So after nearly a year of me RAVING about Italy and specifically Rome, Tim finally got to see what it's all about! A little nervous I talked the whole country, lifestyle, cuisine, cars, monuments, old stuff, wine, etc., up a little too much, my itinerary was golden, and I made sure to take into account that normally people get tired of walking... crap!
|View from The LOFT|
I arrived at Termini with some stress... my electronic ticket disappeared from my super smart iphone and I was TERIFIED they were going to charge me, so I played the innocent American, explaining my issue in English. Called me dad, he searched my inbox, luckily found the email and re emailed it, on another lucky side, the conductor was very nice, and she just asked me for my name and said she would look up my reservation. Good start to Roma!
I met two American girls on the train, a sister and another who was studying in Bologna for the year! Wahoo! We chatted for a while, exchanged info, then both walked our separate ways once the train arrived at Termini. I headed toward Bed and Breakfast THE LOFT, on Via Principeo Amedeo, 5 minutes from the station, and started the sketchy check in! The hotel next door let me in and called the woman who worked at THE LOFT. He explained to take the elevator (which he walked out the back of his hotel and into the back of the ajacent building to show me it) up to the 5th floor, and to hit the '0' first then the '5' in order to get there. Obviously I arrived at a floor below the one I was supposed to be at, the sweet woman greeted me none the less and began to explain the bed and breakfast and the 6 keys she had in her hand that she was ready to hand over to me. She began to explain... the tiny key I had to use in the elevator, turn it right and it would take me automatically to the 6th floor. The big chunky flat key was to enter the door of the b&b. The old fashion key was for the bedroom itself. The normal key was for the building itself. And the two others... I can't really be sure of their purpose! So keys and all, I went out to kill an hour and a half before Tim arrived at Termini. I ended up walking into the girls I met on the train, so I walked down Via Nazionale with them and told them everything I knew about Rome, then headed back toward Termini to buy two RomaPASSs and find Tim! Unfortunately I didn't have enough cash on me to buy them, but luckily Tim texted me and had already arrived on the bus (crazy Italian drivers), so I headed back to the station to find him!
|Citta del Vaticano|
Tim found, we took out money then got settled back at THE LOFT. Headed to buy the Roma Passes, then off to event one. BAR POMPI. Where Ilario has told me to go since forever because they have THE BEST tiramisu in all of Rome. Metro closed at 11:00, it was nearly 12:00am, so we headed to find the correct bus that would take us to Re di Roma. With only a little confusion we made our way there, and I baffled Tim with my Italian skills... not... I think I forgot how to speak italian, that was awkward. I got us kicked out of seats because we ordered food to eat at the bar and not sit, and I was just struggling on all accounts to speak Italian. LUCKILY, the Tiramisu did not fail us. It came in pre packaged boxes... so naturally I was kind of afraid of it and not convinced of its fame... but damn, that was some GOOD tiramisu. Best I've ever had! And Tim who was afraid of Tiramisu to begin with quickly changed his mind about the lovely dessert of lady fingers and marscapone. So bedtime snack complete, we headed back to THE LOFT to rest up for Day #1.
Day #1. Lovely breakfast at THE LOFT... hopped on the bus to the Vatican. Walked around the walls to find the Musei Vaticani
, walked in without a problem, no line, no nothing, only a fee of 8 euro per person. We patiently walked through the first few rooms listening to Rick Steves, then picked up the pace to find la cappella sistina
:D There we listened to Rick explain the different scenes that Michelangelo depicted on the ceiling and walls of the Sistine Chapel. Truly beautiful.
|On top of St. Peter. ha!|
Stopped at a supermarket just outside to grab water, apples and a baked good to get us through the long line outside St. Peters. We might have cut the line a little bit, so our wait was only 20 minutes or so to get through security, and I asked for forgiveness once I entered the church. Once again we took the Rick Steves tour, he pointed out many things I hadn't realized before about the church and then we exited to go around the side to wait in another line to climb the Cupola... to our surprise.... THERE WAS NO LINE! Only like 10 people! So we filled our water bottle with water from the fountain in the courtyard so we could say we drank holy St. Peter's water, paid our 5 euro to climb the Cupola senza ascensore, a piedi
, and started the 551 stair climb!
