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Rome Trip Report: A mother/daughter Christmas trip to the Eternal City

Rome Trip Report: A mother/daughter Christmas trip to the Eternal City

Old Jan 9th, 2008, 07:55 PM
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Rome Trip Report: A mother/daughter Christmas trip to the Eternal City

First and foremost a BIG thank you to all the Fodorites who have posted information about traveling to Rome for Christmas. This trip was a year in the making, so in December 2006 I scoured every post I could find about Rome at Christmas as well as general Rome posts/reports. Not to be overshadowed by every post I could read about restaurants in Rome, yes, mom and I like to explore a place and that includes through the food! Thanks to all the Fodorite foodies out there for posting great information on Roman restaurants. I went to Rome with a list of restaurants that would have lasted me a year, alas, we only had a week, but a fantastic week it was!

In the previous trip reports I have posted (there have only been 2 others) I wrote the reports in day by day snap-shots. I will probably use that format here too, but I wanted to make a few general comments before getting into the �nitty gritty�.

I had booked this trip in December 2006, yes, I know, I�m a bit of a planner, but aren�t most Fodorites? And I know I may not get much approval of this, but I decided that I wanted to go to Rome on a Rick Steves tour. For those of you who have read my other trip reports, you know I have done this in the past and generally I will book the tour and add on extra days for independent travel at the beginning or end of the group tour. This works for me very well and this Rome trip was no different. The group tour was a 7 day stint and we arrived 2 days before the tour began.

After I booked the tour for myself my mom expressed and interested in going so we got her �on the bandwagon� and we were off to plan the trip, or at least I was off to plan the trip! Yes, even though I participate in a group tour I do a lot of planning so I know what other options I have when not doing something with the group. I hate not having a variety of options and sitting around wondering what should I do now, but I�m digressing here.

OK, so mom is on board. It was a chaotic year with my dad passing away in September and that made this trip all the more anticipated. Mom had been caring for dad for 11 years of declining health and prior to that she was caring for her mother. So, it had been roughly 15 years since my mom had done any kind of international traveling and believe me, she was ready to go!

Now that some background is established I�ll get to general trip comments. We flew Delta airlines from Savannah, Georgia to Rome via Atlanta. The airline gods were definitely on our side when we arrived at the airport, yes, in my usual fashion some may think I get to the airport too early, but I would rather be early then rushing in a hyper-ventilating state to the gate to board the plane. When we walked through the doors of the airport, I could hardly believe my eyes, there was No One in line at the Delta desk, in all my travels I cannot remember a time when this happened, and it was the Saturday before the Christmas holiday�boy was luck on my side or what? I even said something to the ticket agent and his reply was, �You should have been here at 4:30 this morning, we had people out the doors��it surely paid off this time to take a later flight! And we had no delays even with bad weather in the northeast, instead of going up towards NY/Canada and down over Ireland, we banged a right just below Washington,DC and cruised over lots of open water and came in over Spain�kind of neat to look at the flight on the screens in the plane! The only event that occurred while going over was during take off the overhead bins where we had placed our carry-on bags popped open and for a brief shining moment I thought I would have to launch myself out of the seat to catch an errant bag, but luckily there were no bags flying out of the bin!

And speaking of luggage for all the carry-on/check bag people keeping tabs. We did carry-on roll-aboards for the flight over, so no checked bags. I try to pack light when traveling and this was a new way of thinking for my mom (remember she hasn�t traveled like this in over 15 years) and I think she has seen the light�it was such a breeze just having to de-plane and not have to deal with baggage claim. Although my packing standards were at first blush looked upon with a weary eye by my mom, she was certainly amazed with herself that she was actually able to comply with the �packing warden�s� (that�s me by the way) policies! We did check the bags on the way home because, honestly I don�t care if my bags get lost on the return home.

The flight home was a bit more eventful. There was a family with adult children who must have had problems with their reservations and their family members were seated all over the plane. Mom and I had the �pleasure� and I use that term loosely, of being seated across the aisle from a brother/sister duo. It wouldn�t have been bad, except they constantly whined that it was going to be an 11 hour flight and they had to go to Atlanta before going to their final destination, Boston, and they would be flying right over Boston. That wouldn�t even have been so bad, but when �brother� broke out the chewing tobacco and continued to jump out of his seat every 20 minutes to open the over head bin and take out a variety of pretzel or chip bags it got pretty old pretty fast. I still can�t figure out how he could chew tobacco and eat pretzels and chips at the same time! Oh well, it�s all part of traveling.

