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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rome for just a day

Each year around this time my sister and I try to go somewhere special. It is a double birthday celebration, my actual birthday, and her second lease on life. On Cinqo de Mayo 2006 we almost lost her to a heart condition. Trust me when I tell you that I celebrate this date each year with a profound sense of gratitude that she is still with us.

The corridor leading to our room in the convent
This year we chose Rome as the launching pad for our vacation. Our taxi dropped us at the beautiful Donna Camilla Savilla hotel. It used to be a convent, and has maintained the tranquility I can imagine from its former life. Really beautiful, calm and in a nice part of the city.

Our attempt to find dinner the first night was less than successful. I did not remember this area being so crazy with tourists. Every restaurant including the one recommended by the hotel had a line. We finally chose a place at random with no line, and had a perfectly satisfactory meal.

Our next day wanderings included crossing the Ponte da Sisto, seeing Pont Fabricio built in 62 BC,  a very old mill started around the same time, and then a long walk past  Circus Maximus, a former chariot race ground all the way to the Colosseum.

Pont de Sisto

The Mill at Fabricio

Pont Fabricio

The Coliseum

While waiting in a very long line of hopefuls wanting to see the inside, we were approached by a tour guide who offered us a reasonably priced guided tour, the ability to jump the queue, and a follow up tour of the Roman Ruins. We took it. Now to be fair we still waited 45 minutes for the tour to get organized, but definitely learned a lot about the history of the place as a reward. For example in the movie The Gladiators starring Russell Crowe the only accurate rendition is The Colosseum. Everything else about the story and the characters is made-for-Hollywood.

On to our tour of The Palantines,the very foundation of Rome and home to a castle built by Nero and renovated by several other Emperors over a few hundred years. Also saw the location of the den where a she-wolf suckled Romulus and Remus.  We are so lucky to have these permanent structures and written histories to learn from in Europe.

The Forum

We walked back through the Roman Forum, original marketplace and commercial center of Rome a couple of thousand years ago, and had lunch at Lunch at La Piazzetta. When we asked about the 2€ cover added to our bill the waitress explained to us that it is the Italian version of the American 15 to 20% tip expected from each patron. When she put it that way I was not able to complain.
Angie at Piazza Navona

A walk to Piazza Navona, and then our tired feet insisted that we return to the hotel for a bit of a refresh before dinner.We had reserved dinner at Ai Bozzi, which turned out to be an incredibly difficult restaurant to find. We had to do a 50/50, phone a friend AND ask the audience before we found it. It was very busy. We were seated at 9 and finally served dinner at 11. The table next to ours gave us their bread in sympathy at one point.People were still arriving by the dozens throughout.
All in all a very busy and productive day.


  1. I like "Pont Fabricio". It is beautiful. :)

  2. I bet it was nice to get back to that calm convent after such a busy day.

    1. Yes although I never imagined myself saying "Can't wait to get back to the convent"!

  3. What a great day., albeit tiring. How cool to walk through all that history.

    1. Coming from a country where we know very little about our ancient history this really appeals to me.


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