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bookchick Mar 8th, 2003 12:43 PM

Book Chick Returns From Rome
 
Hi All!<BR>Since I've been back a little over a week now, I thought I'd post a brief trip report of my experiences. <BR><BR>Prior to leaving, I acquired some Euros through www.oanda.com. Although while in Europe, I use ATMs and my credit cards, I always like to arrive with a little cash. <BR><BR>My flight left Detroit for Atlanta. This was on February 17th, and the eastern U.S. was being pounded by a snowstorm that crippled air travel. The agent at Delta who checked my bags said that JFK, where I normally make my connection to Rome, was already closed, and it was only about 11 am! Naturally, as can be expected in these circumstances, people who could be were re-routed to Atlanta to make the connection to Rome, therefore the coach class of the airplane had all the charm one would find if one were placed in a sardine can for 9 hours. Luckily, I had an aisle seat and a sleep mask.<BR><BR>Based on recommendations from JOdy and from Steve James, I booked a driver from www.limoservicerome.com, and we had no trouble finding each other after I went through Customs at FCO.

cigalechanta Mar 8th, 2003 12:44 PM

welcome back bookchick, tell us more!

bookchick Mar 8th, 2003 12:56 PM

I booked my accomodations by telephone the Thursday prior to my departure at the Hotel San Carlo at 93 via delle Carrozze. Alberto, who took my call, quoted me a price of 120 Euros per night, and said he'd give me a choice of some rooms. He asked if I'd be arriving in the morning or afternoon.<BR><BR>When I arrived at the hotel, Alberto instructed my driver to leave my luggage in the lobby, as a member of the hotel staff would bring it to my room. Alberto then told me that my room was not ready, but if I cared to have breakfast, I should simply go into the breakfast room and order it. (Breakfast is included in the 120 Euro-per-night rate.) The breakfast room is cheerfully decorated in yellow and burgundy, but is much too small for a hotel this size, which is why many of the guests opt for room-service delivery, for which there is not an additional charge. As I'd slept through the breakfast service on the tin can..uh..plane, I availed myself to the orange juice, cornetto and an espresso offered to me. After taking my time (there is really simply nothing on earth like Italian coffee, &amp; I don't mind saying it!), I returned to a comfortable sofa in the lobby to read the newspaper. Several newspapers are available here each day, but I settled down with an edition of &quot;La Stampa&quot; which offered broad coverage of the peace rally that had been held in Rome a few days prior to my arrival.<BR><BR>At last a maid appeared, and Alberto told me she would take me to see two rooms, and I could have whichever I liked. The one big drawback to this hotel, if you have joint problems or are in less than optimal physical condition, is that it is without an elevator for use of the clientele. (I suspect there's a service elevator which was used to deliver my luggage.) The first room I was shown was on the 2nd floor, and was perfectly fine, equipped with an ensuite bathroom with enclosed shower with door, a queen-sized bed, and a desk and color TV. The second room I was shown was up higher, and when I say higher, I think I may have been risking a nosebleed. It was technically on the 5th floor, but we climbed up a few more stairs, and were in The Annex. The Annex rooms are numbered 70-80, and I was shown room 76, which, frankly, was more like a junior suite. Replete with marble, it had an ensuite bath with both full tub and shower, a frigo bar, a table, chairs, desk, and armoire, as well as color TV. This was my room! (Even if I risked being out of breath by the time I arrived there!)

