Last night was rough. Sammi had night terrors and I wasn’t sleeping well either – too much stress, I think. So for once I sleep in. Chris actually gets downstairs before me but I join him shortly after eight for a cappuccino. We return to the room, Becky’s still moving slowly but Sammi seems surprisingly energetic. They finish dressing, and we head back downstairs.
Sammi enjoys some cereal, can’t remember what Becky has but eventually she heads out to the lobby to wait for Steph, Rick and Allison, who arrive shortly. They look exhausted.
It’s a lovely day for late October (sunny and the 60’s) and after freshening a bit in our room, we head out for a stroll pretty much following the path we chose yesterday. First stop of course, the fountain – Rick drinks with gusto, Allison hesitantly and Steph not at all. I’m sure she broke out the Purell to wipe all over Al when we weren’t looking. 😀
We take them to the Piazza Navona, past the chotchkey stands, where in addition to now losing the girls, we lose Al and Steph too. Then down towards the Campo Dei Fiore. Chris stops again in the hat store and purchases a beautiful Fedora, which he wears for the rest of the trip. Rick also spies a backpack for his elder daughter, Cassie, in the leather store, which he likes. All other backpacks will be compared against this one until he finally returns on our last day in Italy to purchase.
In the Campo, we purchase some grapes to nibble as we continue our stroll to the Ghetto and the 5&10. Al loves the smart cars so we purchase two more models, one for her and one for Sammi. Our last stop, a Judaica store, where Steph and I purchase a mezzuzza for a friend back home who has just moved into a new house. All our “chores” done, we head back to the hotel. Luckily SRA’s room is ready and they head off to nap while we kill some time.
Let’s see free time in Rome, hmmm… guess it’s time for more gelato. Sammi once again gets snowflake, Becky tries dolce de canella (btw – is that cinnamon?) and I try riso in a mini-cone, which I have to say, I’m not crazy about.
After gelato, we hang in the Piazza della Rotunda on the steps of the fountain while Sammi and Becky sketch the Pantheon and I try sketching a balcony of our hotel. Funny thing here, two American college-age girls stop by and ask me, “Can you tell us where the Pantheon is?” I just smile and look to my right. That was better than the time a woman in NY asked me if I knew where the McGraw Hill building was, as we were standing right in front of it (and yes it said McGraw Hill in big block letters right on the building).
After sketching, it’s off to Taz D’Oro for Chris and I to try some famous espresso. Yum. Still haven’t made it to Sant’ Eustachio though.
About 1:00, we meet Peter and SRA in the lobby of the hotel and head over to Pasquale’s for lunch. We get an assortment of pizzas, plain, artichoke and a new one to our mix, zucchini, which is fabulous. Chris and Peter also enjoy bowls of pasta carbonara. A bunch of coca cola’s, water and beer, 31 € later, we’re done.
SRA are taking a tour with Peter this afternoon while we head to the Palatino. We walk via del Gesu and stop at a gelateria somewhere along via Aracoeli, nothing great but the girls enjoy their straciatella and Chris, believe it or not, opts for coconut instead of limone.
Up the Campiodolgio, and down into the Forum we stroll. This time we stroll through the Forum on the road to the right, towards the Temple of Saturn as opposed to the one on our left, towards the Curia. The girls love skipping from rock to rock as we go – hey whatever amuses them.
At the Arch of Titus, just before the Via Sacra, we turn to our right and towards the Palatine. There’s a ticket office here where you can buy a combo ticket for the Coliseum and the Palatine for 10 € with no line. It’s less for EU citizens and the ticket agent seems disappointed that we’re not.
I love the Palatine but it’s here that I keenly feel the absence of my Blue Guide, which I couldn’t find before our departure. It has a wonderful map of the Palatine in it and would have been a great resource for what we’re seeing. Instead, we just enjoy the peace and quiet and the beautiful views as we stroll among the ruins.
Sammi has a wonderful time running from place to place but Becky’s loses steam. After spending a good chunk of time there, we head back down to the Forum, which is actually closing. I didn’t realize the Forum closes, but the PTB have spread a huge green gate across the Via Sacra allowing people to exit but not enter.
We walk over to the Coliseum, which has also closed, and decide to climb up the Via Degli Annibaldi and head to San Pietro in Vincoli so I can finally see the Moses.
