Europe 2012: Happy 63rd birthday, Papa! From Roma with love.
Posted by Cristina on June 30, 2012
On June 30, my dad’s 63rd birthday, Kurt and I fittingly spend it in Rome. We sleep to about 10:30am, then get on the hour train to Rome from Civitvecchia around noon. After a brief period of not being able to find the hotel (I stupidly forget to print out our reservation and have no idea where it is located), I use my limited Italian to ask a shop owner if she knows where it is. Luckily, I happen to remember the name of the hotel, Hotel Everest, and they are able to give us directions to it. We knew it is right by the train station Roma Termini, but there are about 100 hotels around it. Our hotel is extremely hard to find in the fact that it has no big outdoor sign, and is actually only on the 3rd floor of a multi-floor building, where every floor is a different hotel. Confusing!
Being hot and exhausted by the time we finally make it up to our room, it is only fitting that we decide to go walk around Rome. This is my 5th time here and Kurt’s 2nd; however, the only things Kurt did when we were there in 2010 was the Vatican and the Colosseum. Granted, those are the two biggest things to do in Rome, but he missed all the little things. So that’s what we did – the “little” things.
Our first stop on our walking tour is the Spanish Steps (Scalinata Trinità dei Monti). We didn’t realize we’d end up at the top of the steps from the way we walked, which is a blessing. We are able to climb down them instead of up! Lots of street artists and tourists, a great piazza down below, and plenty of drinking fountains (with long lines). Our next stop is the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi). It is the biggest baroque fountain and simply breathtaking. And you know what I always say…if it’s not baroque,don’t fix it. We naturally throw a coin in the fountain to guarantee that we’ll be back one day. And if everything goes according to plan, I will get my Italian citizenship and in 13 years, we’ll retire and move to Italy. Then we can go to Rome whenever we want! Their public transportation system is excellent…makes me really wish the US was more progressive. In a lot of ways, the US is so regressive in it’s thinking…but that’s a whole other subject I refuse to get into…
After the Trevi, we walk to the Pantheon. Simply stunning, it reminds me of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, with it’s massive presence. They are about to do mass, and Kurt and I are literally the last two people they allow inside before shutting it off to the public. We toy with the idea of staying for mass, but we are hungry and have limited time in Rome, so we decide to just continue our walking tour. We see our friends from the Tuscan winery yesterday outside, and they are enjoying Rome just as much as we are. In fact, we are pretty much touring the exact same sights, just vice versa from each other.
We decide to walk to the Colosseum, and walk past all the ruins of the ancient Romans. I’m so happy Rome decided to preserve it’s history and leave so many ancient sites standing. The ruins are massive, and we are quite hungry and thirsty at this point, so we stop at a little outdoor cafe. It is very pretty, with a canopy of leaves and trees shading the entire outdoor seating area. Kurt gets cacio e pepe (pasta with pepper and ewe’s cheese) and I get some lamb with potatoes. Both are absolutely delicious…American food just doesn’t taste this good! [Kurt's note: Even Pepsi tastes amazing in Italy. Or maybe I was just that hot.] After downing 3 liters of water, we are ready to walk to the Colosseum. Just like last time, we see many, many brides and grooms taking pictures in the area. We didn’t go inside the Colosseum, but you still get this immense feeling of history just walking by it. Hard to imagine all the things this building has seen. We also see the Arch of Constantine and are reminded again of our wonderful 2010 trip and the audio-guides we got that mentioned the Arch about 20 times (and to your left…). We then walk to the Tiber River, a pretty fair walk, and can see the top of St. Peter’s basilica in the Vatican. The Tiber is absolutely gorgeous where we see it, with a bridge to cross if we wish and even the relic of an old bridge. I almost felt like we were in another time period. We find the church of Santa Maria and see the Mouth of Truth (Bocca della Verità), but unfortunately, the church’s gate is already closed, so we can’t stick our hands in the mouth and see which of us is a liar.
At this point, it’s 8:30pm and we are utterly exhausted. We make the incredibly long trek back to our hotel. Luckily, it doesn’t get dark until around 9:30pm, so we still had plenty of light. My feet are killing me by the time we make it back, and I am so glad we opted to spend the night in Rome instead of spending another 1 1/2 hours minimum trying to get back to the ship. We quickly fall asleep, knowing we had a great, fun-filled day traversing all around Rome a piedi (on foot). Ten miles on foot to be exact! I hope my dad is smiling down on us from Heaven, happy that we are enjoying his home country and walking on history.