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The Accidental Tourists-the Adamsons hit Rome (and Rome hits back)!

The Accidental Tourists-the Adamsons hit Rome (and Rome hits back)!

Old Sep 20th, 2012, 03:11 AM
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Thanks taconic...no I have a project at work that will have me in LA most of October. Hope it is fun!
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 03:18 AM
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Sunday – Day 3

As it was the two before, it was warm and sunny in Rome. We started at that great breakfast buffet with our daily allotment of Amazeballs.

We had a blast watching a girl in her yoga clothes fret and fuss at the table because things weren’t being brought to her fast enough. Nothing was being done to her liking. Everything she wanted was on the buffet, so I am thinking “just go get it, Jeez”. It got more fun when her husband/boyfriend showed up…the outfit was like some kind of SNL skit. Big, silly sunglasses, tight white pants and a "flowy" white shirt. I wish I was good at getting photos of people without them realizing it. He looked like Zoolander goes Zen.

Today is our Walks of Italy VIP Coliseum tour (Top tier and Underground)! This is one that Chaz is really looking forward to. We started off a few hours ahead of time to see a few more sites.

First up, the Trevi fountain. We got there without too much trouble (assisted by the signs in the area). Fortunately, it wasn’t too massively crowded. If it hadn’t been for a tour group of about 100 Italian teenagers, it would have been very nice. But, it was funny watching the teenage girls vie for attention, smoke their cigarettes and be cool (and rude, they’re teens, right?)

As it was, it was still pretty to see. It’s just huge and I am a sucker for a fountain. There was some scaffolding to the far left and that never thrills me. Although, scaffolding on all the great sites is just a part of it, as something always needs to be cleaned or repaired.

I wish we had also gone back to Trevi at night. We were never in the area at night. I am sure it is beautiful to see at night.

We walked on to the area around Vitoria Emmanuel and Trajan’s forum. I am always amazed by ruins in the middle of a city. We just don’t have that in the States where even the oldest building is practically new.

Lots of people around, including the Gladiators. Annoying! Then the pushy tour guides who are hawking their tours. “The line is two hours long, signora” I had two Gladiators try to box me in and that pissed me and Chaz off. So, that’s the downside of an area with so many sites to see.

The view of the Coliseum as you walk down the street is so very cool! We took some time to sit in the shade at the Coliseum before our tour met. We were trying to save our feet, as much as we could. I think they were still tired from the day before (and that would be a recurring theme on this trip).

Our group met at the Coliseum metro stop and headed over. I was glad we had bought a bottle of water to take in with us. It was now a hot, sunny day and there is not a lot of shade at the Coliseum and the Forum. Vncenzo was our guide. He was good and had a lot of history to try to cover in 3 hours. I missed the day in school when all the Roman history was covered, I think.

The first big thing was walking out onto the stage of the Coliseum. Vincenzo had some Gladiator movie music ready to go on his iPhone and played that as we walked out. It sounds cheesy, but it was actually very cool and we all loved it. This, I think, was Chaz’ single favorite moment of our trip. I actually had to catch a tear….I remember seeing the Coliseum in books since I was a kid. I couldn’t believe I was actually there. What a view! We really felt lucky to be out there.

We went on to the underground area and Vincenzo explained how the animals were moved up with elevators to spring onto the stadium floor. It was quite an operation to produce the games of the Coliseum.

Last, up to the top tier of the Coliseum. So very exciting to be up there overlooking the entire Coliseum. Everyone in our group was great about making sure we all got couple photos throughout our tour.

One funny thing was watching other people visiting the Coliseum either try to sneak into the special access areas behind us or wish they had known you could do that. Vincenzo regularly had to chase off people who weren’t with our tour.
On to the Forum! We started at the Arch of Constantine and heard about his vision (Under this sign, you will win). Now we are on super-cram history overload. So much to see and talk about and I can’t remember a lot of it. We heard about Marc Anthony’s funeral speech for Julius Caesar as we saw the funeral pyre for Julius Caesar. We saw a lot there.

