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Trip Report A wonderful 8 nights in Rome...including my usual Limoncello!

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I just returned from another wonderful trip to Rome, my favorite place! February was a great time to be there. The weather was a little colder than usual, but blue skies and bright sun almost every day. It rained briefly late one evening and a little the next day late morning/early afternoon, but that was it. And it was warmer the second half of the week. Even at the beginning, I could do without my jacket during the day when in the sun, and the last couple of days didn’t need it all afternoon. I found a great jacket on sale after Christmas, quilted but not overly puffy, actually rather smooth (those very puffy ones would make me look like the Michelin Man... :-d ), with a small fur collar. It was perfect. And one evening, I could have sworn I saw Rick Steves in the Piazza Navona, but I wasn’t positive so didn’t say anything. When I got back, a woman I work with who was there for a few days (I had helped her plan her trip) said when she and her husband took the tour at the Galleria Borghese, he was in their group, so I guess I really did see him! I wasn’t going to write as detailed a report this time, but I have a feeling that won’t happen. Here goes...

I leave work early on Friday the 15th and drive to JFK. Bare roads (I was praying for no snow!), so I’m there in plenty of time. However, my Delta flight is delayed 2½ hours due to mechanical problems. They give us a different plane and everybody traipses to the other end of the terminal to the new gate. With such a late start, I naturally miss my connection in Milan, but Alitalia (it was a codeshare) was very efficient and had an agent right there to rebook everybody on a later flight. They even managed to get the luggage transferred.

I finally have a cell phone and had decided to buy the Italian TIM card before I left, even though I realize it’s a little more expensive to do so, because I would be needing to call the guy who would be meeting me at my apartment from the airport and didn’t want to have to bother getting the card at the airport (while the shuttle would be waiting). When I received the card, the information had said that I needed to register it and gave a fax number to send a copy of my passport and address, which I did. So I’m in the Milan airport and need to call both the shuttle people and the apartment guy to let them know I’ll be much later. No problem, right? I just put the Italian TIM in the phone and I’ll be all set. Not exactly! When I dial the number to activate it, I get a message that says that number is unreachable. Oh, great! So much for best-laid plans. I go to a shop in the airport and buy a phone card and make the calls at a pay phone.

I’m picked up by www.airportshuttle.it and get to the apartment around 5:00. The important thing is that I’m in Rome! I’ve said this before, Rome has its own energy. I can feel it immediately. My apartment is on Via Sora, just west of Piazza Navona and also very close to Campo de’ Fiori, rented through Sleepinitaly. This is the fourth time I’ve used them, and I’ve never had a problem. Due to my arthritic knees, I normally want either the ground floor or an elevator, but will consider the first floor, which is what this apartment is. Of course, the old buildings in Rome often have more stairs than a normal flight. Here there are 24. (I tend to count stairs!) It works out, though, I really don’t have a problem with them. It’s a great apartment. The pictures and description on the website are very accurate. The only thing is, it’s quite noisy, even with both inside and outside shutters closed, because it’s right next door to Da Baffetto. I find that if I close the bedroom door, it’s fine. However, someone sleeping on the pull-out couch in the living area would have a problem with the noise, so I don’t think I’d stay here with four people. It would also probably be a little small for four people.

I arrived in Rome too late to do anything about my phone, and tomorrow is Sunday, so I probably won’t be able to do anything then, either. I unpack a few things, get a shower and head over to the Piazza Navona to call a couple of friends that I’ll be seeing. One tells me about a TIM store on Via Tritone that she thinks might be open on Sunday, so I’ll check that out. I have another friend who is an artist in the Piazza Navona and talk to him for a while before going to dinner. It’s quite cold, and he’s getting ready to close up early, as are some of the others.

For dinner, I try Armando del Pantheon but have forgotten that they’re closed on Saturday & Sunday, so instead go to Rotunda on Via dei Pastini, which is off the Piazza della Rotunda. I get their last empty table and the waiter brings a complimentary Prosecco. Then he brings bread and a dish where he mixes olive oil, Balsamic vinegar and grated cheese to have on the bread. OK, I normally love a little olive oil drizzled on the bread and the cheese sprinkled on top, but mixing them ahead of time is a little strange. I don’t like the consistency. Next time, I would ask him not to mix it. The Polipetti (octopus with capers, olives and tomatoes) is to die for. Then comes the lamb, which is called “Lamb to the Furnace.” They weren’t kidding! It definitely stayed in the furnace too long...way overcooked, to the point of being difficult to cut. I would definitely go back for that Polipetti and order something different for my other course. With ½ liter of house wine, 42E. There are two attractive young ladies next to me who I’ve talked to a little. The waiter is really hitting on one of them, trying to get her to tell her his name, even leaning over and kissing her on the cheek. He doesn’t seem to be getting it that she’s not interested. I felt he was really out of line, but I don’t think she wanted to make a big fuss. When I leave, I wish them good luck getting out!

I walk back over to the Piazza Navona, because one of my favorite things to do is to go back there after dinner for a Limoncello while I watch the people, performers and artists. It’s cold. It’s 10:30 and the Piazza Navona is empty! Of course, that doesn’t stop me from getting the Limoncello... :-d

More to come.

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