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sandi_travelnut's 7 days in Rome / 2 in Bologna

sandi_travelnut's 7 days in Rome / 2 in Bologna

Jan 23rd, 2007, 10:58 AM
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sandi_travelnut's 7 days in Rome / 2 in Bologna

My husband and I love to walk all over Rome. The "plan" for this, our third trip to Rome, was to not only see areas we've never seen before but to see the city from various perspectives and vistas. We search out the highest elevations so as to get beautiful sunset views of the exciting and gritty city that we love very much.

Jan 9 and 10 �where�s my coat?!

My husband and I (M for short) used Advantage miles for this trip which routed us from DFWthrough Zurich on AA then to Rome on Swiss. The flight from DFW to Zurich was without incident, as you would want it, except for a short in the overhead lights on M�s side of the isle. His light kept flashing on and off as he was trying to sleep. Speaking of sleep, we used Sonata this time around for the flight over. I slept a couple of hours and did not use it any other time on the trip. M did and he said it caused some pretty crazy, trippy dreams at times.

Landed at 7:10am Zurich time and had until 12:30pm for the flight to Rome. The bags had been checked all the way through so we did not have to claim them then recheck. Our printed itinerary is lying inside each bag in case they end up elsewhere.

Passed through Zurich security with all bottle caps intact. They didn�t even make me take off my shoes. Do not forget to put all liquids (3 oz. or less) in a separate ziplock and don�t try assume that if it isn�t a true liquid (shaving cream, toothpaste) that it will be safe. I saw many people lose their toothpaste not realizing this. Also, if you think you will be shopping at the duty-free shops for cheap perfume or liquor, do it AFTER you go through your last security checkpoint or it will be thrown away! I saw this over and over�it was a real shame and many people were very upset.

After hanging around the airport for 5 hours we were finally able to board the Swiss flight to Rome which takes about 1.5 hours. Landed, got our bags and headed for the taxi queue. We almost fell for the unregulated taxi driver who quoted us 70e to our destination (next to Campo dei Fiori) but M saw the correct line for a cab and it costs us only 40e. As we pulled into the area by our piazza and the apartment we rented, the driver jumped out quickly to get the bags. M and I jumped out as well to make sure everything had been taken out of his trunk. Unfortunately, being a bit bleary for the travel day I did not look back in the backseat of the taxi before he sped off. My black wool winter coat was there, still in the car. I did not notice until after he left and we were assessing our belongings (Lesson #1 � don�t be in such a hurry when exiting a cab, take inventory of your belongings.) We walked a short way to the apartment. By this time it was 3pm and we were scheduled to meet Giorgio from Sleep in Italy at 4pm to get the keys. We had no phone with us (Lesson #2 � We will never travel again without a cell phone) and I tried to find a public phone around our piazza and tried to find a kind stranger to let us use their phone. After 30 minutes of looking and asking, I finally asked 2 older gentlemen if I could use their phone. They were very sweet and made the call for me to the SIL (Sleep in Italy) office..Giorgio was on his way.

Giorgio appeared 10 minutes later and let us into the apartment. He showed us everything and was very thorough. He told us that there was a caretaker of the apartment building who was on site from 9a-1p in case we needed anything. I was pleased so far with SIL�s service and response to our questions and the quality of the apartment. We were left with keys in hand and a very empty stomach.
http://www.sleepinitaly.com/files/ap...dipiet%E0.html
(Apartment was 160 euro per night for 2 people plus 45 euro final cleaning)

Campo Monte di Pieta, where the apartment is, is surrounded by great shopping, cafes and a high-end but small supermarket that has a good variety of meats, cheeses, bread, fresh and frozen produce and household items. This store was a God send as we had to stock up on soap, paper towels, olive oil, coffee etc for the apartment. The Campo itself is quite small and is used exclusively as a parking lot. There is a very high-end jewelry store next door to the apartment building so the older gentlemen that were so kind to me, happen to be guards for the store. They could be seen everyday, all day, hanging around in front of the entrance to the apartment building and the store itself.

