<-- (Videos are here) After checking out of our hotel and leaving bags with the desk, we headed to the Galileo Museum (Museo Galileo). Here, we saw a lot of scientific history from the 16th and 17th centuries, including how maps were used, the evolution of the telescope, and of course, some of Galileo's scientific experiments and inventions. Overall, we kind of rushed through the museum trying to catch the highlights that the kids would most understand because everything was 'Non Toccare' (Don't Touch). But we did get to see a few interesting relics - Galileo's fingers and tooth. Yes, they actually have them on display under glass. It was kind of creepy until we realized that those fingers literally shaped the world as we know it today.
The next point of interest for us was the Pitti Palace (Palazzo Pitti), where we bought some bread, salami, and cheese and had a quick lunch in front of the massive castle. For dessert, we tried a Sicilian canoli, which had candied orange in it, and then had a Capuccino at a cafe bar. Then it was back to the train station to catch a Frecciarossa to Rome. The ride was short,
Who Needs Disney World?
Lunch in front of a REAL castle :)
thanks to the 250 kph (143 mph) cruising speed through the Italian countryside and hills.
Leaving the train station, we quickly realized that we had left the relatively quiet town of Florence and entered the metropolus of Rome. Because our next lodging was actually an apartment rental, we had to meet the owner at a specific time, and the apartment was a good 30 minute walk from the station. So, we hustled out. After seeing quite a few Carabinieri (National Police/Military) and circling helicopters on the way, we passed by the massive Basilica Santa Mario Maggiore. We finally noticed something was really amiss at the same time that Grace stated that "it is very quiet here". Looking around, the entire courtyard was surrounded by police tape, everyone inside the courtyard was standing still but facing the same direction, and there was a lot of noise, police lights, and smoke coming from one of the streets--the street we needed to use.
I don't know the entire background of the demonstration, but we had been noticing a lot of graffiti and posters in the past few days, all with the statement 'No TAV'. As far as I could tell, TAV
stood for "Treno Alta Velocita" and was some part of the high speed rail network that we had been enjoying. Several of the posters referred to rebellian against the 'Socialists' and usually displayed the hammer and sickle logo. Well, it was just our luck that they had chosen today, and specifically the street we needed to use, to protest as part of a growing movement against some 30 million Euro tunnel project.
We quickly back tracked and found another street but had to zig-zag our way to the apartment, which is within sight of the Colusseum. The owner was very nice and fluent in English, and the apartment itself is amazing for the price. I would highly recommend this arrangement for anyone looking to stay in Rome for more than 2 days (we used rentalinrome.com which handled the reservation, communication, and transaction).
Since it was rather late by this time, we headed out to a local restaurant, which was very low key, and sat out on the street/sidewalk under a dimly lighted tent. The waiter was again very fluent in English, and we ordered some lasagna, pizza, canaloni, and 1/2 liter of red wine (which was cheaper than
the water). I had heard about the bad Italian food from others who had visited Rome, and this meal confirmed the rumors. It is sad that all of Italy is stereotyped by the food we were served, which consisted of lasagna covered in Chef Boyardee and canaloni filled with Spam. Definately a stark contrast from the simple yet very colorful food in Florence. Luckily, we have a kitchen in our apartment
Tomorrow, we'll find a church and then possible go to St. Peter's square to hear a Sunday blessing from Pope Benedict. O, and it is Grace's birthday, so I'm sure we will be having lots of Gelato and Pizza...again.
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