St. Peter's Dome
the view from the street as we're walking away from Vatican City and into real Rome
So I have to split today up into several different parts, Too many pics and text to put all into one blog, so just bear with me!!
Rome - Saturday March 8 - Part II
Continued from previous blog….
So after the scarf lady incident, we were basically on our own for the rest of the day. We weren’t meeting up with the group again until about 6pm. As Joel had us all bunched into a group just before dismissing us, he said, “don’t be scared of Rome, go out and experience the city.” Some of the group members went on to do an excursion, but this one we did not add to our trip. So Jay and I were both on our own. And both a little nervous. See, its kinda funny thinking about it now, because for the months leading up to the trip I was actually more intimidated by London. It seemed huge and scary and I was not familiar with it at all. But we had a lot of free time there to wonder around and we did just fine by ourselves without the comfort of “the group.” But the days of London came
view from the street
and went and I found myself faced with….free time in Rome. I suddenly became very nervous, but yet excited at the same time. Joel kept saying the best way to get back to the hotel at the end of the day would be to use a cab. But using a cab in a foreign country just seemed too scary for me. (However, we did end up using a cab) At that moment, right out side of Vatican City, Rome seemed so big, scary and as unknown as any city to me, although for months on end I familiarized myself with the monuments and history of Rome. Jay was nervous too, although I think I was just nervous because Jay, nor myself spoke any Italian.
But as luck would have it, we spent the rest of the day with two other group members named Tony and Delia. I remember Tony turning to me and asking if we had plans for the day. “No,” I replied, “just walking around, I suppose” Then Tony said, “you guys wanna get lunch with us?” I shook my head yes, and turned to Jay and smiled.
Tony and Delia are a very nice couple
closer up view
I zoomed in this time
from California, which we met early on in the trip and clicked with instantly, so I was more than happy to join them for lunch. Prior to leaving Joel and the rest of the group, Joel had a map sprawled out and gave us suggestions where to eat and recommended things to do for the afternoon. He recommended an area just beyond the Vatican where it was less touristy, but just as good to eat. So after walking around, and asking for directions we were able to find a decent restaurant. Tony and Delia spoke Spanish which is a bit similar to Italian and he kept stopping people to ask for directions. I was impressed at his confidence. If I was alone I probably would have wondered around amously trying to find the restaurant and being too timid and shy to ask directions from the locals.
The restaurant we choose to eat in was fantastic. I was starving and we ordered bruchetta, and pizza. Not a pizza “slice” for 4 bucks like they would serve you in the states, but an actual entire pizza. Plus red wine. I think we stayed in the restaurant nearly 2 hours just talking,
haha, I thought these shorts were funny, they were on an outside shop for sale. And no, I did not buy them, although I probably should have....
we learned of their life back in California and we told them of ours in Orlando.
I cant even begin to describe how I loved just sitting there in that restaurant. It was something as simple as sitting and eating, but somehow to me, it was more.
After lunch, with no itinerary and no set plans, we wondered around Rome. It was nice not having a definite “plan” we’d had an itinerary all week and this was the first time we were really just flying by the seat of our pants. We walked past a little outdoor shopping area next to the Tiber River and just right outside of the Castel Sant’ Angelo, and took some nice pictures. I kept looking over the bridge and thinking, “I’m in Rome!” the sun was shinning, we were in great company, the scenery was beautiful, the worries of bills, work, and school were thousands of miles away; I felt pretty happy.
We continued on our walk, taking in the sights to a lot of other things, churches, piazzas, parks, cobblestone streets. We made a stop into Campo di Fiori, which means “Field of Flowers” named after the flowery meadows that had
covered the site before it was built. Today it is a colorful market, aligned with fruit stands, café’s and musicians alike. It looked like we had gotten there just after the morning market, and they were cleaning up, trash was everywhere and the colorful fruit stands were being taken down, so it wasn’t quite as nice as some of the pictures I’ve seen, but that’s okay. We made a quick stop to get some ice cream, I mean, gelato. My flavor was pretty good, I think it was lemon and a caramel.
We made our way down some wobbly streets and wondered into Piazza Navona, which is, you guessed it; a piazza. But a magnificent one at that. The Piazza Navona is one of the liveliest and colorful piazzas in the city of Rome, with street performers offering entertainment, and people painting on canvas’s, and fountains, beautiful fountains. (Which were under construction, by the way.)
After Piazza Navona, we were dead tired. All four of us had gotten into a cab and split the fare, which wasn’t too bad. It was the quickest way back to our hotel. I almost fell asleep in the cab and was anxious
Bridge over the Tiber River. This is one of my favorite pics. See, just a bridge, but remarkable.
to get back to the hotel and take a nap.
