And Italy was fantastic, a statement that should surprise exactly no one.
We began in Rome.
First, we found our hotel, which was on the Via Veneto, right off of the Piazza Barberini and only a few blocks away from the Spanish steps. Packed with tourists, they were, but still beautiful.
After we arrived and ate a late lunch, we decided to wander in the direction of the Pantheon.
On the way, we stumbled across Giolitti and were thus obliged to eat gelato.
Giolitti has been around for over a hundred years and has about that many flavors.
We went splitsies on some chocolate & strawberry.
After gelato, we continued on to the Pantheon, only to find out that most of the facade was covered up with scaffolding. A bummer. I mean, it was cool to go inside and all, but still- disappointing, especially since Daniel had never seen it before. I'm still feeling a little resentful, so I'm not going to show any pictures of the Pantheon. So there.
After the Pantheon, we wandered some more and found ourselves at the Piazza Navona.
Daniel was particularly fond of the lions.
Anyway, then it was evening, so we headed back to the hotel to change for dinner (I'd had my heart set on a restaurant near the hotel that our consierge assured me we wouldn't need a reservation for- but then we showed up and of course we did need a reservation. So I sulked for 40 minutes while Daniel patiently waited for me to calm down and we eventually found a perfectly nice trattoria for dinner in our neighborhood.
And afterwards we went to see the Trevi Fountain by night.
On our second day, we woke up early to visit the Galleria Borghese.
The Galleria Borghese is an amazing small museum in the middle of a park. You have to make a reservation in order to see the collection, so that the throngs of people coming to see the Caravaggios and Bernini sculptures don't get too thick. There's also a lovely garden behind the museum.
We spent about 2 hours seeing the museum and gardens and then it was time for lunch.
I'd read about a place called Trattoria Monti that Frank Bruni had written up in the New York Times a few years ago. We got to the restaurant before it opened and decided to explore the neighborhood of Monti. Turning a corner, we found ourselves in front of Santa Maria Maggiore.
An unexpected treat, since I hadn't thought we'd have time to see it on this trip.
We got back to the restaurant a few minutes after it opened and found it almost full- we were the last table they seated without a reservation. I think the host sensed I might have started to cry if he had turned us away.
We drank a half-liter of white wine and shared a pasta (rigatone with sausage) and then each ordered main courses- fried lamb brains and zucchini for me, roasted pork leg for Daniel. Delicious, delicious. Although Daniel gagged at my lamb brains and refused to try them. Hmph. Anyway, more for me.
After waddling out of the restaurant, we decided it was close enough to walk to the Coliseum.
Usually I'm too cheap and lazy to go on tours, but there was a long line to get inside the Coliseum which you could bypass if you joined a tour, and so we did. And it was quite good. I swear my mind is like a sieve and I hardly remember a thing I learned about Rome in school. Sigh.
After the Coliseum, we marched our tired feet up to the Palantine Hill
And then over to the Campidoglio.
It was approaching sunset and the light was beautiful- a kind of honey golden color that seems particular to Rome.
It was a lovely, if tiring, day. By the evening, both of us were wishing we got to stay on in Rome a little longer.
After being foiled the previous night when it came to dinner planing, I politely requested that the concierge make us a reservation at Hosteria Romana. Here follows a list of the antipasti we ate:
- marinated artichokes
- zucchini frittata
- marinated anchovies
- marinated red and yellow peppers
- baked artichokes with breadcrumbs
- buffalo mozzarella
- mushrooms with shaved root vegetables
There was more, but this was all I managed to pile onto my heaping plate and then stagger back to the table with.
And after polishing off a quantity of antipasti that would have felled a stevedore, I tucked into an enormous bowl of fettucini with porcini mushrooms, while Daniel attacked his spaghetti carbonara. On top of which we drank a liter and a half of red house wine and then started chatting with the gentleman seated beside us- Rodolpho, an Italian living in Luxembourg. When he asked where we were from and we responded "California", he asked "La Jolla?"
A small world indeed.
Hours later, we made our way out of the restaurant and into the crisp fall night, full and happy. In the Piazza Barberini, they were projecting scenes from Fellini movies onto a giant screen and we watched part of La Dolce Vita. I went to bed feeling completely and absolutely happy.
The next morning, we left for Bologna.