Italy Trip Report Part I : ROME

Jun 3rd, 2005, 08:40 AM
  #1  
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Italy Trip Report Part I : ROME

This is our first trip report posting, so we hope everyone enjoys it and finds it useful. We loved reading trip reports before our vacation and they were so helpful. So - thanks to all of you for your help in planning this trip!

Trip to Italy – Rome, Siena, Florence and Venice - May 15th – 29th

We used our USAir frequent flier miles to fly first class to Rome (and returning through Venice). Leaving Tampa, we had to fly to Charlotte, then to Munich, then to Rome. The transatlantic flight was on Lufthansa and let me say, it was an incredible experience. It was totally worth the 100,000 miles for a first class ticket. The food was good, the wine was good and I could even sleep on my stomach!

We arrived in Munich around 8am and had a 6-hour layover. We used the Lufthansa lounge (another big plus to having first and/or business class tickets) to store our carry-on luggage and took the S-Bahn to Marienplatz (about a 45 minute ride). We figured we most likely wouldn’t be in Munich again and if we had this much time, might as well explore. It happened to be a holiday while we were there, so not many people around. We did manage to get a shot glass at the Hard Rock for my mom (she collects these) and had a beer and pretzel before heading back to the airport. Our flight leaving Munich was delayed, so we didn’t leave until 3pm and got to Rome airport around 4:30 or so.

Leaving the Rome airport was not too difficult. We got on the Leonardo Express train for EUR 8.50 each and headed into Rome. The termini was very crowded when we arrived and didn’t really like having to lug our luggage down all the steps. Once we got outside, we tried to find a taxi stand so we wouldn’t pay an outrageous rate to get to the Spanish Steps. We found a taxi that said 25 Euros – I said our hotel told us it should be about 10 Euros and he said 20. We finally agreed since it was getting late and we just wanted to get going. Too bad he didn’t actually drop us off at our hotel though – he got to the Spanish Steps and pointed us in the direction of where to go. I’m sure we gave a few people a good laugh watching two Americans lug their luggage through the streets of Rome!

Hotel – We stayed at the Hotel San Carlo near the Spanish Steps. Our room was actually in a wing across the street from the main hotel. The hotel lobby and dining areas were nice and the staff was excellent. We paid 198 Euros a night for a superior deluxe room. Our room was pretty big, especially when compared to our other hotels during our trip. One negative – the blow dryer here and 2 of our other hotels sucked! It was as though they blew out cold air with barely any power. I had to go out and buy one that I could use in Italy. (So, if anyone would like a blow dryer, let me know!). Breakfast was what seemed to be typical for Italy – rolls, croissants, jelly, cereal and yogurt.

Day 1, Monday 5/16 – Since we got into Rome late, we decided to just walk around. We hit the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon before getting a bite to eat. Being that we didn’t know where we should eat, we ended up eating at a restaurant overlooking the Pantheon. Looking back, we definitely would have picked somewhere else that didn’t have frozen food, but we were tired and hungry. Afterwards we got what would become our evening treat of gelato!

Day 2, Tuesday 5/17 – We got up early for our 10:45 Scavi tour. We took the metro from the Spanish Steps. We were a little confused when we walked in because most of the signs that tell you where to go were covered with graffiti, but got help from a police officer. When we got to St. Peters, no one seemed to know where we needed to go. Although we got there early, we went back and forth around the square a few times before finally figuring out where we needed to go. When we got the Scavi office at 10:50, they said we were late (which of course we knew), but let us on the 11:00 tour instead. This was definitely something not to miss if you are going to St. Peters. At the end of our tour, we got a glimpse of Pope John Paul’s tomb as the line of people walked by it (saved us from waiting in the LONG line outside to see it). We grabbed a quick slice of pizza and Coca-Cola Light across from the Vatican before our 1:00 tour. Next we did the Vatican Tour with John Boyden through Context Rome. He was truly an excellent guide. He had so much passion for what he was talking about and you could really tell that he liked giving the tours. But, I guess for someone who is getting his masters in Canon Law, I would think you should definitely like this. This tour of the Vatican and St. Peters lasted a little over four hours. It was long, but well worth it. Just be prepared for your knees and back to be a little sore!

After the tour, we headed over to see Campo de’Fiori and Piazza Navona. Again, not knowing any better, we had a meal at Café Dolce Vita facing Piazza Navona. The food was not frozen, but definitely nothing to write home about and it was overpriced. Afterwards we got some gelato and headed back to the hotel – couldn’t really sit outside tonight because it was raining.

Day 3, Wednesday 5/18 – We had 9:00 reservations for the Borghese, but I told my husband that I knew I wouldn’t be able to get up that early, and I didn’t. Today we walked around some more - Pincio Park overlooking Piazza del Popolo had amazing views. For lunch we went to Pizza Ré - the best pizza I ate in Italy was here! We liked it so much that we went back there for dinner the next night.

Dinner was at Da Baffetto’s near the Campo De’Fiori. When we got there around 8:30-9:00, there was quite a long line outside. We waited about 45 minutes to get a table. Their pizza and atmosphere was really good. We each had a pizza and a carafe of wine for 18 Euros. As a souvenir, we bought the ceramic carafe for 5 Euros. I think this is one of my husband’s favorite purchases of the whole trip!

