Thursday, September 8, 2016

Our Trip to Italy Part 5: Wandering Rome

Catching up?

Our train to Rome was early afternoon, so our day started leisurely with breakfast, packing up, and checking out.  Our train ride was uneventful, but as soon as we got to the train station we realized how crazy Rome was going to be compared to little Orvieto!  There was a ton of hustle and bustle, construction, and tons of cabs.  When we got in ours the driver spoke little English and it was a bit of a challenge to communicate.  Driving in Rome was insane, tons of honking, giant unsignalized traffic circles, people constantly cutting you off, and scooters squeezing through everywhere they could fit.  I was more than happy when we were dropped off in front of our hotel, Navona Gallery & Garden Suites.

When we arrived we couldn't seem to figure out how to actually open the door and that's when the hotel manager Traiano found us!  He was awesome.  He's from Romania and told us he had traveled to 38 different countries.  He gave us a map, outlining all the places he said he would want to know about if he was in our shoes.  After walking through the lovely courtyard, we headed up to our room.  It was the smallest of our entire trip, but it was so nice, the bed was super comfy, and we had a really cute balcony!

It was getting pretty late, so we dropped off our stuff in the room and rushed off to grab lunch before we missed it.  We stopped into a place Traiano recommended right down the street and it did not disappoint.  We both got a big old plate of pasta, ravioli for Dave, pesto for me, and had no trouble polishing it off.

After our bellies were full, we headed out to start exploring the city!  Our first stop was the Piazza Navona, which was extremely close to our hotel. The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (aka the Fountain of the Four Rivers) was absolutely breathtaking.  Pictures really don't do it justice.

The piazza was busy with pedestrians and people trying to sell art and various goods.  And some people trying to rip off tourists...

We continued on foot, stopping and checking out anything that caught our eye.

Our first planned activity was a stop at the Trevi Fountain.  We knew it was under construction, so the disappointment wasn't a surprise.

I guess we'll just have to go back to Rome to see it!  The next thing I had planned was a stop at the Le Domus Romane di Palazzo Valentini, a multimedia tour of an ancient Roman house, but it was sold out.  Oh well.  Our next stop was the Museum and Crypt of Capuchins.  I wasn't extremely interested in the history of the Capuchins (a religious order that was an offshoot of the Franciscans), so the museum was just ok, but the crypt was totally worth the trip!  The bones of many dead friars were arranged into beautiful art displays.  It was creepy yet remarkable.  We weren't allowed to take any pictures, so this pic was taken by someone naughty and posted to TripAdvisor. 

The last stop I had planned was further away than I anticipated so we stopped to rest our feet and enjoy some gelato midway.

Finally we arrived at Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore, a church that ranked #5 in things to do in Rome on TripAdvisor.  The church was beautiful inside and while we were there, the lights dimmed and different panels of the ceiling lit up to music.  It was pretty cool.

When Dave and I sat down outside to ease our tired legs, we decided that after seeing the Duomos in Florence and Orvieto, this church was just ok and we probably could have skipped all the extra walking to get there.  We took a cab back to our hotel and took some time to relax and freshen up.

For dinner we decided to be adventurous and headed to an old school trattoria that Traiano recommended.  When he told us about it, he said it wasn't going to be glamorous, it was traditional, serving dishes that Romans had been eating for hundreds of years.  He also told us that we might not want to know the ingredients in some of the dishes...

We thought we were pretty bad ass when we ordered.  Dave got the tripe (aka cow stomach) in a red sauce with parmesan cheese, I ordered the lamb innards with onions and artichokes.  We figured they would dress up the organ meats to make them taste good.  Well, let's just say we had some regrets.  I was doing all right with my dish, until I tasted Dave's and thought I was going to throw up right at the table.  I kept my cool, but I was done eating at that point.  Dave managed to eat about two thirds of his dish and I was pretty impressed.  I still have regret that we didn't order one safe dish at this meal.

I spent the rest of the night feeling a little queasy.  We walked around a little to see if I could rally enough to go grab a drink somewhere, but my tummy said no thank you.  On our way we caught some awesome views of the Castel Sant'Angelo and heard some awesome street performers on the bridge.

To be continued...

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