Musing with Max

Musing with Max

October 24, 2016

Arrivederci Roma

Rome wasn't built in a day and it certainly can't be seen in two, trust me. However, when in Rome...(sorry about all the cliches but they just fit so well!) there are certain things one really must do if time is short. And here is where we bought our second ever tour because Vatican City is not for the uninitiated. So on our second morning in Rome we hauled ourselves out of bed at 5:15 AM, got ourselves all ready just in case the Pope was meandering about, as he tends to do, and walked a few blocks in the pitch black Roman morning to the taxi stand next to the Fendi store. We were to meet our tour at the bottom of the steps across the street from the Vatican Museums entrance by the Vatican Cafe at 6:35 AM. Our VIP tour would let us in at 7:00 AM, they open at 10:00 AM, where we would bypass security and then have a buffet breakfast in the gardens. There were two tours from our tour company divided into groups of sixteen. We had a lovely guide, Marina, who pulled out a big giant pink flower instead of the requisite umbrella. She was engaging, knowledgeable, and a little bit of a potty mouth. She also got into it a couple of times with other tour operators who got in our way and a guard at the Sistine Chapel. I loved her. When we walked into the smallest country in the world, my heart skipped a beat...or seven.

There is so much magnificent art in those walls and ceilings it is practically impossible to grasp let alone capture with my little camera and phone. I can never do it justice, it is overwhelming and incredibly beautiful. Lots of Raphael and Michelangelo of course. Recognize those last two? They're actually from the last part of the Vatican Museums which is a modern art collection that was started by Pope Paul VI. Unfortunately we raced through it which was disappointing since the pieces that rushed by my eyes were exquisite but how could I complain, we were on our way to see the original.

There are no pictures allowed in the Sistine Chapel and no talking, we are asked to respect the holiness of the place. We are ushered in and I am surprised at how small it is. It's not really that small but considering it's infamy I was taken aback. Guards usher everyone in until the entire room is filled, with wiggle room. We have 15 minutes. I stare straight up, I can't describe the feeling, I have goosebumps. Mom, I'm in the Sistine Chapel! Me! A priest comes to the very plain altar (other than the the walls and ceiling with it's unbelievable art, it is very plain and simple) and leads us in prayer. We stare and try to grasp as much as possible from Marina's explanations as we can in our short time allotment. Then we follow the bouncing pink flower out the big wooden doors.

The last part of our Vatican City tour is St. Peter's Basilica.

This is Pope John Paul's resting place where he was moved to after canonization.

We walk across St. Peter's Square, cross the bridge over the river Tiber back into Rome,

and are having lunch right outside the Pantheon in about 20 minutes, wondering why the taxi took so many streets. Hmmmm???

As if we haven't seen enough church today, we go inside the Pantheon.

Another thing one needs to do is get some fountain overload,

and we can't miss the mother of all fountains....Trevi...where is Marcello????????

One more night of Roman food,

pasta carbonara, again!!!!!!!

pasta with truffle sauce, the aroma just permeated the room.

then we rush to the airport the next morning, just make our connection in Zurich since our flight was delayed almost an hour (and I got pulled aside to be searched, again! Seriously? Am I on some list?)

I really hated coming home...but then

there's no place like home.

October 22, 2016

Roman Holiday

We seem to have added Rome as an afterthought which I know sounds a bit kooky considering that...well, it's Rome. We may have been a bit planned out at that point but how can you go to Italy and not got to Rome? Really! But two days? What were we thinking? By the time I realized it all plans were made, tickets bought, reservations, etc. etc. And there was too much else going on to rethink the whole thing. So as the saying so obnoxiously goes, "it is what it is". We took the high speed train from Florence which only takes one hour...and it was a half hour late. Rome was the first stop so we clamored towards the door to grab our luggage and jump off. And suddenly we're not in Kansas...or Florence...anymore. As much as the crowds are all over Florence, it is small and very intimate. Rome is not. It is BIG, bustling, a metropolis. We take a taxi from Tiburtina station and it takes about a half hour to get to our hotel through very fast crazy traffic. We are in a pedestrian zone in a wide cobblestone street lined with big name fashion stores. A little boutique hotel which recently opened and you can tell since the entire family comes out to greet us. We have the top floor which means we have the roof terrace,

which gives us fun views of Roman rooftops.

Down the spiral staircase is our breakfast terrace.

Hmmm, maybe we can extend this! After settling into our very pretty but very cramped room we go out to canvas the neighborhood. Just down the street and around the corner, the Spanish Steps.

Pinch me, am I in a movie? I've seen this place sooooo many times and here I am. Marcello!!!!!

We climb up and look at the views,

not bad. We do a little more exploring and then some cafe life to take in some serious people watching. And there it is. You always hear how well Italian women dress and frankly I had not seen anything special at all anywhere. Venice has a ton of tourists but I was happy to see that people dressed up at night, especially at the opera which were mainly Italians. No shorts, no jeans thank goodness. Florence had a lot of Americans and Australians, the men seem to have a hard time grasping the concept of long pants so Frank and I were always overdressed. I have mastered high heels and cobblestones! The women in Rome are dressed to the nines; oozing style and confidence. The high heels will fit right in.

I decided that while in Rome (when in Rome?) I would only eat Roman food so our first dinner on our first night we made a reservation at what is supposedly an iconic and very traditional restaurant, Armando al Pantheon, walking distance from us (about 10 minutes!) and half a block from the Pantheon. I wasn't prepared. We walk a few blocks down a main street, make a right, walk down some very challenging cobblestoned streets, past a darling little square with a beautiful church and outdoor cafes and suddenly, Piazza de la Rotonda, and...the Pantheon.

I'm in complete awe. It is a massive, magnificent structure. Beautifully preserved. It's late so there's hardly anyone around and the lights around the piazza give it an ethereal glow. Am I in a movie?

Armando al Pantheon is a darling little restaurant just up the street with this view from the front door,

crowded and happy. Reservations are essential, they're turning people away all night long. I can see why. Not only are they in a very coveted address, but the food...

I can still taste the mortadella in my antipasto, I've never had any like it. And my favorite...

Spaghetti a la Carbonara! Sublime. Now if I could only find a way to steal that plate!