Now, I have to admit that at this point, my feet were screaming and I was starving (shoulda got a snack before we got started). So, I hate to reduce the Forum into only a few sentences, but I was done. Hot, starving, dogs barking….done.
The second we were done we took off. I needed something to drink, some food and a seat in the shade. Angelino ai Fori fit the bill perfectly. It was right across the street and had a lovely greenery covered terrace out front. We had good service and they were friendly. A pizza margarita was on our table within 5 minutes of us ordering it. We waited much longer for the melon and prosciutto but all our food was good. We didn’t want to eat too much since we had dinner reservations at Hosteria Glass that night.

A cab back to the hotel, a little shower and a few proseccos in the Imperial Club and it was time to head to Trastavere for dinner. Sunday night is jumping in Trastavere! Wall to wall people. The cab dropped us a block or two from Glass but we found it easily. This is such a cool restaurant.

It is sleek and modern, but in no way cold. We were seated in the middle of the first floor. The staff is very attentive and also speaks excellent English. We checked out the wine list and asked for a Rose Franciacorta or similar sparkling wine. We took the suggestion of the server and I then noticed him speaking to the chef. They both seemed happy and intrigued that we were getting this particular wine. The chef looked at me and gave me a nod, as if to say “well done”.

(The scene reminded me of a time in Sonoma at Cyrus (a very small restaurant), when Chaz and a friend ordered a Powers whiskey and a Guinness. The entire staff came out to see who had ordered this! They were immediate legends.)

Back to Rome. The chef made her way over and introductions were made. I told her we are friends of “LowCountryIslander” and she immediately remembered her. So we talked about Fodors, Twitter and the power of social networking to get the word out. Cristina Bowerman is her name and she is an amazing chef. You will see her talking to guests at Glass and she is also careful to ask about any food limitations anyone at the table has (very thoughtful).

The wine was so good. Not a Franciacorta, but another sparking rose (Italian). Then a tray of 5 different breads came out. A squid ink and raisin, a crispy thin lavosh type thing loaded with fennel seeds, cornbread, crusty white bread. Very creative.

The amuse came out…a melon soup with crispy prosciutto on top. Terrific!

Primi…Chaz had a risotto with grapes, Sicilian cheese and a sauce we can’t place; I had the parmesan ravioli with asparagus cream. I win! OK, we both win…but mine was too die for! It is THE best pasta dish I have ever had. Freshly made pasta, light asparagus, foam and the parmesan oozed out of it. I didn’t know parmesan could do that.
Loving Glass!

Secondi…I had the beef tartare and Chaz the grilled lamb. Hard to pick a winner here because they were both incredible. But, the tartare is so fresh, creative and fabulous! Lowcountryislander…you know this! It has a wasabi cream sauce, tobiko, orange & microgreens. Completely different from any other tartare I have had. The lamb was grilled perfectly and comes with quinoa and lentils.
Dessert…I got the yogurt semifreddo with verbena oil and sprouts, Chaz got the Bailey’s ice cream, Marcona almonds and coffee frozen thing with spun sugar. Both good, but the semifreddo won that round. Light, refreshing and not too sweet. The herbs on top are a great twist. Perfect after a big meal.

A second finishing dessert with a glass of prosecco…mini crème caramel, white chocolate/coconut truffle, Cassis jelly and Kumquat tart. Excellent!

We spoke with Cristina on our way out and told her we might be back. We raved about the food!! It was just a great meal , great restaurant and a great night.
We saw Castel Sant’Angelo all lit up on the way back to the hotel…pretty. Nite, Nite!

Up next: St. Peter’s Basilica and the Scavi tour
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 05:14 AM
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I am so glad you enjoyed Glass! Their bread selection is incredible...the most interesting breads I'd ever seen...I loved the crispy thin lavosh type thing loaded with fennel seeds!

Chef Cristina sure is one class act, and her food is absolutely delicious. I'm drooling just reading your descriptions!
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 07:30 AM
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denisea - I LOVE the way you travel!!! If I wasn't going next year with my kids, AND my parents...I think I'd be walking in your footsteps! But anyway....

