Friday, December 4, 2009

Dennis & Erin's Excellent (Italian) Adventure - Part 4

Day 8 (Tuesday , October 20)

Today we departed Florence and made our way to Rome. Before leaving town that morning, I decided to make one last trip to the leather markets, where I picked up what I now affectionately call "my lovely."

Soft black leather, chocolate brown suede lining, pockets for my phone and iPod, and it even smells like leather - all for the low, low price of €50 (or about $75). sigh. I think I'm in love...

We caught our train to Rome, and during our 3 hour trip I took another series of really blurry photos from the train. The windows on this train were even dirtier, so the photos look extra bad. But, it was still nice to see some more of the Italian countryside. A few of my favorites.

After arriving in Rome, we walked the few short blocks from the main train station to our hotel, Roman Residence. This was, by far, the nicest and most comfortable hotel we stayed in - modern decor, complimentary bottled water, a flat screen TV, a shower with plenty of hot water, and a reasonable nightly rate. The hotel is small - only 4 rooms - and the owner, Massimo, is very helpful.

After dropping our bags and settling in, Dennis and I decided to explore Rome on foot. The hotel isn't located in any "prime" tourist areas, but it was in walking distance to everything and very close to the train station. We stopped in at a pizzeria for lunch and had what might have been the most disappointing meal of our trip. They confused our order and brought us a seafood pizza that was absolutely terrible. On the bright side, we did pick up a couple very valuable pieces of information for future reference: squid ink on pizza is not tasty, and putting pre-cooked shrimp on pizza before putting it in the oven results in shrimp with about the same texture as a super bouncing ball.

With a thoroughly unsatisfying meal in our bellies we continued our stroll north, eventually winding up at the top of the Spanish Steps. Looking past the faux Egyptian obelisk at the top of the steps, we had a lovely view of the streets of Rome.

Descending the Spanish Steps.

The view from the bottom of the Steps looking back up wasn't quite as lovely, in part because the
Steps were cast in late afternoon shadows and crowded with teenagers. We lingered on Piazza di Spagna for a while, watching the crowds and absorbing the atmosphere.

A chestnut vendor.

This poor horse can't possible know how funny he looks.

We left Piazza di Spagna and headed west, finally arriving at the Trevi Fountain. The amount of detail in the carving is astounding, and it transitions from semi-natural formations to formal sculptures seamlessly.

Next we headed to the Pantheon, where I got a little bit obsessed with photographing the domed ceiling.

The Pantheon ceiling. It's awesome.

Then it was on Piazza Navona, where we found another faux Egyptian obelisk and a vibrant artists' market. We also got to enjoy a serenade from this guy:

Not Pavarotti.

Finally, Dennis insisted we head to Campo de' Fiori. So we trekked on, and once we got there we spent a whole whopping minute looking at a statue of Giordano Bruno. And then we left.

We walked a lot further than we realized because the walk back to the hotel was a long one. Along the way we passed Trajan's Column, but we were too tired and focused on getting back to the hotel to be impressed. Exhausted from our long day of walking, we skipped dinner and collapsed into bed.

Next Time: We explore the peculiar specifics of the Vatican's dress code.

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