We walked down to Campo dei Fiori and then to Pont Vittorio Emmanuel in time for sunset. From there we strolled past Castel San Angelo and over and across Pont San Angelo. We stopped for a glass of wine and pizza (15e total) then made our way to the apt. We realized that there was no hand or shower soap so we began making our grocery list for tomorrow. Tomorrow we take a private tour of the Paletine Hill and the Forum with EKScrunchy (aka Erica) and her mate Jeff.




sandi_travelnut is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 12:10 PM
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Oh sandi, I hope you were able to get your coat back. It is so easy to overlook an item.

I am looking forward to the balance of your report. And walking in Rome is something I have always enjoyed doing. The true way to see this exciting city. I will be interested in what you thought of Bologna also. Thanks for sharing your time in Italy.
LoveItaly is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 01:01 PM
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Unfortunately I did not get my coat back. But the weather was mild and I had packed thinner sweaters I could layer and a purple velvet jacket to top it all off.

Jan 11

We went to the meeting place at 9:00am, which was the Coliseum metro stop, to meet up with EK, Jeff and our guide Francesca Caruso. It was great actually meeting EK face-to-face. I cannot say enough glowing things about Francesca. Shes a 30-ish petite blond who has an American mother and an Italian father. I believe she was born in NY but was raised since infancy in Rome and has been there ever since. She speaks only English to her mom and Italian to her Dad. Her take on the tours was not to spout dates and facts but to get you to really visualize how things truly looked as you walked through the Forum or wherever we happened to be standing at the time. She spoke very eloquently and with great passion and at time I had tears in my eyes. We started our tour in front of the Coliseum where we got our first lesson in how to read the ruins. I cannot repeat everything she said but she did beat into our heads that you think of the buildings back then as white marble but everything was covered in brilliantly colored marble and the statuary was painted with bright colors as well. We traveled up to the top of the Palatine where we spent the better part of an hour discussing the birth of Rome and the history that unfolded there. The views down onto the Forum are worth the price of admission (11e each). We ended up with a slow walk through the forum where she again astounded us with her insight and passion for her city and its history.
I highly recommend her to anyone looking for a reasonably priced guide. She apparently is Rick Steeves right hand girl when it comes to Rome tours. She will guide you through any part of Rome you wish. The tour started at 9:00 and ended just before 1pm and the charge was 145 euro total. Since there were 2 couples, we split the cost. What a deal.
Francesca even called Armandos at the end of the tour and made reservations for the 4 of us for that night.
Francescas info: Email: [email protected]

Since we were still jet lagged, we went back to the apartment to rest for an hour or so before heading back out. We strolled to Piazza Navona and to the Pantheon before meeting EK and Jeff at Armandos. It was our first time at this restaurant and they were quite welcoming. They love Francesca and are pleased to see anyone that she sends to them. I had the veal and roasted potatoes and my husband had the lamb chops. It was all very good, and with a bottle of wine and water our tab was 60 euro. We had great fun enjoying the evening with EK and Jeff and talked and laughed for quite awhile.

We made the slow stroll back home and crashed at midnight. Tomorrow starts are first quest for a spectacular view of the city.


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Jan 23rd, 2007, 01:11 PM
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Been waiting for this report. . . more please
ellenem is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 01:40 PM
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Sandi, I just read your report out loud. It is such fun to re-live the trip and J. agrees!

Waiting for more....
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 01:40 PM
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Started reading earlier today.Also enjoying your report, looking to the next installemnt. Sucks about your coat.
laartista is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 01:46 PM
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Great report, I can't wait to hear more.
happytotravel is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 02:07 PM
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sandi, looking forward to more, particularly the Bologna part, as I plan to stay there for three nights in July. Give lots of details!
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Jan 23rd, 2007, 02:22 PM
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Great so far....hoping that you will you post photos of the beautiful sunsets and various perspectives and vistas of the city that you mentioned.
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Jan 24th, 2007, 03:01 PM
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Yes, we have a lot of beautiful images to share as soon as they're edited down a bit. I'll post the link soon.

