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9 Nights in Rome over Christmas & New Year's with no luggage...but plenty of Limoncello!

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I just returned from nine nights in Rome and had a wonderful time! The weather was gorgeous, blue skies and sun every day (even on days that started out a little cloudy). Most afternoons, I carried my jacket around, it was probably in the high 60’s and maybe even the low 70’s when you were in the sun on a couple of days. Of course, it cooled down considerably in the evening, but not a drop of rain the entire time except for a couple of sprinkles on the way back to my apartment on New Year’s Eve (my last night). Oh, and Alitalia lost my luggage and I was without it for the first FIVE days! (And if you think that’s bad, wait ‘til you hear about the trip home…) I had a few things in my carryon (underwear, socks, a couple of tops), but certainly not enough for five days. OK, I refuse to let something like this ruin my trip. Let’s be positive…this means shopping in Rome! :-d It’s certainly interesting trying to buy underwear when neither of the two clerks speak any English, and they’ve brought out something that isn’t what you want and you’re trying to communicate what you really do want!

A few things about Rome over Christmas and New Year’s that were not the way I had read they would be:

Myth #1: EVERYTHING will be closed on Dec 24. Although it’s true most restaurants are closed for dinner, almost all the stores along Via d. Ripetta, Via del Corso and streets in between were open until 6:00 pm, even though it was also a Sunday.

Myth #2: After the Midnight Mass services around Rome, the city comes alive again, with cafes opening for people going home from church. I don’t know where those cafes are, but they’re not by the Pantheon or in Piazza Navona. In fact, the one café that had been open in Piazza Navona was closing as I walked back through a little after 1:00 am.

Myth #3: The “Pifferai,” shepherd pipers in their period costume can be seen walking the streets. From 12/23-1/1, I never saw even one.

Myth #4: Italian families all go out to dinner on Dec 26, which is also a holiday. Well, if they do, I don’t know where they all go, as there aren’t a whole lot of restaurants open that night either, although more than on the 24th or 25th.

I had rented an apartment through Sleep in Italy on Via Dell’Orso, just north of Piazza Navona. It’s a studio, with a bed that’s more like a daybed with large bolsters and a bunch of smaller pillows to use as a couch if you want. Small kitchen but big enough for table and chairs. It looked like there were plenty of dishes and pots & pans, although I didn’t do any cooking. Small bathroom as usual, but with a regular shower. Of course, the location was fabulous. The only problem was that it’s a ground floor apartment and was rather noisy. I’m a pretty sound sleeper, so it wasn’t a major problem for me, but you really do hear a lot of what’s going on out in the street. Regular price is 90 Euro per night, it was 102 for the Christmas high season. The owner, Cecilia, was wonderful. I didn’t have a phone, and she called every day to check on the luggage and was actually there when they delivered it. She couldn’t have been more helpful.

Being a Limoncello devotee, I took it upon myself to find the best value at cafes in Piazza Navona. :-d The best deal is the Café Bernini, at the northwest end (largest amount, best price). Several of the cafes were closed completely from late November until sometime in January. One of my favorite activities is to have a Limoncello after dinner and watch the people, performers and artists in Piazza Navona. I don’t think I like it as well with the Christmas Market there. It really is like a carnival, complete with games where you win stuffed animals, cotton candy and candy apples. Plenty of tacky stuff with some nicer booths mixed in. Of course, that didn’t stop me from buying some stuff! They did have some nice nativity figures and chocolate with hazelnuts. There was some beautiful but expensive amber jewelry.

More later...

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