We arrived in Rome on December 23rd to grey skies and drizzling rain. I had booked a car service (and want to thank Fodorite AnnMarie posting about Rome Cabs ,I think that is was post I read). If it was me traveling alone I would have taken the train into Rome, but since it was a special �re-introduction to the travel world� trip for my mom, I booked with Rome Cabs and Stefano was terrific. The price was 45 Euro each way and well worth the money. When we came out of customs & immigration I was looking for a sign with my name on it. After walking through the sea of drivers holding up signs I couldn�t find my name. I made a quick call to Stefano with Rome Cabs and he directed me to the exact location where our driver, Luca was standing.

Luca was charming. Although he insisted he did not speak much English, I wish I could speak Italian as well as he speaks English! This was a pleasant drive into the city even though the grey sky was threatening. As we were driving Luca asked if it was our first time in Rome, it wasn�t but our last time there was in 1984. While driving we seemed to be going into what appeared to be a residential area. And in a few minutes time we came to a stop by a big door. Luca asked us to get out and brought us around to this giant door and asked us to look through the keyhole�.now I�m starting to remember something about a view�yup�lo and behold we were in the Aventino area and as we looked through the keyhole we could barely see the dome of St. Peter�s. When my mom looked through the keyhole she could hardly believe it�she said, �what a way to be re-introduced to Rome�it almost brought tears to our eyes and I was thrilled. At that moment I knew we were going to have a great time! Once we were finished ohhh-ing and ahhh-ing Luca loaded us back into the car and we were off to our hotel.

We stayed at the Hotel Aberdeen at 48 Via Firenze (www.travel.it/roma/aberdeen). I was very pleased with this hotel. It was clean and the room was larger then I had expected, although I was told the single rooms were quite small. The staff here was very friendly and helpful. A buffet breakfast was included with the room price and it was sufficient. A variety of pastries, cereals, breads, fruit, cheese and cappuccino �cappuccino was a foundation of this trip! Since we arrived 2 days before the group tour began we paid 98 Euro per night for our double room. I�m not sure if this was discounted due to time of year or because we were part of a tour group, but I believe the regular rate is 150 Euro per night. I thought the location of this hotel was good for the price. The termini train station was approximately a 15 minute walk away. There was a metro stop just around the corner (Piazza della Repubblica) and a bus stop for the number 40 bus also around the corner on Via Nationale. So, although not steps from the Centro Storico, it had good transportation options and the walk to the Trevi fountain was only about 15 minutes.

I'll begin with the day-by day snap shots in the next instalment.


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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 08:24 PM
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Hope you and Mom had a great time!
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 09:11 PM
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Looking forward to the rest of your report as I'm headed to Rome in a couple of months with my husband and friends.
I hope you enjoyed traveling with your mom. My mother and I frequently take trips together (just got back from one to Thailand and Cambodia). I treasure the time we have together because I know she was unable to do the same with my grandmother but would have liked to.
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Old Jan 9th, 2008, 09:18 PM
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I'm interested to read the rest--keep it coming!
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 04:12 AM
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Another interested one here!
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 06:11 AM
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Thanks for the encouragement! I get a daunting feeling when posting a trip a report when there are so many terrific trip reports by other more eloquent Fodorites.

But I feel compelled to give back in some small way for all the great information that is shared here and maybe another reader will find some nugget of information I've provided helpful.

It's back to work for now, but I will continue with the trip report this evening.

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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 07:25 AM
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Looks like a great report shaping up here! BTW, I stayed in the Aberdeen in a single room a few years back and didn't think it was that small. But my standards may be low, lol! I did think it was a good place to stay - for the location, comfort and staff.
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 08:11 AM
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Looking forward to reading more. We will be travelling to Italy in September, with 4 days in Rome, and I am interested in any information I can get as I start to plan the trip.
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 08:42 AM
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I took the Rick Steve's tour or Rome (2004) the first time I went to Rome and had an absolutely fabulous time. I know I did twice as much as I would have done if I had been on my own. Look forward to reading your report.
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 08:51 AM
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Great start, LCI!
I can't wait to read the rest DH and I are taking my parents and sister to Rome this coming Thanksgiving ('08). We have been to Rome many times before, but never in the winter. I can't wait to read about your experience!
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 09:21 AM
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Looking forward to reading more.

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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 03:48 PM
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I was in Rome over Christmas in 2006, so I'm looking forward to more. Sounds like you're off to a great start.
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 03:52 PM
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I'm looking forward to your report! We're taking our 11 year old grandson to Rome in late March and he's looking so forward to the trip!
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 05:01 PM
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Glad to hear the Aberdeen is still fine. We had a moderate sized room and a very large & sunny bathroom when we stayed there several years ago. Nice, family run operation.
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 06:05 PM
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LCI I used Stefano too and We just loved him. We booked him for tours and still stay in touch with him. I highly recommend him to everyone.

