Italy Trip Day 2 - 2007-12-28

Here are pictures from Day 2:

Today was our day to see really old stuff from ancient Rome. It was a beautiful, sunny day which was perfect for walking around outside. We started out by heading to the Colosseum, which was quite impressive. We got the audio tour, which I think was pretty worthwhile. They pointed out things that we wouldn't have noticed and told stories about how the Colosseum was used.

We were really hungry, so we abandoned the pretense of trying to find a non-touristy place and just went in the first place that looked good. We both got pizza for the first time on this trip, and it was quite tasty. It took us quite a while to get our bill, so to kill time we were looking around and spotted a piece of paper that was posted above each table (see photos), that appeared to be describing some kind of game. Do any of you Italian speakers out there know what they're talking about? I think it means that if you get your bill to work out to be the specific highlighted amount, the 'game' is free, whatever that means. It seems like that would be a relatively simple task.

After eating, we headed to the Forum, which is right near the Colosseum. This area has lots of great ruins of what used to be the center of Rome. We saw the remains of the Basilica of Constantine, which was quite impressive. Check the photos to see Kellian next to the ruins to get a sense of the scale.

Other interesting sights included the Temple of Julius Caesar, which was surprisingly small, and the House of the Vestal Virgins. We were hoping to see Palatine Hill, but were running out of time and decided to head on to see the Pantheon before it got too dark, since it was closed last night. The Pantheon was quite amazing: it is a huge dome with an open top. The floor is slanted to allow the rainwater to drain out. Another interesting fact: the artist Raphael is buried there.

After an exciting day of looking at old stuff, we decided to hit up a gelato place. I was quite surprised that we made it for this long without having any. We went to Giolitti, which is one of the more well known gelato joints in the city and we could see why.

Tomorrow, we will look at the National Museum of Rome.

Italy Trip Day 1 - 2007-12-27

Here are pictures from Day 1:

Kellian and I left Boston at 6:00PM EST and arrived in Rome at around 10:00AM Italy time, which is 6 hours later than EST. Despite our plan to sleep on the way there so we were rested when we arrived, we didn't have much luck falling asleep. After getting our bags, we headed to the train to get from the airport to Rome.

The train was completely packed, we ended up crammed with our luggage near the doorway along with an older Italian couple. The Italian man got into an argument with the conductor about his ticket which was pretty amusing.

After arriving at Termini, the train station in the middle of Rome, we made our way to our hotel, Hotel Madison. It had a fairly decent although small lobby. The staff at the front desk told us that our rooms were not yet available, but that we could leave our bags in the lobby if we wanted to. I was a bit concerned at first, because they had a sign up saying that they weren't responsible for bags left in the lobby, but Kellian reminded me that we didn't really have anything of value in our bags anyways. All our money is with us, I have my camera, and the front desk took our passports (I have no idea why).

So we decided to leave our bags and head out to find some food. Looking at my trusty Rick Steves' Rome 2007 Guide Book which was our main guide for the trip, we decided to head to one of the restaurants he recommended in Piazza de Republica near Termini.

Unfortunately, the place we had selected was a bit too fancy given that we had just gotten off of a plane (Kellian was wearing pajama pants), so we decided to wander a bit to see what we could find. We stumbled across what turned out to be a really nice find: it was a small establishment that had a bar that served panini in the front and a small room in the back that served some reasonably priced entrees. Lots of locals were there, so we felt like we found a legitimate place for our first meal, which ended up being quite tasty.

Refueled we headed back to the hotel for a nap. The room was quite decent, it was clean and in good condition. We slept until around dinner time and decided to take Rick Steves' Night Walk Across Rome, which starts in Campo de Fiori and ends at the Spanish Steps. With the help of the front desk and the tourist's information booth, we figured out which bus we needed to get on and headed on our way. Unfortunately, we quickly realized that we had no way of figuring out what stop we wanted to get off on because they weren't announcing the stops. I resorted to jumping out of the bus to look at the sign at every stop, which must have looked pretty insane. Eventually a nice Italian gentleman helped us figure out where to get off.

We were hungry again so we turned to out trusty Rick Steves' Rome 2007 Guide Book to try to find a restaurant in the area. Unfortunately, the ones that sounded good were closed, so we just decided to wander again. We were fortunate enough to find a cute little place with about 8 tables in it. It looked to be family run, with a goofy looking, Kramer-like fellow with glasses and a short, plump older woman waiting tables. We had a great meal, complete with ricotta pie and tiramisu for dessert.

After eating, we headed out on our night walk. We got a bit of a late start, but people were still out and about. We walked from Campo de Fiori to Piazza Navona, which was one of my favorite sites from my last visit to Rome. Unfortunately, the Four Rivers Fountain was closed for maintenance. The Piazza was set up for Christmas and New Year's festivities with carnival booths all over the place. After that, we headed over to the Pantheon and then to the Piazza Colonna. The Trevi Fountain was our next stop, which was quite nicely lit for nighttime viewing. Finally, we made our way over to the Spanish Steps. This was the end of the walk, so we took a cab back to our hotel because the subway was closed.

That brings us to the end of the first day, tomorrow we plan to look at the Colosseum, the Forum, and the Pantheon.