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Published: November 22nd 2014
Today is Rome Day; the last stop of our trip. We were up early, showered, and walked to Levanto Station. There was an earlier train to La Spezia than we needed so we took this in the hope it allowed a little time for breakfast at La Spezia Central. The cafe at the station was only just waking for the day so a very ordinary coffee in a small plastic cup and a croissant had to do until Rome.
The train to Rome was a 'fast' train and looked like a bullet. I had bought 1st Class seats and we drew some stares from a well dressed couple boarding the same carriage. The look of backpacks and our clothes clearly had them thinking we had made a mistake, which would be quickly sorted out by the ticket inspector. There were very few passengers in our carriage and I must say, you get what you pay for. Each seat has it's own table and I was able to spread my newspaper out ( the New York Times, the only English one available and the first I've read in Nine weeks) to read it.
The train zipped through the Italian countryside,
first heading inland and then moving to the coast for the last hour or so. We saw marble quarries, huge mountains of marble which on first inspection look like snow, enormous blocks of white marble stored along the railway tracks, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and a fair slice of the Italian coast. It was like a microwaved tour of the Italian north west coast.
The train arrived in Rome on time and it was just as I remembered it; chaos! By the time we boarded the Met train for Spagna station, we had been approached by no fewer than 6 beggars, and men selling selfie poles for your camera, scarves and opportunities for tours. Once we were back in daylight we worked out which way to go and our hotel was only a short stroll away. We were able to book into our room early and headed out to see the sights. We did the Spanish Steps, too crowded today, the Via Corso shopping strip and Piazza Popolo. The last time we were at this Piazza we entered a cafe to have a meal. While I went to the toilet, Sue was approached by a waitress and had
ordered a meal deal for the three of us, my son Andrew was there and is a witness. The meal was three tiny courses , a cup of coffee, and cost a small fortune. In future, Sue had her understanding of Italian locked away where it could do no further harm.
We briefly toyed with the idea of going to the opera while we are here. It's just around the corner, in a very old theatre but Sue has been looking at handbags to buy and they are either too shiny, too expensive, wrong colour, poor quality, you know the sort of thing I mean, so I suggested she add the opera ticket money to the handbag money and buy one that is 'too expensive'. Anyway, if you put a visit to the opera on top of my Russian cultural excursions and I might just have to start getting around wearing a cravat. Not that there's anything wrong with that!
As the night crept in we realized we hadn't eaten much today, so we found a little trattoria up a back street and had a lovely meal for a reasonable price. I ordered a mineral water and had
a one litre bottle brought to the table. Something to remember next time.
Tomorrow we are possibly going to Travestere to have a look and aim to walk the whole trip but plans do change. The weather is looking good for the next week so I just hope Italian forecasters are more accurate than Australian ones.
Well, it's the 20th and we are sticking with the Travestere plan. The buffet breakfast at our hotel was good and we grabbed our coats and headed for the Trevi Fountain. It is currently empty and under repair so it does not conjure up the same romantic feeling when you throw in a coin and here a 'Chink!' sound as it hits the bottom. There were still people doing their best performance poses (this has become a pet hate of mine) to be photographed in front of scaffolding and shade cloth screens. I suppose it has to be done, but on a sunny day this is a special moment of a roman holiday; not today.
We continued on to the Pantheon, situated in the Piazza del Rotunda. It was built during the reign of Augustus and is still the largest un
reinforced concrete dome in the world. It houses the tombs of the first two Italian kings and the artist Raphael. It is an incredible piece of engineering and if the historical aspects to not draw you to it, it is worth seeing just to gaze in amazement at how these buildings in Rome were built, before Christ was born, with no power tools or machinery available now. the detail and finishes on the marble must have taken years, without even considering the construction.
Last time we visited the Pantheon I bought a gelato from a shop to the left of it and I vowed to back it up with another. It's a great way to kill time, sitting in the sun on the wall near the Pantheon eating a nice cold gelato. Next stop was the Campo di Fiori, a market piazza selling fruit and vegetables as well as kitchenware, clothes and deli foods. It was a good place to stop for a coffee before getting our bearings and walking to Travestere.
Located just across the Tiber River, Travestere has become popular as a cafe and restaurant spot and is pretty trendy. We wandered through an area with
market stalls and food vendors, had a pretty disappointing lunch at a small bar, and made our way back home. I think if you stayed here it may appear better but I don't think it lived up to the hype; maybe I'm just too old or not hip enough, or both.
The walk back took about 25 minutes and I'm forming the opinion that from where we are staying, everything is within walking distance. Tonight we will stay nearby and have a light dinner and watch Italian TV, that we don't understand, for entertainment. Tomorrow will be fine again, so the Colosseum and the Forum are our destination as you just don't know when the weather will turn.
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