We’ve been having an exciting time in Rome these past few days, some unexpected fun– thank you Dragon Lady, and some fun that was quite planned. To give our readers the mini highlight reel: on Sunday we explored the Roman Forum and the Coliseum. We quickly learned that a Roman 70 degree forecast is much different than a London 70 degrees and so it was a lot of sun for the both of us sans sunscreen (yay for planning!). Luckily only my nose and Adam’s forehead were slightly affected. Lunch that day consisted of two panini’s and beer from a side bar where we got some excellent people watching in. The beer, by the way, all tastes like variations of Peroni…even though that’s not the brand we’re buying. We have definitely enjoyed the wine more than the beer! Dragon Lady intervened that afternoon forcing a quick stop at a pharmacy to get yet another kind of eye drop (I am up to two kinds at this point) that has anti-histimine. Feeling worn out from the sun and all our walking we headed back to take a siesta before eating at a delicious restaurant Hosteria Farnese where I had fresh gnocci, Adam a pepperocini pizza and a delicious bottle of house red. This was also the evening that we spent in the Campo de Fiori drinking wine and watching the various entertainers (a four piece band, fire dancers!).
The next day was our appointment with the Vatican so we were up bright and early walking towards St. Peters square. This was somewhat of a hectic journey as we miscalculated the distance and ended up speed walking for about 3.2 kilometers. Once there we got into the first line we saw, fairly short actually, on the inside of St. Peter’s square. We get through security, into the next line, only to find out that this was not the line for ticket holders for the Museum – we had to walk AROUND the Vatican to the back where the museum entrance was. Silly us, we thought, because all the signs were just so clear! (Please hear my sarcasm…). Around the Vatican we go and there we are greeted with The Line. I cannot believe how many people were lined up in a line with imperceptible movement to see the inside of this place! We skip this line entirely trusting to our reserved tickets to get us through which they did. Here we are greeted with another line, minimal signage for what the line is actually for, and lots and lots of tour groups.
Skip through all of this……ahhh, there, we are in! The Vatican museum was chock full of some pretty awesome stuff but, as you can expect, the most amazing sights were part of the building. Various painted ceilings and walls, the Stanzi Rafaello, and the Sistine Chapel. It was incredible thinking that Michelangelo painted such beautiful, lifelike scenes while on his back on top of ladder some 40 feet up. Most of the figures appear to be leaning out of the ceiling when in reality they are painted in plain old 2d. I did my best to fully examine the Creation – the central 12 panels, while Adam illegally took a few pictures sans flash. Seeing all of the wonderful items displayed made Adam and I wonder how much more the archives, basement, private rooms – and you know they must have some secret tunnels – must hold. Having had a full day of museums, and believe me, The Vatican Museum counts as a full day, we grabbed some lunch, went to another pharmacy to get my 3rd set of eyedrops – I see an extensive collection in my future – and walked to the Piazza Popolo to enjoy some prosecco and have our mandatory gelato. It is basically Roman Law that one must have at least a gelato per day. My favorite flavor so far is pampelmo rosa (grapefruit) while Adam’s is cioccolato (Chocolate). Wanting to make the most of the only kitchen we would have on this trip, we decided to cook in that evening, picking up some fresh pasta, zucchini, and arrabiata sauce. By lucky chance I realized that our apartment owner’s “oregano” on her spice rack was actually erbe lassative (herbal laxative) prior to using it in the sauce – Whew! The Dragon Lady really partied it up that night prompting her gracious host (me) to stay in for the evening.
Tuesday dawned with a brand new adventure in store: Slay the Dragon Lady! To do this we enlisted the help of Italy’s infamous healthcare system at the Ospedale Oftalmico along with their non parlo inglese staff. 3 hours and much hand gesticulating later The Dragon Lady was properly named – in Italian of course – and we now held the Italian keys to her destruction: two more sets of eye drops. I am pleased to announce that The Dragon Lady’s reign of terror has finally ceased. Mission accomplished.
The rest of that afternoon was spent eating our home made lunch (salami, mozzarella, tomato and lettuce paninis!) on the steps of the Trevi Fountain, and visiting the Pantheon. That evening we met up with some friends from the States who are teaching in Rome this summer. We, along with several of their friends, enjoyed pizza, wine, and the nightlife of the Trastevere area of Rome.
Wednesday was Adam’s work day so I headed out to meet my friend Kelly to explore Rome together. We walked to St. Peter’s square hoping to get inside the Basilica before remembering that it is closed on Wednesdays for the Pope’s public address! Regardless we still hung around for a bit to watch the thousands of people, all with their specially reserved tickets, enter – some with full size banners and flags announcing the church they belong to in hopes of catching the Pope’s eye and blessing. After this we decided to check out a Caravaggio exhibit but, unfortunately, the line that is normally reserved for the Basilica decided to move over to the Caravaggio since the aforementioned site was closed. We had to laugh at how our initial plans, fairly culturally aware, turned into a day of shopping. We came to feel that shopping is, after all, a much neglected part of any culture, am I right? After Adam had finished his work day, we heading back out to explore Tyber Island (the historic Jewish ghetto) and have dinner in the Trastevere region before heading over to get a last glimpse of the Colosseum at night. It was so gorgeous all lit up, I really think the sites are much more beautiful at night when they have that golden glow to them – it makes it much easier to envision them as they were, hundreds and hundreds of years ago when their current state – a ruin – is not thrown into such sharp relief by the glaring sun. It was a wonderful way to spend our last night in the Eternal City.
Today – Thursday – has been a lesson in patience, dealing with the Italian transportation system can be very trying especially when 19 self service machines are out of order and half of the ticket counter staff decides to simultaneously take a coffee break. We missed our first train to Venice, but were able to catch the second one only an hour later. “Welcome to Italy”…it took us five days to fully realize the hidden meaning in that statement.
We are now in Venice, having a great time so far! Details to come…Ciao!