7 Days in Rome - Part One

Apr 30th, 2005, 12:29 PM
  #1  
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7 Days in Rome - Part One

7 Days in Rome – Part One


Thanks to all the comments/suggestions on this forum. They helped make our trip to Rome a success.

My husband and I left Los Angeles for Rome on April 19th. The day before a friend in Rome e-mailed me that there was going to be a train strike on Wednesday, April 20th. I had booked limoservicerome.com, as recommended on this site, for our return trip. But we’d planned on taking the airport train to Termini when we arrived. So with a few quick phone calls to Andrea at limoservicerome, I was able to arrange for a car to pick us up at the airport as well..

We arrived in Rome at 7:30 am April 20th, after 17 hours of flying. We traveled on American Airlines, changing planes in New York. Our driver in Rome let us use his cell phone to contact our landlady. We found out that the rental agency (rentalinrome.com) had neglected to tell us that we couldn’t get into the apartment until 12:30 pm. Our landlady kindly met us at the apartment and we left our bags in her friend’s apartment next door while we explored Rome on foot.

Our apartment, Rossana, is located in the Monti area of Rome on Via dei Neofiti a side street off Via della Madonna dei Monti, just behind Via Cavour. A wonderful neighborhood, with no traffic on the narrow cobblestone streets. Lovely old buildings in gold, peach, white with shutters, flowers (but sadly lots of graffiti, as in most of Rome ). Lots of charm. Tucked away behind doors, shuttered windows are antique shops, artist studios. A bohemian neighborhood, similar to the one we live in LA. So we felt right at home. At the end of our street, you turn a corner and can see the Colosseum. A two minute walk and we were at the Imperial Forums. Our prime aim was to visit the sites of ancient Rome, following on a Roman ruin tour we made in Provence a year ago. So the location was perfect, as well as convenient to the centro historico and all transportation.

Our apartment was wonderful, opened on the street, with a patio in the rear. Basically it’s two rooms, clean, with nice furnishings, full kitchen with dishwasher, and a computer with DSL. There are photos on-line at rentalinrome.com. The only problem was they told us there was a queen size bed but it turned out to be a queen size couch bed in the room with the kitchen. Our son was arriving from Paris, where he’s studying, and we knew he was going to sleep on the double couch bed in the other room. The queen couch bed for my husband and I was not a problem. Just unexpected.

Except for a day trip to Florence, we spent the entire time in Rome. While we waited for the apartment to be ready, my husband and I set out to explore the Imperial Forums, Piazza Venezia, the Parthenon and Piazza Navona. For lunch, we returned to the Monti area and spotted a restaurant on Via Cavour filled with locals. We had the first of three wonderful meals at Trattoria da Valentino, Via Cavour, 293. Great food at reasonable prices. Their grilled lamb, steak and pork chops are mouth-watering. Great pastas too. Our lunch, with an antipasto plate, two primi piatti, 2 secundo piatti, acqua naturale, wine was E31.50.

On day two, we had cappuccinos and coronetos at a local coffee bar in the Piazza Madonna dei Monti. We were saving the main attractions until our son arrived on Friday night so on Thursday we explored churches in the area. We climbed steps to San Pietro in Vincoli, St. Peter-In-Chains, and were drawn in by the Michelangelo’s powerful statue of Moses. Then down the hill, past the Colosseum to St. Clemente, where we explored the layers of history beneath the church, first level the original 4th century nave, and below that, from pagan Rome, remains of a Mithraic temple. Quite spooky down there. despite the crush of other tourists. We went to Trastevere for dinner (took a bus from Via dei Fori Imperiali to Largo Argentina, then the 8 tram to Trastevere). We came across a restaurant we enjoyed just behind Santa Maria di Trastevere—La Scaletta, Via Della Scala, 8 – Ph. 065816317. Lots of locals there, tourists as well. We had the tourist menu, 14E per person. Antipasto, (bruschetta), 2 pastas, 2 secundis, flan, espresso, water and wine for 35E.

