Rome- Day 2

For our second full day in Rome, we again took advantage of Rick Steve’s app and followed his waking tour entitled “Heart of Rome”. This tour starts at the Campo du Fiori and goes to the Spanish Steps.

After our exhausting day at the Vatican (the travel the day before didn’t help!) we didn’t set an alarm so it was at least 11 before we left the apartment.

Today, we did the first half of the tour which started about 15 minutes away and ended at the Pantheon which was right beside our Airbnb. Starting at Campo di Fiori meant that Lois got to do some shopping, which meant I got to do some veggie and flower photography.

And Lois found a present for her boytoy, Jerry.

From the Campo we headed to Piazza Navona, one of my favorite places in Rome. This large oval was formerly the site of chariot races but now is a beautiful place with three fountains and a great piazza to people watch.

We decided to be complete tourists and have lunch at a sidewalk cafe. Sometimes there is a reason tourist joints are tourist joints…it was a beautiful sunny but not hot day, the piazza was full of activity and the food was tasty, albeit expensive….but not as expensive as tomorrow’s meal (that’s called foreshadowing).

Lois got a spicy pasta dish, Mike pasta arabica (bacon, tomatoes, etc) and I got osso bucco and then we all shared. Everything was tasty but sis-in-law’s osso bucco is better!

After lunch we ducked into the Brazilian Embassy (formerly the family home of Pope Innocent (the tenth?) and the one who paid to turn Navona into what we see today to see the Brazilian national exhibit from the Venice Biennale entitled, Walls of Air. It was an interesting exhibit about public places and design, Lois was particularly impressed with the drawings. I was most intrigued by the idea of making the roof of Niemeyer’s museum accessible.

Leaving the museum we again listened as we walked to Rick Steve’s tell us about the history of the area and the buildings we were passing.

When we got to the Pantheon, the line was loooong so we elected to continue our tour their the next morning.

After a few hours rest at the apartment, we grabbed a taxi and headed to Termini Station (Rome’s huge transit center) where we caught the HopOnHopOff’s non HopOnHopOff night tour of Rome.

Our original thinking when planning the tour was that we would make the Vatican our focus one day, the area around our apartment the focus the next and a visit to the Coliseum the center of the third day. Lois had a medical issue a few weeks prior to our departure and was concerned she was going to make the trip so I didn’t pre-purchase Coliseum entry. Thankfully, Lois was able to make the trip but by that time we couldn’t get tickets. So instead we decided to do a drive by. Which given the difficulty I had climbing the steep stairs/seats six years ago was probably a good idea!

The night tour gave Lois a chance to see a lot of Rome lit up and she seemed to enjoy it, though all of us were a little chilly in the open topped bus once the sun went down.

After much difficulty finding a taxi, we made it back to the apartment and had some street pizza for a bedtime snack.

Tomorrow-our last day.

We’re Back!

Had an uneventful flight back, immigration let us back in, and now sitting waiting for our flight to Raleigh. As you can see above, Lois’s couldn’t wait to talk to her boytoy. He will be picking us up in Raleigh. We should board in about an hour and after landing in Raleigh about 8 we will have about a 1.5 hour drive to Danville (in the pouring rain it appears.)

I was impressed with American’s service and seat. It’s the old USAirways Envoy seat which has a bigger footwell than their newer seats, so plenty of room for my big ole feetz!

I enjoyed both meals. For lunch We all selected the Korean beef. It was tasty as were all the sides.

Starter which I had with the Tuscan white

Entree which I had with that Tuscan red

Sundae time!

The flight attendant said no one wanted the other dessert!

I failed to take pictures of the arrival snack-I had the Thai salad and really liked it and the chocolate mousse was really tasty!

I watched three movies and took an hour nap or so. Saw the Melissa McCarthy, “Can you ever forgive” movie, followed by “On the Basis is Sex” the dramatization of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s early career followed by “The Notorious RBG”. She is quite the lady! I had no idea of the impact she made on gender equality in the country.

All in all a good flight but it’s been a long day. Got up at 7 which was 1am US time. So I suspect we will be sleeping late in the morning!

In the Lounge.

Got out of the van at 8:34 and checked into the lounge at 9:34. So an hour to find the correct checkin counter (why is that always the most difficult part in an European airport?) which of course was at the opposite end of where we entered the building, checkin, go through USA only security, then walk back to where we started, them passport control leaving the EU, then walk through the huge duty free, then walk past 10 gates, then upstairs, wait on a train, ride it ala Orlando, exit train, then walk past four gates, then ride elevator down to lounge. Phew. .82 miles before 10 am, I’m tired already!

Upgrade!

Almost forgot! When we checked in today, it appears our request to use miles (25,000) + dollars ($350) to upgrade our fre..ahem included in our cruise fare by Viking economy seats to business had cleared. So all three of us will be sitting in comfort from Rome to Philadelphia. We are all so excited. What was going to be a dreadful flight is now going to at least be tolerable and hopefully comfortable in these lie flat seats.