bookchick Mar 8th, 2003 01:06 PM

After unpacking, I showered and changed, as I had a 1pm meeting with an author who has given me a book to edit. We had lunch together in Baraccia, I believe it's called. It's a little coffee bar right near the Spanish Steps, that can be seen from the front of the American Express Office in Piazza di Spanga, but is on the opposite side of the street from it. This is one of my favorite places in Rome. It's always bustling, service is always friendly, and the place is always immaculate. I hadn't realized there was seating upstairs, though, because I'd only been down in the actual coffee bar section. There's a nice view of Piazza di Spanga from up there, and a fireplace in the room, in addition to a lot of windows. (However, it was so warm, the fireplace wasn't being used.)<BR><BR>Later in the afternoon, I went to the Spanga Metro stop. There are vending machines that will sell you your Metro tickets, and I opted to buy a weekly pass for 12.40 Euros, which I think was well worth the money. I spent the remainder of the afternoon at the Forum, the Colloseum, the Capitaline Museums, the Baths of Caracalla, and at a church called Santa Mariain Aracoeli. I ended up catching another espresso for energy at a place called the Studente Bar, owned by a friendly guy named Mauro. I'd met a nice young American couple from New York who just got engaged to be married (he sprang the trip on her as a surprise after she accepted his proposal of marriage, and I told him he won major brownie points for life), and an older couple from Aberdeen, who were relishing the Roman sun, and were happy to be away from the dark skies of Scotland.

bookchick Mar 8th, 2003 01:17 PM

That night I just had a light dinner of a sandwich at a small, non-descript place on via delle Mercede. I spent the remainder of the evening working on book revisions in my hotel room. Hey, a little work, a little pleasure, that's what life is...<BR><BR>The next morning I headed over to the Vatican Museum and Saint Peter's Basilica. I never fail to find a certain degree of peace within myself while at St. Peter's. I was so happy to be there. It didn't seem particularly crowded, yet it was not empty, either.<BR><BR>In the early afternoon I took the Metro back to Piazza di Spagna and had lunch at a place called Cafe Leonardo. If you're facing the Spanish Steps, it's down below on the right, near the restaurant called La Rampa. Cafe Leonardo has some outdoor seating, and again, such a nice sunny day for it, but if you opt to take your repast indoors, there are PCs in some of the booths that you may use for a small charge. I kept in touch with folks at home this way, as my mother had been ill prior to my trip, and is now in a nursing home.<BR><BR>In the remainder of the afternoon, I worked on my edits, read a little, took a nap, then awoke to shower and change for dinner. I dined at Nino at 11 via di Borgognona, and it was wonderful. I appeared to be the only American in the place, and a British couple was seated next to me. I had the house red wine, eggplant marinated in garlic, tortellini in brodo (this places makes it better than anywhere else I've had it), and the &quot;house signature dish&quot;, Canneloni Nino, which is delicious. I finished with espresso.

bookchick Mar 8th, 2003 01:30 PM

The next day, I made a day trip to Florence, on the Eurostar. Early in the morning, I took the Metro from Spagna to Termini, and bought my round-trip ticket to Florence. A friend had made arrangements for me for the Uffizi, and when I saw the crowds in Florence, I was well-relieved he had. I went to school in Florence for a year. I remember tourists arriving at Easter, and the swell of tourists over summer. What I saw on this day in February would well rival what I experienced as a student during &quot;high season&quot;. Most of the tourists were Asian, and also I noticed a lot of French school kids.<BR><BR>I spent a lovely day in Florence, walking around and having a lot of memories return to me. But I found Florence to be much changed from the time I lived there. The place where I used to have an occasional breakfast is now a shoe store; there is not only a MacDonald's IN the train station, but also across the street from it, and the charming &quot;secret&quot; little store where I used to buy gloves for my friends and family in the States is now billing itself as a &quot;leather factory&quot;!<BR><BR>I had lunch at Il Cavallino, at 4 r via delle Farine. The street behind the restaurant is being ripped up, and although planks have been put in place as makeshift walkways, one must tread carefully. Luckily, it was yet another sunny day. <BR><BR>I went to Palazzo Vecchio, but the Museum within is now closed for a restoration. I did go to the Bargello, the Duomo, and San Lorenzo. As I was leaving at night on the last train out, I dined at a little trattoria off via della Scale, then I found an internet cafe, and sent off some e-mails to some folks back home. I found a small electrical appliance store, and purchased a hairdryer. The train back to Rome didn't have many passengers, and when it arrived at Termini, the Metro had stopped running, so I took a taxi back to my hotel

