May 27, 2003—travelled to Roma by taking the Sorrento bus to the Circumvesiviana train to Napoli, then Trenitalia to Roma. We walked to the Hotel Torino, which wasn't too far from the train station, but when we got there, they apologized and said they had to put us in their sister hotel, Hotel Gallia, pictured above. They're owned by the same company. They got us a taxi, which they paid for. The taxi driver couldn't find the hotel, so we went in circles a little bit. Then we spotted the hotel and pointed it out to him. We were shown to a very nice room. The hotel was right next to a big church and its piazza. We could see a lot of traffic going by if we leaned out the window. Up the spiral staircase was the roof where they served breakfast each day.
We took the Metro the the Colisseum, first having lunch in a cafe alongside it, but up on a hill. After the Colisseum we went through the Roman Forum and came out by the monument to Victor Emmanuel.
Arch of Constantine.
Entrance to the Forum, seen from the Colisseum.
Love those poppies.
Paul and I followed the walking tour of Roma that was in our guide book. I got us lost somehow, and we wound up walking in a huge circle. We must have walked for hours, but we saw so many sights, including Piazza Navona (above)
Parliament, and its carabinieri
and the Spanish Steps.
In a medieval section of town called Trastevere, we stopped to sit in a piazza and witnessed an unusual sight. Some men had unleashed dogs who were apparently in heat. The lead dog, everafter known as the Rapist Dog, was chasing down every female dog who walked by and mounting them. It was like watching a gang rape. When we go to the Pantheon, the dogs were there, too! After the walking tour we headed back for the hotel after dark and stopped at Gran Caffe Strega for dinner and some wine.
Monument to Victor Emmanuel.
At some point during the day we went to an Internet cafe (just a little room with a bunch of computers) and dropped off several rolls of film at the camera shop next door to our hotel. I hoped I way making myself clear to the shopkeeper, who only spoke Italian.
May 28, 2003 — We had a lovely breakfast on the hotel roof with a view all the way to St. Peter's Basilica. Then we took the hot and sweaty Metro to Vatican City, but when we exited the station, we couldn't tell which way to turn. We started one way, then doubled back and went the other way. Still having no luck, we were approached by an elderly man who asked us, in Italian, if we needed directions. I told him, in Italian, that we were looking for the Vatican Museum. He gave us directions, all the while checking to see if I really understood him, and we were able to get there.
We were glad to have been informed about women having to have their shoulders covered and shorts not being allowed, because we saw other people being turned away. We toured the museum, following signs the whole time for the Sistine Chapel. Boy, the chapel is really buried deep in there.
Even when we got there and entered the room, I didn't know it was the Sistine Chapel. I always pictured it being a separate building. I guess it was, hundreds of years ago. It wasn't until we found seats along the perimeter that I was able to look up and realize this was it! Every square inch of the chapel had a tourist in it. An official kept repeating in a deep voice, "No cam-air-ah!" to discourage the use of photography, but I saw a lot of flashes going off. Other people were secretly videotaping the ceiling.
La Pieta is kept behind protective glass in a corner of the basilica.
The SmartCar is one of countless itty-bitty cars perfect for the narrow streets of Italy.
We took the Metro back to our hotel room for a shower (it was really hot that day, so the rain felt good for a few minutes) and a nap, then we went back to the Colisseum to see it at night.
We ate dinner in an outdoor restaurant right by the monument to Victor Emmanuel. We had the funniest waiter—when I try to remember him I picture Roberto Begnini. He was singing and joking the whole time. He was so entertaining. We stayed a long time and had the best desserts of the trip: lemon ice and tartufo nero. The tartufo nero was ice cream covered in hard chocolate, but we couldn't quite figure out the flavor. It may have been almond it reminded me of some liqueur, and I thought it might have been Fra Angelico, which I think is hazelnut. We were very sad to go back to the hotel because we had to leave in the morning.
After a final rooftop breakfast, we went to the camera store, but the photos weren't back yet. We waited a while in the hotel lobby, and then we had to get the hotel manager to go next door with us and explain to the shopkeeper that we had to leave and we would pay to have the pictures mailed to America. It seemed as if everybody understood. We walked to the train station and went to the airport. I couldn't get the song "Arrivederci, Roma" out of my head. It was extremely sad to leave, and I don't think I slept on the plane at all.
Till next time! Ciao.