I've been communicating with Walks of Italy about their VIP Coliseum Tour - it sounds great. I'm not sure if it's worth paying the extra for a private tour - thinking it may be a bit more customized for the kid's benefit (they'll be just about 12 and 14). Or if we'll just stick to the group tour.

We're going to be in Rome after cruising the Mediterranean - so while they may have seen their fill of sights, to me these are THE sights to see!
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 08:39 AM
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LCI...you did us right by Glass. Just fantastic.

ShellD...regarding the private tour, first I am a big believer in saving time where possible all a trip like this. So, if I can pay more to avoid standing in line, I will do it most of the time. Second, I will pay more to see more. I think Walks has another Coliseum tour that doesn't include the underground and top tier areas.

In both cases, you go right in and don't stand in line waiting to buy tickets and get in. Certainly, the Roma Pass is an option to avoid the line. I believe you can also buy tickets at the Forum and go into the Coliseum from there and avoid the line.

The extra access to the top tier, stage and underground were worth it to me. I am not usually a tour person, but for the above reasons it was worth it. The fact the group is small is also a big thing for me...I won't do a tour with 30 people. I will say that some of the places we didn't have a guide were less interesting because we didn't know very much about the site and what we were seeing.
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 08:49 AM
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Bookmarking for reading late.
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 09:00 AM
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We did walks of Italy Colosseum, Palatine, and Forum last May. The groups are max 12 people, which is fine. Informative and fun. Put "ricksteves2012" in the coupon spot when you book online and get 10% off! It did involve considerable walking.
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 09:36 AM
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OK, the photos from Rome day 3....there are a lot of them but I couldn't delete any! Enjoy.

http://photobucket.com/albums/jj506/.../Rome2012-day3
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 12:04 PM
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A pizza margarita was on our table within 5 minutes of us ordering it. We waited much longer for the melon and prosciutto>>

ah, Rome. the vagaries of service. I still love it. BTW you can but a ticket to cover the Palatine, the forum and the colosseum at any of those three places. but of course it doesn't include the top tier and basement of the colosseum, and having now tried to understand the forum twice without a guide, the next time, I'm going to hire one, no matter what the cost.

nice pics!
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 01:36 PM
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I'm really enjoying your report and your gorgeous pics. We were lost a lot too at first - must be some kind of Rome tradition. I know you've been to Paris a few times and I think this was your first trip to Rome - just curious - how would you compare the two? As much as we love Paris (which is a lot), we love Rome even more.
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 03:04 PM
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You got it annhig....best not to try to figure out how to bake a pizza in 5 and take 25 to slice ham and melon. I no longer cared, I had a glass of wine, in the shade, off my feet. It's all good. There was a lot to take in at the Forum, I have already forgotten so much of what Vincenzo talkd about.

John183, I am still trying to sort that one out. I think the disadvantage I have in deciding that is because our hotel was so far out of the central part of Rome. We have never stayed far away from the central Paris. They are quite different and I do love them both. Chaz mentioned, as we discussed this, that perhaps Paris is more elegant. We have gotten comfortable there. Rome is more gritty and chaotic but there is so much "wow" in Rome. Maybe it is like asking me "Jimmy Choo or Christian Louboutin"? I can't decide., you can't make choose only one (BTW, those are shoes, if you don't know)

Maybe I will have to go back to Rome to have enough info to decide
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 04:18 PM
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HA! I like that attitude - more research!!!! Unfortunately for me I did know they were shoes (I've watched way too much Sex in the City with my wife). On our last trip we stayed in the Albergo del Senato next to the Pantheon and absolutely loved it. The hotel was great, the location could not be beat and we especially liked the roof top bar. It's like most questions that are asked on this forum, there is no wrong answer - in this case both cities are incredible. Looking forward to more of your report....
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 04:56 PM
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Totally love you., john183...I am still a huge SATC fan.

So funny, we walked into to Albergo del Senato to ask for directions and I remembered several Fodorites recommending the hotel. We met a couple later in the week at a wine tasting, who stay there every years and the love it, as well! We have already decided it is the chosen hotel for the next trip. My only question is the noise level....I am a light sleeper. What has your experience been there?
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 05:18 PM
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Denise, Great trip report and wonderful photos!

