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gizmodyne Aug 13th, 2011 09:44 AM

37 Days in Italia
The plan: 37 days in Italy to celebrate our 40th b-days and our 10th wedding anniversary. One carry-on backpack each.


Two days in Rome - no time to write.

We left LAX on the 20th for an easy but crowded flight. No sleep. The kids behind us were all knees, and I could only stare longingly at the people near the exit as they stretched their legs and chatted with the flight attendant. Air Berlin was extremely efficient and we arrived on time in Dusseldorf for a 3 hour layover.

Super quick flight to Rome. I looked out the window at the hill towns dotting the land below.

The taxi in from FCO 7:30 pm. Our driver introduced us to Roma style transport:

“Do you know where this is?” he asked after I handed him the address of our apartment.

“E’ qui vicino di Campo di Fiori.” (8 Weeks of extended education Italiano 1).

“Si,” he replied

He drove the little cab directly and full speed through the crowded square and no one seemed to care.

We hopped out near the end of our street a little early, no one answered at the apartment, and I struggled to use the pay phone.

Finally, our hostess, Paula arrived and walked us up to our second story apartment which was just off the corner of the Campo. (Lesson: Late is relative in Italy.) It was a simple one bedroom apartment with soundproof windows, a small kitchen and... A.C. and a washer. Paola lived next door in the apartment which was divided from a centuries old building complete with ancient wood joists.

Paola walked us around the Campo and pointed out several restaurants and a cafe for the morning. We ate at Ditirambo just off the square. I ordered cacio e pepe which I had been dying to try in Italy. Kristin had pan and pesto. We ordered white wine and bottled water. We were hungry and tired and enjoyed our first dinner in Italia.

We walked a little after dinner. The campo is roaring at night. Would we sleep? We fell asleep from 11 - 3. I lay restless for a bit and then finally drifted off. I woke at 10:00! Kristin woke at 10:30. So much for an early start.

We headed down to the cafe that Paola had recommended, just a little bar with a friendly barista and a Italian grandma type running the register. We ordered our first cappuccino, a strudel, and a corrineti (which we would soon come to dread).

Our walk to the forum passed the impressive Victor Emmanuel monument down to buy the Roma pass at the forum. We listened to the Rick Steves’ audio tour and wandered around sweating with the other tourists. Very interesting. We barely wandered Palatine Hill, had a decent pizza and our first caprese salad at a cafe a few blocks from the Coliseum. Later I would realize that I left our nice Streetwise map on the table. Did I mention the beer? I have famously lost a map in several major cities across Europe.

We trotted back down to the Coliseum to enjoy another audio tour.

We retrieved the map from the restaurant and walked towards the apartment in the boiling heat. I did manage to find a shady side street with a fountain. We caught the #64 bus at Piazza Venetia and back to the apartment to nap and clean up before dinner.

We were out pretty early for Italy standards and snagged an outside table at Grappolo d’Oro just off of Campo di Fiori. I tried the ox tail ragu and Kristin ate mackerel. I had inquired about the special of tagliare di tonna thinking it was a pasta. The water thought I had ordered it. Oops. It was thankfully whisked away; I was stuffed and it was 20 Euro.

After dinner we took a long night walk: coin, picture, and people watching at Trevi Fountain, busy Piazza Navona, night shots of the Pantheon, a delicious gelato at Giolliti, and the near vacant Spanish Steps around 1:00 am.

We forgot the map and felt lost for about a half an hour until Kristin found the way back to Piazza Navona. (Lesson: Just follow the crowd)

2 days down- 37 to go.

Pictures at

gizmodyne Aug 13th, 2011 09:44 AM

oops . 35 days to go!

gizmodyne Aug 13th, 2011 11:22 AM

June 23- Rome

We slept in again! Yikes.

We headed for another coffee and treat before shopping for a little fruit at the morning market.

We packed up for the Vatican Museum and hopped on the 64 bus. We watched stops go by and had no idea where to exit. Eventually the bus stopped at the end of the line. We got back on the next bus and with a little help from the driver got off nearish Vatican City. This stop leads to the giant square which we crossed twice before Kristin asked for directions. We were very late.