bookchick Mar 8th, 2003 01:48 PM

The following day I slept in late, had breakfast at the hotel, took a walk, and went back to editing. I skipped lunch, feasting on a few roasted chestnuts I'd purchased from a street vendor, and worked in my room. At some point, I began to get restless, so I wandered down an alternate hallway in the hotel, still on the 5th floor, but no longer in The Annex. I found a door that led to a beautiful &quot;breakfast terrace&quot;, I guess. I suppose it was too cold to ask people to breakfast there in February, but it did appear much roomier than the &quot;indoor&quot; breakfast room the hotel is currently using. Then I saw a small wrought-iron staircase &amp; realized that this must lead to the coveted room #59! Fodor's Rants and Raves has someone who's posted extolling the many virtues of this room, and from the way they described the way one enters it, this was the stairway leading to it. It appears to have a &quot;covered terrace&quot; all its own.<BR><BR>After a bit, I decided to head over to the Borghese Gallery, as I'd reserved a time for that afternoon. To tell you the truth, I never know which I enjoy more: the paintings or the sculptures. It was really wonderful.<BR><BR>After the Borghese, I headed back to Piazza di Spagna to meet with the author. We grabbed an espresso together on via delle Croce, and talked about our collaborative effort. He asked me if I would walk to Piazza di Popolo with him, and we walked along via del Babuino, peering into the windows of antique shops as we went along. We stood and talked in Piazza di Popolo for a few moments, and then I walked down via di Ripetta for awhile. at some point I cut down another street to get onto via del Corso.<BR><BR>I walked down via del Corso and cut over before the Vittoriano to get to La Rosetta, where I dined. For seafood, it is certainly unrivaled. After dinner, I walked around a bit and ended up in a very crowded Giolitti, where I sampled a bit of limone and mandarino before heading back to the hotel.

bookchick Mar 8th, 2003 02:02 PM

Over my weekend in Rome, I noticed a large influx of Irish. Why? A soccer match! On Saturday, all the festive atmosphere of an American college football Saturday was in the air, and I saw a number of Irish, not merely content to be decked out in shamrock jerseys, but also sporting big, fluffy green wigs. The Irish, from what I understand, rather soundly defeated the Italians.<BR><BR>In the morning, I headed over to Palazzo Colonna. I never get jaded of seeing the amazing work in gold, bronze, and other metals used to decorate an opulent household. This marvelous palace is only open on Saturday mornings, so if you miss it, you've missed it for at least a week, unless your inside connections are far better than mine. After that, I headed over to the Galleria Doria Pamphili. The Doria is a bit overpriced, as only 3 rooms are open to the public, but the Titian is exquisite! Then I had a cappucino in an elegent little shop while I planned out the rest of the day. I sauntered over to the Napoleanic Museum, and learned a lot about Napolean's sister, who was married to an Italian nobelman. I wandered through Piazza Navona, walked along the Tiber and ended up at Castel Sant'Angelo. This is one of my favorite places in Rome, and I enjoy the view from the top immensely. I had another bite to eat in the coffee shop at the top, and scrawled some marketing ideas for the book I'm editing in my notebook, and sat at a table at the top, watching the world go by, and savoring the moment.

bookchick Mar 8th, 2003 02:19 PM

Saturday night I had dinner in what would be, I guess, a Roman version of a &quot;bar and grill&quot;! Just about a block from my hotel, the Enoteca Antica di via delle Croce has a dining room, but it's fine to sit at the bar and order food, as I discovered. A friendly bartender makes sure you're well taken care of, and even lets you sample a taste of foods served.<BR><BR>On Sunday I attended Mass at San Carlo al Corso, and all I had to do was walk down via delle Carrozze, cross via del Corso, and the church was right there. I found the history of it interesting. I had a quick cappucino and cornetto, and then headed over to the last day of an exhibit that had opened in October in the Palazzo Ruspoli. The exhibit was called &quot;The Borgia: The Art of Power&quot;, and it was quite splendid, with artwork that had been commissioned by the Borgia family, letters on display from the members of the Borgia family, Cesare Borgia's suit of armor and weapons, etc. I enjoyed it and was so happy to have had the opportunity to attend while there. I decided my afternoon meal would be my big meal of the day, and headed over to 36 via di Ripetta, where I have never been disappointed by a meal. Again, I was the only American in the place, although a pleasant French couple came in and sat at the next table. Here, I dined like a queen on a good red wine, carpaccio Bresoala, and ravioli with spinach. Hours on Sunday at this restaurant are only from noon til 3, so when you arrive, your table is probably your table the whole time. It's a small place, with only 15 tables, but has a nice, homey feel to it that I really enjoy.<BR><BR>After that, I took a walk in the Borghese gardens, and then took the Metro out to Piazza Barbieri to visit the young American couple who were staying in a hotel near there. We walked down via Veneto together, sharing our Roman observations and experiences. I walked &quot;through&quot; the Spanga Metro, to emerge on the Piazza di Spagna side. I checked at the hotel for messages, and then worked a little more on editing. And in the evening, I walked down via del Corso, first to Piazza di Popolo, then down to the Vittoriano, and finally, back to my hotel.