Depending on the number of people climbing, their nationality, and how far apart from them you're walking... the climb up St. Peter's Cupola gets progressively more beautiful, more difficult, more condensed and 100% more smelly. But the smell is worth the view and the cool breeze when you emerge from the top of the dome. The climb also takes you inside the Basilica's dome, so you can see the ceiling you were staring up at from below and see the mosaic ceiling up close, very cool!
|I think he's coming back!|
|Panino di mortadella in Campo dei' Fiori|
After the climb, we descended the stairs at a quick pace, stopping to use the bathroom atop the Vatican. Then we went off to find a recommended restaurant by Mom, Da Giovanni, on Via della Lungara, that Lexi and I had tried to find when we were here, but failed. We ended up finding the place without much difficult, but it was nearing 3:00pm as we did so, and when we asked to be seated we got the hand gestures that the restaurant was already closed. Bummer. So we walked back across the river to grab a deliciously salty Mortadella sandwich from Il forno di campo dei fiori
. Tim was wildly impressed with the deliciousness of such a simple sandwich, and with fuel in his stomach he was ready to go again! We headed towards Piazza Navona, facevamo un giro della piazza
, crossed toward the Pantheon where we had to stop at Cafe Sant'Eustachio for a cappucciono. It was good, and a must do stop in Rome, but the cappuccinos we had in other places in the following days were so much better! So from Sant'Eustachio we hit the Pantheon, crossed our way through streets, passing Giolitti where I forced Tim into buying a gelato (I was too full)... then landed upon the Trevi Fountain where we threw our 3 coins in order to secure a return to Rome one day. Lots of sights seen day 1, so we returned to the hotel on foot, passing through the view of the Quirinale at sunset (PRETTY!) and ready to take a nap before dinner time!
Around 8, hunger set in and Da Baffetto was calling our name. 20+ times in Rome and I had never committed to waiting in the long line outside the Pizzeria, but this time it was off season, so the line was sure to be much smaller :) We hopped on bus 40, riding it to Chiesa Nuova, then wandered around the streets behind Piazza Navona until I remembered where restaurant exactly was. Yup, there was a line! But only a few people, so our wait wasn't more than 15 minutes and then we were inside ordering two pizza Baffetto
and a 1/2 liter of vino rosso
. The wine came in a hand painted ceramic carafe with a painted mustache and the address of the restaurant, I wanted to keep it! When the pizza came, we think the man Baffetto himself served it... a very jolly chubby man with a thick mustache offered us our pizza (mustache=baffetto) and he encouraged us to eat! The pizza had mushrooms, artichokes, prosciutto and then on top a half cooked cracked egg... That was the BEST! When we left I asked to purchase a ceramic carafe and they gave me a new one for 8 euro. I was very content, and we were craving chocolate, so I had the perfect solution. Dar Poeta in Trastevere. We took the tram across the river, meandered our way through Trastevere stopping to watch various street performers then arrived at Vicolo di Bologna, took a seat at a table outside, and ordered some red wine and una calzone con nutella e ricotta.
Tim didn't know what was coming... and was QUITE happy I took the initiative to make him eat this calzone that is literally so good! Ricotta and nutella in bread... warm... GENIUS! Perfect way to end the evening!
Day #2. OLD STUFFF!
Great plan for the day! We went to the Colosseum first thing and listened to Rick Steves tell us all the cool stuff about Gladiators and stuff. Pushing 5+ visits of the place, I remained impressed, and Tim didn't want to leave. Luckily, hunger always strikes! We took the Linea B to my homeeeee, PIAZZA BOLOGNA... this is when I realize, all the great food in Rome is centered around Bologna, which I'm currently living in... hmm.... I took him to Mizzica, the typical Cantonese delicacies from Sicilia! Tim snagged us a table while I went inside to try and pick the best foods to try. I ended up ordering a cartociatta
with eggplant and prosciutto, an arancino al ragu
and a chocolate pastry thing. And of course, due cappuccini!
DELICIOUS! We wanted to eat more and more, but we controlled ourselves, walked briefly to see my old apartment on Via Udine, then headed back the Linea B. We took the metro to Circo Massimo, walked passed that, then headed into the Roman Forum and Palestine Hill.
By the time we finished meandering our way through every old thing in Ancient Rome, it was already late in the day and we were in need of a pick me up. First, I made Tim walk up a bunch more stairs, and then we were on top of Capitoline Hill where the Capitoline museum is. There we did the sneaky "marisa" trick and entered in the back that takes you to the cafe of the museum without paying entrance. Here the view is FANTASTIC and the caffe latte freddo
are delicious as well! We enjoyed our iced lattes, rested our legs, checked out the bella vista
then went to do a little shopping and see the cats of Largo Di Argentina. We didn't
|rooftop wine and cheese|
have much luck with the shopping, but we were able to count upwards of twenty cats hanging out in the ruins of Largo di Argentina. Very cute i gattini!
