Saturday, October 8, 2005

My Italy Diary: Rome

October 8, 2005

We arrived in Rome last night late after a long train ride. We called the hotel to let them know we wouldn’t be arriving until approximately 11:30pm. The hotel, Teatropace 33, is tucked in a very small alley in the center of ancient Rome, a couple of blocks from Piazza Navona. When we arrived there was a note on the door directing us to go to the Cafe Tor Mielina, where we were given an envelope with a key and instructions. Luckily one of our fellow guests was leaving when we arrived so we were able to leave our luggage in the lobby instead of carrying them down the cobbled street.

After settling in, we walked down to the corner to a small bar, the “Big Apple,” for drinks and a little late supper. We had a few cocktails among a very young, mostly Roman crowd. The people here are beautiful and very friendly. We finally wandered back to the hotel around 2am after they kicked us out so they could close.

We woke early this morning even though there was a party going on in the street below our window after the bars closed. Our bathroom has a small tub with a handheld shower, but no door or barrier. Taking a shower was invigorating and slightly awkward, especially for Mr. Man who managed to spray water everywhere as he could barely fit in the tub. After breakfast in our room, we went downstairs to check-in and show our passports. I asked if they had a room available with a standing shower, and luckily they did. We packed up and left our things in our room for them to take to the new room once it was readied. Thank God, because the new room is located at the top of a private spiral staircase! It is lovely! There is no street below our window so it should be quieter tonight. The bathroom is beautiful marble in amber and charcol, and the shower, while small, is at least enclosed. The room is rather large with lovely hardwood floors and attractive furnishings.

The rain continues to hover over Italy, but it hasn’t dampened our spirits or joy in being here. We spent most of the morning deciding on an itinerary and settled on visiting the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona. The Pantheon is vast. When you first see it from outside you are misled as to its actual size. There is a large opening in the ceiling which lets in light and rain—for which there are 22 small holes in the floor for draining. The marble and art are breathtaking. The current staturary is not what was placed here originally as the structure was intended to pay homeage to the “Gods,” but at some point became a Church. Nonetheless, it is beautiful and inspiring.

Rome, like Venice, is more crowded than we anticipated and with the crowds carrying umbrellas it is sometimes difficult to see or get a good picture. We walked to the Fontana di Trevi, which was surrounded by a sea of color—colored umbrellas. We managed to make our way forward and each threw a coin over our shoulder into the fountain in hopes of returning one day. The fountain is magnificent! We tried to soak in the wonder of it: the statue of Neptune with his drapery billowing around him and the two horses representing the calmness and fierceness of the sea. I cannot do it an adequate description. We really did not want to move on, wishing to imprint in on our minds.

From here we walked up Via del Corso to the Spanish Steps. Unfortunately, Trinita dei Monti is undergoing some restoration and was covered by a large canvas. We climbed the steps for a wonderful view of Rome. There are incredible historical sites on almost every street and we often remind ourselves that the trip is as important as the destination. Heading south on Via del Corso toward the Piazza Navona, keeping an eye out for a trattoria for a quick bite to eat, we finally settled on a small place down a side alley which served us complimentary wine while we waited. The young man seating people asked us where we are from and we proceeded to have a casual conversation until our table was ready. He had lived in Brooklyn for a year with his father and step-family and spoke excellent English. We started our meal with Bruchetta—the tomatoes were the most favorful I’ve had in recent years, followed by pasta, and cappuccino for Mr. Man (which I drank half of).

After lunch we visited the Palazzo Galleria Doria Pamphili which houses over 400 paintings collected by Camillo Pamphili and Pope Innocent X. The paintings remain in a trust which ensures that the collection can never be divided. On our way to the muesum we saw a large monument on the horizon that we decided to visit, Monumento Vittorio Emmanuele II, which is surprisingly not mentioned in our tour books. Unfortunately, it was closing when we arrived so we were not able to find out anything about it other than it was build in honor of the first King of Unified Italy. Around the back is the Roman Forum, which we visit tomorrow along with the Colosseo.

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