If possible you might want to correct Day 3 photos 38-41, that single arch with the Menorah is the Arch of Titus and not the triple arched Arch of Constantine.

Nice photo (41) of the arch's ceiling 'Detail', that is Emperor Titus riding an eagle into the Heavens meaning he's dead but now deified as a God. Regards, Walter
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 05:21 PM
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I've stayed at Albergo del Senato. No problem with noise and we faced the Pantheon (which was a great thing to see right from the bedroom windows).

Denise, sorry to say Cyrus is closing. Bummer, huh? Were your amazeballs filled or no? If filled they might have been bomboloni.

Thanks for continuing your report. I'm going to take a peek at the latest photos.
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 05:57 PM
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Yes, I knew I would get all the Arches messed up in my head. I don't know how you remember all of this, Walter!!

Leely, thanks re: A. Del Senato. Hate to hear Cyrus is closing, we had a fabulous meal there.

The amazeballs were not filled. We are missing them now!
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Old Sep 20th, 2012, 06:43 PM
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Denise...I stayed at the del Senato in March and will be staying again in November. Noise was no issue at all. And, IMHO, it's a terrific location!
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Old Sep 21st, 2012, 03:40 AM
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Monday- day 4 St. Peter's and the Scavi

A little "surprise" from the dry cleaners...the dress that I brought to wear at the Vatican (past the knees, with short sleeves,) that had been lost by the cleaners 2 days before we left and finally found....was never hemmed!  I got it back so late, I never had time to try it on.  So it is still 6 inches too long....plan B, find something else to wear to the Vatican.

Off to the big daily breakfast.  Yoga girl and Zoolander also there. Chaz was totally in love with the coffee and espresso in Italy. We saved a fortune just by hitting the Imperial Club for coffee and espresso for him.  Some of you may know him as Mr. Starbucks, from previous T/R.  I want to let you all know now, that no Starbucks were sought out in Rome. I think he may have spotted one on our very last day (never confirmed) but he loved sitting and sipping his coffee everyday.  I still can't get all the terminology right, as I don't drink coffee much at all.  I will say that while I did enjoy having unlimited access to Coke Light, I actually drank far less than I do at home.

We had a 1:15 reservation at the Vatican for the Scavi tour.  

We went over early to see St. Peter's and to check out where to go for the Scavi tour.

First, the assault of the tour hawkers. I guess it would be wrong to say what I really wanted to say to these irritating people, at the Vatican, no less. They pretty much will not leave you alone until you tell them you already have a tour of some kind or are rude to them.

Although there have been lots of questions about getting to the office, it is very easy. We went early to be sure we would know where to go and walked over to a Swiss Guard, who told us we were in the right place and to come back at 1:00 to go through the security check (right at that entrance).

The line to get into St. Peter's was moving quickly, so we jumped in and got through in less than 10 minutes. The dress code was definitely being enforced. I know I am getting old now as I looked at what people (and all women) were trying to get in wearing.  Streetwalker chic will not do at the Vatican! Daisy Dukes, wife beaters, halters...now, I wouldn't dream of wearing the first two and only an occasional halter dress, at night. I kinda had to shake my head. In fact, what goes for street clothes for the 20 and under set these days is shocking. Yes, the circle is complete...I have become my mother.

Alright, back to St. Peter's....the scope is just massive. How much marble is in there?  One of the great things about this church, is that everyone who was anyone in design, sculpting, painting was involved here, at some point.  Right off the bat, the Pieta.  Very beautiful! I would find out more about this beautiful statue later and like all great works of art, you have a crowd to work though to get close (as close as you can with the statue behind glass, but more about that later).  

We walked into the chapel to the right, and entered the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament.  We entered after being shoved by some little Filipino women. LOL! Some of the worst behavior we saw , sadly, was in St. Peter's. This chapel is so gorgeous, what can I say? I respected the signs and took no photos, and I wish I could remember it all. If you go, make a point of going in, sitting down and taking it all in.  Beautiful.