Afterwards we returned to the LOFT to nap and have an aperitivo. The previous day we had stopped at the supermarket and bought cheese, bread and wine, so we made ourselves a little aperitivo on the deck of our room. A beautiful evening in Rome with good company! And even though we weren't extremely hungry, we still decided to head out to dinner and enjoy as much food in Rome as we could.
|carciofo alla romana, fried artichoke!|
Dinner #2, we headed down to the Jewish Ghetto to eat at my highly frequent restaurant Il Portico
. I think I've been to this restaurant every time I return to Rome, great value, great waiters, great food! We had fried zucchini flowers, the tipical carciofo alla romana,
gnocchi alla gorgonzola and fettuccine con sugo di noci. Buonissima! After dinner we walked to the Colosseum to see it all lit up. Truly an amazing sight to see at night, its almost unreal.
Day #3 - L'ultimo giorno :(
First thing we did was take the bus down to Castel Sant'Angelo. There we used our final free museum with the Roma Pass, making it worth our 30 euro spent! The view from the castle was gorgeous as always, St. Peters popping out of the skyline when you look in one direction, and then all of the other monuments of Rome when you look in the opposite. Absolutely gorgeous. Tummies already growling from our small b & b breakfast, we walked down the Tevere River towards Piazza del Popolo. There we climbed the lions on the fountain and strolled around the Piazza until we found a place to grab a piece of Pizza. From there, we took the Linea A to the Spanish Steps. Tim grabbed another slice of pizza right when we exited the metro, then we proceeded to walk up all of the spanish steps where we stumbled upon a bride and groom. We walked back down the steps and filled up our water bottles in the fountain in the Piazza di Spagna, then walked toward Piazza Barberini and the Trevi fountain, hoping to get some gift shopping done along the way.
|Piazza della Rotonda|
We stopped for a coffee at bar near Piazza Barberini. They were brewing Tazza D'oro coffee, one of the famous brands of Rome and the cappuccino and latte we had were absolutely amazing, another perfect pick-me-up! We wandered through the roads around the Trevi Fountain, I got a slice of mushrrom pizza from my favorite Forno, Tim picked up a bag of penis pasta and we were on our way! We walked down the road with all of the guys selling the squishy things they thrown at the ground. We had previously tried to buy one cause they are so ridiculous, but the man originally wanted 3 euro and we bargained him down 2 euro... PREPOSTEROUS! For some reason I tried again with these guys, and I just said 1 euro? Right?? And he looked at me, and then said yea sure! SO we got ourselves a green squishy and headed back to the hotel to throw it at the window! F-U-N.
Our last evening, we didn't really have much plans, and I didn't have a specific restaurant in mind. But I did decided I wanted a fancy drink at the top of a hotel my mom took me to once... for some reason I remembered the drinks being affordable to me for a one time thing. So we took the bus down to near the Pantheon and Hotel Minerva, and took the elevator to the top floor where the roof top bar was. There was a fancy party going on and we glanced at the menu... drinks were much more than I had remembered... we took a stroll around the bar and then opted to go find some cheaper prosecco in the Piazza della Rotonda, with a view of the Pantheon. The bubbly we had was delicious, but we probably should have just bought an entire bottle instead of two glasses... now we know. But the atmosphere was great! Accordion players, a lit up pantheon, warm weather, italian chatter... couldn't ask for anything better!
|squishy on the window|
Stomachs growing hungry we started to search for our last Roman meal. I had Da Francesco as a back up in Piazza del Fico behind Piazza Navona, so we walked that way to see if we stumbled upon anything better. No luck with restaurants, but we did walk past a shop with free Limoncello tastings, so we tried some of that, then walked through piazza navona (unfortunately the fountain wasn't lit=lame!), then we headed to put our name in at Da Francesco, a classic restaurant I had been to with my mom, and it was highly recommended by my Aircom boss the summer before! We ended up splitting a pizza and a pasta dish and thoroughly enjoyed our last evening in Rome. Tim's flight was just before 7:00am the next morning, so we headed back to get a decent nights sleep, waking up just before 5:00am to get to the Terranova bus at the train station.
The bus situation was rather confusing, and I was happy I walked there with him, because they never told us we had to get a voucher to get on the early buses. So we were waiting to get on the bus when I realized everyone had a fake ticket along with the regular bus ticket for that specific bus, so we panicked, ran to the ticket desk and luckily they still had tickets for the early bus. So after a little confusing we figured it out, we said au revoir
because our next encounter would be a Paris! (we're lucky kids)
His bus drove off and I headed back to the LOFT for an extra hour of sleep before I got the train back to Bologna to head to a full day of classes. Exhausting weekend, but WELL worth it! I LOVE ROMA! I don't think I'll ever find a city that beats Rome, cuisine, culture, language, old stuff, new stuff, FIAT500s... The city has them all!
Next stop... PARIGI!