Europe 2012: Day 57 – Rome

National Museum of Rome, Italy

Thursday, 8/02/2012

I wake up at 9:30am.     My DH has just returned from breakfast and says “You have 19 minutes to get breakfast if you want it.”   I want it!  So I comb my hair and put on some decent clothes and head to the breakfast room taking the Kindle with me to check email.  I must be feeling better!

I am feeling better.   I can breathe and my eyes no longer hurt, the fever is gone!    I am still sneezing but I feel well enough to go out and see something!   After all, today is our last day in Rome.

I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but my DH and I have been in Rome before.  I have been here in 2001 (for a day) and 2007 (for a week).   My DH has been here when he was bumming around Europe after college in the early 1980’s and with me in 2007.  Thus, we have already seen all the major attractions like the Forum, the Colosseum, and the Vatican – thus the lack of pictures of these sites in my blog.   If you want to see the Forum, the Colosseum, and the Vatican, I suggest you go to Rome — but not in July or August!  I beg you!

Today, we plan to go to the National Museum of Rome.    Around 11am, we take a cab to the museum because it is still hot and I am still recovering from my cold.   This museum was surprisingly good!   There are lots and lots of sculptures, mosaics, and frescoes to be viewed.  I found the history of Roman and Greek hairstyles to be fascinating!   My DH really liked the room with the garden-like frescoes painted on the walls.   This museum also has the best collection of Roman coins we have seen so far.  Here are some pictures:

The Boxer, Rome National Musuem (Italy)

“What? Another hot day?”
The Boxer, National Museum of Rome (Italy).

“Funny, the heat doesn’t bother me?”
The Warrior, National Museum of Rome (Italy)

"I think I can! I think I can! I just wish it wasn't so darn hot!"

“I think I can! I think I can! I just wish it wasn’t so darn hot!”
Roman Olympian, National Museum of Rome, Italy.

I love mosaics! They give me ideas of quilting designs!  Or maybe the bathroom floor…
Mosaic at the National Museum of Rome, Italy

Marble inlay -- this would make a nice quilt too!

Marble inlay — this would make a nice quilt design!
National Museum of Rome, Italy

My DH’s favorite room at the National Museum of Rome, Italy.

Close-up of a tree in the Garden Room.
National Museum of Rome, Italy

We spend almost four hours in this museum.   Around 5pm, we decided to see another museum close by, the Baths of Diocletian (it is part of the National Museum).   When we found it, we discovered that it was not a Roman bath like what we saw in Bath, England, — it is actually the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri now.  Apparently, these baths were converted into the Basilica in the 16th century.

Around 5:30pm, we headed of the see the Roman Spanish Steps, which are a set of steps climbing a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti at the top.   This place is famous for people gathering and people watching – it is where you go to see and be seen.   It was also made famous in the movie “Roman Holiday”.  It is a good movie (I could go on and on about it, but I won’t).   Today, the steps were crowded and hot.   We went off and got some gelato and went back to the hotel to rest.

View from the top of the Spanish Steps (Rome, Italy).

View from the bottom of the Spanish Steps (Rome, Italy)

At around 8pm, I want to eat somewhere nice by a Roman Fountain — like Palazzo Navona.   My DH does his usual thing by spending the next hour consulting TripAdvisor for a suitable restaurant.    But all the restaurants located next to the fountain get bad reviews.  He reads all the bad reviews to see just how bad a restaurant can be by asking himself, “is this restaurant really bad or is the reviewer just being critical?”  Complaints abound about service, food, and cost.  The words “tourist trap”  show up more than once.  But, if you want to eat by a fountain, what choice do you have really?

By 9pm, we have a list of eating options at Palazzo Novona.   We check out the best options (good food, good service, and good price).   Not only are all of these options not by the fountain, they are crowded and noisy with motorcycles and vespers zipping up and down the street, inches from the dinner tables.   Next we consider the remaining options — the places with fair/poor food, fair/poor service, and high prices.  I decide on Caffè Domiziano, right next to the fountain.   The menu offers basic Italian food in a grand Italian setting – warm and inviting bar in the back and classy tables with candles, silverware, and  glass stemware on fluttering tablecloths outside next to the Fountain of the four Rivers.   My DH humors me as our waiter seats us immediately.

This restaurant got one of the poorest ratings on TripAdvisor.  The biggest complaint is the price, the service, and food.   Well, the menu and prices are posted on a big sign standing outside the restaurant so they are no big secret – in my book, this complaint is not valid.   As far as good and service, I figure I will play it safe and order only a couple of items that I know are relatively simple to make.   Our waiter is an attentive sexy Italian young man with dark eyes, and a curl to his smile – he is dreamy!  Since my DH and I are sharing, I order a classic Roman dish — Spaghetti made with olive oil, garlic, and cheese – and a glass of white wine.    Mr. Dreamy takes our order and returns quickly with my wine, a nice cold crisp white.

While we wait for the dining disaster that TripAdvisor has foretold, we watch the crowd – a mix of young, old, families, artists, assorted beggars, and young black men selling flying toys and fake designer handbags.   We watch a female police officer confiscate an arm-load of fake designer handbags as the sellers gathered up their remaining loot and quietly move on.  We are not sure what happened.  No one was arrested and after a few minutes, the cop is gone and the guys are back in business in front of the fountain selling their fake designer bags.

Ten minutes after we ordered, our pasta has arrived!   Mr. Dreamy has already divided the pasta between our plates and puts them down in front of us is a dish of parmesan romano cheese.  My DH asked Mr. Dreamy “What just happened here with the guys selling the handbags?”   Mr. Dreamy just shook his hand and said in his broken english “They are a problem but they are not illegal. Police try to discourage.”    Hmmm?

This pasta was good!   It was cooked perfectly, had a nice garlic taste, not too oily, and the cheese had the wonderful mix of salty and sour.  When we were finished, Mr. Dreamy returned and offered us the dessert menu.  I decide to pass on dessert and coffee because (1) I didn’t want to risk ruining a good thing when I know there are better dessert places around, and (2) this place is expensive!    Total bill came to 20 Euros for a plate of pasta and a glass of wine (with no cover charge), but we already knew that.    The dinner theater in front of the fountain was free.

Quote of the day:  “So, did the officer just keep the bags?”   — Anna to Mr. Dreamy.  He nodded his head.


2 thoughts on “Europe 2012: Day 57 – Rome

  1. I rented “Roman Holiday” and enjoyed it. It even interested my 18 year old daughter (as she caught the ending and decided to watch the whole movie, so I enjoyed watching it twice). In the beginning it said the entire movie was filmed in Rome. It was fun to watch after reading what you have been sharing with us about your trip.

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