So what has happened over the last month?
Well 1 month ago I was in Wales, this week I am back home, however last week we were in Rome! Hence the title.
We headed off to Rome on our wedding anniversary. It was a great trip, started by a long drive to Toulouse airport, a short flight to Rome and as it was our anniversary we had indulged ourselves with a pick-up from the airport. Pat got his first experience of Roman driving, which is an interesting experience to say the least. So we arrived at the apartment, we then waited outside for about 20 minutes to try to get through to K and/or S. Eventually we were welcomed in and surprised S. Now why was it a surprise for S – well that would be because it was his birthday week (it was a big birthday) and he had only found out he was going to Rome the day before.
So we started our holiday with a walk around our area on the search for a restaurant for dinner. We had a glass of Prosecco to start the meal and then on to the pizza! Fantastic pizza and everywhere has slightly different way of making their pizza so it was a good week.
Our first full day was a slow start, as K&S really needed to get some sleep. So we let them sleep in and we had the joy of discovering that there was no hot water. Thankfully the owner was around quickly and had the water situation fixed in no time. While K&S slept Pat and I did some hunter gathering at the local supermarket for some breakfast & lunch items. Once S was up we also went over to the local food market – which was very good, the tomatoes, grapes, capsicums (bell peppers) were fantastic. We did pay a bit much for some very good cheese – which actually lasted us for most of the week so it ended up being a good buy. The afternoon was spent exploring our local area (Trestevere) which was great. We did find a great little shop that made its own pasta, some of which we bought for our dinner.
Tuesday was our first big “tourist” day with a walk over to Circus Maximus, then on to the Palatine Hill (to buy tickets for the hill, forum and colosseum – for anyone going to Rome buy your tickets here rather than up at the forum or colosseum entrance as the queue is small – only one person in front of us). Off to the colosseum where we joined the not so long queue for those who already had tickets and into the colosseum. We gave ourselves 2 hours in the colosseum which was great, we then headed outside and did a walk around the outside. Where we came across 2 couples walking around and both of the women had on silly high heels, the sort that would be back braking at the best of times let alone on cobbles that are a few thousand years old! Anyway….
We then wandered back to the Palatine Hill entrance and made our way into the garden for our picnic lunch. Thankfully Kate and I both remembered our previous times on the hill and in the forum – both places without much shade and no water – we had come prepared with a couple of large bottles of water. However the water situation has changed; and we found a couple of fountains (which were also marked on the map). We did have to jerry rig one of the fountains, as it wasn’t a continuous fountain but had a foot push button, which was not working, however a stone and a little bit of playing (by Pat) and later we had a working fountain, so water bottles were refilled (ours and other tourists who had been watching our handy work).
After the Palatine Hill we went on to the forum, which as always was fascinating. The information book that we had with us was great in explaining various bits about the forum which was great. I must admit we were shattered by this end of the forum, so off we went to find a café to sit down and have a drink. We found one not too far away – but tucked away from the touristy side of things – we were well timed as they put up their closed sign about 10 minutes after we arrived. It was a great day.
Wednesday was a slower day, but still a lot of walking. We started out with a walk to Piazza del Popolo – with a stop for coffee and a pastry (we learnt that pain chocolate are called fagottini chocolate) and then up lots of stairs to the villa Borghese (which despite the name is a park) and then for a slow stroll to the Gallery Borghese. We did stop for a picnic lunch at a lovely fountain with marble seats surrounding it. The Gallery Borghese was my choice of places to visit as I remembered it from my previous visit to Rome, you only get 2 hours in the gallery (and tickets have to be pre purchased a good couple of weeks before your visit). This time I got the opportunity to look more at the fabric and decoration of the building rather than the fantastic sculptures and art work. They also had a very interesting display of haute courtier dresses throughout the gallery, which while interesting was a little annoying as the stands were covering some fantastic mosaics. Pat looked at some of the dresses and just couldn’t believe that a model would fit into them as they were so tiny – but after our tour around the gallery we went back downstairs to the cloak room area in which was a video display of some of the dresses on models on the cat walk!
We returned into the chaos that is Rome via another lovely walk through the park and then down the Spanish Steps. We then started our meander through the backstreets of Rome in search of gelati and the Pantheon, unfortunately we found rain! Now K being efficient had an umbrella, however we did not (and our spray coats were back at our apartment)! So we found a gelaterie that we could sit in and had a fantastic gelato.
We then headed off the Pantheon which was packed due to the wet weather. We then hit the stage that we all looked at each other and said let’s find somewhere close for dinner. So off down a side street for a recommended Pizza place, which was found, we thankfully sat down and started to dry off. Dinner was great, another fantastic pizza and we decided that the rain wasn’t going to stop so we might as well head home. Pat succumbed to the street seller selling overpriced umbrellas, but it got the top half of us home dry.
The next day was just a wandering day, the Campo de’ Fiori, Piazza Novona, some interesting churches, the Fontana di Trevi (which is still undergoing restoration and cleaning, and no we didn’t throw any coins in) then back to the Pantheon as it was a sunny day. One of my more interesting discoveries was a vending machine for coffee – but packets of coffee (ie. Ground coffee, coffee beans) for taking home. Great idea! Of course more Gelati was had by all. We also found a lovely café/bar to stop at to have an early evening drink over a local square with a fountain, church and great music.
Friday was an early start as we had a small group tour of the Sistine Chapel and some of the Vatican Museum – including the Raphael rooms – which I must admit are two of my favourite parts of the Vatican. Part of the reason for doing an early start was to get into the Sistine Chapel before the public. It was worth the price paid, as after doing the chapel previously in the middle of the day, having only 50 odd people (there were other tours) in the space it was great. Our guide also gave a good explanation of the work before we went in, with a great sheet to explain what the paintings were on the chapel roof and the altar wall. She also linked back some of the figures that were painted to some of the sculptures that are in the Vatican – we went past quite a few of these sculptures and you really could see how they influenced the painting of people. We finished off our tour in the Basilica – which was great, but there is actually no seating inside the Basilica which means at the end of 4 hours of being on our feet we were all shattered. Off to find somewhere cheap for lunch, and not too touristy. Failed on the touristy bit, but did find a reasonably priced place, but not the best food.
We then strolled over to Castel di St Angelo for a look. We decided that we wouldn’t head inside as we were somewhat tired. Over the river and off to find a great place for coffee, which we did! Then back to home before we headed out for a meal. S’s choice since it was his birthday. A lovely dinner had by all (I really enjoyed my pasta carbonara). I must admit my meal that night was a little large, but after all the walking, greatly enjoyed.
Saturday, our last full day in Rome was another relaxing day and we headed up to the park that overlooks Trastevere. A couple of fountains later we came across a lovely place to eat our last picnic lunch while overlooking Rome. Of course another wander back home and another evening drink in the local square. Back home to a lovely meal cooked by Pat.
Sunday was our last day in Rome, K&S had an early start and we put them in their taxi around 8am. Pat and I looked high and low for a bin for our house rubbish (not an easy thing to find). We then got ourselves sorted out and out of the flat (luggage deposited at the owners b&b a couple of streets away). We went for a walk across to Tiber Island and into the Jewish quarter. Then a casual stroll back to our local square for our last pizza in Rome. Then a slighter quicker journey than anticipated to the airport for our afternoon flight home.
All in all a great week (but exhausting week).
And as it is cold and wet in France, this afternoon will be spent getting my winter clothes out of storage and putting away my summer clothes. Tomorrow onto the garden (as it’s not meant to rain here tomorrow).
Next week at http://patblog.patbell.co.uk
And I will see you again in 2 weeks.