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Report 928: Nine Glorious Days in Bella Roma

By AnnM from USA, Fall 2004

Trip Description: November 11-20, 2004 This was our second trip to Italy and our first to spend the entire vacation in Rome. We had only been there for two days and three nights the year before – talk about a tease! So much to do and see that even the nine days left us wanting more; and so we are scheduled for another 10 days in February 2006.

Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Rome

Categories: Vacation Rentals; Art Trip; Day Tours; Foodie Trip; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 10: Getting There and the First Day

We purchased our tickets through 1800flyeurope.com. I think we got a great deal and the flight took us from Seattle to New York then on to Rome. This consolidator does not show the airline until you actually purchase the ticket; however, I was able to figure out it was Delta by matching up the times on another website (like Expedia).

The flight was uneventful and we LOVED Delta, especially the 2-seat configuration from NY to Rome. We both felt that it was much better than our flight on British Air the previous year; no hassles with our carry-on luggage, a bit more leg room and all our flights were on time.

The car service arranged by Tim Pierson at RealRome was there waiting for us and since we didn’t have to wait for any checked luggage we were soon on our way to the apartment. The service took us right down the very narrow Via dei Cappellari and after ringing the buzzer we were greeted by Christian. We had joked that the description of the stairs on the RealRome website probably meant that we had to climb a ladder to the apartment. Well, it wasn’t quite that bad, but the two flights of stairs were steep and I’m so lucky that Christian offered to carry my bag up.

The apartment, although a small studio, was perfect for just the two of us and we grew to love coming “home” to it. We even got used to the ascent a few times a day and think it played a major part in our not gaining any weight despite our carb loaded meals.

Our first meal was at D’Orso 80 after reading so much about their antipasti misti on SlowTalk. They don’t open for lunch until 1:00 p.m. and we were a bit early so we found a café to have our first cappuccino of the trip. That’s when the reality of being in Italy starts to really sink in. This trip the latte macchiato became my drink of choice.

Finally, at l:00 on the button we were seated for lunch and in awe at the multitude of antipasti dishes that kept arriving at our table. Scott ordered a bottle of the house wine of which I had one glass and he the rest. All the rave reviews were on target for this wonderful restaurant and at only 11 euro each for basically all you can eat, it was quite a deal. With full bellies and heavy eyes we found our way back to the apartment for a much needed siesta. Of course, not before getting a little lost first. Those little vicolas and tall buildings really make you feel like you’re in a maze, plus with a bottle of wine in him, my usually “excellent sense of direction” husband was pretty useless.

After siesta we walked through Piazza Navona and over to the Pantheon. Our first visit to this ancient Roman structure. I am always amazed the first time I see something in real life that I’ve only seen pictures. We took a quick tour inside. Unfortunately, the oculus was covered with scaffolding beneath it. But, not to worry, we returned during the day a few days later and were able to see it open with that beam of light shining through. Quite marvelous! Actually, we saw the Pantheon a lot, especially the exterior. We got lost around the Piazza Rotunda one night and when we walked by it for the umpteenth time we were like “Oh, God, it’s the Pantheon AGAIN!” I never thought I would ever be so blasé about seeing something so ancient and significant. Made me think about the people who live in Rome. Imagine daily walks by St. Peter’s Basilica, Pantheon, or Coliseum, or weekly mass in a 12th century church just becoming routine.

We also found our way to Santa Maria sopra Minerva and Bernini’s elephant. We toured the inside of the church a couple of days later and it was incredible with its beautiful blue ceilings. We had seen the head of St. Catherine in Siena the year before, so this time we visited the tomb where the rest of her body is kept.

Dinner was at La Rustichella near the Vatican strictly for sentimental reasons. This is the restaurant where we had our first meal in Italy during our first trip the year before. That feeling of excitement trying out newly learned Italian phrases and sitting among locals is something that we’ll always remember. So this eatery will always hold a special place in our hearts. The food was fine, they have an antipasti buffet that is not quite as fab as D’Orso but still good. I had the spaghetti alla vongole and Scott the fettuccini Bolognese, which is kind of his staple meal. The prices are reasonable only €36 for two and including, yes, a bottle of house wine. However, we were able to find our way home without getting lost.

Forgot to mention that before dinner we stopped at Piazza San Pietro to gaze at the beautiful Basilica and to see if the Pope’s light was on. John Paul II was still alive then.

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