We climb, climb and climb, and finally arrive at the church to find….it’s closed! Oh man! They’re filming something inside, so for the next four weeks the church is only open in the mornings. Major bummer.
Now we’re tired, and I’m cranky. We had back down towards the Coliseum and opt for a cab to take us back to the Piazza del Gesu.
From the piazza, we meander back to our hotel and decide to stop at Enotecca Corsi; unfortunately, it’s not open. We continue and stop at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva where we again view the Risen Christ, light some side chapels to admire the artwork and let the girls light some candles.
When we leave the church, thirty minutes has passed, so we meander back towards Enotecca Corsi, which is now open. Chris and I each enjoy a glass of wine while the girls play with some of their toys. The Enotecca has a nice selection, okay prices but not much room to sit and enjoy a glass of vino in the evening. Next door, the restaurant that opens for lunch has plenty of space.
We finish and head back to the hotel to shower before our usual pre-dinner drinks in the bar with Michele.
Michele puts out his usual assortment of delectable munchies while the girls draw. Becky sketches a picture of a bowl of fruit and Michele proudly hangs it behind on the bar. He then proceeds to carve a fish and a mouse out of a radish; they’re very cute and the kids have fun playing with them.
We strike up a conversation with a mother and daughter who are on the tail end of a trip through Italy. They traveled to Milan, Lake Garda, Venice, La Spezia, Cinque Terre, Bologna, Parma, Lucca, Pisa, Florence and now Rome.
Chris asks them, “When did you arrive in Milan?”
The mother replies, “The sixteenth.”
Chris, “Of September?”
She answers, “No, October.”
Ouch, in two weeks they visited all of those locations. I think I’d be a blithering idiot after that. They did admit that the packing and unpacking was getting to them. You think?
After drinks, we head towards Picolo Arancia via Scanderberg by way of the Trevi Fountain. Everyone throws coins and it’s not long before hawkers swarm us. Stephanie seems especially attractive to men selling flowers.
Eventually, we tear Steph away from her admirers and navigate through deserted streets to the restaurant. After one or two miscues, we find the restaurant but are not sure how to enter. A table of people sit pressed against the door as if it’s no longer in use but as there is no other alternative, we enter that way, and squeeze past them.
We’re led to a long table in the back of the restaurant, which is more crowded than any restaurant I can remember seeing, and are seated tightly together.
Allison and Sammi order Farfalle and spaghetti respectively. Becky orders the vongole but it comes with mussels, which she passes down to the adults. After, she’s still hungry, so she orders a plate of farfalle ai burro too.
For the adults, we share two bottles of the house red, a Montepulciano di Abruzzo, just okay, and some water, both fizzante and senza gas. For our antipasti we start with an assortment of meats, carciofi a Giudio (artichokes) and fried zucchini flowers. The zucchini flowers are delish, the artichokes are okay and the meat good. I have Fettucini con porcini, Steph gets pasta with fresh tomatoes, Chris tries Braciole and Rick gets pasta with eggplant. All our dishes are good.
We skip dessert tonight and decide to try and find some gelato on our way back to the hotel. AS we return, we split up into two groups, Becky and I heading in one direction with everyone else going a different route. Becky wants to lead me back by memory rather than navigating with a map, and I’m game for an adventure.
We return to the hotel with no sign of our companions. We wait a bit in the piazza, then decide to get some gelato (Straciatella and cannela for Becky, and can you believe it, I skip it), still no sign of the rest of the gang.
Becky finishes her gelato, I’m getting worried, when they finally turn the corner. Steph takes Al upstairs to go to bed while we join Rick (Cannella), Chris (limone, of course) and Sammi (fior di latte) for gelato. After they finish, we head to the bar for a nightcap, frangelico for me and sambucca for the gentlemen. Michele gives Chris and Rick some Italian cigars to try, hard draw but not a bad flavor. Eventually we meander up to bed about 11:30. Sammi stirs during the night with some coughing but I’m able get her back to sleep with some simple back rubbing.
Sammi – Skipping Rocks on the Palatine Hill
Becky – Finding our way back to the hotel after dinner without a map
Kim – Exploring Palatino Hill
Sammi – Nothing was bad today
Becky – Worrying about Daddy and Sammi when they got lost after dinner
Kim – St. Piero in Vincoli closed