friday in roma

Our journey to Rome was about as straightforward as it gets. Nothing I’d been concerned about — making the flight in Canada, getting seats on Lufthansa out of Frankfurt, exchanging for Euros and dealing with the driver — were issues in the end. (Thank God for even small favors.) Although Air Canada is a second-class cousin* to Air France when it comes to food and amenities, we slept a few hours in relative comfort. We marveled at the tidy German landscape, neatly tended fields broken by forest, the grand view of snow capped Alps, finally the Mediterranean and a warm Italian welcome to Leonardo di Vinci … Rrrroma! No complaints.

However, one of us had became quite ill as the other snoozed on unaware. It seems the combination of altitude, OTC sleeping pill, dehydration, and that second serving of free wine conspired against her. (Free wine gets me all the time! Good thing I was asleep.) She looked pasty-pale and I had real concern when I heard her story. I wondered if our journey was taking a new turn and began to pray silently for her. Fortunately, she rallied considerably by the time we landed.

We have returned to the hotel where the Hubs and I stayed a couple of years ago. I had not forgotten the vibe from the front desk — not unfriendly, exactly, but not what you hope for upon arrival in a foreign country. But they are conveniently located in the old city — a short walk from the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Campo di Fiori. They have a great rate, including breakfast that remains true to European traditions. They offer an additional “Rick Steves discount”. The rooms are simple and clean, if snug. They’ve also a unique system for cost control: insert room card into small device inside the room in order to work the lights — and leave it there to keep them on! It’s not nearly as obvious as it sounds and we stumble around in the dark, then with too-brief interludes of light, before we figure it out. This seems worth an explanation to new arrivals, if not for Mr. Macho at the front desk? No matter, it’s Italy. We’re in Roma!

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Rome is a sauna in July and I wasn’t sure what all we might be up for after our journey, especially with one of us still a bit under. We agreed to take it slow, no plan, and the most basic map. Our first stop was the Pantheon. The Hubs and I had walked by several times, never went inside, and I was so mad at myself! In a city like Rome it’s easy to miss something spectacular, overwhelmed by antiquity. I was glad for another chance and not disappointed by the cooling inlaid marble, massive grand columns, and religious icons lit by afternoon light. From there, we strolled on a bit, finding our way to Giolitti’s, taking a pass on the long line for gelato, opting for delicious fresh thin crust pizza, local wine, and plenty of people-watching back at the piazza, near the Pantheon. It was a welcome break, off our feet, in the shade. And I still couldn’t quite believe we were there, in Roma!

When we could finally summon the energy to move again we made our way to Piazza Navona — in a ’round about way by Ponte Umberti and a birds eye view of the Tiber River. The piazza was beautiful in the afternoon light, the air cooling just enough, a breeze lifting as we strolled around the fountains. We talked with one artist, Pablo, for quite awhile, sincerely admiring his style and work. It was tempting, but in the end, too early in the trip for big purchases. A small purchase, in the form of gelato, was all that was required. Though the Tevi fountain was all but calling our names as the day wound down, we turned in early, cognizant of a big day ahead and feeling the effects of a very short night. Rome wasn’t built in a day and I guess we won’t cover it in one or two or twelve, either.

~René Morley

Read all about Roma 2012! Friday | Saturday morning | Vatican Museums | Saturday evening | Sunday

*Second-class cousin is a phrase innocently coined by one of our chids, around about age 8. I use it every chance I get. He is also the one who coined chids, exclaiming, “We’re in the mountains, chids!” as we headed south for family vacation. He’s always had a way with words, that boy.

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