Arriviamo a Roma

First, a brief update from Venice: on our way to dinner, as we crossed a large piazza filled with students drinking and having a great time, I see a tall guy standing surrounded by luggage in the middle of the piazza.  And what do you know, it’s Jack, one of my colleagues from the office…  We actually knew that we’d both be in Venice at the same time, but it was still pretty amazing to just stumble across someone from back home…

So, back to Rome…  We arrived at the station and found our way to the apartment quite easily.  It’s very nice – though the owner, who was here to meet us, also lives here part time – so the place is filled with photographs of himself…  A little peculiar, frankly, but other than that the apartment is great.

Chris on the steps to the Campodiglio

Chris on the steps to the Campidoglio

After unpacking and settling in, we headed to the Campidoglio.  Had a walk around and took in the wonderful view of the ruins of the Imperial Forum – just wanted to a little taste of ancient Rome to get us started.  Strolled back home, with a pit stop for gelato, as well as the farmacia for an ice pack, as I had managed to nearly wipe out in pothole, twisting my ankle on one foot and stepping on my own toe of the other foot…  Mamma mia – I was OK today, though the toe looks like it may be somewhat worse for wear…

Overlooking the Imperial Forum

Overlooking the Imperial Forum

Getting to dinner last night proved challenging.  First, we had difficulty finding a taxi; then, once we did, the driver didn’t know where the address was (but found it with GPS); and of course he drove like the pokey little puppy.

On top of everything else, Chris kept asking me if the taxi smelled like shit.  Even once we arrived at our destination, he kept insisting that something smelled like shit (though I hadn’t noticed).  He finally got up to check his shoes in the john – and sure enough, he’d stepped in a pile of dog crap the size of the Capitoline Hill.

So, in other words, our first day in Rome was off to a rollicking start…

I formaggi.

I formaggi.

At any rate, Checchino, a traditional Roman restaurant that first opened in 1887 in the Testaccio district, turned out to be a very nice place – though the menu was a bit offal-centric for our tastes.  I had an excellent penne all’arrabiata and Chris loved his bucatini all’ammatriciana.  I followed up with some lamb chops – pretty good, though quite fatty. And after dinner, Chris had a really good almond semifreddo, while I had a fantastic cheese course, including Parmigiano (served with honey) and one of the finest goat cheeses I’ve ever tasted.

Today, we were up at the crack of dawn, out of the apartment at 7:30 to find our way to the Vatican for our first walking tour.  We met up with our guide, Sara Magister, and the two other couples in our group.

Detail of one of the mosic floors in the Vatican

Detail of one of the mosaic floors in the Vatican

I won’t even try to describe the Vatican Museum – I’m not a skilled enough writer to convey the magnificence and beauty of what we little saw.  But I will tell you that Sara provided the best guided tour I’ve ever been on.  Before we even entered the main part of the museum, she spent nearly an hour familiarizing us with the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, its context, its importance technically and symbolically and the history-making recent cleaning of the ceiling, which completely changed contemporary understanding of Michelangelo – and the time flew by thanks to her passion for the subject and both the width and breadth of her knowledge.  I can’t imagine appreciating this splendid work of art to the extent that I do without having experienced Sara’s compelling description of its creation and the language and vocabulary of the work within the context of the Vatican, the Catholic church and the life of Michelangelo.  Truly a masterpiece…  and Sara is a truly superior guide.

The Hall of Maps, bearing an uncanny resemblence to the Fremont St. Experience in Las Vegas...

The Hall of Maps, bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Fremont St. Experience in Las Vegas...

We also spent a fairly short amount of time (after over four hours in the Vatican Museum) in the Basilica San Pietro – the Pieta is achingly beautiful.  We left pretty quickly, due to exhaustion – but we’re planning to return for a closer look and perhaps a climb up to the Cupola.

Pizza Diavolo

Lunch at a nice little pizza place nearby, Pizzeria Piacere Molise – in fact best pizzas we’ve had so far.  And a table full of adorable Roman giovanotti at the table next to us…  Back on the Metro to our apartment – napping for Chris and blogging for me…  Tomorrow, we finally sleep in…

Ciao, cari!

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