bookchick Mar 8th, 2003 02:43 PM

Monday, the author was able to meet me and give me a private tour of the Vittoriano, the Monument to Vittorio Emmanuelle, aka &quot;The Wedding Cake&quot;. It had been closed for restoration on my last trip to Rome, and has certainly been restored to all its glory. One of the &quot;newer&quot; buildings in Rome, I'm sure it will be around for some time, and the view from the top is astonishing. The author is involved in producing an art exhibit in the Vittoriano, which will be open to the public, and will run throughout September of 2003. An exhibit was on during the time we were there, so we took a look, with the author commenting not only on the art, but how it was displayed, throughout.<BR><BR>In the afternoon, I caught a little nap, as I'd been plagued by some minor digestive ailment, and thought perhaps rest would prove an effective curative.<BR><BR>When I awakened, I took a walk over to the Trevi fountain, and meandered down some side streets and found a San Crispino gelateria! The lime gelato was utterly fantastic! My stomach suddenly never felt better! For dinner, I ended up just grabbing pannini and insalta and cooling my heels in a cafe for a while. It was very nice.<BR><BR>The following day, I started out for the National Museum and the Museum of Rome. From there, I headed back to via del Babiuno, and found a very nice linen shop (they also sold very dressy children's clothes) where I purchased some monogrammed handkerchiefs for my mother. I dropped them back at my hotel, and then caught the Metro out to Vatican City to meet the author at Mondo Cattolico, a store that sells a lot of religious items. He was able to arrange a sizeable discount for me (he is close friends with the owners) so I could purchase a hand-crafted rosary,with matching leather pouch, for my father's birthday. Then we went to the church of St. Peter in Chains. As we were walking back, he found a trattoria for us to have some lunch, so we had a lovely lunch of tagliatelle with pesto. We also stopped to look at an outdoor flea market in progress. We parted ways and I went to Benneton Accessories on via del Corso and bought a small hard-sided case on wheels with a handle. I joked with the shopgirl that I'd purchased a duffle bag there during my trip last year, and eventually, I expect to have a full set of luggage from this store!<BR><BR>I went to the outdoor section of Cafe Leonardo for a drink, and wrote out some postcards. My time in Rome was drawing to a close all too soon. <BR><BR>Back at the hotel, I made some more notes, showered and changed my clothes for dinner. I ate at Hostaria del Nerone, which has a fantastic view of the Colosseum, but is less than a great dining experience. Nevertheless, it's stunning to see the Colosseum lit up at night!

