Linda, Helen and I had breakfact in the breakfast room, immediately adjacent to ours; Earl was still in bed. Fabio had booked for us a private tour for today and, since it was raining, we considered delaying it for a day. Considering the possibility that the next day might not be any better, though, we stuck with the original plan. As agreed, we met in the lobby at noon for lunch once again at “Novecento” next to the hotel. At 1:00 we met Giorgio, the private guide and with him we went by taxi to the Vatican. By the time we got there it was absolutely pouring and, while we had been told a private tour would eliminate standing in line, that was not the case. Fortunately, the line was short and, in any case, Georgio more or less wedged us in somewhere far from the end and then kept pushing past people.
We were all surprised that no one seemed to mind or even notice; if that happened in the states, we’d get a fat lip! I’m still unsure why they did not protest but I envy them the fact they are so much more laid back! We all agreed that we were not interested in a detailed visit to the Vatican museum though one must pass through it to get to the Sistine Chapel. Along the way, Georgio paused often to explain the exhibits. The Sistine Chapel, while not as stunning as St. Chappelle in Paris, is absolutely amazing given how it was painted and the quality of the workmanship.
Fortunately, by the time we exited the chapel, the rain had stopped and the sun was out. From the Sistine Chapel we exited to a courtyard from which we accessed the front door of St.
Peter’s Basilica. Though we’ve seen countless churches, nothing could have prepared us for the size and grandeur of St. Peter’s! St. Peter’s Square is also of a scale that is hard to grasp and I was unable to get a single picture that captured anything of the scale or magnificence of this place.
From in front of St. Peter’s Square, we grabbed a taxi to the entrance to the Palatine Hill to buy 2-day tickets for there, the Forum and the Coliseum. Actually, we were starting with the Coliseum but I’d heard and Giorgio obviously would know that the lines at the Palatine Hill are much smaller than those at the Coliseum so it’s worth the short walk to buy them there even when you’re visiting the Coliseum. Once in the Coliseum, Giorgio took us first to the highest accessible level to give us that perspective before taking us to floor level to get that of a gladiator.
Here, again, pictures just don’t do the place justice though I took many.
The walk from the Coliseum to the Forum was a long one and, by this time, Linda was having a lot of problems walking but she stiffed it out and carried on bravely. The Forum, of course, is mostly ruins but they give a hint of the glory of the temples built to the various Roman deities and some portions are in rather good shape. According to Giorgio, those buildings that are best preserved are that way because they were converted early-on to use as Christian churches so they were not scavenged for building materials as were the others. As with the Coliseum, the Forum is more impressive for what it WAS than for what it now IS. To actually stand in the Curia or Roman Senate building is a moving experience!
After 5 hard but fascinating hours, we left Giorgio at the Piazza Venezia and took a cab to the hotel for a little rest before dinner.
Fabio Due booked us a table at “Il Giardino di Albino” in a tiny street not for from the hotel. The place was great and the waiter was both efficient and entertaining. This guy appeared to truly enjoy his job. For only the second time in my life, I had to reject a bottle of wine but he’d already anticipated it based on the quality of the cork and there was no trouble at all. Lin and I shared a nice Penne Arrabiata. She had veal in white wine that she liked and I had a great Veal Marsala. For desert we shared a cheesecake much as you’d get in NY. After returning to the Piazza Trinita dei Monti near the hotel, we looked at the work of the street artists and Earl bought an acrylic. After a quick look at the basilica of Trinita dei Monti itself, we met on our terrace to scope out the next day’s plans.
Rome Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
The place was great and the waiter was both efficient and entertaining. This guy appeared to truly enjoy his job. For only the second time in my life… read entire review