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Monuments and monumental jet lag...

Rome Travel Blog

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Everyone wears puffy coats in Rome...even the DOG has a puffy coat.
We left Long Beach on New Year's Day in a fog. Not us, as Morgan doesn't drink and I was working at the piano bar on New Year's, and was happy to get my glass of champagne at midnight, but I certainly wasn't schnockered. But the air was so thick when we left that our driver was going about 35mph on the 710. Grabbed a few winks on the flight to DC, and slept even less on the connection to Rome. Morgan managed to get a little shut-eye, although I couldn't imagine how, with his 6-foot frame smushed into a coach seat. I felt completely cramped, and I'm 5'3".

We only have 4 days here, so I wanted to push through the sleepiness for as long as possible. We took the Leonardo Express train to Roma Termini Station, and found our way to the metro to get to our hotel, Re di Roma.
No puffy coats have we
Modern, stylish place in a residential neighborhood away from all the tourists. We were insanely early for check-in, so we dropped our bags and asked the desk clerk where we could grab lunch. Since it was like 9:30am and nowhere near lunch time, he said we could go to a bar and grab a coffee and a cornetto (a sweet Italian croissant, usually with a little apricot jam or something in it), but we'd already done that at the airport. He recommended some nearby sights, and we headed off to see what we could find until the room was ready.

We came upon the old city walls, walked through the arches and saw this gorgeous cathedral, so we headed towards it. But then we saw a bunch of tents for what looked like the remnants of a Christmas market, so we went in searching for a food.
Trevi Fountain
Woohoo! Jackpot. The first stand was a porchetta stand. I'm a big fan of Anthony Bourdain, and I'd seen porchetta on his TV show. I could kick myself for not having known about it all the other times I was in Italy. Porchetta is a whole roast pig (crispy skin and all), stuffed with an herb stuffing, and then messily sliced and either served on a piece of butcher paper, or made into a sandwich.. YUM. I'm in love.

The rest of the market had dried sausages to taste (boar, venison...) and cheese (fantastic pecorino and other sheep's and goat's milk cheeses), and some delicious black and white truffle spreads. Now THAT's how to start out a trip.

After our snack, we went into the church, learning that it's the Basilica of St. John Lateran, or "The Pope's Cathedral"--sort of the Vatican before there was a Vatican.
Spaghetti alla carbonara at Al Moro
This place is stunning. The statues, the inlaid marble floors, the frescoes....just wow. And I had never heard of it before. Rome is just so packed with stuff, that this isn't even on the top 20 list of things to see. If this was in Los Angeles, it would be the number 1 tourist attraction.

We headed back to the hotel, checked in, took showers and then grabbed the metro to Piazza Barberini to go check out the Trevi Fountain and grab some lunch. The fountain was jammed with people, almost all of them in puffy coats, like pretty much everyone in Rome. Seriously, Morgan and I are probably the only 2 people in Rome without a puffy coat. The Roman women under 50 all have the same outfit on: skinny jeans, winter boots (Uggs or the like), and a puffy coat.
On top of the Vittorio Emmanuele monument at sunset
We saw whole families in puffy coats. See the photo of the poodle in the puffy coat. Ridiculous. We took a few pix (of the fountain and the puffy coat people) and then tried to find Al Moro restaurant, which had been recommended in several food blogs. This was when the jet lag set in.

We asked several shopkeepers where the restaurant was, they all cheerfully gave us directions, and they were all way wrong. We were getting hungry and frustrated. Morgan finally found the tiny street on the map, and we made it just before lunch service ended at 3pm. Not a cheap meal, but an excellent locals place (no English menu, although the waiters jumped into English after hearing my very rusty Italian). We had the specialties of the house: Spaghetti Al Moro (a perfect Spaghetti Carbonara, which they say they invented here), the fried artichokes (which are really done confit style - cooked slowly until tender in oil, but not crispy-fried) and the milk-fed lamb cacciatore, which had a delicious gravy with the perfect amount of heat, and a huge bread basket to sop up all the gravy.
Colosseum


We felt a bit restored after that and wandered through the Centro Storico (the historical center). It had been gray and drizzly all day, but just then, the sun came out and all the ochre-colored buildings turned this bright gorgeous yellow and we ran up the steps of the Vittorio Emmanual Monument (Romans call it the "Typewriter" or the "Wedding Cake" because of its shape - it's a huge white columned confection in the middle of the city), and took some pix from the birds' eye view. Coming around the back of the moument, we wandered by the Forum and then --ta-da!-- the Colosseum, just as the sun was going down for a gorgeous sunset. We bought some roasted chestnuts from a street vendor and wandered around the ruins.

We attempted to walk back to our hotel, but got lost, and said screw it, let's take the metro back.
The Forum at dusk
It was only 5:30pm and we were trying to stay awake until at least 9pm or so, so we wandered around Re Di Roma area looking for a gelateria, but somehow they were all still closed for the holidays (although we passed 1000 open gelaterias in the Centro Storico). We finally gave up and walked exhaustedly back to the hotel and passed out around 6:30pm. Of course, I'm up at 4:30am writing this....bugger.
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Everyone wears puffy coats in Rome…
Everyone wears puffy coats in Rom…
No puffy coats have we
No puffy coats have we
Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain
Spaghetti alla carbonara at Al Moro
Spaghetti alla carbonara at Al Moro
On top of the Vittorio Emmanuele m…
On top of the Vittorio Emmanuele …
Colosseum
Colosseum
The Forum at dusk
The Forum at dusk
Trevi Fountain
Trevi Fountain
Family of puffy coats at the Trevi…
Family of puffy coats at the Trev…
Al Moro Restaurant
Al Moro Restaurant
In front of the Vittorio Emmanuele…
In front of the Vittorio Emmanuel…
A peek into the Forum
A peek into the Forum
From the Forum looking up at the V…
From the Forum looking up at the …
Colosseum at dusk
Colosseum at dusk
Rome
photo by: vulindlela