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SusanP Feb 26th, 2008 03:19 PM

A wonderful 8 nights in Rome...including my usual Limoncello!
I just returned from another wonderful trip to Rome, my favorite place! February was a great time to be there. The weather was a little colder than usual, but blue skies and bright sun almost every day. It rained briefly late one evening and a little the next day late morning/early afternoon, but that was it. And it was warmer the second half of the week. Even at the beginning, I could do without my jacket during the day when in the sun, and the last couple of days didnít need it all afternoon. I found a great jacket on sale after Christmas, quilted but not overly puffy, actually rather smooth (those very puffy ones would make me look like the Michelin Man... :-d ), with a small fur collar. It was perfect. And one evening, I could have sworn I saw Rick Steves in the Piazza Navona, but I wasnít positive so didnít say anything. When I got back, a woman I work with who was there for a few days (I had helped her plan her trip) said when she and her husband took the tour at the Galleria Borghese, he was in their group, so I guess I really did see him! I wasnít going to write as detailed a report this time, but I have a feeling that wonít happen. Here goes...

I leave work early on Friday the 15th and drive to JFK. Bare roads (I was praying for no snow!), so Iím there in plenty of time. However, my Delta flight is delayed 2Ĺ hours due to mechanical problems. They give us a different plane and everybody traipses to the other end of the terminal to the new gate. With such a late start, I naturally miss my connection in Milan, but Alitalia (it was a codeshare) was very efficient and had an agent right there to rebook everybody on a later flight. They even managed to get the luggage transferred.

I finally have a cell phone and had decided to buy the Italian TIM card before I left, even though I realize itís a little more expensive to do so, because I would be needing to call the guy who would be meeting me at my apartment from the airport and didnít want to have to bother getting the card at the airport (while the shuttle would be waiting). When I received the card, the information had said that I needed to register it and gave a fax number to send a copy of my passport and address, which I did. So Iím in the Milan airport and need to call both the shuttle people and the apartment guy to let them know Iíll be much later. No problem, right? I just put the Italian TIM in the phone and Iíll be all set. Not exactly! When I dial the number to activate it, I get a message that says that number is unreachable. Oh, great! So much for best-laid plans. I go to a shop in the airport and buy a phone card and make the calls at a pay phone.

Iím picked up by and get to the apartment around 5:00. The important thing is that Iím in Rome! Iíve said this before, Rome has its own energy. I can feel it immediately. My apartment is on Via Sora, just west of Piazza Navona and also very close to Campo deí Fiori, rented through Sleepinitaly. This is the fourth time Iíve used them, and Iíve never had a problem. Due to my arthritic knees, I normally want either the ground floor or an elevator, but will consider the first floor, which is what this apartment is. Of course, the old buildings in Rome often have more stairs than a normal flight. Here there are 24. (I tend to count stairs!) It works out, though, I really donít have a problem with them. Itís a great apartment. The pictures and description on the website are very accurate. The only thing is, itís quite noisy, even with both inside and outside shutters closed, because itís right next door to Da Baffetto. I find that if I close the bedroom door, itís fine. However, someone sleeping on the pull-out couch in the living area would have a problem with the noise, so I donít think Iíd stay here with four people. It would also probably be a little small for four people.

I arrived in Rome too late to do anything about my phone, and tomorrow is Sunday, so I probably wonít be able to do anything then, either. I unpack a few things, get a shower and head over to the Piazza Navona to call a couple of friends that Iíll be seeing. One tells me about a TIM store on Via Tritone that she thinks might be open on Sunday, so Iíll check that out. I have another friend who is an artist in the Piazza Navona and talk to him for a while before going to dinner. Itís quite cold, and heís getting ready to close up early, as are some of the others.

For dinner, I try Armando del Pantheon but have forgotten that theyíre closed on Saturday & Sunday, so instead go to Rotunda on Via dei Pastini, which is off the Piazza della Rotunda. I get their last empty table and the waiter brings a complimentary Prosecco. Then he brings bread and a dish where he mixes olive oil, Balsamic vinegar and grated cheese to have on the bread. OK, I normally love a little olive oil drizzled on the bread and the cheese sprinkled on top, but mixing them ahead of time is a little strange. I donít like the consistency. Next time, I would ask him not to mix it. The Polipetti (octopus with capers, olives and tomatoes) is to die for. Then comes the lamb, which is called ďLamb to the Furnace.Ē They werenít kidding! It definitely stayed in the furnace too long...way overcooked, to the point of being difficult to cut. I would definitely go back for that Polipetti and order something different for my other course. With Ĺ liter of house wine, 42E. There are two attractive young ladies next to me who Iíve talked to a little. The waiter is really hitting on one of them, trying to get her to tell her his name, even leaning over and kissing her on the cheek. He doesnít seem to be getting it that sheís not interested. I felt he was really out of line, but I donít think she wanted to make a big fuss. When I leave, I wish them good luck getting out!

