer top 180 km/hr (oh yeah, and weaving in and out of relatively heavy traffic), I just made sure the seatbelt was fastened and closed my eyes.

Mercifully, before long we arrived at Dolce Roma's Roman Forum apartment, a cozy, yet adorable, apartment on Via Leonina in an otherwise (as far as I could tell) residential building. The apartment had a small kitchen (we didn't do much cooking in this one, but it was great for morning coffee and to store some water and diet Coke), living room, and bedroom, complete with murals hand-painted by Lia herself on the walls. Lia welcomed us to the apartment and told us a little about the area, pointed out a few locations (grocery store, laundry, etc.) on a map and then, realizing we were both suffering from serious jet lag, let us be, leaving a cell phone in case we needed anything from her.

The rest of the afternoon, we spent the day wandering around the area, vowing to fight off jet lag and NOT fall asleep. We grabbed a quick pizza lunch from a spot down the street (I successfully did the ordering armed with my Pimsleur Italian I and II lessons) and then hopped one of those double-decker buses, which Lia had recommended. These tour buses, as much as I steer clear of the "touristy" things like that, are always good in a new city to just get your bearings, but I didn't frankly find this tour all that informative. Sitting in the open-air part with the breeze did help keep me awake though, and I immediately realized my admiration of the skills of Italian drivers.

Afterwards, we decided to walk back from Termini, where the tour ended, and as we wandered down Via Cavour, I came to the conclusion (see title of this page) that walking in Rome is like one giant game of "chicken" - you just step out to cross the street and hope to God you're braver than the driver of the SmartCar at that moment.

Dinner that evening was in a small trattoria on Via Boschetto (41) called La Taverna di Monti. It was fine, nothing to write home about, but tasty, as our energy level was fading fast. We decided to go all out with the courses for our first night here, each with antipasti, primi, and secondi, with a liter of the house red. Complimentary limoncello topped it off, total bill, 60 Euro.

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