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Trip Report Rome Restaurant Recognizance

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When I found roundtrip airfare on Delta from Savannah, Georgia to Rome for under $800 per ticket, how could mom and I not have the immediate desire to return to Rome for a second visit this year? It took about a nanno-second to click the purchase button and our dates were set. Mom and I would spend Thanksgiving in Bella Roma.

Just like our March 2012 trip to Rome, this trip in November was a very food-focused week, with a few visits to churches and an archeological site brought to life with 21st century technology.

We departed Savannah on Wednesday, November 21st, which was the day before the (USA) Thanksgiving holiday. When I booked the flights I didn’t even think about it being the day before the holiday, heck at less than $800 per ticket I would have booked any date Delta wanted me to fly! It was only about a week before departure that it dawned on me we would be traveling on one of the most (if not the most) busy travel days of the year, but have I got a story about that!

I typically am the traveler who gets to the airport waaaaaay in advance of the stated departure time; I’m talking minimum 2 hours. With my “over-abundance of caution” philosophy and thinking there may be a lot of traffic on the way too the airport (I-95 highway) we left for the airport at 8am for our 11:30am departure. Well, I could have taxi-ed a plane down I-95 with the lack of other cars on the road and we pulled into the parking lot at the Savannah airport at 8:35am.

We decided prior to the trip, since we would only be away for 1 week and the airports would probably be crowded, we would do carry-on bags only. This has worked for us on other trips, so it’s not a stretch for us to not check our bags.

We were shocked when we entered the ticket counter area of the airport to find no lines at all, unbelievable to us. We had already checked in on-line, but because we were on an international ticket, I knew an agent had to look at our passports and stamp “Docs OK” on our boarding passes. Since we had plenty of time and there was no line at the front counters we got our passports checked there instead of at the gate.

The security line had slightly more people than the check-in counter, but we were through security in about 15 minutes and heading to our gate to “camp-out” for a few hours.

I left mom sitting at the gate while I went to get coffee. I couldn’t have been gone more than 15 minutes when I come back and she is chatting it up with Stephen the Delta gate agent. It turns out there is space on the 9:30am flight to Atlanta (where we will connect to a 4pm flight to Rome) and he was offering us 2 seats on that plane. Here’s the glitch, I’m standing there now with 2 cups of coffee, 2 rolling bags, 2 shoulder bags, a mom who doesn’t like to walk and drink/hold coffee at the same time and a line of people boarding the 9:30am flight that stretches half the concourse. Stephen then tells us, the 9:30am flight doesn’t have business class, and since we had been upgraded on the 11:30am flight we wouldn’t get the “nice” seats on the 9:30am flight. Honestly this didn’t bother me. What did concern me was that if mom and I were at the end of the boarding line with our 2 roll-aboard carry-on bags, would there be any space left for our bags? I profusely thanked Stephen but tell him we’ll wait for the 11:30am flight. Mom and I go back to our seats and sit back slurping our coffee.

Not 10 minutes go by and Stephen is back standing next to us, leaning down and quietly asking us if we’d like a “private plane” to Atlanta? WHAT??? Mom and I look at each other, then look at Stephen and he says, “Follow me”, so we do. Over to the next gate we go with Stephen.

It turns out there was a 5:30am flight schedule to go to Atlanta that was “delayed” due to maintenance; there was a minor problem with the ignition. While that was being fixed, the passengers from the 5:30am flight were placed on other flights to Atlanta that morning. Now at 10am the 5:30am plane was empty, but the crew and the plane had to get to Atlanta, it was after all, the busiest travel day of the year! Since we didn’t have checked bags, Stephen put us on this plane, we left Savannah about an hour earlier than expected at 10:30am, with only me and mom and the crew of 5 on the plane! Yes, I could have roller-skated down the aisle because there was no one else on the plane.

The crew asked us first if we had a tight connection in Atlanta and was that why we were on this plane, our reply, “No, our Rome flight doesn’t leave until 4pm”, then they asked, “Do you work for the airline?” our reply again was, “No”. We were just at the right place at the right time and only had carry-on bags. I had to take pictures of the completely empty plane because we knew no one would believe us!

We can happily say, we arrived in Atlanta with plenty of time to spare and settled into the newly renovated and very comfortable sky lounge in Terminal E to wait for our 4pm flight to Rome.

Arrival Day in Rome – Thursday, November 22nd

The flight to Rome was uneventful. We paid the extra fee to be in the comfort economy seats, which are only a slight improvement over the regular economy seats. We landed on time, and whizzed through passport control (they didn’t even stamp our passports). Since we didn’t check bags, a stop at baggage claim was unnecessary and we were meeting our Rome Cabs ( http://www.romecabs.com/ ) driver less than 30 minutes after de-planing. Rush hour traffic into the historic center of Rome was fairly heavy on this Thursday morning, but it only took about 1 hour to get from the airport to our hotel, the Albergo del Senato at Piazza della Rotonda ( http://www.albergodelsenato.it/ )

We arrived at the Albergo del Senato at about 9:15am and as we had assumed, our room was not quite ready. We left our bags and headed straight to Café Camilloni for a proper cappuccino and cornetti. I found this café, through Elizabeth Minchilli’s Eat Rome App ( http://www.elizabethminchilliinrome.com/ ), which was a huge resource for me this trip, along with Katie Parla’s Rome for Foodies App ( http://www.parlafood.com/ ). Café Camilloni is in Piazza St. Eustachio, yes, it is a neighbor to the more famous Café St. Eustachio, which I used to flock to on prior visits, but I’ve got to say, Café Camilloni made an outstanding cappuccino and the apple and cream filled cornetti was deliciously fresh. It was the perfect way to refuel ourselves. The café is definitely worth a visit, it’s a bit “old school” and kind of like stepping back in time a bit, but in a good way. If you’re in the area, do give it a try.

After our caffeine “fix” we made a couple stops, to access cash, buy a few postcard stamps and a couple books my Italian teacher asked me to pick up for her. We also made a visit to the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minera. It’s a favorite of ours and since it’s just “down the street” from our hotel it was an easy stop.

On our way to the church we could hear a lot of music. As we got closer we could see an American college (or maybe it was high school) marching band in full regalia lined up in front of the church playing a variety of snappy tunes. They were really good. Our first thought was…”Guess they didn’t make the cut for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade so came to Rome instead”, not a bad trade-off! We don’t really know why they were there, but it was a pleasant diversion.

By noon we were really dragging and fortunately by this time our room was ready so we checked in and settled into our room and promptly took a nap for a few hours. I know a lot of people don’t think this is the best way to tackle the arrival day in Europe, but we find if we can get a few hours of shut-eye in the afternoon then get up, got to aperitivo and dinner then to bed we function pretty well.

Next up will be our fantastic food finds!

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