I walk back over to the Piazza Navona, because one of my favorite things to do is to go back there after dinner for a Limoncello while I watch the people, performers and artists. Itís cold. Itís 10:30 and the Piazza Navona is empty! Of course, that doesnít stop me from getting the Limoncello... :-d

More to come.

Samsaf Feb 26th, 2008 03:35 PM

SusanP, great start to your report! We were there last February, and we also had wonderful weather.

swisshiker Feb 26th, 2008 03:35 PM

Hi there SusanP :)

We stayed in the Via Sora apartment last March! Wasn't it great having Baffetto right downstairs? After our third time going there, the man himself started greeting us (with the hugs and double kisses) like long-long friends, or maybe it's just the Italian way. So fun!

I agree about the noise thru the windows. But the bedroom was very quiet so that was not a particular problem for us.

I look forward to reading your report. Thanks for posting! And welcome home!

Barb Feb 26th, 2008 03:44 PM

Hooray - the start of another great report. I will relive Roma through you once more.

gracie04 Feb 26th, 2008 04:12 PM

Hi Susan!

I knew it would be you with the mention of Limoncello in the title! Glad you had another great trip. Can't wait for the rest of the report.


LCBoniti Feb 26th, 2008 04:25 PM

Yay, SusanP took another trip to Rome so we get another fantastic trip report!!!!!! <u>All</u> the details, please . . .

SusanP Feb 26th, 2008 05:39 PM

Samsaf, glad you're enjoying it.
swisshiker, believe it or not, I never ate at Da Baffetto! I don't like to eat early, and I don't like to wait in a long line (it's even harder on the arthritic knees to stand still than walking).
Hi Barb, one of these days we're still going to have dinner in Rome!
gracie, yes, the Limoncello always has to be there!
LC, I'm happy to provide details...

I'll do a little more now and hopefully more tomorrow. I work at a school, and we might have a snow day tomorrow. If that happens, I'll get a lot more done!

SusanP Feb 26th, 2008 06:28 PM

OK, here's some more:

I meant to mention that at Rotundo, I tend to think that seafood is their specialty. The waiter had mentioned a couple of fish dishes to me, and I should have gone with that instead of the lamb. The young ladies next to me had a large platter for two of a selection of seafood that looked fantastic. If you go there, I recommend sticking with seafood.

I never have a problem staying up the first day in Italy and didnít get to bed at all early last night, so I sleep in on Sunday. Actually, I sleep in every day! Iím definitely not a morning person, and Iíve been to Rome enough times (30 days over 4 trips before this one) to have the luxury of taking my time and doing just as I please. I always have a list of things to do, including opening and closing times, but I basically just enjoy Rome and get to what I get to. I know I will be back, and you could spend years in Rome and not see everything, so I just relax and enjoy. Believe me, I know Iím lucky to be in this position. My last few trips have been helped by selling stuff and a couple of small windfalls.

The Academia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia is celebrating its 100th birthday, and there are concerts all day long today (Sunday) at the Auditorium Parco della Musica (north of Borghese Park). I am meeting a friend there for a concert at 5:30. We will probably also go to one at 6:30 and then come back into the city for dinner. I talked to her to see where we would meet, and she tells me that as you come up to the auditorium, there is a huge book/music store and itís a good place to meet at 5:00 so we can go and get tickets. The website says thereís a bus from Piazza San Silvestro. Great, because I want to go to the San Silvestro church, plus the TIM store on Via Tritone is right on the way. I walk over there, but it turns out that the TIM store isnít open on Sunday after all, so Iíll have to wait until tomorrow to see what the problem is with my cell phone.