There was so much to see there and we made our way to the baldicchino. We learned from Daniella Hunt earlier in the week, that although Bernini is credited for this, Borromini most likely did most of the work.  Borromini had much more experience with bronze and we know he worked for Bernini on this.  For those who recommended "The Genius in the Design"' thanks. I am half way through it. If you are interested in these two and their incredible work, it's interesting and enlightening.

The amber sunburst behind the alter is also amazing.  I can't begin to remember or describe everything here. It was also interesting to see the Confessio and link it (later, in our minds) to the Necropolis below.

We spent a little over an hour in St. Peters.  Took some photos of the piazza outfront and made our way over to security for the Scavi tour. The Swiss Guard are incredibly polite, the check was easy and we went to the office to check in. No ID was requested by the office. We got our tickets and waited with 4 other couples for our guide. I noticed a few people had back packs with them...I took a tiny, flat purse and these guys had backpacks!

As we started, I couldn't help noticing that one of our tour group members was a dead ringer for Mary Kay LaTourneau.  A little weird, I have to say. She even wore her hair the same way as MKL. Has no one ever told her, "hey, you look like Mary Kay Latourneau?". I might change up the hair at least.  I digress but it was so odd.

Giuliana was our guide. She said she was Italian but sounded more Russian. She was a little hard to understand ("slope" became "sloop" and "higher" became "iger"). She explained how Peter's bones were found and how the original church was built. The original necropolis that was there and how it was excavated in the '40s.  It was quite humid and warm in the necropolis. I thought one of the men was going to pass out while we were down there.

We came upon the spot where the few remaining bones of St. Peter are...not easy to see and yes, they are in plastic boxes.  This has come up on the forum previously, so I will say here, that we were told we could pray here if we wished and our guide left us to see and pray or not. No suggestion to do so and no pressure.

We ended the tour in the Vatican Grotto and we took a few minutes to wander around there before leaving. The tour was good and worthwhile...sadly, no photos allowed.  We decided to walk to Campo de Fiori from the Vatican, just to see if we could walk somewhere without getting lost! We did it! Not without constantly checking the map, but we did it. The plan was to hit Forno, again.

Foiled....Forno was closed. Oh, well on to plan B. We stopped in at Baccanale for a late, light lunch.  It's right on the piazza and has the hardest work "barker" in the world there.  He is always there and asking people to come in.

We started with a small glass of prosecco and a strawberry.  Chaz got the Caprese salad and I got the pear, gorgonzola, walnut and honey salad.  They were both quite good! Gorgonzola in my salad had been piped into the  pear and then the pear was sliced...pretty inventive. Back to the hotel to clean up and relax for a bit.

We decided to have a few glasses of prosecco at the club before  heading to Campo de Fiori for dinner. We so enjoyed the incredible view of Rome from the club at the hotel (and the prosecco and pistachios). We got to Campo a bit early and stopped in at Al Biscione for a last prosecco before dinner.  They were working hard to get us to stay for dinner. We ended up with HUGE glasses of prosecco and some tasty little grilled sandwiches.  

 Much to their dismay, we did leave and headed over to Costanza for dinner. The staff there is very friendly and the restaurant is very cool inside. You can see all the old brick in the walls. Costanza is built under/in the remains of the Teatro Pompeo. 

Chaz ordered Cacio e Pepe and I got roast pork with potatoes. Both good but the pasta was better.  Our desserts were also good....a berry napoleon type thing and tirimisu.  It was a solid meal, not especially remarkable, but good. I am sure that eating the little appetizer sandwiches right before was not smart.

We headed back for a good night's sleep.

Tomorrow....oops and the best laid plans....now what?
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Old Sep 21st, 2012, 04:23 AM
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Denise:

I have stayed in a Pantheon facing room at the Albergo del Senato twice and noise was never an issue with the windows closed. You two will love the rooftop bar...
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Old Sep 21st, 2012, 05:08 AM
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Thanks weekender and LCI....great to know. Now, we have to figure out a way to get back to Rome.

I agree, the location there is top notch....right in the middle of everything.
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