Jan 12

Staying true to our pledge to not kill ourselves with an ungodly schedule and agenda, we did not set an alarm and woke at 10 am (!) and left the apartment at noon. We walked across Ponte Sisto into Trastevere to Santa Maria Trastevere. This was one of my favorite churches of this trip. Beautiful mosaics. We had a lot of fun wandering around the area and stopped in for a light lunch at Trattoria del Augusto and we each had delicious ravioli with ricotta and basil with tomato sauce and a bottle of water. Our bill was 15e total. On the way back towards the apartment we found a beautiful shop that sold compasses and handheld sundials of ancient designs. M bought a lovely, small brass compass for 35 euro. (Store info: Polvere di Tempo [www.PolverediTempo.com] - via del Moro 59 in Trastevere).

We ran back to the apartment to get jackets and scarves and crossed the Ponte G. Mazzini and up Via Corsini for a long walk to the Botanical Gardens. What a wonderful gem this place is. If you have never been and are looking for a place to relax, unwind and cool off please find your way to these gardens. The entry fee is only 4 euro each and the area covers 30 acres on the Gianicolo Hill, below the Piazza Garibaldi. Save your ticket, it is a beautiful little work of art. I am a gardener so this was a special treat for me. Even though nothing was in bloom, everything was still green and the smell of the gardens was fresh and sweet.

Got a quick coffee for stamina for the impending walk up up- up Via Cosini to the steep and winding Via Garibaldi. If you choose to walk this road, be very careful as it is one lane each way, many blind spots because of the curves and no sidewalks to speak of. You have to inch your way along the shoulder very close to the cars at times. You will eventually make your way to the top of the Gianicolo and to the Piazza Garibaldi.

Once there, youll be treated to a breathtaking view of the city. The angle of this view does not include St. Peters unless you walk across the street to see it on the other side. None the less, a view you will not tire of..the walk is another story. We took lots of pictures and I used my phrase Puo, farci una foto, por favore? (Can you take a photo of us?)

We took a taxi back to Campo dei Fiori which is very close to the apartment. We tried to do a small load of laundry in the apartment. Its amazing how long it takes to wash and dry close here. Literally an hour to wash and even longer to dry. We took a short walk to our very clean little grocery store I Maestra del Fresco on Via dei Pettinari, the short alley that connects Campo Monte di Pieta to Lungotevere then the bridge to Trastevere. We purchased Parmigiano Reggiano, salami Milano, Olives, crusty bread and wine and for the morning we bought juice and fruit. The bill was 25 euro.

We found an internet café, sent emails back home and checked our bank balance. I put half of our trip money into a checking account with Bank of Texas. Each time I withdrew 300 euro, I was charged $388. to $396.00 USD (depending on exchange rate that day) plus $7.+ in fees. I believe the fees were 2% of the amount withdrawn. So, you can see how we lost so much moneywhat a shame.

As we walked around the P. Navona area we looked at the menus of a couple of places we had been before, on our previous trip. We decided to go back to Tre Archi on Coronari. I had pasta carbonara and a luscious spinach soufflé and M had totellini en brodo and carcciofi alla romana. All of it was excellent. With a carafe of house red and a bottle of water the total was only 36 euro. I like this place, very intimate and a great location.

Tomorrow we will have to go back to Trastevere to try to return the compass that fell apart in my husbands handsgeesh So far the fake suede Prada bag I bought is holding up great.

sandi_travelnut is offline  
Jan 24th, 2007, 04:43 PM
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I will be waiting to hear if your husband had any luck returning the compass sandi as in Italy usually when one buys something there are no returns, regardless of the reason. So this will be interesting to me. I do hope he was able to.
LoveItaly is offline  
Jan 24th, 2007, 04:47 PM
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Great report! Thanks for sharing the apartment - it looks like a real gem! I love Rome...you are making me want to jump on a flight tonight!

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Jan 24th, 2007, 05:14 PM
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Later, on our last evening in Rome, my husband left me to shop and he ran back to the store and they gladly replaced the compass. An older gentleman, possibly the owner, even took an an eyepiece and inspected the new compass by taking off the crystal and making sure the needles were well in place. I was quick surprised and very pleased.