Day 4, Thursday 5/19 – 10:45 tour of Palatine Hill, the Collosseum and the Forum with Sara Yomen of Context Rome. Sara got her masters in the US in Roman Archeology and has lived in Rome for about 4 years. Here we had another guide who such a passion for what she was teaching us. Having a guided tour for this was essential – otherwise we truly would have been looking at a pile of rocks!

After the tour, we got sandwiches for lunch at a place that Sara recommended at Campo de’Fiori. It was a little shop where you could pick what you wanted on your panini – roasted eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, mozzarella, chicken, etc. for about 3-4 Euros. One of the best paninis we had while in Italy.

For our last night in Rome, we headed back to Pincio Park to watch the sunset. It was pretty to watch the sun set over Rome. After sunset, we headed to Pizza Ré’s for dinner since we loved their pizza so much!

After dinner we got some gelato near the Trevi Fountain and sat there for a little just enjoying being in Rome. We threw our coins in the fountain (one to make a wish and two to return).

We had a great time in Rome… we didn’t really make any big purchases here (we saved that for Florence and Venice!). We found that with a map, it is pretty easy to figure out where you are where you need to go. A lot of Italians knew some English, so we were able to get buy on the few words we knew.

I’ll post Tuscany, Florence and Venice in the new few days…
erical77 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 09:04 AM
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Thank you. I'm enjoying your report and looking forward to more.

In three trips to Rome I haven't had the patience to wait in line at Da Baffetto--good for you.
Leely is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 09:07 AM
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Great report..cant wait for more!
jamikins is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 09:25 AM
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jgg
 
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Enjoying your report. We had Sara Yeoman from Context Rome for our guide to the Vatican and Castle St. Angelo. She was wonderful, especially with the kids.

I know what you mean about simple souveniers. My favorite souvenier was a simple 12 euro glass bracelet I got in Venice. Every time I put it on it brings back great memories.
jgg is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 09:33 AM
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Great report. Having just been to Rome I knew what you were talking about.

The tour guides you mentioned are great to take note of. Especially the one who takes you around the Forum. This was my wife's and my big regret that we did budget enough time in this area, but we really didn't know how magnificient these ruins were.

And another note...We had the same problem finding restaurants near the Pantheon. We walked around for almost an hour, not wanting to go into some of the places you described. Finally we stumbled on 3 Amici which looked very simple, but we noticed a lot of Romans eating in there. So we did too for probably one of our best and definately cheaper meals in Rome. I can't rave abuot this place enough.

Myles
Mylesaway is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 09:38 AM
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Thanks for your wonderful trip report!

Could you please tell me where Pizza Re is?

I have tix for the Scavi tour and am quite excited, I have only heard good things.

I'm a little worried about navigating the streets of Rome with my mom in a few weeks, we are both terrible at reading maps!
iloveitaly is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 09:43 AM
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Iloveitaly - As long as you have a map, the streets in Rome are easy to navigate - MUCH easier than in Venice! Our hotel had maps - ours defintely got a lot of use!

As for Pizza Re - there are two locations in Rome. I apologize for not having the exact addresses on me, but the one we ate at was on the street next to Del Corso - close to Piazza del Popolo.


erical77 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 10:01 AM
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Thanks, Erica - enjoying your report and looking forward to the rest. Do you happen to remember the name of the little shop in Campo de’Fiori where you could pick what you wanted on your panini ?
LAwoman is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 10:03 AM
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dcd
 
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For folks looking for an excellent, reasonably priced dinner very close to the Pantheon, check out Trattoria da Armando al Pantheon, Salita de Crescenzi 31.

Erical77, welcome home. We also enjoyed Sara with Context Rome. All their guides were good. Looking forward to reading more.

Dave
dcd is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 10:03 AM
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LAWoman - Aristocampo - I can't believe I remembered the name of the place, but that is where you can get the paninis. They also have some outdoor seating and you didn't have to pay any more to sit outside than if you did takeaway.
erical77 is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 10:30 AM
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Enjoyed your report. Waiting for part 2.
DOCK is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 10:39 AM
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dcd--
Thank you for remembering the name of the restaurant by the Pantheon. I just ate there and couldn't remember the name to include in my trip report (which was pretty lame in general). I agree that it's an easy, good-and-good-value restaurant right by the Pantheon.

and erica77, I'm looking forward to your impressions of Siena, Florence and Venice.
Leely is offline  
Jun 3rd, 2005, 08:02 PM
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Dear Erica:

I am enjoying your report. I was glad I brought my dual voltage hairdryer on our trip to Italy. The hotel dryers had alot to be desired. We also had John as our guide at the Vatican and thought he was great!!

Michelle
MichelleY is online now  
Jun 4th, 2005, 05:36 AM
  #14  
ira
 
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Thanks for sharing, erica
ira is offline  
Jun 4th, 2005, 08:32 AM
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Thanks Erica for your report.
I was debating on taking a hairdryer. Will run out & get at least a compact one.
You left out of Tampa ?? We are ,too, in July.
Looking forward to the rest of your report as we are going to Tuscany & Venice, too.
dragonflymom is offline  
Jun 6th, 2005, 01:51 PM
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Hi Erica --
Great report! You have convinced me to look into a guided tour for our trip. Thanks for sharing, h.
hlocke1 is offline  
Jun 6th, 2005, 02:30 PM
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Hi erica,
Great trip report! Thanks for sharing.
TexasAggie is offline  

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