Next day, we got up early and went to Campidoglio and the Capitoline Museum (Musei Capitolini) shortly after it opened, before the tourist rush. We bought the audio guide which was very helpful as the exhibits weren’t marked. Even it was a little sketchy—you had to search a room full of statues to find the one they were describing. Many, many remarkable sculptures and paintings. Well worth a visit. Our son arrived from Paris that evening and we had a late supper at a local family-run trattoria around the corner from our apartment, Taverna Roma, Via della Madonna dei Monti, 78. We had the pasta course with salad, water and wine. I had a delicious pasta vongole, chock full of clams. After dinner, we walked up the street to the lit up Imperial Forums, then climbed up Campidoglio and gazed down on the Roman Forum. Somehow the dramatic night lighting makes the broken stones seem more realized than in the light of day.

On Saturday, we spent the morning at the Roman Forum and then Palatine Hill where we bought our tickets that were good for the Colosseo later on. My son read (in English) from a French guide book he brought (the one I copied from Rick Steve’s guide was inadequate) and we managed to pick out the major spots on the Forum. Later I purchased the book with overlays of the ruins that show how they looked in Roman times—which helped make sense of what we’d seen. After a walk through the park-like Palatine Hill, and a photo shot of St. Peter’s in the distance, we walked to Via Cavour and introduced our son to Trattoria Valentino. The waiter greeted us with smiles. We had another great meal—and toasted to our good fortune to be in Rome with our son.
In the afternoon we went to the Colosseo and passed by all those who were waiting in line for tickets. We were disappointed in the interior—looks just like the pictures, masses of worn stone. We read about the activities there from a guide book and all the blood and killing were depressing. Puts a realistic face on the wonderful, romantic façade that is a symbol of Rome and the other amphitheatres we had visited in Arles and Nimes in France. That night we went to Trastevere and ate at the same restaurant. It was crowded and we had to wait. During the week, we could just walk in and I realized we should
have made reservations.
CBD1031 is offline  
Apr 30th, 2005, 01:42 PM
  #2  
ira
 
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Very interesting report, CBD.

Please continue as new messages to this thread. It keeps everything together.

ira is offline  
Apr 30th, 2005, 03:04 PM
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Good report so far.
I'm wondering how you found the buses. Were they crowded? Easy to use?
And could you tell us what those primis and secundis were? (just a couple of words would suffice)
platzman is offline  
Apr 30th, 2005, 03:23 PM
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I am staying in a convent on Piazza Madonna dei Monti end of May so your restaurant recommends are great for me, thanks! Looking forward to the next installment.
NZGirl is offline  
Apr 30th, 2005, 04:02 PM
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I've sent two or three reservation inquiries and have called rentalinrome three times with no response. I opted to go elsehwere, but I'm curious to know how your experience was with them. I feared booking with them even if they responded simply based on the time delay. Did you have problems making the initial reservation?
Chicago is offline  
Apr 30th, 2005, 11:40 PM
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Thanks for everyone's feedback. Here are some answers to your questions:

Re: buses. Yes, they were very crowded. Especially the 87 bus that goes from Via dei Fori Imperiali to Largo Argentina. If you're coming back from Trastevere on the 8 tram to Largo Argentina, that's a bus you would connect with to take you to the Monti area. One night, we ended up walking back because the buses were full. Other times, we had to cram into the door wells of the buses, hoping we didn't fall out at the next stop. Seemed the most frequent buses were often empty/with few people. Fortunately for the ancient Roman sites and even Parthenon/Pantheon areas were walkable. But we often ate in our area at night because we were tired, and couldn't face waiting for buses.

Re: the courses we had on our first lunch in Rome. For the primi, I had penne all'arrabbiata; very spicy, delicious. And my husband had a very creamy canelloni. For secundo, we both had pollo il forno, roast chicken quarter that came with salad. AFter a day with bad airline food, we craved something substantial.

RE: rentalinrome. I had trouble communicating with them as well. When we were booking an apartment, I was also in touch with other agencies. I know I'd e-mailed them twice and never heard back. Then all of a sudden I received an e-mail. But sometimes the e-mails I sent to them were returned. And when I actually got to the point of signing a contract, they had to redo it because the information was incorrect. In the back of my mind, I wondered if the apartment would really be available. I confirmed a week before we left, wanting to know when we could get into the apartment. They just sent me the landlady's phone number and said to call her when we got in. She was very nice and we did like the apartment. But the communication problems were frustrating.

