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Trip Report Rome / Naples Trip Report: December, 2006

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This morning, I put on the pair of socks I’m positive I blew out when I tripped over a cobblestone somewhere in Rome. Looking down at my big toe I smile. What a wonderful trip we enjoyed!!

DH and I are early forty-somethings and thought it would be nice for our 20th wedding anniversary to go to Italy. Turns out nice isn’t the word. Fantabulous is more like it! Originally, we scheduled this trip for October of 2005 but postponed when our cat was diagnosed with renal failure and our vet thought leaving her for two weeks would be too stressful for her. We agree and choose to wait.

In preparation for our trip, I enroll in a Basic Italian course offered by our local adult education program. Between that course, taught by a woman from Sicily, a set of Pimsleur cds, and Italian in 10 Minutes A day we make out fine communicating with the locals though there are times I wish I could say / understand more.

Early December 10th, we leave the fog and rain in San Antonio for Rome via Atlanta on Delta. Our tickets, purchased in July, cost $806/per person, round trip. After a five hour layover in Atlanta we are on our way though not without incident. Shortly after takeoff, a passenger sitting behind me opens the overhead bin above my seat sending boxes onto my head and shoulder. Ouch. This poor guy could not have been more apologetic explaining the boxes weren’t his, not that it mattered. No serious damage, just a dull pain for the next several hours. Then, less than 30 minutes after take-off, a flight attendant announces if there are any doctors on board would they please report to the back of the aircraft. There were three total and fortunately, for the sick child involved, one of them was a pediatrician. After much deliberation it was decided the child is not well enough to fly and the plane is diverted to JFK so the family can seek medical attention for their son. It’s been 20 some odd years since I last flew out of NY at night and forgot how beautiful and magical the city is lit up! Paramedics make it on board, removing the family from the plane fairly quickly, however, finding their luggage takes time. After an hour of searching a pilot announces that luggage is assigned to a bin before being loaded onto an aircraft but, don’t you know it, the family’s luggage is not in its assigned bin which meant the search would continue for what turned out to be another hour. Finally, the luggage is located and we are on our way arriving a little over two hours behind schedule—not bad considering.

After a scenic landing at Rome’s FCO airport we breeze through passport control, second in line, and collect our luggage within 20-30 minutes. A few days prior to departure, I arrange for an airport pick-up through Rome Cabs at a rate of 45 euro. As soon as we land I call the Stefano to let him know we finally made it. Because of our delay he cannot pick us up but sends a representative in his place. We are happy to find our driver waiting for us once we leave baggage claim and after a quick walk to the van he loads our luggage, hands us bottles of water and away we go. Our driver speaks near perfect English and proceeds to play tour guide along the way. What a treat. We beam with delight at how beautiful and green the city is, whirling past famous monuments we have only seen pictures of. The ride to our hotel, Albergo del Senato, is a fast 20-25 minutes. We highly recommend Rome Cabs if you should need a ride from the airport or tour around the city. Contact Stefano Costantini, allagrande@hotmail.it for more information, or, check his website at, http://www.romecabs.com/ .

We arrive at our hotel just before noon and are happy to check-in immediately. We love it here! Our room, 306, overlooks Piazza della Rotonda and the Pantheon is just outside our window. The room is small but typical of most European hotels we’ve stayed in. It has everything we need, is clean and comfortable. The staff is kind, friendly, helpful… we can’t say enough good things about our stay here and are sad when it comes time to leave. My only word of caution would be if you request a room with a view of the Pantheon the noise from the Piazza below may be an issue. Even through heavily insulated windows could we hear revelers below at night and street cleaners in the wee hours of the morning. For us, sleeping with the window open was not an option. As we slowly recover from jet lag, i.e. no longer awake at 3 a.m., this becomes less of an issue. We would be happy to stay here again some day! We paid 160 euros per night, significantly less than the 250 per night we were to pay in October of 2005. http://www.albergodelsenato.it/

Hungry, the hotel recommends a restaurant across the Piazza. I’m sorry that I don’t know the name, as many times as we pass by!, because the food is wonderful. My pizza with gorgonzola and raddichio is delicious on a thin, wafer like crust I’d never experienced before… and the coffee! Just what we need. Like so many places we visit on this trip the waiters at this restaurant are attentive, patient and appear genuine in their desire to ensure everything is okay, that we are happy with the way the coffee is made, the food is good, that we are warm enough (while dining outside), etc.. The work ethic we observe, throughout our stay, impresses us.

After lunch we go to the Pantheon and take the audio tour. There is no set fee for the tour but rather a suggestion for payment, a sort of pay what you can or want. Like all the other sites we will see on this trip we are amazed, happy and grateful for the experience. From the Pantheon, we take the short walk to Santa Maria sopra Minerva, another feast for the eyes that includes the work of Michelangelo, *sigh*. Inside, it’s relatively dark but as we meander around another visitor drops coins into a box beside one of the chapels and its lights come on. Ah, ha. No wonder the church is so dark, it’s pay as you go.

We leave this beautiful church to find it dark outside, no eye adjustment necessary, lol. We’re hungry again and very tired not having slept now for nearly 24 hours. We stop at a busy pizzeria on the way home, toast a Perroni, and head back to our hotel for a good night’s sleep.

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