As I feared we had had to run around the entire wall of the city to get to the museum. Dripping with sweat we arrived. They took our tickets indifferently.

The Vatican is overwhelming but not as bad as the Louvre. Sistine Chapel was interesting. Creation was much smaller than I had expected. Heard my first, “mama mia!.

We made it out the “secret” side door. I eyed the guard till he looked preoccupied and then we scooted past and down to the Basilica. We were too tired to climb the dome and it was getting late. Mass was underway inside St. Peters which gave a nice ambiance but prevented us from seeing up into the dome. Took some beautiful shots of the light streaming into the nave.

Got back to the apartment for a beer and some snacks from the delicious Forno right next to our apartment. They made the best white pizza of the trip.

We wandered out to dinner at a random place off of the Pantheon. Food was ok. I had the arrabbiata and started to realize that the Italian version of spicy was not going to cut it for me. The young waiter was a little weird, and kept touching the red headed kid’s head and neck at the next table. This dinner was just ok.

On the way to dinner:
Pigeons 1, Me 0

During dinner
Pigeons 2, Me 0

Giolitti again!

June 24- Rome

We got up early and bussed the number 116 to Galleria Borghese. The bus picks you up in the Campo di Fiori right next to our first restaurant and then drives directly through the square.This is a mini-bus and able to navigate some tight roads where the other busses fear to tread.

I forgot our reservation slip but the Borghese took passports as proof, so no problem. Amazing statues. The ceilings were awesome. Each room is decorated to a different theme. I was starting to enjoy the art.

We walked around the park but it was hot and we were not too impressed. We took a different bus back to Termini stopping for a funghi pannini and a coldish Cafe Fredo. We bought our ticket to Naples then took the bus back to the Pantheon for our R.S. audio tour.

We walked up to Campinala for unmemorable dinner and then down the river walk on the far side, realizing we should have walked to St. Peters in the first place; way faster than the bus.

6/24- Rome and Tivoli

On Saturday we bussed to Villa de Este in Tivoli. To arrive, you ride for forty minutes through the outskirts of Rome, up a small hill to the old estate. Thanks to Ron in Rome for providing directions. We toured the villa and the hundreds of beautiful fountains. The villa style is similar to the Borghese but less maintained. Great side trip.

For our last night’s dinner we walked to the Trastevere and to Dar Poeta. This was our best pizza of the trip. Perfectly cooked and crispy thin crust with fresh toppings and a bit of spice. It is a crowded little place with a 40 minute wait. We explored the area and decided we would return next time.

Forgot to mention our hot side trip to the “Pyramid.” At Tivoli we saw a large pyramid in the distance. Turns out it was not the one in Rome near the metro. Took a while to get back and wasted a metro ticket. : (

Pics at:

ekc Aug 13th, 2011 11:48 AM

Thanks for the report G - keep it coming!

kybourbon Aug 13th, 2011 12:09 PM

37 days! Lucky you!

jelopez33 Aug 13th, 2011 01:07 PM

Gizmodyne:Thanks for beautiful report and pictures; waiting for more!!!Will you mind publishing a link to the apartment in Campo dei Fiori?(we really like this area,and may be returning in 2012).

gizmodyne Aug 13th, 2011 02:10 PM

Here is the apartment:

jelopez33 Aug 13th, 2011 03:09 PM

Thanks Gizmodyne! looks nice for two persons!

elnap29 Aug 13th, 2011 05:18 PM

It's fun reading your report! Our trip to Italy ended mid-May and I'm enjoying "re-visiting" Rome with you. Thanks for posting.

gizmodyne Aug 13th, 2011 11:03 PM

Sunday Morning.- Naples- Pompeii-Sorrento

Frantic early morning packing. Caught bus to Termini with no breakfast. We had window seats crammed in a compartment with a young teary-eyed girl with five bags. The train was packed and even the flip-down corridor seats were full. Everyone was friendly, but cell phoning like crazy. Two hazy hours later we arrived at the Naples station.

