Rome Day 8

We were extremely lazy today.  The pouring rain didn’t help matters much either.  In the morning we went to the Campo di Fiori market which was the closest market to out hotel to take a look at thier goods and get some gifts before leaving for home.  We didn’t get much other than some spices and some good photos which I plan to print and hang up in our kitchen or dining room someday.  All that shopping required a nap…so back we went for a mid-morning siesta.  

After lunch we went to the Capuchin Crypt to look at some morbid bone art.  We had fun naming the bones…Royce got really excited when I was able to identify a scapula.  (Photo from Wikipedia)

Since it was raining we thought we would find a movie theater but our search for either a V.O. (version originale…aka…in english) or something with english subtitles was fruitless unless we wanted to see The Bourne Ultimatum (the other Bourne movies nearly make me vomit because of the jerky camera crap this movie wasn’t an option).  Going off our Paris viewing of The Incredibles we that Ratatouille would be fun but it was only playing in Italian.

So we headed back home and out of the rain for yet another nap!  (I love vacation!!!).

Rome Day 7

Had a late start this morning (see Day 6…too much partying with the Aussies)…later than we wanted because today we did Vatican city. 

The Vatican museum closes at 1:00 and the lines can be long and so we were nervous we wouldn’t make it in time to stand in line and get in to see the Sistine Chapel.  After a good hour we managed to make it in…then we went on this wild-goose chase to find the Sistine Chapel.  Because we were so short on time we skipped the rest of the museum and just focusedon getting to the Chapel which is unfortunate because from what I saw (and we saw a lot) and read the museum looks pretty darn good.  

So back to the goose-chase.  My God of all Gods I do NOT understand why you have to walk through the entire maze of the museum (up and down and back and forth and through this dark hall way and down these dark steps to go up these stairs and down another hallway) to get to the Sistine Chapel.  I think over half of the traffic in that museum is just people walking through the museum to get to the Chapel.  I wish I would have timed it, but I think it took us at least an hour to navigate the maze and crowds of people before we arrived at the hot crowded Chapel.  

It was worth it though…as beautiful as one might expect.  Although you kind of get a stiff neck standing there gawking up towards the ceiling while you read about the murals.  (I must say that it really PISSED me off that everyone was taking photos although the Italian guards were yelling NO PHOTOS and were even telling people to put their cameras in thier bags as they walked in…not to mention all the no camera signs.  I mean really…do they really think that they are so important that their flash and the millions of others won’t eventually lead to the dulling and decaying of a monumental work of art?  Ugh.  About as annoying as the stupid men who were touching the statues in the Louvre.  Stuff like this can almost ruin a moment).  When we were done we headed out for some much needed fresh air and pondered why the Vatican just doesn’t have a separate entrance to see the Sistine Chapel so that those who want to see the museum exhibits can do so in peace.  

St. Peter’s Basilica was next…such a grand building with interesting history.  I would have loved to hear that organ in action though…it was H-U-G-E.  After our climb to the top of the dome for some panoramic views of the city we headed out for the long walk home.  Before leaving we wandered by Castle St. Angelo for some photos of the bridges and surrounding waters.

Rome Day 6

We started our day with the Colosseum and The Forum both of which were within walking distance of our hotel.  Royce thought the Colosseum was way better than Arrowhead and doesn’t understand why we still don’t have public battles of man vs. beast (he was joking of course… I gathered his commentary after a couple of pints you see).  I had a lot of fun playing with my camera today…the sun was shining and even Royce found some inspiration.  It also helped that the arches of the Coloseeum framed things o’ so nicely.

The Forum was also impressive as 2000+ year old ruins tend to be.

Royce of course enjoyed the Mamertine Prison where the kindly list how everyone died…

On our way home for a siesta we stopped by the National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II (Italy’s first King) to see their ‘tomb of the unknown solider’ and to walk down many many steps…Rick Steves at least gave us a short cut to the top, but there was only one way down for us to be close to our hotel. 

Our evening was spent at the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, a bar (finishing postcards of course) and was capped off with a wonderful dinner where we sat by this lovely Australian couple.  Easy conversation, great food and a couple of drinks later we have ourselves hosts whenever we make it to Australia!  We have made friends here easier than we do in DC…

Florence/Rome Day 5

We traveled to Rome today after stuffing ourselves at breakfast (yogurt here is unusually good).  Even managed to navigate the chaotic Roma Termini station to find the more chaotic bus depot and to find the bus that would drop us near our hotel.  I always feel like I deserve an award for figuring out how to get from one place to another in a foreign country.  A medal would be sufficient.  

I think Royce was the subject of an attempt to pick-pocket on the bus to our hotel.  This group of guys kept asking to see his bus ticket and were commenting on the advertisement on the ticket like they had never seen it before (was an ad for a pop art exhibit at a museum)…the entire time I was thinking…YOU have your own ticket…look at YOURS.  Needless to say they were unsuccessful at thier attempt.  Royce got this great pick-pocekt proof bag for Christmas from my parents one year that has these crazy rain-proof zippers which are IMPOSSIBLE to open discretely without grasping firmly and pulling…hard.

