What can I say about Rome – We’re in love! We arrived mid-day on Saturday and we’re checked right into our hotel – The River Palace – just outside the Piazza del Popolo. I was a bit worried about location – but it worked our perfectly. We had no plans for the afternoon so we just strolled. Popping into churches along the way – each one more beautiful than the last until we made our way to the Spanish Step. Way too hot to climb them – bought ourselves a bottle of water (only one we paid for our entire trip) and headed toward the Trevi Fountain.
The Fountain was extremely crowded but we managed to find a seat on the Fountain and tossed our 3 coins hoping our wish to return to Rome will come true! Even with the crowds people were happy and friendly. We took pictured for couples/families and in return people asked if they could take pictures for us – we found this true our whole trip. From the Trevi Fountain we set off in the direction of the Pantheon stopping to shop along the way. Unfortunately for us it was closed so we only saw the outside.
By now we were getting hungry and started making our way back to the hotel but not without stopping to try some lemoncello. The gentleman in the store was more than generous with our tasting – I actually had to stop him from pouring so much into our glasses! I make my own and had a wonderful discussion with him about techniques. We settled on a creamer version to pour over cake and ice cream. Yum! Back to hotel change and headed to Trastvere for dinner. Loved this area – so alive and full of happy people. We walked around taking it all in until we found a busy place on the corner of side street with a busy street. Veal was out of this world! Our waiter and host put on a little show on trying to shoo away a street vendor – right out of the movies taking his bag and throwing it and yelling with hands flying. Too funny. Walking over the bridge to head back to hotel I was taking my daughters picture sitting on the wall with the tents in the background when a group of young men came running over and photo bombed – everyone was so happy and friendly – what a wonderful first day in Rome!
Day two we had a tour of the Colosseum/Forum/Palatine. We were in the subway trying to purchase our tickets and the kiosk wouldn’t take our money or credit card. A very nice gentleman tried helping us out and still the machine wouldn’t work – he found out we need to buy at the newsstand outside – he was going to go out of his way to walk up when we told him we could find it. Upon returning to subway – he waited and helped us find the right train and then again showed up which transfer to take. This first of many who helped us find our way.
Our tour with Over Rome was great! We ended up having a private tour! Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and we found the whole place fascinating. I’m still in awe just thinking of it. After our tour, our guide pointed us in the direction of the Ghetto where we explored for a while but found a lot places closed – but not the gelato stores☺ Lunch and then made our way to find the Borghese Gallery. Boy did we get lost in the gardens. We wandered and wandered not getting our bearings but thoroughly enjoying ourselves. We made it the gallery in time and not only loved the gallery but also the grounds – being in AC was an added bonus. What a beautify museum – would recommend not missing this. Back to hotel to change and stayed local for dinner.
The next morning was our Scavi tour of the Vatican (underground tour). We met over the side of St. Peters and had 12 of us in our group. Which is the max they allow. We made our request months ago and feel very fortunate to have received tickets. Our guide was terrific – giving us the history of the excavated site and also how and why they excavated along with the history of St. Peter. If you ever have the opportunity to take this tour do not miss it!
We had been going and going for the past 5 days (we were in London before Rome) and just need a good rest after the Scavi tour so we headed back to our hotel for a quick nap which we really restored us. Then we headed out to the Capuchin Crypt. I know I know, after the Scavi tour this is our next stop – oh well – we knew going in that it wouldn’t take long or take a lot of brain power so it actually worked well for us. We got hopeless lost trying to find it but a kindly gentleman walking his dog also walked us to the front door. The Capuchin Crypt was quite interesting and a bit creepy – but my daughter did find it fascinating and it only took about 1.5 hours to tour. Which gave us time to go back to Borghese Gardens for another stroll around. We ended up renting a golf cart and had a great map and enjoyed tooling around and giving our feet a much need rest. We really needed this quiet relaxing afternoon. Late lunch was at a little place near our hotel – best pizza yet!
Our final full day we had an other tour with Over Rome, this time the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peters Basilica. What can I say that hasn’t already been said – everyone must experience the Sistine Chapel and St. Peters. Our tour guide was once again knowledgeable and interesting. She really brought the history to life and explained what we were seeing. I actually cried when I saw Michelangelo’s Madonna holding Jesus. We’re not religious people but the whole experience truly touched us. My daughter was able to have a St. Michaels metal blessed for her friend heading to Afghanistan. When we walked out to the Square the skies opened up and an incredible thunder and lightening storm erupted. Everyone headed to be under the columns. The storm lasted about an hour and comradely of being stuck together was fun.
For our last afternoon we headed back to the City Center and just strolled - actually I was looking for a deli to by some cheese and meats to bring home but all seemed to be closed for vacation.
That evening we wanted to go back to the Trastvere area and had our hotel give us directions for the bus. Boy were they way off! As we were riding the bus we noticed we were heading further and further in to a residential area away from any tourist sites. When the bus finally came to it last stop we where the only one on the bus. The driver came out and gave us a questioning look – he didn’t speak any English and our Italian was pretty much nonexistent but we showed him the on the map where we wanted to be – he motioned is was far far away! Figuring we’d just do the reverse trip and get off in a busier area and take a taxi but he had a different idea. He was able to let us know he would take us to Trastvere and to just sit tight. This is exactly what he did – he started up his route – picking up passengers along the way and stopped to let us off about a block away from the bridge to cross over the river. I tried to tip him – he didn’t want anything to do with that – but when I asked him to have a glass of vino on me – that he accepted. The other passengers where a bit perplexed by the whole thing.
What a way to end our vacation – but then again we found the Roman people to be extremely friendly and kindhearted. I will always treasure the memories I have and I can’t wait to return. Thank you to everyone on TA for helping me plan. I hope I can do the same for someone on their trip.