Thursday, October 13, 2011

Windy, Rainy REMARKABLE Rome!

Friday, October 7th
Our day started very early, with a 5 am wake up at our lovely apartment in Florence.  Up and at ‘em to catch an early train to Rome.  No rest for the travel weary!
We had originally planned on a taxi to the train station, but after a week of exploring Florence on foot, we knew it was no problem to “hoof it”.  After a nice 25 minute walk through those narrow, wonderfully scenic streets, and we were at the Santa Maria Novella station.  As usual, the Lundburys were a bit early, so we relaxed with an espresso and a marmeletta--a yummy jam filled croissant. 
Finally our train arrived at the platform, we boarded and found our very comfortable seats.  It was a nice 1 1/2 hour non-stop, scenic ride to Rome. No pics along the way, as we didn’t have “upper level” seats--so it was too hard to get a picture of that pretty countryside.
Soon we were pulling into Rome Termini, a very large, busy station.  We joined the crowds, headed to the “Taxi” exit--and stood in the long line to wait our turn.  It was a bit cloudy and very windy.
We had a very talkative driver, even though he didn’t speak much English.  But Holy Moly--what a crazy man!  The traffic in Rome is insane, and we hung on for dear life.  The round-a-bouts were especially interesting, with much horn honking and jockeying for position. 
After about 20 terrifying minutes, he pulled up to our narrow little street, Via Baccina.  As Baccina is a one way street, he couldn’t let us off right at the apartment, and curtly informed us “you walk a little”, and "you get your own bags".   And I informed David--no tip!!
Our first impression was that it was a lovely little lane, very quiet and charming. And we were only about 3 blocks from the Colosseum, it was so exciting to get our first look:

Our greeter, Umberto was waiting for us, and showed us the way into the building and to our apartment,  After a quick tour and a few instructions, he left us to settle in.  We quickly unpacked, and headed  right out to explore our new neighborhood.  It was a great area to stay in, with two subways stops close by, and a main street with many bus stops just a couple of blocks away.  Here’s our nice street:

And here's the front of our apartment, the courtyard entrance. Those are fresh herbs in all the planters--came in pretty handy when fixing dinner!

We were definitely ready for lunch--that espresso and marmaletta we had for breakfast in Florence was  hours ago.  We chose a small sidewalk cafe just around the corner, and ordered a pizza to share.  The wind was picking up--by now it was very gusty, and soon it started to rain.  We were glad to be under the big umbrella!  

We'd planned on going to the Colosseum on our first afternoon, and we quickly decided that we weren't going to let a little (ha!) rain and wind change our plans.  We didn't want to waste a moment of our time in Rome. We walked the three short blocks to the Colosseum, and the lines were not too long and moving fairly quickly, so once again we joined the crowds.  (This was just the beginning of the crowds and lines in Rome--lots of people!)
We bought our tickets, only 7 Euros each, and climbed the steps to the first level.
Wow--we were both practically speechless! We were fascinated with the construction, the beautiful design and especially the history of this amazing building. The Colosseum was built in the time of the Roman Empire, first century A.D., taking about 10 years to complete.  Modern estimates suggest there was seating for 50-75 thousand spectators,  what a scene to imagine!  

We walked all the way around each level, spending over an hour on the inside.  Here are some of my favorite pictures of the over 200 I took that first day:

We left the colosseum, and the weather had improved just a bit.  It was still cool and very windy, but at least it wasn’t pouring rain.  We walked over to the Constantine Arch, built and dedicated in 315 AD to commemorate Constantine I's battle victories.
We also explored the Palatine Hill, walking for miles looking at the fascinating ruins.
There are many, many ruins of huge homes of affluent Romans (500 BC - 45 BC) and remains of the palaces of emperors from the Roman Empire period, 27 BC - 475 AD.  Now that's OLD!

  Tucked away on the hill we found the Palatine Museum  It was fun to learn a bit about the history of this area and see many of the amazing pieces of art and statues found in the ruins.
  This statue was especially beautiful--the folds of fabric were amazingly life like, and the marble seemed almost luminous:
 This bust really surprised me--we hardly ever saw one that was smiling!  Doesn't he look like a real character?

We also wandered around the Farnese Garden area of the hill, and even though there is not a formal garden there now, there is a wonderful view over the city of Rome:

By now it was very late afternoon, and we both were weary of walking.  We found our way out of the gardens and were soon back down to the street level.  We came across the first of many pretty water fountains in Rome.  Some, like this one, are very ornate and beautiful, and others are plain and functional.  They all have cool and delicious drinking water, and many times we filled our water bottle from them.
Although this scene gave us a little worry--was he going to take a bath??
We slowly made our way back to our apartment area, and chose another sidewalk cafe for dinner.  
Here’s our first dinner in Rome, a delicious pasta with clam sauce for me, and pizza for David.  And, of course, a carafe of that very good "house red" wine!

It was a short stroll back to our apartment, and early to bed for these tired travelers.
What a great first day in Rome!


  1. Looks like you had a great first day in Rome. As always, your pictures are spectacular.

    I have been checking your blog periodically to see if you were able to post anything from Rome. Glad to see that you were able to get your first day up.


  2. Oh how I loved the pictures of Rome. And I like knowing your home safe and sound. I especially LOVE the picture of you at the colosseum. Your hair so blond and your face beams with adventure and Rome. I wonder....where is your most favorite place all your travels? Is it still Paris? With Florence a close second? Welcome home The Lundburys....

  3. Gilberto traveled to Rome and changed his name!!!
    Welcome to Rome...