Woke at 7:00am. It is sunny and I will just assume it will be hot.
Today we leave for Rome. Why Rome? Why not!
We had first-class reserved seats on the train to Rome – we should always travel like this! The seats are larger, we have air conditioning, and we have a table (with electrical plugs) for all our electronic devices. We used our EuroRail pass – we don’t pay for the seats, but we do pay an 18 Euro reservation fee (per seat). Thankfully, we do not have to play musical chairs on this train, everyone has reserved seats.
My DH tries to catch up on some sleep. I am reading an ebook on our Kindle Fire. Just like everything else, sometimes I need a break from writing. I have to keep reminding myself that I am on vacation – I can do what I want.
The trip to Rome is about five hours. We arrive at the Rome train station on time around 2:30pm. We were able to quickly find a taxi at the train station so we didn’t need to stand in the hot sun for too long. Our taxi driver (a young Italian woman) drives through the streets of Rome without fear but I wonder how we survived the trip! In Rome, traffic lanes and stop lights are just a suggestion. The streets really are a free-for-all – only the bravest and most skilled survive!
We check into our hotel, the Hotel Torre Argentina. My DH chose this hotel. It is right in the thick of things in that it is very central to all the main attractions in the city. More importantly, it has air-conditioning and free WiFi.
After we deposit our stuff in the room and check out the free WiFi (so far, so good), we leave the hotel and go around the corner to a pizza place recommended by the hotel receptionist. He is Italian and he says they have good pizza here so what more needs to be decided. My DH and I share a cheese, ham, and mushroom pizza with a nice thin crust and an ice-cold bottle of mineral water (naturalle). It was very good and hit the spot!
We finish lunch around 4pm and decide to walk around a bit. We have been sitting all day and we need the exercise. We go down the block past our hotel and find one of the major squares in Rome, Piazza Campo De Fiori. During the morning, this square is packed with a farmers market but now it is empty except for all the restaurant tables that line the perimeter of the square. Lots of people are here taking advantage of the umbrellas and water misters to keep cool in the heat. We walk around a bit more and find one of my favorite bakeries: Il Fornaio! It is odd that I remember this place from our last trip here in 2007 – it has the best Italian cookies so I buy some.
Next, we walked to Piazza Navona across the street. Piazza Navona is a classic Roman square with impressive white stone buildings, fountains of Greek and Roman Gods flocking with horses and sea creatures – I am sure you have seen it in a number of movies like “Roman Holiday” with Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn (see the picture at the top of this entry). It is busy today with tourists eating gelato, drinking coffee and wine, and looking at all the art work for sale in the square. We break out the Kindle Fire and consult Rick Steves to find all the really good gelato places. We also step into a pharmacy to see if I can get anything to help my mosquito bitten legs. I show the pharmacist the large swollen red welts on my legs and she know exactly what I need. My DH also suggests I get some mosquito repellent – she has that too.
Walking back to the piazza, we stop in a church hidden in a back alley behind Piazza Navona, Santa Maria dell’Anima – where it is cool. I put the cream on my bites and it works like a charm, no more itching!
After we have cooled off a bit, we walk through the Piazza Navona and follow the signs to the Pantheon. This is a happening place too. Lots of people. Lots of restaurants all with umbrellas over their tables and people just staring out into the crowd behind their sunglasses. This is what you do on a hot afternoon. But for me, I have had enough of the heat, so we head back to the hotel to rest before dinner.
At around 8pm, we are rested and ready for dinner. My DH was able to login to the WiFi at the hotel and after consulting TripAdvisor, we decide to go to Osteria La Quercia. This is a local place just hidden behind the Piazza Campo De Fiori. It is lovely! Everyone there is speaking Italian so we figure it must be good.
We look at the menu and we both order our favorite pasta dishes with an ice cold bottle of mineral water. I order the Pasta Carbonara (homemade pasta in a cheese, eggs, and cream sauce with lots of pepper). My DH orders the Pasta Amatriciana (homemade pasta in a spicy tomato sauce). Both dishes were superb! We also gave a peek at the roasted chicken being served to the table next to us. We couldn’t help it, the aroma was heavenly – it was an whole chicken with crispy skin and roast potatoes for pete’s sake!
After dinner, we walked back through Campo De Fiori. The restaurants were busy and there we lots of young and old people milling about. There were lots of street vendors selling toys that glowed in the dark and flew in the air only to float down again. There was dozens of these things flying as vendors (all young men from India, I am guessing) try to sell them to children and their stressed-out parents. This is what Rome is all about – good food, good times, and illegal commerce on a warm summer evening.
Quote of the day: “I once had a girlfriend who drove like that!” — DH comments on the skill of our taxi driver.