We made it!
So we land in Rome and I'm a bit surprised that we don't fill out any kind of customs form, I'm even more surprised when we go through passport control and the man is reading a newspaper and doesn't even look at me. Clearly, they aren't concerned about who is coming into Italy! Things continue to go smoothly as we find the train station and take the train to Rome Termini. We, of course, immediately head the wrong way, but turn around and find the hotel rather quickly. We made a point of choosing hotels close to the train stations, so we wouldn't have to rely on any kind of transportation. My first impression of Rome is that it feels a bit more like the Middle East than Europe (my impression changed later).
Santa Maria degli Angeli
The street signs are damn near impossible to read, because they are carved into whatever building is on the corner. The hotel (Hotel Alpi) is adorable, but since it's only 930am we are unable to check in. No worries - we change are shoes and head off to explore Rome until we can check-in. We walked down the street running through an area that made me want to turn around, but I perservered and we came across Santa Maria degli Angeli by the Piazza Della Repubblica. The exterior of this place is nothing to look at, but the inside is jaw-dropping (at least it was because it was my first church). There was actually a service going on and this place has an organ that is monumental. There was a man playing it and singing while we were there.
The enormous organ inside the Santa maria degli Angeli in Rome
I may attempt to upload the video at some point. I could have stood there forever. The music (though I couldn't understand it) and the beauty of this place made me want to cry... and I am far from an emotional person. I wondered how the people worshipping felt with all these tourists coming and taking pictures during the middle of their service. It felt kind of disrespectful, honestly. Never the less, we stayed for about 40 minutes before dragging ourselves outside. We took the obligatory fountain shots in the piazza before noticing something grand at the end of the road. What's this? So with no concept of how far down the road this might be, we set off. The thing which we saw was one side of the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, we never actually made it there though! We kept getting sidetracked by this thing and that thing.
Posing in Piazza della Repubblica
Having no idea at all what we were seeing, but being amazed regardless. Then we see the Colosseum at which point we realize this sight seeing could go on forever. We probably should go back to the hotel, shower, change, eat and come back. We manage to make it back to the hotel without any further detours. We get back to the hotel and see the room and it is perfectly delightful. The beds have extra firm mattresses, which I like. They are also very close to each other, I don't like that as much. I have actually slept in the same bed as my sister and not been so close. It has small balcony with electric shutters and flowing drapes. The balcony over looks the piazza and it is just perfectly Italian.
My first pizza in Italia
Angela showers and I stand on the balcony and pinch myself. Wow! I'm in Italy!
After showering and changing, I'm feeling almost human again. I think all I need now is food (and sleep, but that will have to wait). We set off back the way we had been before and find a place that looks cute. And here I have my first Italian education. There is pizza with no cheese. WTF! I get this pizza (the marinara) and ask them to please add cheese - how American of me! We also had some red wine and capped it off with coffee. Now, in real life I don't drink coffee, but I had already decided I will drink coffee everyday while I'm here. After all, when in Rome...
So after eating, in our infinite wisdom, we decide to walk one street over, so we can see different things.
The colosseum was closed, but we could still take pictures!
Of course anyone that has been to Rome would have told us this is a terrible idea, because the streets don't actually run parallel to each other! So we walk and we walk and we walk and we walk...you get the idea! Where in the h...is the colosseum? So we ask for directions in our very bad Italian and are told... "You are far from the Colosseum!" I take heart that we saw parts of Rome that we would not have normally seen. We also saw what appeared to be a stray cat zoo. Now I'm sure that's not what it was, but... there were tons of cats and it felt very creepy. So much so that Angela was like...we need to leave this side of town...now! So after, oh I'd guess 3 hours...we get to the colosseum just as it closes - Fantastic! :( Not to worry we took lots of pictures anyway, and decide we will come back Tuesday.
Panorama of the Colosseum...I really wish those vans weren't there.
While walking we meet Vincenzo - my would be husband. In a matter of an hour, Vincenzo is certain of two things...he loves me, and he wants to marry me. Actually, these were things he knew immediately. We talk to Vincenzo about Art and history and I'm amazed and impressed with the passion he has for his country. I try to picture an American man having this conversation and it causes me to laugh. Vincenzo also tells me that my body is a work of art, at which point I decide I'm never leaving Italy! However, as much as I could listen to this forever, we need to eat. We say our good-byes and exchange hugs and kisses (these Italians are affectionate)! We find a place on the corner to eat and have our second Italian meal.
A hot air balloon on the streets of Roma
As we are eating a commotion occurs on the street. I see a hot air balloon being blown up right on the street for no apparent reason. I get up to take a picture and notice there are like 6 of them being blown reaching back to the colosseum. I never figured out why. After they blew them up, they let all the air out. Hmmff, seems like a waste of money to me. We take Via Cavour back to the hotel(as instructed by Vincenzo). This street is busy busy busy. My sister said the Italians are like roaches...they come out in droves at night. Not the most pleasant comparison, but...
We get near our hotel and need to get gelato. Yes, need! We have already decided that in addition to coffee we will also need gelato everyday. So we get some and take it outside to eat, at which point we are told it will cost more money if we sit outside at the table. Oh! So we leave! End of Day 1!
Rome Hotels & Accommodations review
Nice hotel by Rome Termini
First, maybe my review is tainted slightly because I had been led to believe that the area around the Termini station was to be avoided, so I wasn't e… read entire review