Anyway, I go on to San Silvestro. I didnít have the hours for this church, and itís closed. I canít see on the signs anything about opening hours, but decide to wait around a bit. It has a courtyard thatís got some interesting things. Sure enough it does open (I think at 3:30). This is where the head of John the Baptist is. From what I read, I guess itís the real thing. Hmmm, Iím not sure I really needed to see this! But itís a beautiful church. I decide I need something to eat, since dinner is a long way off, so I go to Caf&eacute; San Silvestro right on the piazza. Excellent bean soup with pasta (in a tomato-based broth). I order a glass of house wine, but he actually brings ľ liter. Iím outside and itís chilly, but I still enjoy being outside, and the hot soup tastes good. Not cheap for soup and wine, 18E.

There are a lot of bus connections on this piazza. I had checked them out when I got there and go over to catch the #53 to the auditorium. As Iím waiting for the bus, I really look more closely at the sign showing the stops. Iím pretty sure it says that it only runs Mon-Sat, and I confirm this with an Italian lady who is there. Well, if I had realized that, I could easily have arranged my time to be able to take a bus to Termini and then change to a bus from there to the auditorium, but at this point, I really donít have time to do that. Fortunately, there is a taxi stand right there in the piazza, so I take a taxi. At first, I think the driver is taking me way out of the way, since heís going west, towards the river, and the auditorium is directly north. I try to ask him, but he doesnít speak much English. When we go a little further, I realize that he has gone this way because once he gets over to the river, itís much quicker to drive up along the river (not much traffic), and we get there in good time. So he wasnít trying to give me a longer ride than necessary.

I find the bookstore (you canít miss it) and look around for a few minutes and then go close to the door to wait for my friend. She never shows up. Now, I know that she wouldnít just not show up, and there are a lot of people, so I keep waiting. By 5:30, I decide I might as well go see if I can still get a ticket and see a concert by myself. As I go around to the ticket office, I realize there are two more entrances to the bookstore, so Iím thinking we must have been waiting at different spots. Turns out that by that time the 5:30 tickets are sold out, and so are the 6:30 ones. There are tickets available for one of the 7:30 shows, but I really didnít want to stick around waiting for two more hours. Oh well, it wasnít a total loss, as I got a couple of jazz CDís for my son at the store.

I take the bus back into Rome and go to La Tartaruga, Via del Monte della Farina 53, for dinner. The owner (who is also the waiter) takes your coat when you arrive. I had been here before and have to order the Carpaccio of Swordfish with red onion and fennel again. It is divine! When Iím done and he takes my plate, I tell him that I was here a couple of years ago and had that dish and had to come back. He smiles and pats my shoulder. I follow that with Veal Scallopine in lemon sauce with spinach, which is also excellent. Iím too full for dessert (which also looks good), but he just says ďPiano, piano,Ē and I agree that itís lovely to just take my time and finish my wine. With Ĺ bottle Rosso di Montalcino, 43.50E. I go back to the Piazza Navona. Itís 10:15, and the piazza is again empty. The artists have again closed up early because itís cold. Naturally, this once again does not stop me from having my Limoncello!

LoveItaly Feb 26th, 2008 07:01 PM

Hello SusanP, I too figured from the thread title that you again went to Rome. Good for you! I love your style of writing and so enjoy reading about your adventures in Rome.

Statia Feb 27th, 2008 04:32 AM

Enjoying your report, Susan. Glad you got to return to your beloved Roma once again. :)

cjamigo Feb 27th, 2008 06:10 AM

Great Report! I am anxiously awaiting the outcome of the TIM card hunt. I just bought a cell phone on ebay for a May Italy trip. Can't wait to hear how it turns out.

Yeah Limoncello!


tuscanlifeedit Feb 27th, 2008 06:26 AM

Nice report, thanks SusanP.

SusanP and swisshiker: I am reconsidering my Rome accomodations and have a question about the via Sora apartment through SleepinItaly. Did you pay a final cleaning fee? Any other fees?

Thanks. Don't intend to hijack the thread...

LCBoniti Feb 27th, 2008 08:00 AM

<b><font color="green">&quot;Iíve been to Rome enough times . . . to have the luxury of taking my time and doing just as I please.&quot;</font></b>

That is my dream . . .

I forgot to mention that our trip to Rome was in February. Although much closes outside at night because it is cold, we really were happy with fewer crowds and very relaxed and friendly people in general. Did you find that to be the case?