Jan 13

Another fabulous weather day, in the 60s and a clear blue sky. Slept in again and had mango, bread w/ butter and coffee from our stove-top espresso maker in the apt. The target today is Piazza del Popolo and the view from above at the entry to the Pincio Gardens.

We walked to Piazza del Popolo by way of Via Arenula which becomes a smaller road, Via de torre Argentina then we took Via Rotunda to the Pantheon. From there Via de Scrafa to the Peace Monument and the tomb of Augustus. From the tomb it is a straight shot to the P. del Popolo. This was our first time at this Piazza and I was surprised by its size. I thought it was lovely but lonely feeling space. We arrived in time for lunch, so we went back down the street from which we had arrived to find a small pizzeria (take-away only). I got a large piece of pizza with tomato sauce and grilled onions and Ms had tomatoes, cheese and proscutto. We also shared a fried zucchini blossom w/ cheese and 2 cans of cold soda. The total was only 10 euro. So good and so affordable, seeing that we had budgeted 30 euro total for lunches. We sat on the steps of one of the churches that faces into the Piazza, in the shade as it was becoming quite warm, and ate our lunch.

We climb up the switch-backs for the incredible view over the piazza below and the city beyond. You had to jockey for position against the rail for the perfect angle, to be lined up directly with the obelisk below. Great photo opps. At the top, you are standing in the Piazzale Napoleon. There were so many families with children, teenager riding go-carts, joggers etc..it was Saturday and the weather was amazing.

Thus began our several hour stroll from the piazzale to the Villa Borghese. We even rented a small row boat and my husband rowed us around the tiny lake in the gardens. So very fun and quite romantic. We finally reached Galleria Borghese and thought we would see if theyd let us in without reservations. The answer was no, so we went ahead and bought tickets for another day.

By this time it was 4:40pm and we were quite tired. We walked out of the park property to Via Veneto. At the corner of Federico Fellini and Via Veneto (by the old city walls) was Harrys Bar Roma. Since weve been to Venice twice and never had a bellini at the original Harrys we decided to sit, rest and splurge. We sat down outside and placed our order, throwing caution to the wind by not even looking at the price. We were served 2 delicious bellinis as well as a small dish of chips, peanut and a couple of tiny sandwich bites. The bill was 34 euro. Exactly what we had anticipated. We have spent so little on food so far, this was a well deserved treat.

We continued to stroll down the extravagant Via Veneto to Via Tritone and wound up at the Trevi Fountain, us and about 500 of our closest friends. We grabbed a gelato and threw 3 euros in coins for all of our family and friends. We also picked up more fruit for breakfast on the way. Winding our way to the Pantheon and home again completely exhausted, but happy to have had such a wonderful day.

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Jan 25th, 2007, 05:14 AM
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Regarding the beautiful park by the Borghese, has anyone else noticed the bright green parrots that fly above your head in the umbrella pines? We were strolling along the wide path on our way to via veneto and kept hearing a strange bird call. We stoppped to see if we could pinpoint the birds and saw a dozen or more long-tailed green parrots. Just wondering if they were somehow native to that area or pets that got away and multiplied... Just curious.
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Jan 25th, 2007, 05:58 AM
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Could they have possibly escaped from the zoo next door?
Dukey is offline  
Jan 25th, 2007, 06:12 AM
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I would think that's a possibility..didn't even know there was a zoo next door.
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Jan 26th, 2007, 04:51 AM
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Jan 14

Todays walk will take us up 3 of the 7 ancient hills of Rome; the Quirinale, Esquiline and the Viminale. The weather was our friend again as we started up via Arenula past the cat sanctuary (Torre de Argentina ruins) right on Corso Vittorio Emmanuele to the spectacular Chiesa del Gesu. We were just passing along and stopped in this beautiful church during mass. The nave ceiling decorations are so masterfully done that it truly looks like clouds are suspended from the ceiling towards you. It is amazing.

