5AM. It’s a normal time for us to get up, maybe even a little late. But after the flight with little sleep, a full day of touring with a short nap, and our typical roman dinner, 5AM came mighty early. But its the best time to see Rome. Its cool. Its empty. Its clean. Some sites, like the Pantheon or Trevi Fountain, are so crowded during the day and evening you almost can’t enjoy them and certainly they lose some of their impressiveness with crowds and vendors.
We returned to our room for breakfast (and some blog post writing).
The plan for the morning was to head over to Trastevere for a guided tour I picked up from Fodors. To sum up, their tour stunk. I planned to give you guys the links and the maps and everything, but I don’t recommend it at all. The directions were terrible, I spent too much time reading them, not enough time looking at anything, and the descriptions of the sites were minimal. We gave up when we discovered that Fodors believes 100 feet to be accurately described as “five blocks” as in “go about five blocks and take a sharp right” when in reality the street we were being directed to was 100 feet from the previous location. The day did not improve when we spent 30 minutes looking for a particular restaurant to find that it was closed.
It wasn’t a total loss, I mean, its Rome. We visited Santa Maria in Trastevere, the oldest church in Rome and the only one that didn’t get all covered in glitz and bling during the Baroque period. (As Jake likes to say, “if its not baroque, don’t fix it” or “they said it was baroque but it looks fine to me” or “my baroque period was in college”, the list goes on and on…). It was built in 332 and remodeled in the 1140s. While you ponder what old means, here’s a pic:
Nap time! Except for me, I tried again to post and the internet/wordpress/universe continued to conspire against me. So no nap, and a cranky Kim to boot.
At 4 we left the B&B again to catch a cab to the Borghese Gallery. Cabs can’t be hailed in Rome, you either call one to pick you up or go to a taxi stand and wait. We waited. And waited. Jake stood on one corner, I stood on the other and waited more. When a cab finally came I nearly lost it to a man who hadn’t waited. I don’t know enough Italian to argue about cabs, but what I do know is a stern look and a sharp “no” and that is what I did. Today was not the day to mess with me; bad tour plans, late lunch, failed internets, no nap—do not even think about taking my cab. We made it to the Borghese in plenty of time for our 5PM reservation.
The Borghese Gallery requires advanced reservations to see their collection of art work and sculpture and they don’t allow pictures. When you book your tickets you select a time to enter, if you miss your time you don’t get to go. They also kick you out at 2 hours. It might be the only thing we’ve found in Italy that runs on schedule! The Gallery itself is part of a large park that was once an estate. The Borgheses built it in the late 1700s specifically to house their collection of art from the 1400-1600s. It’s a little overwhelming to think of their wealth and a lot overwhelming to view the collection.
The grounds of the villa and gallery are huge and a place where people ride bikes, run, picnic, play with their kids, sort of the Central Park of Rome.
We wandered through the park down to Piazza Del Popolo and through a maze of streets back to our B&B, stopping to have a glass of wine at Enoteca Parlamento. The wine selection here is very large and by the glass, with small canapes you can select to go with your wine. The crowd was totally local, and it seemed that everyone who walked by knew someone sitting on the patio; lots of hugs and hand shake and air kissing all around. We were the only tourists there. It’s also not cheap, but the service, food, and patio were all excellent.
We had two things left on our agenda: get to an ATM and eat at Tavernetta 48. ATMs run out of money in the tourist areas and it took 4 stops to find one that was working. My crankiness is coming back….and then Tavernetta 48 was closed. Again.
Of course I had a back up plan, but really, how much can go wrong in one day!! We ate instead at Navona Notte. Its not a restaurant I would have picked had our B&B host not recommended it, but he claimed it was inexpensive and high quality. It really looks tourist trappish, but he was exactly right! A bottle of wine, prosciutto and mozzarella, steamed mussels, and two pasta plates came to about $50. And it was really good too! All we needed was some cure meats, some wine and some pasta and all was right with the world!!
We leave for our next destination tomorrow, where I’m hoping the internet connection is a little better!