And, of course, winter is perfect for lovely red wine and delicious soup!

mebe Feb 27th, 2008 10:15 AM

I haven't read past sipping limoncello in Piazza Navona after dinner -- love it -- I will have to try it in May.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest, once my kids give me a moment, that is :)

SusanP Feb 27th, 2008 11:54 AM

Thanks, LoveItaly &amp; Statia.
cjamigo, read on for more info on the TIM card.
tuscanlifeedit, yes, there is a 35E final cleaning fee on the Via Sora apartment.
LC, yes, the fewer crowds are certainly a bonus, I noticed a significant difference even compared to March. I have found friendly people at all times of the year, though, even in July. And lots of the restaurants have heaters so you can still sit outside.
mebe, glad you're enjoying it!

Here's some more...

Monday morning I leave the apartment and head over to Campo deí Fiori. Itís an absolutely beautiful day, warm when youíre in the sun and chilly when youíre not. Iím going to Forno for some of that piazza bianco that is supposed to be so good. Somehow, I havenít had it before. I suppose this is heresy, but I have to say that I had some that was much better in a little shop in Testaccio last year. It just wasnít that good. I get some fruit from the market for breakfast for the next few mornings and go back to the apartment to drop it off.

Now Iím on a mission to find out whatís wrong with my cell phone. There is a closer TIM store on Corso Vittorio Emanuele in the block east of Piazza San Andrea de Valle (and thereís another one at the northern end of Corso Rinascimento, just across from the Tourist Office). I explain my problem, and the clerk says I have to register the TIM card with my passport. Of course, I had done this before leaving home, but apparently it didnít take for some reason. I have no idea why it didnít work. She copied my passport and went in on the computer to activate it. All set now. By the way, I liked the TIM card because it is good for a year, and indefinitely if you add more time. The key is that you can add more time from the US if you buy a recharge card before leaving Italy. The other company (I think Vodaphone?) has to be recharged only in Italy.

Iím off to the Pyramid of Caius Cestius and the Protestant Cemetery, planning to go to Volpettiís for some great cheese when Iím done, since itís just down the street. My map makes it look like I need to get off the bus at the Roma Ostia RR Station, when in fact I should have gotten off at the Cave Ardeatine stop, which is right at the Pyramid. The map also doesnít show where the entrance to the cemetery is, so once back at the Pyramid, I start walking down Viale d. Campo Boano looking for it. There is one large locked gate, which makes me wonder if itís closed, but then I see a woman inside, so I continue on looking for the entrance. I get down to Via Nicola Zabaglia and turn there. Well, naturally, the entrance must be on the other side.

However, this walk was not wasted, because across the street on Nicola Zabaglia is the Rome War Cemetery for soldiers from Britain in World War II. As long as Iíve walked all this way, I might as well go in! Iím the only person there except one other woman talking to the groundskeeper. Itís beautiful. I find this cemetery quite moving, and it is beautifully kept. The headstones give the name and age of the soldier, as well as their regiment. The domed building you walk through to get in has this inscription around the top just below the dome: ďThese Soldiers of the British Commonwealth gave their lives to preserve liberty and by their sacrifice restored the freedom of Italy and the ancient friendship of the Italian and British people.Ē

I continue on and turn up Via Caio Cestio and finally reach the entrance to the Protestant Cemetery when Iím almost back up to Via Marmorata. If I had gone the other way from the Pyramid, I would have found it very quickly. But as I say, then I would have missed the British one, which I really enjoyed. The Protestant one is very different from the flat, serene, evenly placed graves and identical headstones at the British one. Itís on quite a steep hill with all sorts of ornate headstones very close together with narrow paths winding among them. Of course, I find the graves for Shelley and Keats, and there are lots of other interesting ones, some very moving. This cemetery also has its own cat sanctuary, much smaller than the one at Torre Argentina. I see about ten cats. Iíve been walking a lot today, and thereís a lovely clearing at the end by the Pyramid where I find a bench and just sit in the sun for a while. Itís been very snowy, gray and dreary in Upstate New York all winter, and I realize how much Iíve been craving some sun. It feels so good, I sit here for Ĺ hour or more until the sun moves behind some trees.