We walked down to the Circumvensa and were charged 4 euro each for tickets to Pompei when we only needed a partial trip ticket for about half the price. We had cafe at the bar to stave off our hunger. The circumvensa was slow and crowded, but thirty minutes later we were at Pompeii.

We checked the bags at the front and did the R.S. audio tour. I enjoyed it greatly having heard about Pompeii my entire life. I realized I had no business teaching about Roman life ( I taught sixth grade for many years).

The Circumvensa to Sorrento was much less crowded. There must be one track sections as the driver got out and took several 10 minute smoke breaks. Once the opposite train had passed we would get underway.

At the station, we took the wrong way into Sorrento. If you go there, walk directly out the front of the station and down hill, don’t go behind the station. We walked way too far in the hot sun with our heavy packs to find our little place on San Antonio square. Just a bedroom with a kitchenette and no windows. The wooden screen doors locked, but there were lots of places to let in sound. We got very little sleep.

We walked one building down the road to the Foreigner’s Club and had cocktails and snick snacks. I had a Negroni which I had been wanting to try. It was very bitter, but so strong I stopped caring.

Sorrento is touristy and packed with shops selling ceramics, inlaid boxes, and lemon products. We peeked into a few churches and the men’s club before heading home.

We had a dinner at Aurora, a pizza place off of the main square. Kristin had the local gnocchi, which was very filling. My pizza was softish and did not compare to Dar Poeta. While we were eating a huge church procession marched by complete with chanting and incense.

We walked to Primavera Gelato which had a noisy disco vibe and good gelato.

Monday- Sorrento, Capri

Breakfast west of the apartment was eh, but too expensive at 10 Euro for two cappuccini and corrneti.

We walked the few hundred steps down to the marina for a one way boat to Capri. It was a car ferry so we had to sit inside.

We bought tickets to the Blue Grotto and zipped over. The grotto is crazy, and we waited about an hour in the rocky boat to off-load onto a tiny row boat. I started getting queasy sitting there for so long. We got the last rowboat to ourselves and entered the grotto. It was pretty and blue and a fun touristy experience. We asked the driver to drop us on the steps that lead to the land. We tried to tip him just a euro but he fake cried and complained to his buddies till we cheaped it up to 2. We took the bus to Ana Capri where I had a diet Coke to calm my stomach.

We ate the last of our U.S. snacks and then took the chair lift up Mount Salaro. I am not a heights kind of guy, but I must say: great views back down to Ana Capri. We hiked down the hill which was easy and gave great views to both sides of the island.

We had some challenges getting back to the Marina to catch our ship back to Sorrento. We stood in the sun for a while only to watch the crowded bus zip past without making the stop. The rest of the crowd moved lines and boarded for Capri on the next bus, but we walked up the road and waited a long while for the next bus to Marina Grande. We caught great views out of the window of the mini -bus on the way back down.

We open air “jet”-boated back to Sorrento and walked to the lemon grove to buy a little limoncello to take home.

Dinner was at Il Buffallito where I way over ate: a bottle of local wine, a huge plate of cheese, pasta and buffalo steak. All was very nice, though I woke up the next day with a raging headache.

Pictures @

irishface Aug 14th, 2011 07:08 AM

I am enjoying your report. Had to laugh at you keeping score with the pigeons in Rome. Hope you found a way to even the score. thanks for sharing.

irishface Aug 14th, 2011 07:08 AM

I am enjoying your report. Had to laugh at you keeping score with the pigeons in Rome. Hope you found a way to even the score. thanks for sharing.

Ronda Aug 23rd, 2011 07:15 PM

Enjoying your report and pictures! We are going to Rome in October so enjoying a preview. One backpack each! No way. I do like the shoes Kristin has on in Rome day 3,4,5 (first picture). Would you mind asking her what brand they are and if they were comfortable? Thanks.

gizmodyne Aug 28th, 2011 08:09 AM


They are Jambu shoes. She got them at REI. She loved them.

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