Once settled we set out to the National Museum of Rome…it was OK…a good history lesson I could gave given myself for free by reading the walking tour of the museum from our guidebook.  It was also frustrating that almost everything our guidebook referenced was either on loan or being refurbished.  When finished we stopped by the Baths of Diocletian which had been converted into a giant church so it didn’t look much (not at all really) like the Roman Baths you think of from the movies.

Florence Day 4

We were lazy yesterday…we had done Florence and Florence had done us.  We went to the Central Market to take in the chaos and to stock up on some cured meats to bring home, and we also found the most amazing parmesan cheese.  For our culture for the day we had to chose between the Borgello and the Medici Chapels and we chose the Chaples (running out of Euros is easy to do).   After sitting on a free bench for a while we decided to head back to the hotel to nap, drink a beer and write some post cards.  

We are off today to Rome.  Catching the 10:50 train into the Termini station.  All the guidebooks are all about warning for pick pockets and other vandels who pose as fake police officers etc to take your $$…makes me a bit nervous but we are excited to see some of the major Rome sites.

Il Latini

We had dinner last night at a popular Florence restaurant…a little more popular than we expected.  The mob that showed up at 7:30 when it opened was a bit unexpected.  So was the rest of the dinner.  They shuffled the entire crowd iinto this cozy place with prosciutto hanging from every corner of the ceiling.  We were all put at random tables together, under the watchful eye of the owner I suspect…a respectful lady…someone straight out of the Soprano’s with a secure eye and steady smoking hand (no smoking is allowed in Florence eating establishments…except for Mamma I suppose she can do what she wants).

We got placed next to a wonderful Italian couple.  The man was a Dentist…supposedly training in Michigan for 10 years but didn’t know a lick of English which I found humorous.  Maybe he got years, months, weeks and days confused??  Regardless with as little Italian as we knew we were able to converse (its not too hard to realize when someone needs more wine regardless of what language they speak!).  The couple had the cutest little dog who sat in the corner and I only saw it perked up when the steak came out…can you blame him?

The food just kept coming…everyone was given appetizers regardless of if you asked for them.  Fresh cured meats, bruschetta, chicken pate and some awesome barley salad was our begining feast.  Then the pasta portion came…ravioli with tomato sauce, and penne in the most delicious meat sauce that I hope to recreate but think I may fail at trying.  Dinner was meat…I had Oso Bucco and Royce had the Veal.  Desert was more drinks…Royce had four in all…such a happy fellow.

There was no menu.  When we arrived the giant bottle of wine was opened for the table…the appetizers were just set in front of you.  The pastas and meats were described by the waiter who offered us explanations in Italian, German, French and English…you just knew that no matter what they brought out was going to be succulent and yet simple.  

The remainder of our meals here will have a hard time living up to this one.

Apologies for the dark photos…I left my nice camera in the room and only brought along my point and shoot…which was a total sin because this place was a dream to photograph!  

Florence Day 3

We started off at the Accademia to see Michelangelo’sDavid and his other unfinished works The Prisoners. Below is a picture of David stolen from a website…no photos are allowed in museums here (which I find odd since we were able to take photos of the Mona Lisa when in Paris).

When we were finished, we did the Renaissance Walk from our tour book and found out lots of interesting facts about buildings, churches, and city history. One tid bit I found interesting was Point Vecchio…a bridge that spans across the Arno River.  The Nazis even had the thoughtfulness to save this bridge from  being burned down during WWII.  This picture is the view from the bridge:

Goldsmiths and silversmiths once occupied the point of the bridge in the old times.  Currently, it is a romantic spot where guys demonstrate their enduring quality of thier love by taking their girls here, locking a lock, and throwing the key into the Arno river. 

We have been blessed with beautiful weather thus far.  Made it back to the hotel this afternoon just in time for a big rain storm.  Tomorrow, the weather should clear for our last day here in Florence.

Florence Day 2

This morning was a bit weird due to some jet-lag, but we managed to wake up in time for the free hotel breakfast which was good…filling and…well free which is the most important thing here since the dollar to euro sucks!  We headed to the Science Museum this morning as recommended by my Uncle and we were not disappointed.  Tons of old science relics including a microscope cira 1900’s that looked much like my grandpa’s that was left to me.  

Our afternoon sucked.  Our bank card stopped working even though we pre-notified them of our Italy travels so we wasted an hour calling and dealing with them.  I also had our days off and we ended up missing our Uffizi Gallery reservation time (although the hotel really should have given us our reservation tickets when we checked in yesterday!).  We ended up being able to make reservations for later in the day but we had to pay another reservation fee (3 euros each = approx 6 dollars per person…barf).  Was an expensive museum visit but we saw some amazing paintings by Michelangelo, Leonardo and others.  A little bit of a Mary + baby + angel overdose if I do say so myself.

So far the best part of this vacation has been the coffee and food.  I adore the cafè here…and the prosciutto and cheese sandwiches for lunch are absolutely divine!

Florence Day 1

We made it…8 hours of flying + 30 min train to downtown Rome + 1.5 hour train ride to Florence.  We are dead tired, and now that we are fed are going to nap.

Free internet at this hotel so maybe some quick updates to follow.

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