Nap I did, that is, for about an hour before it was time to dress and go for dinner. This was the dinner that was not originally included with the group price, but an additional one Joel had set up on his own. We paid for the dinner several days ago on the chunnel when Joel had described it to us, and it sounded like a “gobsmacking good time” =)
This was the night, I should have dressed up. Several other ladies in our group wore skirts and dressed up a bit. While, every dinner with the group had been considered “Casual” I still would have liked to dress up. I even brought some skirts with me, only now, writing this, I cannot remember which skirts I’d brought, but it was so cold the entire time, there was no way I’d wear anything but pants. Even still, me and dressing up go hand in hand. Jay should know, I complained the entire time that we looked like street “scoundrels” and I wanted to “Euro-style” it up!! Anyway, I did not dress up, and I wore my hair in
a stupid pony tail. As we’re loading the bus I’m thinking, “Why didn’t I dress up? Why?!” of course, with all the sight seeing we did, who has time to do hair and makeup?? Hell, I would have *made* time!
Anyway, at the restaurant, we crammed into a little dinning room. Well it wasn’t “little” but we had about 40 group members with us and it was a tight fit. We got seated next to some other group members this time, including Tom and Alisen from Texas, who were pretty awesome and kept us laughing all night. To my right sat some nice ladies from Buffalo, and further down the table sat some other members of our group. And oh my God, did we eat. I tried to take a picture of the table since it was set up so pretty, but my picture came out rather crappy. At any rate, I posted it anyways. We had food, wine and…MUSIC! Another singer tonight, only this time, no piano, but a guitar. Playing, of course, Italian favorites like “that’s Amore”, “Funiculi, funiculi” (my favorite!) “Volare,” and a few others. Of course, some people actually from Italy, would probably think all
Statue in front of the Castel St. Angelo. Another favorite picture of mine
these songs are a cliché of what most Americans think of what Italy is, and their probably right, but we had fun singing along.
I cannot believe how much we ate. I should have taken a picture of the food. It was course after course, after course. Plus coffee, dessert, wine, and lemoncello, bread, appetizers, you name it, I ate it. It was literally the most enjoyable dinner of my life. Even Jay had a good time! I even remember hearing him say “I cant eat anymore” but yet, every time I turned to look at him, he was eating. I don’t think even a wedding reception or other type of fancy dinner could top this night.
But it got better. Or maybe worse? I still cant decide. We had somewhat of an “incident” after dinner. After dinner Joel was taking us to see the famed Trevi fountain, and buy us all “the best ice cream in the world.” As he told us, “I swear, you’ve never had better.” I can still hear his voice echoing that phrase.
Well, before the fountain, Joel had talked the bus driver into driving us to see the Colosseum. The Colosseum!
Jay in front of the bridge
The most famous monument in Rome, perhaps in all of Italy, and we hadn’t seen it yet. Well, we drove past the Circus Maximus. Being that is was dark outside, I did not take any pictures through the bus window. For those of you not familiar with the Circus Maximus, it was a large arena which was home to famous chariot races, quite often the chariots would overturn during the race, trapping their drivers and causing fatalities. If your still not familiar with it, google it. As Joel is talking to us through the bus microphone about the Circus Maximus, I leaned over to Jay, “I know what that is!” Bringing back a memory of me watching a video on it in my Greek/Roman Humanities class two years ago. See, I am learning things in school!
And then….the Colosseum!!! My night picture of it came out crappy, but whatever. But man, it was literally breathtaking as drove past it. The entire bus came to silence. Pictures, movies, perhaps even being there, can’t quite capture the magnitude of the monument. It was truly glorious. But, we are going to see more of it tomorrow, in the daytime so I will
write more about that.
The bus did stop for us to get out and take photographs of the Arch of Constantine. It lies right outside the Colosseum between the Caelian Hill and the Palatine. It was built as a triumphal arch for the Victory of Constantine over his battle of the Milvian Bridge in A.D. 312. Pretty impressive, and I got some really incredible pictures.
Then, as promised, Joel took us to get some amazing ice cream. I got “sour apple” flavor, YUMMY!! And then a short walk to the beautiful, Trevi fountain. And this was where the “incident” occurred.
Let's just say we were ripped off by some BEGGARS!! Well, it was a guy "selling" some flowers....hence why you see me w/ flowers in my hand in some of the pics....whatever, I wont go into details, the incident still annoys me. I'm sure we werent the first suckers, and we sure as hell wont be the last!!
So it was back on the bus, and back to the hotel. Once on the bus Joel got back on the microphone and asked, "Aside from the Rose fiasco, did everyone enjoy themselves?" We all had a laugh, and
Castel St. Angelo
balck and white pic that Delia took for us, I love this one!
I was able to put it behind me and relish in the wonderful memories we'd made today. Aside from the brief ripping off incident, today was the best day of the entire trip, quite possibly, the best day of my life. =)
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