Day 2 in Rome we were planning on getting all religious and go visit the Pope in Vatican City, but that got thrown out the window when we arrived at Termini Station to take the Metro, it was closed for the day for fixing. Not wanting to fight the other tourist on the busses i called an audible and decided to get all religious on some Pizza from Naples. So we bought a couple cheap train tickets and took a two hour train ride down south to Naples.
Unfortunately we had not planned it very well and ended up only having an hour in Naples and we barely had enough time to run down the street to Pizzeria Trianon da Ciro, order 1 pizza for takeaway, ran back to the station and ended up having to eat it on the train ride back to Rome. I really couldn’t even get a good picture of it, but it was a really good $100 pizza ($90 train tickets + $7 pizza) and definitely one really funny experience.
Back in Rome we used our Roma pass again to enter the Roman Forumwhich is where all important gatherings took place, like the killing of Julius Ceasar. The huge marble columns were crazy large and its hard to fathom how they were even built back in those times before modern machinery was even thought of. Many of the arches were built by the slaves of conquered lands and is really sad since they had to build a monument of their own defeat.
Palatine Hill is located right next to the Forum and is where all the dignitaries and other important people lived at. It was a little less impressive than the other sites, but i guess just as significant as well.
For dinner we headed out to our last Bourdain spot which was Bonci’s Pizzarium for Roman style pizza which is pizza with a thicker crust and sold by the kg, and has all sorts of toppings from various pork meats, vegetables and fungi. Everything is covered in olive oil so it gets to be messy, but a cold beer helps wash everything down.
do as the Romans … hey where are all the Romans at?
The sites of Rome hit you right as you enter the city and at every turn there’s some old building or ruin that looks really important. The streets are lined with building from different eras of Roms’s past and it can be all confusing when you’re dropped into the middle of it. The biggest thing that i noticed was that the city is full of tourists and all the shops and restaurants seem to know this. All the restaurants around where we were staying and going offered the same Pizza, Pasta and Cola combo.
We bought a Roma Pass at the train station which gave us access to the Public transportation for the time we were there and allowed us access to two sites for free. The first one had to be the Colosseum which sits right in the middle of the city with all the city’s roads seem to converge to. There were crowds of tourist milling around outside and just as many local tour guides trying to hustle you to use them as a way to get in without waiting and getting tour guide in one. The Roma Pass line wasn’t that long and just had to squeeze through the different lines to get in.
Once inside there are multiple levels that you can walk around and see what it was like to be a Roman citizen watching different events from Gladiator fights, Execution by Lions, and even shows put on by the Government. It was really some screwed up entertainment as most of the people in the arenas were slaves, and animals from conquered lands. The floor of the arena were filled with sand so it could soak up the blood of the combatants. We probably spent an hour or so inside and headed out to lunch afterwards.
To get away from all the bad food around the sites we had to go to some extraordinary measures to get some good food. We basically did the Bourdain tour and headed out of the city to the suburbs to find i porchettoni for some Porchetta. The journey there was a little sketchy but once we were in, it was well worth it.
There’s one old man, picnic tables and Italian variety shows on the television. We ordered a few 100 grams of porchetta, and scarfed it down with the table bread and of course a cold glass of Peroni Beer. The skin was nice and crispy and the meat tender full of herbs.
For dessert we headed back across the city for another Bourdain stop Gelateria Dei Gracchi where we learned that you typically get two scoops of gelato per order but didn’t know that so Joy ended up getting a double scoop of Coffee and i got a double scoop of Pear. We learned our lesson for the rest of our time in Italy and tasted many many scoops of gelato.
After refueled and sugared up we headed back out into Touristland and went to the Spanish Steps where everyone else decided to go at the very same time. People were just hanging out on the steps all the way up to the top so it lost its appeal to me right then and there.
One thing really cool is that throughout the city there are these water fountains that provides cold drinkable water so if you ever get thirsty you don’t have to go to the store to get some bottled water. It really helps when you’re travelling through random streets and not really knowing where you are going because the streets signage is weak at best and streets don’t have a rhyme or reason for how they’re laid out. From the Spanish Steps we headed to the Pantheon, Four Rivers Fountain before heading back to our home.
For dinner we decided to skip out on the tourist traps so we went to the market and picked up some meats, cheese, and olives and had a picnic by the Trevi Fountain. This place was also filled with lots of people just hanging out, with lots of street peddlers trying to sell everything from tripods, to Polaroid pictures to spinning flying light up things. A long day of walking around the city had us turn in for the night after eating dinner..
From Paris to Rome is a two hour flight but are worlds apart. The cool weather was replaced by warm humid air that seemed a little less put together. At the airport the backpackers seemed to put number the locals and that trend would follow us for the rest of our journey through Italy.
Upon exiting the plane we hit with the warmth and humidity of Italy straight in our faces. The process of getting from the plane terminal to train station was a bit of mess with confusing signage and when we got there we decided to skip out on the train to termini station and just took a shuttle straight to our B&B. Too bad when we got there it started to rain and our host was no where to be found. We then had to stop by the McDonald’s on the corner to get out of the rain and figure out a way to contact him by phone (fail) or internet (fail). Eventually he showed up and let us in to our place which was a little sparse for what i thought a B&B was going to be.
After getting settled we took a walk in the rain exploring randomly. We were at least prepared for the rain by bringing our own umbrellas, and it was kind of fun to see the city in a different sort of light. We even saw some poor bike group having to make their way through the city getting soaked by the rain.
We were pretty tired from our two full days of walking in Paris so we didn’t spend too much time in the rain and soon headed back for a bite to eat near our place. We chose this place mainly because they took credit card, and i knew at least that they cooked their pizza in a wood burning oven and weren’t going to microwave some left over food. The glasses of Peroni were cheap, and the people sitting next to us got a kick out of taking pictures of our food and our beer.
All our bags are packed, itineraries all printed out, and all is left is to finish today’s work and i’m outta here! Its been a long wait and of course these past couple days at work have been pretty hectic with Jonathan also out on vacation.
I’m kind of feeling anxious now that i see how the weather is going to be like for both legs of our trips. I knew that Paris had a good chance that it would be wet, while Italy was suppose to be super warm. Now it looks like we’re going to be getting sunshine while in Paris and Thunderstorms while in Rome. I’m not sure if i have the right clothes and shoes to deal with such weather but here’s crossing my fingers that everything will be ok once we get out there.