Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Rome in a day

It's always fun when friends come to Italy and are in Rome so we have an excuse to go up on the train for a visit! Monday was just that sort of day. We left from Villa Claudia station and were surprised to be able to sit with Maria (Italian) and Carla (American) (Ernesto's wife and cousin). It was great fun sitting and speaking a mixture of Italian and English since Caroline is actually American. She has retired here to live and it was great getting to know her on our ride. We arrived at Termini in Rome in what seemed like record time since we were talking the entire time. We parted ways and made our way down into the bowels (yes it seemed that way) of the station to the metro platforms. Our trip to Lepanto station was very quick (only 5 stops) and we were surprised to find that the hotel where we were meeting Liz was only a half a block away!

Our plan was to have lunch and then on to St. Peter's Square/Vatican City. We ended up eating at a restaurant that was recommended by Rick Steves and he was spot on as usual. It was so good! It is called L'Isola della Pizza and located at Via degli Scipioni 47. We had an assortment of antipasti and pizzas. Mike had pappardelle con conghiale (wild boar) which is a specialty of theirs. It was wonderful!

We walked our lunch off by continuing on down the street to Vatican City. Passing through the double archway brought us into St. Peter's Square. Even though it was spitting rain on us and the skies were gray, the grand scene before us was much to behold. The line to tour the Basilica seemed long but moved along very quickly. A pit stop to the conveniently located toilets at the base of the steps and we were on our way up into the Basilica. As you enter, you can see the beautiful yet stirring Pieta. I remember looking at it as my mother told me about it as I looked in our Catholic Bible when I was a little girl. Now I was seeing it in person! Michael and I had studied the construction of the building, the dome and the many parts last year in Art History but walking through it was so much to take in. The paintings and sculptures are exquisite and in a large scale to be in keeping with the size of the structure. I wish we could have attended a mass there. I'm no longer Catholic but it would have been such a peaceful and special experience... maybe next time.

Once we emerged, we visited the gift shop (of course), took some pictures, then walked out of the square, through the archway and down the street. Umbrellas were popping up as the rain was stronger. This drove us into Bar Moretti to have cappuccinos and ice cream. The coffees were great as were the gelatos BUT this was one of those tourist moments where we didn't see a menu and ended up paying obnoxious prices for the privilege of sitting down. Warning to all: see the menu before sitting no matter how much rain is falling! We're all old-timers here and still got taken in... 

The sky continued pouring rain as we walked back to the hotel and then we made our way to the metro and gratefully joined the throngs of people on their way back towards Termini. We made it in time for the 7:08pm train back to Nettuno and had McDonald's for dinner. An American ending to an Italian day.