NZ girl: I'd be curious to know about the convent in the Piazza Madonna dei Monti. I think you'll really like the area, it's a real neighborhood.
CBD1031 is offline  
Apr 30th, 2005, 11:42 PM
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PART TWO

On Sunday, we walked to the Palazzo-Galleria Doria Pamphilj, just off the Via del Corso, near Piazza Venezia. An Italian friend recommended we visit and so glad we did. The audio guide which comes with the ticket (8E) is a personal tour by the family, describing their palatial living quarters, and an art guide giving the background of the paintings and their place in art history. The Caravaggio paintings were exceptional—in fact, one of them of young Isaac is a copy of the original we’d seen in the Musei Capitolini.

We then walked to the S. Maria Sopra Minerva, Pantheon, and Piazza Navona. The streets were packed with tourists, many of them Italian, out for the three-day holiday (Monday, April 25th, Liberation Day.) Many restaurants were closed, the tourist ones open. We found a little place serving pizza, etc to go. It was the only bad food we had during our trip. Then we visited the cats at Largo de Argentina; my son explored the hospice under the street where sick and deformed cats are cared for. Dinner again at Valentina on Via Cavour. And gelatos up the street on Via Serpenti.

Monday was set aside for the Vatican/St. Peter’s as well as a catch-all for everything else we wanted to see in Rome. At this point in the trip, we realized we weren’t up for standing in the lines at the Vatican Museum, so we started our day by going to the Trevi Fountain a 12 minute walk from our apartment. It wasn’t that crowded early on (my husband had walked there earlier in the AM and was the only one there). Then we took the 40 bus to St. Peter’s. During previous days there had been big crowds, celebrations for the new pope, so we thought things had quieted down. Not a chance. The entire square was packed with thousands of people, and more pouring in by the minute; gathering not to hear the new pope (who was elsewhere that day) but to visit the basilica, and probably the tomb of John Paul. The lines, such as they were, jammed the entire square. It was too much so we regretfully walked to the Metro as throngs of people streamed past us heading towards the basilica. Another trip to Rome is in order.

We took the Metro to Piazza del Popolo. I wanted to visit Santa Maria del Popolo to see the Caravaggios and Raphael’s Chigi chapel, per Dan Brown’s “Angels and Demons.” Must say his description is nothing like the chapel I saw. Literary license. From there we walked to the Spanish Steps. Not too impressed. Lots of restaurants around, a bit pricey for our budget. We had pizza for dinner at, Wanted, on Via Serpenti.

On Tuesday, we took the Eurostar to Florence. I had purchased the train tickets from, Discoveritaly.net, a Trenitalia agent in LA which was recommended on this site. They were mailed and I received them the next day. I had trouble purchasing tickets on the Trenitalia website and I wanted to know in advance that I had train tickets before I made museum reservations. I called two weeks out on the reservation line for the Firenze museums( and unfortunately, the Ufizzi was booked that day. I was able to get reservations in the afternoon for the Accademia to see Michelangelo’s David. In Firenze, we visited the Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio. My son and husband passed on the Bargello museum. So after the Duomo, Bapistry, a visit to the San Lorenzo Market and lunch, we decided we had seen enough of Florence. Maybe it was our last day and we were tired tourists. Maybe it was the grey stone on a grey day. But we wanted to return to Rome early; our reservations were for the 7:30 pm Eurostar. I had been in Florence previously a summer after I took Art History in college and was primed for the experience of Renaissance art and architecture. This trip belonged to Rome. We went to the train station; all the Eurostars were booked for the day, so we caught an unreserved train that got us back to Rome in two hours. As we got off the train at Termini and looked at the golden sky, we smiled. We were so happy to be back in Rome. It felt like home. We went back to the apartment to pack. Our son went to the store and came back with some fresh mozzarella. We had cold meat, cheese in the fridge, some whole wheat crackers and wine. So we feasted on our back patio and enjoyed our last night in Rome.

Next day, at 7:30 am our car came. I looked around at the morning light shining on the gold, white, peach colored buildings, some of them exposing walls (as in our apartment) from ancient days. I noticed an arch on the building across from us—I had never really noticed it before, the worn carvings, symbols from another era. Rome—the eternal city. Waiting to be explored, experienced. We’ll be back.

CBD1031 is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 08:31 AM
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Wonderful report! Thank you so much. Reminded me very much of my 2 trips to Rome & I can't wait to go back someday.
cobbie is offline  
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