Hey – things have been crazy. We had internet access in Rome but so much was going on here it is Thursday and I’m finally getting a short chance to add some stuff. Check out what happened at the beginning of our Southern Italy tour – Monday and Tuesday – some pictures are here but I’ll have to add the rest later… We finally left Sicily on Monday arriving in Rome in the early afternoon. The trip was not fun but we made it including all our luggage so enough said about that. By the time we arrived we were just able to clean up and gather downstairs to meet the new group and our tour guide Donato. At first glance they seemed like a good mix that we could easily corrupt. Our hotel is in the Trastevere district – a neighborhood across the Tiber river that looks & feels like a medieval village – Rome’s left bank. After our initial gathering, we took a walk around our neighborhood to get the feel of the place including a stop in the Santa Maria church, one of Rome’s oldest churches (it still has the same floor plan at it did in the 4th century but most of it dates from the 12th century.) The granite columns inside are from ancient Roman buildings (they recycle a lot) and it included eye-catching mosaics by Cavallini.
~He has Roro’s ankles, no?
On the right is Donato, our guide for this tour. Who does he remind you of?
Our trek ended in our 1st group dinner at a family Trattoria where mama came out to greet each one of us and to make sure we ate enough. T he place was so much like walking into someone’s home to eat, we even walked through the kitchen to get to our table.
That’s Mama telling us to eat, Eat, EAT!
We had a great antipasti that included lentils which were a great surprise for me because they were really good (I think lentils usually taste like dirt) and marinated fresh fennel.
The primi piatti was pasta a la carbonara that was to die for. Very different from what we had in Sicily. It was made with fresh good-sized tube pasta and chunks of pancetta. Makes my mouth water now just writing about it.
The next day we all met early and went for a guided tour of the Jewish quarter. This area is where the Jewish population was forced to live between the 16th and 19th centuries. It was a tightly packed ghetto of 4 & 5 story buildings, so close that the sun never shone in between. Most of the original buildings are gone except for some striking ruins that remain.
Our guide thru the Jewish quarter…
Art comes in many forms.
After that it was on to a tour of the Capitoline Museum which is one of the world’s oldest museums – something like 500 years old. There were some really cool statues, sculptures, and paintings. We saw the huge head and foot of Constantine and a magnificent bronze sculpture of Marcus Aurelius. Ted was most impressed with the famous statue of the Etruscan Wolf (from like 500 BC) with the little statues of Romulus and Remus suckling underneath (which were added later).
Check out the frescos which I think are by Caravaggio – They are pretty intense and there is a lot going on in every square meter…
At this point we only had an afternoon and evening to see Rome which is just not possible… so we decided we’d just make a trek from the museum up, around, and back down – passing by the Trevi fountain and then the Spanish steps. Navigating the streets while not getting massacred by cars and motorcycles and while trying to figure out where the heck we were… holy crap my brain started to go into overload. At the Trevi fountain we found about 10,000 tourists. Along the way we got some Panini and we had a small stash of our wine in our pack so we sat on the steps of a church opposite the fountain – which you’re not supposed to do – and had a little picnic while the madness swirled around us. Look both ways then run like hell!!
Moving on from the Trevi fountain frenzy, we worked our way up through the maze of streets to the Spanish steps where we found about 20,000 tourists! Ugh!! Ok by now my brain is getting so much input per second that I swear my eyes wouldn’t focus on any one thing. We escaped down the main drag away from the throng of tourists, pickpockets, and “beautiful people” and I suddenly found myself in Mecca. Everywhere I looked was Gucci, Prada, Ferrangamo, Jimmy Choo… I started foaming at the mouth. Ted had to drag me onward our there could have been a total meltdown.
Where are we? I’m lost…
If you check a street map of Rome you’ll see we took a heck of a trek all around. I felt I had earned a libation to restore my sanity. On our last leg we replenished our picnic supplies and much to our surprise and your’s I’m sure, there proceeded to be an impromptu party of the roof of our hotel with our new group!
It looks like we got lucky again and landed with some real party animals. Much wine, cheese, bread, and cured meats later… we went to dinner. Eight drunk Americans traipsing up cobbled streets to the closest restaurant to partake of none other than antipasti (which included stuffed, breaded, & fried squash blossoms – yum), gnocchi with lamb chunks (double yum), and wine. Then our tipsy group made a pilgrimage to the local gelateria where things went down bad. Whoa…stop the madness!!
The party continues with new friends Susan and Tom…