Our first hill to climb was the Quirinale. We wound through the neighborhoods finally climbing the hill on via de Dataria, then on to the Piazza Quirinale. There was no spectacular view over the city as we had hoped, but it was a great walk and an interesting area with beautiful churches nearby. The large palazzo there is home to the President of Italy. As we passed one of the heavily guarded gates into the compound, a black Mercedes drove out and all the uniformed officers saluted. The older gentleman in the front-seat waved (Queen Elizabeth style) to the guards. Might I have just seen the President?

Northeast on via del Quirinale to XX Settembre to the Santa Maria della Vittoria church. When we arrived it was 1pm and they are closed from 1p-3p. I missed my chance to see Berninis Ecstasy of St. Teresa. I was crestfallen.

We passed Quatro Fontane, fountains on all 4 corners of a very busy intersection. From there, southeast to Piazza della Republica and stepped into Santa Maria degli Angeli. The National Museum of Rome is next door and surrounds the church. The museum and church (and the piazza, fountain and buildings all around it) is where the ancient baths of Diocletian once stood. We grabbed some horrible lunch and continued southeast to Piazza dell Esquilino (on the Esquiline Hill) and Santa Maria Maggiore. Beautiful mosaics, two incredible naves with matching domes. We stopped for pastries and a soda (ummmm, canolli) before heading southwest on via Cavour to the stairs leading up to Pietro in Vincoli (Peter in Chains). On display are the chains that bound Peter as well as the amazing sculpture of Moses by Michelangelo. We walked southwest to a tiny park for an incredible view of the Colosseum and part of the Forum as it neared sunset. We sat and watched the sun go down and the lights of the Colosseum come on. Magnifico.

We walked to Piazza Venezia and grabbed a taxi to Campo dei Fiori for a glass of wine and to listen to a little live music before heading back to the apartment. For dinner we decided to go back to a place we ate at in 2004, which was LAntica Trattoria La Scaletta degli artisti on via de Santa Maria dell Anima 56. Last time the owner who was a very mean old man, was turning people away even though there were a couple of empty tables inside. This time, the younger man that waited on us last time was there and said the owner doesnt work anymore. I had Pasta e fragioli, which was a meal in itself, and the pollo e pepperoni (stewed chicken and bell peppers) and a side of spinach. It was rich and hearty. M had the carchofi all romana and bisteca with a side of spinach also. We each had a liter of different types of wine and the bill was 49.50 euro. Full and exhausted we walked back to the apartment. Tomorrow we have the Scavi Tour at 9:30am!
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Jan 26th, 2007, 11:57 AM
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Jan 15

I retired to bed before M last night. When I woke in the night to visit the WC, I noticed a piece of paper wedged in the bathroom door. I pulled it out and read The floor is wet Do not flush. I thought the toilet must be stopped up. On the floor was standing water and a couple of our towels that were soaked. On the counter was another note saying call the landlord. I went back to bed and proceeded to dream about dealing with a broken toilet and still making our 9:30am Scavi tour appointment.

We woke at 7am, showered and dressed and hit the road towards the Vatican. I looked to see if the caretaker was in his office but it was too early. If I had a cell phone with me, I would already have called Sleep in Italy to get them on the case. Apparently the seal under the toilet has given way and floods the floor when you flush.

Along the walk to the Vatican, we stopped at least 4 times to try to use a public phone to call SIL. We could never get the darn thing to work. I felt, once again, defeated by this city that I love so much.

We made it to the Vatican on time for the tour. Everything you have heard about this tour is so true. What an exciting and enlightening tour it is. I felt very honored to be walking the ancient underground streets and seeing these ornate burial places.

From the tour, we had planned to go directly to the Vatican museums and to the basilica but we first had to make contact with the caretaker or SIL about the toilet situation. Again, we tried public phones but could not get them to work. Totally frustrated at this point, we walked back to the apt. in hopes that we would catch the caretaker as it was now almost noon. He, Lionel, was not in his office, but the same sweet gentlemen out front helped me look for him. When he showed up, we went to the apt. and I showed him the problem. He called the SIL office who in turn called the owner of the apt. They were very vague about when they would have workmen over to fix it. Were we stuck there?

