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ITALY | Saturday, 26 September 2009 | Views [656]

With a tinge of sadness we parted our little villa in Tuscany for Roma.  To break the trip we stopped in pretty little Orvieto for lunch.  Orvieto is a pretty medieval village that sits on a volcanic tufa rock., with underground tunnels and an amazing Duomo.  First stop was the Cathedral,  of course,  which was just as impressive and beautiful as all the others.  We were fortunate enough to be there when a wedding started.  It was a little strange as there were the wedding guests seated and the rest of the Cathedral was filled with tourists.  We waited and waited for the bride to appear and thought she must have changed her mind. When she walked through the door she looked so beautiful but as she got closer, she shocked us all with her large bump in front. A radiant bride indeed!!!


We arrived in Rome mid afternoon and despite the stories we have heard about driving in Rome, was no worse than Sydney.  Found our accommodation with little trouble.  It was a bit of surprise with bars and rolla door over the only the window (see pictures), but nicely fitted out inside, though a bit small for four.  Found the location was actually perfect for what we did and lots of cafes, bars and restaurants. As it was early evening by the time we settled in, we headed down to the Trevi Fountain.  We spent most of the night there, took too many pictures and just sat people watching. 


First day in Rome and we had prebooked a private tour guide for an Ancient Rome Tour.  We visited the usual spots, Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Pantheon and ended in the Piazza Navona. Federica turned out to be the best find of the holiday so far, we loved her.  For anyone visiting Rome, she comes highly recommended from us (www.touristinrome.com )



That night we had dinner at a Trattoria that was close by.  Dinner is only mentioned because two of our party decided to try  ‘Scamorza alla Piastra’ . Sounds great but ended up being a plate of melted cheese (refer to picture).  A memorable meal for the wrong reasons.  We are still walking the fat off our butts. The bored waiter that hustles diners out the front also provided a little entertainment with his blatant ogling and drooling of every young female that walked past.   He caught us laughing at him and then decided that we were his new best friends and then wanted to share his ‘ogling’ with Paul.   After dinner – off to the Trevi where two pairs of undercover cops provided amusement trying to pick girls up.  Easy to see where the Italian men get their reputation from.


Next morning we headed off to the Spanish Steps.  Couple of minutes there and we were in search of coffee.  Didn’t take us long to track down Café Greco, that has the reputation as one of the oldest Cafes in Rome.  The Café was gorgeous and Jo wanted to sit down.  One look at the menu, and the more thrifty of us decided that no coffee could be that good to warrant the price (7 euro for cappuccino).  After greatly embarrassing Jo, up we got and ordered at the bar (1.30 euro!).   The coffee was the best we had tasted, not to mention the cannoli’s.  We spent to rest of the morning shopping.  We found a Fendi store and Jo was in heaven.  The only problem was getting her out of there – Bags, sunglasses, shoes, jewellery, watches everything Fendi was in that store.  Jo nearly convinced Sharon that she could not live without a Fendi wallet but common sense prevailed.  After hunting down a birthday present, we headed, yet again, to the Trevi fountain for lunch.  Didn’t have the same appeal as it does in the night.


We headed back to our little ‘I am Legend’ hole and dropped off ‘the Edna’.  We then headed down to another Church, because we hadn’t seen enough, the San Maria Maggiore, one of the four papal churches in Rome.  It was spectacular and contains Bernini’s tomb.  We then headed back to the ruins and visited Circus Maximus, very disappointing and a shadow of its former self.  Looked like an abandoned cow paddock, but we noted that they appear to be doing more excavations there.  We hung around and waited for the sunset and took far too many pictures of the Colosseum at dusk.  Finally made it home in time for dinner.  We got sucked in by Franco, who was waiting for us to hustle us into a nearby trattoria. Promised us home cooking with ‘no Bangladeshi’. Warning to anyone if they are near Via Palermo, Rome and come across a character named Franco, promising home cooking … run! Jo is still recovering. We got the usual basket of bread on the table but didn’t eat it all.  No problem, they just recycle and give to the next customer.  After dinner, Jo and Sharon headed, you guessed it, back to the Trevi.  We had read about a Gelateria called San Crispino and as it was not opened on Tuesdays, it had to be tonight or never  We made a wish in the fountain before indulging in the best gelato ever.  The taste of the gelato made it hard to believe that we were even eating gelato.  The flavours were so intense.  Needless to say, the fig gelato has bumped Florence off the top spot, followed closely by the Zabiolone.


The next day we had to meet Federica again for a tour of the Vatican and wouldn’t have done it any other way.   This was one of the main reasons for the trip, to fulfil Mothers dream of seeing the Sistine Chapel.   We started off in the Museums, went through the Raphael rooms, and the Sistine Chapel before finishing in St Peter’s.   Did the Sistine Chapel live up to expectations??  For some yes but others maybe not.  The Raphael rooms were the most stunning for some of us. Another great tip for lunch from Federica, was followed by gelato from ‘Old Bridge’, in Via Michelangelo. A must for anyone visiting the Vatican.  We all got three scoops, which was then topped with whipped cream as high as the gelati for 2 euros!


With a belly full of panini and gelato, we headed back to St Peters.  We left Mother at the Basilica, while the rest of us decided to climb the Dome.  Thought we were back in Manarola, but reminded the others, it takes hard work to reach heaven.  As we got higher, the stairs became more windy and narrow.  Right at the top, the curve of the walls of the dome meant that  we were walking with a lean.  It was well worth the effort, as the views were spectacular, over Roma, not to mention the cool breeze.  Had to fight our way to get to the railing, as there we so many people up there.  The close up view of the mosaics of the inside of the Dome, made us realise how remarkable it was.  It did our head in when you think of the time and brilliance to do this.  We ended up in the souvenir shop on the roof top.  Sharon bought a cross from a nun. Had a chuckle as one of the nun’s offered Jo a ticket to the Pope’s blessing in the square the next morning.  Had to decline as we were heading to Naples the next morning.  Jo was a bit worried and thought she must have looked like a sinner and in need of a blessing!  Finally met up with Edna and walked through the tombs before making our way home.  We were a bit taken back by all the young girls that were all sobbing in front of Pope John Paul 11’s tomb.  They were quite distressed.


Got the train back and got a quick coffee and a pastry at the Illy Café near our ‘I am Legend’ hole.  Nothing like an Illy coffee in Roma, and not like the Illy in Sydney at all. By the time we got home, quick change and needed to find somewhere for dinner.  We lost Jo in the Furla store on the way, and after a bit of heated discussion about where to go, convinced them to try a Pizza shop across the road from our apartment.  What a find, the Café has been there since 1885, and the pizza was up there with the best.  The Edna, talked Jo into a ‘fungi’ pizza while the Lowe’s shared a pumpkin flower and anchovies.  Feeling quite sorry for Jo, Sharon shared hers with her. Jo hasn’t offered to share with Mother ever again. Oh… and just to end our stay in Roma, Jo and Sharon headed back to the Trevi, yet again, where we threw more coins and made more wishes.  We only threw two coins into the fountain, as the third coin means you will come back, fall in love and marry an Italian.  We decided we didn’t want to marry an Italian, just a fling will do!  And then it was off to San Crispino, decisions decision decisions. It took us a while but we basically ended up with what we got the night before.  Jo boldly tried the plum but at the end of the day the fig and zabalione reign supreme.




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