I walk on up to Volpettiís. I knew they donít reopen until 5:00 pm and that I might be a little early, but the cemeteries took less time than I expected. Itís only a little after 3:00, and I donít really want to wait around that long, so Iíll have to come back another day. I grab a Prosciutto Crudo Panini at Bar Marmorata (quite good, 2.50E) and get out my list of things Iíd like to see. The Roman houses underneath SS Giovanni e Paolo are open 3-6, and my notes even show which buses go there. I can get the 75 right there on Via Marmorata, so I decide Iíll go there. I get off the bus on Via d. San Gregorio just down from the Arch of Constantine and try to figure out how to get up to the church. There are some stairs, which of course I hate to go up if itís not the right way, but I think it is. Just then, a woman comes down them, so I ask her if the church is up those stairs. She starts to say yes, but I think she figures her English isnít good enough to really explain the directions, so she says I should follow her. She trots all the way back up, a little down the street and then points up to the church. It was so nice of her to go to all that trouble. You really do meet great people when you travel!

Entry fee is 6E. You go down into actual Roman houses underneath the church. There are some great frescoes, and at the end there is a museum of artifacts that includes a lot of pottery. Very interesting. When I leave, I ask the woman there if the church is open. It is, so I go up in the church as well. When Iím done, I take the bus back to the apartment to put my feet up for a while.

Dinner is at La Danesina, Via del Governo Vecchio, a place Iíve been to numerous times. I start out with Bresaola with arugula and parmesan. Itís delicious. Then I have to have my favorite Tomato Turrine with Buffalo Mozarella. This soup is so good, and great for a chilly night. I also order the Fried Artichoke to go with it, just because I love them, and it is wonderful. With Ĺ liter of house wine and water, 28.50E. They also have great desserts here, but I am too full. There are two couples at the next table, and one of the ladies has looked over a few times, and then smiles at me. Finally, she asks me what that is on my plate. She means the artichoke, so I tell her about it and say she has to have one while in Rome! We get talking about a lot of things. They are from Holland and have never been to Rome, despite being relatively close (well, compared to us!). After talking for a while, one of the guys asks me if I donít get bored being by myself in Rome. I say no, not at all, and lots of times I end up with people to talk to at dinner! They all laugh, as they see exactly what I mean.

Of course, I go back to the Piazza Navona. Itís cold. It is 10:30, and itís empty again. Oh well, I can still enjoy my Limoncello!

swisshiker Feb 27th, 2008 12:21 PM

tuscan, as SusanP has said, yes there was a small cleaning fee. If you have any questions about this place, I'd be glad to answer them, either here on perhaps a new thread or by email, swisshiker at yahoo. We also stayed in another apt. in Rome thru SIL on that same trip, the one on Piazza Rondanini.

Now, back to Susan's lovely report.

SusanP Feb 27th, 2008 02:37 PM

I just realized I forgot what I did after going to SS Giovanni e Paolo. When Iím done, as I go back down towards the bus, Iím so close to San Gregorio Magno that I figure I should take the chance to go in. I turn down the side street towards it and see that it has about 100 steps up to it! Oh, do I really want to go up there? OK, it wasnít really 100. Of course, I count them. There are 28 or 29 steps, and I realize thatís only a few more than I have up to my apartment. Guess itís a good thing I didnít see those steps all spread out at once! (In the apartment building, of course, the steps wind around with 4 landings breaking up the 24 steps.) I can see that the door to the church is open, so up I go, through the door, down the covered walkway (where there's obviously a lot of work going on) to the door, where there is a sign informing me that visitation of the church has been suspended. I really think they shouldnít be opening that outside door if youíre not going to be able to get in! Donít you think there should be a law against that? :-d On the other hand, once again, the extra steps arenít a total loss. Itís a great view from the top step. All those great umbrella pines, which I just love.

I'll try to do some more later.

cjamigo Feb 27th, 2008 07:44 PM

SusanP - What a wonderful report. My phone arrived in the mail today. I am glad your TIM card worked out. Do you mind if I asked where you purchased your TIM card before you left for Italy.

I can't wait to hear more. I adore that you end every evening with Limoncello.

SusanP Feb 28th, 2008 02:04 PM

cjamigo, I bought the card at $39, which includes 5 Euro of time. Calls within Italy are $.19 per minute. I forget at the moment what calls back to the US are, but it's more expensive. I think it's still cheaper to buy a Europa International Calling Card (5 Euro for 200 minutes) for those calls.

cjamigo Feb 28th, 2008 06:03 PM

Thanks SusanP. I will probably just buy one when I get there.


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