ROME, ITALY – February 23, - March 2, 2007
Friday – We are on our way to Rome! This will be our second time there (the first time was in 1998). We scored exit row seats, so we’re pretty comfortable.
Saturday – Arrive at 9:15. Our driver was waiting for us after we collected our bags, and this was a real luxury to not have to worry about a cab. But this driver was very picky about his car – he actually swatted my husband’s hand when my husband tried to adjust the vent for the back seat! But he finally turned on the vent a little more and drove us to the Residenza Canali, which is right around the corner from the Piazza Navona. We had pre-arranged this pick-up from the hotel for 45E, but the driver tried to say it was 55E after he dropped us off at the hotel. But my husband just handed him 50E and he said, “Well, okay.” I’m not sure what all that was about.
The Residenza Canali was everything we wanted it to be. It was on an old, cobblestone street. There are no elevators. Our room was on the 2nd floor (third floor in USA). The bathroom was very modern. The room was small but perfectly adequate. We could open our windows and wooden shutters to look out at the small street below. It was perfect. Our rate was 130E per night if we paid in cash, which we did. It would have been 145E to charge it to a credit card. The front desk people were very nice and helpful.
Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived, so we left our bags and went exploring. We walked around the Piazza Navona, over to the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and then we had lunch near the Trevi Fountain. This was the only time I felt like we were “taken” with regard to a meal. We had bruschetti and pizza (shared one pizza); I had water and my husband had Diet Coke (Coke Lite in Europe). There was a cover charge (only place in Rome where we paid a cover charge) and also a service charge. The bill was 39E, which I thought was a lot. We then walked back to the hotel and crashed for about 2 hours (with the window and shutters open!). After we got up, we had our first gelato of the trip and then went exploring some more. We ate at the one of the restaurants on the Piazza Navona (can’t remember name). I had gnocchi and husband had roasted chicken with potatoes. We then stayed there and listened to some of the musicians playing in the Piazza. After awhile we ordered hot chocolate, and then we eventually wandered back to our hotel.
The weather was great during our trip – low to mid sixties on most days, and it only sprinkled rain once.
Sunday – We had breakfast at the hotel and then walked across the bridge to the Castel Sant’ Angelo. It wasn’t open yet so we walked down toward St. Peter’s. We didn’t plan to go in to St. Peter’s this time, and it was fun just wandering around. We eventually made our way back to Sant’ Angelo and toured the castle. The views are amazing from the top, and we took lots of pictures! By the time we walked back across the bridge, vendors were selling sunglasses, purses, paintings, and lots of other things on sheets they had spread on the side of the road. We stopped at a little outdoor café for lunch – again, we had bruschetta and pizza. We dropped off our souveniors at the hotel, and then walked along the Tiber River, and then up the ia Condotti to the Spanish Steps. I was surprised at how crowded the area was, considering this was the last week of February. We then our made to the Trevi Fountain and threw in our coins to ensure our return trip to Rome!
After that, we explored the little side streets in the area. As you can see, we love wandering just to see what we can see. We had dinner at another restaurant on the Piazza Navona. This time there was some drama with one of the musicians playing in the square. This lady had also been singing there the night before, and she has a beautiful voice. She played the guitar and sang. While she was singing on this night, a policeman came up to her and started yelling (of course in Italian) at her. A small crowd had already been watching/listening to her sing, but when the policeman started yelling at her, a bigger crowd came. It seems that the policeman was telling her she was singing too loudly (at least that’s what we think he was saying). The crowd was sort of booing at the policeman, and he finally walked off. The singer looked very upset, and then began trying to sing and play again, but she stopped and started crying. A young man standing near us said (in English), “She cannot go on!” This guy was very disgusted at the policeman. The singer eventually got herself together and began singing again, and now people were tipping her paper Euros instead of coins because they felt so badly for her. The policeman continued hanging around, but he kept his distance from the crowd. My husband and I weren’t sure if this was all contrived to get more tips, or if this was for real. But anyway, it was drama on the Navona!
Monday –We had set our alarm clock early enough so that we could walk to St. Peter’s for our Scavi Tour at the Excavations Office. We really enjoyed the tour; our tour guide was really good and gave us lots of information. After the tour, we walked back over the bridge and up Viso Vittorio Emanuele. We explored that area, bought some postcards, and then returned to the hotel to pick up our luggage. They called a cab for us to take us to the St. Regis (where my husband's company started paying!)
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