Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Italy: Spring 2010: Day 1: Wednesday, April 28: Rome

We are back in Rome...the day is sunny and warm and the traffic in from the airport is fierce.

The flight from Dulles is one of the best that we have had.....we fly non-stop for a change and splurge on Economy Plus seating with extra leg room. In addition, for both of us there is no one sitting in the adjacent seat which makes it feel even more spacious. I manage about four hours of sleep but Diana isn't so lucky.

The plane is on time, we have a somewhat anxiety producing wait for the luggage to arrive and the driver is waiting for us in the arrival lounge.

Our hotel--the Hotel Artorius--is located in the Monti neighborhood, near the Colosseum. The area is largely unfamiliar to us so we will be exploring a lot of new territory in Rome on this trip. The hotel is on a lively but narrow main street--the via del Boschetto. We are lucky that we can get into our room at 10 am. The room is quite small and cramped (according to the desk clerk we got the last room available) but, on the plus side, it has a large terrace (which looks bigger than the room).

We hit the ground running on our first day in Rome. We have been invited by our friend Maureen to visit a luxury apartment rental--Casa Manni--where she arranges Roman "experiences" for the guests, and then to have lunch with the owner, Armando Manni.

We take a taxi from our hotel to the apartment which is located a few blocks from the Pantheon, on the Piazza di Pietra. The apartment is spectacular...all recently redone and designed by Adam Tihany, a well-known restaurant and hotel designer from NY. Everything is top of the line and tastefully done; in addition, the apartment has a spectacular terrace overlooking the roofs and church spires of Rome. While we are there, a Montreal television crew is filming for material to include in a Canadian travel program.

We have a memorable lunch at a terrific trattoria near the Pantheon called Grano, where Armando is a regular. Sitting outside on a piazza with dish after delicious dish being put in front of us, it is a fantastic way to start our month in Italy. The dishes include a fried meatball unlike any meatball I ever had (it is like a thick stew wrapped in a thin crust and deep-fried), prosciutto, salume, mozzarella di bufala, eggplant parmigiana (the best I have ever had), tripe alla romana and two pasta dishes....carbonara and amatriciana.

Back at the hotel, Diana sleeps and I go out to explore the new neighborhood. I do some shopping for telephone and computer supplies and scout out places for dinner (if we ever eat again). The area is a mixture of neighborhood shops, trendy boutiques, wine bars and restaurant (some higher end, some traditional) and it looks like a good location to get to know.

We do decide to eat dinner, in the interest of trying to stay up as late as possible on our first day and avoiding any long term jet lag. After a stroll around the lively neighborhood, we pick a small place just a few doors down the street from our hotel. The food at Osteria al 16 is quite good...the mixed plate of salumi has a nice variety of meats and the fried vegetable appetizer is completely delicious. But fatigue and our large lunch begin to catch up with us and much of the pasta dishes we had ordered, while quite good, is left on our plates.

It is not long before we are up in our room and asleep. Tomorrow we will try to go to the big Caravaggio exhibit at the Scuderie gallery just around the corner.

Jim and Diana

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