And what a way to start your visit to Rome. And what great company you were in. I'd do anything to get my mom to go to Rome.
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 06:44 PM
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Day One, December 23rdHello Rome!

As I mentioned above our flight to Rome was smooth and we touched down at FCO at about 8:30am and we found the driver from Rome Cabs (http://www.romecabs.com/index.html). After our drive into the city and the keyhole experience I talked about above we arrived at the Hotel Aberdeen at about 10:30am. This was a bit too early to check into our room but the desk receptionist was more than happy to keep our bags while we went for a walk. He said our room would be ready at around 1pm.

We set out with a map and began walking around the general area of the hotel. We found a restaurant that one of our co-workers had recommended around the corner from the hotel and made a note to come back here for lunch. The restaurant was Dagnino and it was a bakery/bar/tea room/restaurant. We walked in and experienced that first great smell of cappuccino and baked goods. I can sniff out a good bakery a mile away!

It was still a grey day and it was raining lightly but nothing we couldnt handle, hey, whats a little rain when we were in ROME! We made our way to the Trevi Fountain and took lots of pictures. We decided to toss our coins in the fountain right away just in case we didnt get back to the fountain, fat chance of that happening. For the first couple days I used the Trevi Fountain as a landmark and I knew if I was near there I could find my way back to the hotelmuch to the chagrin of my mom, who said we must have passed the fountain 1500 times in 8 days! We continued walking around but fatigue and hunger were starting to get the best of us.

Instead of fighting the weariness we decided to head back to Dagnino for lunch. In walking back to the restaurant I made the mistake of turning on Via della Quattro Fontane. There wasnt anything wrong with the street per se, except there was a bit of a hill to get to the top of the street and me in my 40 year old body with daily gym work-outs forgot what it could be like for my 60-something, jet lagged mom to walk up-hill. I learned fast to look for alternate routes! But mom was an absolute trooper and we made it up the hill and back to Dagnino where we were greeted at the door with a smile and seated promptly.

By now it was around 12noon and we were famished and thirsty. We ordered bottled water and I had the eggplant parmigiana and mom had eggplant bucatini. The eggplant dishes were excellent, or maybe it was just because we were tired and hungry! Mom had a coffee since we were trying to warm up a bit with the rainy weather outside and how could we pass up the specialty of the housecanoli. We each had one and mom isnt much of a sweet eater, but I completely enjoyed it! The bill came to 35 Euro.

After lunch we went back to the hotel, by now it was after 1pm and we were able to check into our rooms. And the staff had even taken our bags upstairs for us! I typically like to stay up for as long as I can on the first day but mom was exhausted and really wanted to go to sleep. She crawl into bed and in a matter of minutes was fast asleep. I spent time unpacking my bagId be in one place for the whole trip so it was a luxury to be able to not live out of suitcase for a week. By about 2:30pm I was starting to hear the pillow call my name and against my better judgment I closed my eyes.

Well, you could say that we were sleeping beauties because other then opening our eyes 3 times during our rest we slept through until the next morning. Which was a blessing because the remainder of the trip we were bright eyed and bushy tailed every day! There was a method to my madness, I figured we might get hard hit that first day, especially since mom hadnt done this in a while, so in my trip planning mode I had chalked up our first day on the ground to mostly looking at the insides of our eyelidsand I was right!

That's all for now...tomorrow our wanderings on Christmas Eve day and night!


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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 06:48 PM
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nwtraveler...

Out of curiosity who was your guide back in 2004 for the RS Rome tour? We had Donato and I will talk about him later in this report along with the other guide we had, but let's just say I was blown away...and in a good way!

And Mamaw...
I would not hesitate to use Stefano and Rome Cabs again. Would do it in a heartbeat and have already started recommending him to folks here at home!
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 07:15 PM
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Great Installment!
I wish I could nap like that!!! Unfortunately if I take a nap, I'll wake up about 2am and be unable to get back to sleep, thus perpetuating my jet lag.
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 07:43 PM
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Good - another installment!

TexasAggie - I can't sleep in sardine class, so I like to nap my first afternoon in Europe - but I set my alarm for 5:00 pm, and then get up and eat dinner and go to bed in sync with the locals. Then I'm set for the trip.
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Old Jan 10th, 2008, 09:08 PM
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Hi there LowCountryIslander, I am so happy to see your trip report. It is an enjoyable read. I always get some strange person across the aisle from me on airplanes as you did. Just be glad that he wasn't constantly eating onion sandwiches, lol.

You are lucky you both were able to sleep until morning. I too would have been awake in the middle of the night.

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