Thursday, April 30, 2009

Return of the King

Our first evening in Rome was pretty perfect to me. When we had arranged all the apartment stuff, we took a (free) bus over towards our neighborhood and vibrated our bags over the cobblestones to the place. This little jaunt, because we got off the bus too early, took us past the Pantheon and Piazza Navona, a perfect introduction to Rome. We settled in a bit and decided to take a small walking tour to several places that are great to see in the nearing-dusk hours. We gave them the schpiel about Bernini's Four Rivers and and enjoyed Piazza Navona for a while longer. Then we walked over to the Pantheon and went inside. Marveling at the dome and Raphael's grave, we had a nice little rest inside. Then we took Mom and Dad into Chiesa di St. Ignacio, where the ceiling had been painted to only look accurate from one spot on the floor. This was a pit stop on the way to the Trevi Fountain, which is GORGEOUS at dusk. We sat there for a long time, just relaxing and watching people take all sorts of pictures in front of the fountain. Rome truly is always flowing. We took the long way home and passed quickly by the Forum/ Colosseum at twilight on our way over to Campo de Fiori, a lovely piazza that fills during the day with a fruit market and is lined with restaurants at night. We eventually found a restaurant that wasn't a tourist trap. In fact, it was a menu entirely based around the Buffalo. Obviously, the mozzarella was to die for and I had something as UN-Italian as I could find. I had buffalo meatballs covered in a yogurt sauce and served with rice and salad and thick, heavy, amazing sour cream. Ahhhhhh! Sorry, but my life here revolves around mealtime. It makes or breaks my day. Ok, so that's true about my life all the time, I suppose. After dinner we went to the best gelato place in Rome, Giolitti's. Then it was crashing time.

Day two in Rome started with the most expensive cappuccinos & croissants of all time. So, I know that the price goes up if you sit down with your breakfast at a cafe, but this place DOUBLED the price! 24 Euros for breakfast! Unbelievable. Anyways, this morning we walked over to the Vatican from our apartment. We walked down an antique store lined street where my dad showed incredible restraint. It was a gorgeous day, so people were out in full force and the line to get into St. Peter's was just too long. We went over to the Vatican Museum instead and saw as much as we possibly could before we were falling down with hunger and thirst. It's an incredible museum, even the second time around! After, we found this phenomenal panini joint where they make everything fresh for you and have really interesting ingredients. Fuel for our tiring bodies! We checked the line again at St. Peter's and decided to still abstain. We walked along the Tiber River up to the Piazza del Populo and saw the two Caravaggios in the church and enjoyed a break in the Piazza. We walked down the Roman shopping streets to the Spanish Steps. It was swarming with lovers and shoppers. Mom and I sat on the upper section while Penn and Dad climbed up high to get a good view. We only stopped on the way back to shop at these little outside antique kiosks. Somehow I was able to resist Gucci, Prada and Armani (maybe it was the price tags). For dinner that night we took them to our favorite place, Maccheroni, where I had a lovely Gorgonzola & pear gnocchi. Ahhhh. Then we stumbled across the famous Sant Eustachio coffee shop and Mommy stocked up for the U.S. while we took a shot of their intense espresso. Then we stumbled across this awesome fountain where books are spouting the water out! Of course, Daddy and I got a picture of us sipping from it. Then we crashed again.

Day three in Rome was the fateful black-flats day. Even though everyone around you may be wearing them, don't ever try to wear useless flats around Rome. The cobblestones'll kill ya. Anyway, we started that morning apart from one another, while Daddy did some antiquing/walking and the three of us had coffee and saw some more Caravaggio paintings. The series on Matthew's life was unobstructed this time around and these paintings were well worth the wait! Very cool. So, we met up with Daddy at the Four Rivers fountain and headed over to the ancient sector of town. We started with Michaelangelo's Campidoglio, which is a piazza that he designed and looks nicely over the Forum. There were a couple weddings going on! We gaped at the Forum for a while and then went over to the Colosseum. It was free to get in that day! Woohoo! That was awesome. They have a really great museum inside and it's just crazy to think about all that went on there. We were all noticing the blatantly absent mention of the sacrifice of Christians in the Colosseum and the flippant mention of the destruction of Judea by the man in charge of commissioning the Colosseum. Strange how one's history gets skewed, the U.S. probably being the worst culprits of this practice.

Anyway, from there we went on a desperate search for lunch that might include a bathroom for me. Unfortunately, that means we passed by several lovely sandwich shops and got roped into a sit-down place by a very convincing and deceivingly charming old Italian man. Note: If they feel that they have to "sell" their restaurant to you, then you probably don't want to go there. Food was normal bordering mediocre and the guy was pushing lots of different items on us, all of which we resisted with much difficulty. Then, in the end his English suddenly wasn't so good when he was trying to explain why they didn't take credit card that day. So, Dad gave him a 50 for the slightly-less-than-50 Euro bill and never saw his change again, until the waiter came to our table holding up the change stating (not asking), "For me!" We referred to him as "Il Bastardo" for the rest of the day. Oh well. We got to go and see Michaelangelo's sculpture of Moses in the Church of Peter in Chains. Then we wandered towards something that was listed on the map as some sort of ruin, but ended up being the equivalent of Edgewood Park, but in Rome (for those of you who didn't grow up near New Haven, this park is the notorious hang out for gangs, drug dealers and just generally sketchy people the second the sun starts to set...). We got out of there pretty quick and slowly, slooooowly wandered our way back through the ruins and back toward our neighborhood. We took some better pictures at the book fountain, hit up the candy shop and lingered a while at the Communist rally going on in Piazza Navona. That was strange. Nights in Piazza Navona are so interesting. There are caricaturists with actual talent spotting the center of the piazza, chestnut roasters, street dancers and often live bands, among other things of course. So, we passed through this party of sorts and went to rest at the apartment. This ended up being about a 2 hour nap for most of us. It was well earned and much needed.

When we woke up and rubbed our eyes a bit, we went in search of the perfect wine bar for some light fare and heavy atmosphere. It was sprinkling a bit, but it stopped pretty much just in time for us to sit half-under the canopy of the Pantheon neighborhood's most popular wine bar. And rightly so! They brought plate after plate of hors d'oeuvres to us while we split a bottle of red and lots of conversation. Eventually we were able to move further under the canopy and feel totally immersed in the crowd. I think we ate three full plates of munchies and two large bowls of potato chips. Yum yum. Of course, we knew what awaited us: Giolitti. This time at the gelato place, the men went for medium cones and the ladies stayed with the already too big small cones. I think we ALL got the cinnamon gelato as part of our medley. Gotta go out strong! Just delicious!! We wandered the streets with our ice cream and found some nooks we'd never seen before. I love that area! I can't even tell you. We lingered again in Piazza Navona to take some night shots of the fountain and to resist going back, which meant that the weekend was almost over. But, eventually we did go back to pack up and clean up a bit.

The next morning was a leisurely one of packing, cleaning, locking up, wandering, breakfast, bussing and ticket buying. Because Mom and Dad came at the beginning of the middle, it was hard to say goodbye. It meant that we have even longer to wait before we get to see them again! I'm glad that the last few months are jam-packed with visitors and trips. Keeps my mind from homesickness! Love to all...

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Grace! You captured it beautifully, as usual!
    Now on to your next set of visitors!!