Lionel took off again, this time, about half an hour later, he returns with several workmen who we let in. They immediately began removing the toilet from the floor. The owner of the apt told me that he personally was on his way to inspect the work and to have a cleaning lady mop the floors. We did not have to wait, we could leave. The workers were finished in a flash and we were headed back to the Vatican by 1:30pm. Things are looking up.

We grabbed a quick sandwich on the way and dumped our images onto a CD (10e each CD). We walked around the beautiful basilica for a long while then we climbed to the top of the dome. This was our first time to do this WOW vertigo and a heart attack at the same time. Outstanding view and we made it about 30 minutes before sunset. I was so happy we decided to do this.

Took a cab back to the apt. where we drank wine, nibbled on cashews and pistachios while catching up on notes and thinking about dinner plans. We headed to Trastevere to try to have a repeat dinner at Restaurant Gallessi but at 8pm the metal doors were still pulled down tight. Not have the Fodors list of restaurant recommendations with us, we wandered a bit. I had been feeling queasy since the high stress afternoon and really needed some food. We popped into a café whose name I didnt write down, for good reason. I had an arugula salad w/ cherry tomatoes and a pizza w/ buffalo mozz., tomato and basil. M had ordered what he thought was stewed chicken and peppers but got a piece of chicken smothered in a heavy cream sauce with peppercorns. His salad caprese was good though. The total was 30 euro.

We took a cab back to the apt. and for the first time were victims of the distraction scam. Our animated driver spoke broken English and tried to engage us in a conversation about the weather. We were happy to try to talk to him but noticed that he had driven all the way down to the V. Emmanuele monument, made a U-turn and finally took us to our destination. The fare was about 3 euro higher than it normally would have been but we had fun seeing him struggle with English while his hands spoke wild Italian.

Tomorrow is our last day in Rome.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 01:25 PM
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**Hopefully I have bored everyone to tears by now**

Jan 16

Our agenda today includes the Borghese at 11:0am, whatever photo opportunities we may have missed and shopping. Ive been toying with replacing my coat but the weather has been so mild. The boots here are calling to me, so well see what I find.

We had fruit, coffee and juice and grabbed a pastry on the way to the taxi stand. We are on our way to the Galleria Borghese. We did not get an audio guide, which I regret but we thoroughly enjoyed the sculptures and painting as well as the faux marble finishes found in many of the rooms. My favorite was Berninis Pluto e Proserpina.

We took a cab back to Largo Argentina and wandered into the Jewish Qtr to look for lunch. We decided on Il Portico on via del Portico d Ottavia, 1e mainly because they were serving Jewish artichokes and we had never had one. Our guide, Francesca, mentioned during the tour that it was very hard to find a place that served good Jewish artichokeswell we found a placethey were amazing! I started off with a plate of mixed, grilled vegetables and M had the artichoke, there were actually 2 on his plate.
If youre the type of person that looks for the darker potato chips in the bag or wants the corner piece of lasagna cause the cheese is a little burned, then youll love these. Fried, but not battered they still maintain their strong artichoke flavor but with a slightly burned/fried taste (but in a good way!) and the heart is still very softsprinkled with a heavy dose of coarse salt and piping hot. Yum! I also had fettuccini with pesto which had a wonderful flavor and M had spaghetti carbonara. Everything was very, very good. With 3 beers, our total was 40 euro.

The rest of the day was wandering and shopping. M took back the compass and they gladly replaced it. I was so relieved. I bought a pair of boots from a French designer, I love the boots but the design is strangestill wondering why I made that particular choice.

We made dinner in the apartment by sautéing halved cherry tomatoes and olives in olive oil and a bit of butter w/ fresh rosemary then tossing the cooked pasta in the sauce. With wine, crusty bread and spicy soprassata salami it was a great meal. We are packing our things and will take the next available train to Bologna. We have not yet purchased the tickets, so well see what we can get when we get there.

Next stop, Bologna.
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Jan 26th, 2007, 01:27 PM
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**Hopefully I have bored everyone to tears by now**

OOPS I mean have NOT bored you all....sorry
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