Saturday, May 1, 2010

Italy: Spring 2010: Day 2: Thursday, April 29: Rome

Sunny and warm on our second day in Rome. We accomplish our goal of sleeping through the night and avoiding any long lasting effects of jet lag. After breakfast--outside on the small terrace next to the hotel's breakfast pavilion--we walk over to the Scuderie di Quiranale to see if the line for admission without reservations is manageable. When we are told it would take two hours to get in (and that there are no on-line reservations available for weeks), we decide not to wait. Instead, we get on a bus and head for the of our "obligatory" stops on any visit to Rome. We do one errand first--at the Rome branch of the Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella for Diana to to buy some of her favorite face cream-- then we walk over to the Piazza alla Rotonda.

The Pantheon continues to thrill us....we never get tired of walking inside and admiring how well it has survived the centuries. Lots of tourists are inside, most all of them taking pictures of the oculus in the dome with the sunlight blazing through. We try to get on the little electric bus (116) that goes to the Campo de' Fiori but I can't remember which street it runs on so, after looking for a few minutes, we jump on a 116 that is going the opposite direction. We get a chance to sit for a while while the bus careens through the "centro storico", up the Via Veneto, through the Villa Borghese park and then back to the Campo de' Fiori along the Corso and past the Piazza Navona. The return route is nowhere near the outgoing route so it is not surprising that I was unable to find it. On the bus, I give some advice to a family that is trying to get to the Spanish Steps, forgetting that the bus makes a circuit around the park before stopping near the Steps, so they get an extra ride and will likely not hire me as a trip planner.

We arrive at the Campo de' Fiori just in time for one of our regular lunch options in Rome...a porchetta sandwich at Aristocampo--delicious as usual. Then a pleasant visit our friend Simona, one of the desk staff at the Hotel Teatro di Pompeo. We hop the bus back to the hotel (as usual, the #64 is packed to the gills and we have to wait for a few to pass by before getting on) and rest, check e-mail and do a little work. I take a walk around the neighborhood to do a little more scouting and exploring.

When I get back, we attempt to visit one of the oldest churches in Rome, located a few blocks away from the hotel. But when we get to Santa Pudenziana, there is a mass being celebrated (it is a church that serves the Filipino community in Rome) so we can't go in and see the 4th century mosaics over the altar. A stop for a (Sicilian) gelato compensates somewhat and, to add to our experience with Jewish Italy, we pass the "other" synagogue in Rome--the di Castro Oratory--on our way back to the hotel. It was established in the last century as a Ashkenazi-rite synagogue to accommodate those Roman Jews who no longer lived in the ghetto. It is closed up tight but we will think about going there on Saturday for services.

We are invited to dinner at Maureen and Franco's near the Colosseum. It's a bit too early to eat outside on their roof terrace but the evening is wonderful as usual...great food (shell pasta with fava, guanciale and artichokes, grilled lamb from the farm of their friend from Abruzzo and breaded baked onions) and convivial company. It's almost midnight before the party breaks up and we take a cab back to hotel.

Tomorrow, we hope for continued beautiful weather...plans for the day are uncertain.
Jim and Diana

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