Unfortunately it appears Lois’ and Mike’s upgrade for the short flight from Philly to Raleigh didn’t clear…but mine did!

So the question now is, should I be the good Son-in-Law and let Lois sit up front?

Decisions Decisions.

Last Supper!

Just finished our Last Supper (on the day THE Last Supper is being celebrated)!

We had a huge lunch but Mike & I decided we needed to have one last bowl of cacio e pepe before we left Rome. Lois ate a snack while Mike and were still too full so she decided to say in.

We decided to go back to the same place we ate our first supper since thy had a great appetivo-$5 for an aperol spritz and bruschetta. Of course we got here after happy hour so it cost more but was still tasty.

Mike and I split the Cacio y Pepe (cheese and pepper) pasta, We wish we could figure out what they do to make it so creamy. We can’t make it nearly as good at home.

I promise I’ll work on blogging about our last two days while on the flight home and post them as quickly as I can.

Our ride to the airport picks us up at eight in the morning so we need to (as my Daddy used to say) Sleep Fast!

Arrivaderci Roma!

Vatican City

Our first real day in Rome was spent in Vatican City. We had 9:30 entry tickets to the museum and arrived there (along with at least 4000 others) right at that time. With the tickets already bought we walked right past the throngs waiting and after the very Italian process of trading one piece of paper with a bar code for another one, we were set to go in.

We used Rick Steve’s audio app and followed his tour all the way through to the Sistine Chapel.

Mike snuck some pictures inside. Shhh, don’t tell Francis.

Leaving the Chapel, we headed up the elevator to the base of the dome. Last time Mike and I were here almost six years ago, we did the climb all the way to the top. You can read about that here: https://cruisinwithclay.com/2013/04/25/rome-in-a-whirlwind/. Unfortunately most of the pictures have been stripped out to save space. But I don’t think I have it in me to make that climb ever again…at least without an on call ambulance.

But I do love walking around the drum of the dome, especially for anyone who hasn’t visited St. Peter’s. From this position, one can see just how huge the dome is, how high (448 feet -more than a football field!) above the floor it is and how intricate the mosaics are that decorate it. From the floor, these mosaics appear to be paintings or frescos.

From the dome we went out into the roof. Here is the site of my favorite souvenir shop where the nuns assure you that their trinkets are better than the ones elsewhere in Rome because they have been blessed by the Pope. When you push it, the agree that in reality they are blessed with his “authority”. I envision some poor first year priest stuck in a warehouse in the belly of Vatican City blessing box after box of St John Paul II rosaries and Pope Frank key rings! Lois purchased some souvenirs and a beautiful cross for a friend in Virginia.

The roof is also the location of my favorite restroom in Rome. Lois enjoyed her wait in line there and Mike was lucky and got to see what has to be one of the last stand up toilets in town.

I was amazed (appalled?) at the condition of some of the roofs-while I know maintaining a huge Church must be expensive, you’d think they could get rid of the weeds!

The roof is also a favorite of mine for gaining a sense of scale. The statues which line the roof are 18 feet tall but from the plaza below they appear pretty small.

The roof also let’s you see some of the incredible decoration on the exterior of the dome.

After the roof we finally went inside St Peter’s- the largest church in the world. As you can see in the title picture above, Lois was (as expected) blown away. We visited the Pieta, the new (at least to me) Chapel where St John Paul II is now buried and his former burial site with the other popes under the altar before leaving the church.

After a quick walk through St Peter’s square we headed for lunch.

That was the last time Lois was smiling for awhile. We accidentally took her on a death march for lunch. We were trying to get to one of our Airbnb’s host restaurant recommendations but after the Vatican Road Rally, she (and Mike and I too) were running on empty. Unfortunately when we got there, it was of course closed but luckily there was another place across the street. After we all shared pizza and salad, we all felt much better.

We didn’t feel better enough to walk back to the apartment but thankfully there are plenty of taxis in Rome. We got back to our apartment about 4:30 and all crashed.

A tiring but wonderful day!

Rome

We (as well as our overstuffed luggage) survived the RyanAir flight from Barcelona to Rome. (Less than $50 each including a checked bag and an extra legroom seat so a pretty great price methinks!)

Arrived uneventfully to our Airbnb and after settling in headed out to finally get Lois the pasta she kept wanting in Spain but that I made her wait for. The picture above was our aperol spritz that we had with delish bruschetta.

We shared a big salad and three fried zucchini blossoms. Both were yummy.

Then we each had a bowl of pasta. We probably should have just order two and shared them. Lois had fresh fettuccine with pomodoro and meatballs.

Mike and I halfed n halfed the two Roman classics-carbonara and cacio y pepe. Both were so good!

Off to bed now, feet hurt after our three miles mostly in airports today and tomorrow is the Vatican!