bookchick Mar 8th, 2003 02:57 PM

My last full day in Rome is always like a beautiful blur to me, a little like a contemporary painting filled with color and movement that you'd always like to remember. I breakfasted at the hotel, and took a little inventory of my purchases. For the co-worker filling in for me, I purchased a beautiful hand-painted teapot and matching cup at a store on via Veneto. Luckily, it was well-wrapped in tissue paper, and would fit into my carry-on.<BR><BR>I met the author for a light lunch at Babbington's Tea Room. We discussed the copyrighting and marketing of the book. He suddenly realized I was leaving Rome the next day, and asked what time, and I informed him my driver was picking me up at the hotel at 7:30. We parted ways, I went back to the hotel to drop off my briefcase, and headed out to the internet caffe in the Subway Sandwich Shop at Piazza Barbieri. I used this place several times during my visit to keep in contact with my family, and thought I'd check one last time for any messages. After that, I headed back to Piazza di Spagna. I felt like I walked anywhere and everywhere, and I always like to spend my last evening in Rome doing just that. I arrived at night at the Pantheon, and looked up and saw one single star, gracing the sky with its beauty. In Piazza Navona, I engaged a woman in animated conversation about her Scottish terriers, since I also owned one. I went to Giolitti, but the line to the cash register was suspiciously non-existent...because 50-75 French school kids had already paid &amp; were crammed up near the display cases to get their gelato orders filled! (No, I did not wait, I left senza gelato!) For dinner, I went to a place a couple of blocks away from the Vatican called Arlu. It wasn't the best, but honestly wasn't bad at all.<BR><BR>My only complaint with the Hotel San Carlo is that I received a telephone call one day while out, and when the caller was unable to reach me, they left a message which I never received. Other than that, service was always very friendly, and they offered me a map when I checked in. Rome seemed a bit devoid of Americans--again, like Florence, a lot of French school kids, and Asian tourists, &amp; most of the latter seemed to be traveling in organized tour groups.<BR><BR>In 3 more weeks I go back for about 5 days to conclude the business with the book I've been working on.<BR><BR>BC

uhoh_busted Mar 8th, 2003 03:18 PM

Oh, what a lovely trip, BC...now I want to go back to Rome, too.

Dayle Mar 8th, 2003 03:28 PM

Bookchick, great to hear from you! Mille grazie for the detailed report. My next trip will be a week in Rome to see all the things I missed the first time! I'm noting some of your recommendations. Sounds like you had a wonderful time and I'm jealous!<BR><BR>Ciao!

kismetchimera Mar 8th, 2003 03:44 PM

Welcome back Bookchick!!! I wished that now was June so I too can experience the pleasure of walking through my beautiful Rome!!!!I see that you had a great time.. by the way I love Castel San Angelo also... Hadrian's resting place, ones of my favourite's Roman Emperor, also I could picture Mario in his little cell singing the poignant and hearthbreaking song. &quot; E lucevan le stelle...... And their tragic ending..with the poor Tosca jumping to her death. My little grandaughter loves Trevi Fountain and the Roman Forum the best...Ciao

Scarlett Mar 8th, 2003 03:48 PM

Well, BC, if I can't go to Rome this year, the next best thing is to read your report!<BR>Thank you and Welcome Home!

jody Mar 8th, 2003 04:12 PM

Ah Cara!<BR><BR>Another wonderful trip to your' &quot;home&quot;!<BR><BR>May it be just the start of many more!

bobthenavigator Mar 8th, 2003 04:26 PM

BC, I love the way you write. I truly felt as if I was walking with you thru Rome. But my mental image is not complete without knowing what you look like. I forget what you said about 2 years ago in that thread when we gave ourselves a celebrity look alike. So, I went with a Debra Winger image. Mille grazie for the sojourn thru Rome.

francophile03 Mar 8th, 2003 04:59 PM

Yours is such a descriptive and enjoyable trip report, it reads like a novel. It's so good that it makes me wish I were there!!

lyb Mar 9th, 2003 01:06 AM

Wow! My first trip to Rome and other areas of Italy is coming up at the end of June. I had some questions whether walking around alone for a woman was safe, reading your messages, my mind has once again been put at ease. (as it already was by some earlier responses to a message I posted). Since I am going to several other cities during my two weeks stay in Italy, it seems that I will simply have to return because after reading your messages, there seems to be a lot of places that I will want to see and won't have time. I guess there are worst places to have to come back to. :)

HowardR Mar 9th, 2003 07:44 AM

My compliments, bookchick, a most interesting and readable report. I am usually not a fan of these day-by-day diaries, but yours was definitely the exception....and I'm definitely keeping the report for future reference!<BR>(PS: I envy your client list. How does one manage to get a client in Rome?)<BR>


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