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.


  1. We will be in Rome at the end of May for our 20th wedding anniversary for 4 nights - any recommendations apart from the obvious?

    1. Hi! I'm so glad you're coming down this way to celebrate your anniversary! We'll celebrate our 28th on May 28 which is also the same day as the Memorial Day Ceremony here at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery (where we live - my husband is the Director/Administrator). We have visited the Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Piazza Navona (which was great at Christmastime since they have a Christmas Market going there - otherwise it's a big open Piazza...). Then later went on the above day visit to the Vatican, had a wonderful lunch (highly recommend that restaurant by the way)and heed my warning about the coffee bars/gelaterias (just check the menu first so you aren't rudely surprised by your bill - unless you want a super relaxing moment to savor and then by all means do it). The gelato is just as good when you take it with you. We generally sample it several times a day when we are on vacation in Italy!

      I would decide how you want your trip to - see lots or also slow down a little and just enjoy La Dolce Vita by sitting outside at a restaurant, people watch and enjoy the delicious food or coffee... It's important to get a metro pass (you can get these at many of the Bars/Tabacs) so you can get from sight to sight easily (just mind your pockets/valuables). We've been up a few times and have not encountered any problems with pickpockets (yet...).

      You can pre-arrange a tour of the Vatican so you go in before they open for the general public. You use a tour guide who speaks English and he will guide you through the many important things to see with ease. On the other hand, on a less expensive option, you can just use your guide book (Rick Steves has lots of very helpful hints on his website and also his guidebooks). It all depends on how experienced you are at visiting these big cities in Europe. Life is so different for us when we are back in the States! But we'll be living here until my husband retires for the 2nd time so we continue to learn little by little the best ways to do things.

      I'm so happy you read my blog! I'll be following you too now!!