**Note to my readers: Sorry it has been months since I have posted anything. My beloved dog passed away earlier this year and I wasn’t feeling up to doing any writing. Thank you for your patience during my hiatus.**
And now…back to Italy!
On paper, it looked like we spent three nights in Rome, but between an afternoon arrival, a morning departure, and over a day spent in Vatican City, we were probably left with the time equivalent of one day to see this great city. We obviously knew we could only tackle so much, so we zeroed in on the Coliseum, a tourist bus circle of the city, lots of walking, and of course the very easy task of finding great food.
Exiting the train station, the first thing we noticed was the insanity of the traffic in Rome. We were definitely not used to this coming from the towns of Tuscany and Umbria. What a relief it was to hop into a cab with an elderly lady who talked on her cell phone in that traffic all the way to our hotel. Ha. By the grace of God we arrived at the Hotel Smeraldo http://www.smeraldoroma.com/en/ . This place had a perfect location for walking to many areas—between the Piazza Venezia and the touristy market square of Campo De Fiori. What our room lacked in size, it more than made up with its rooftop terraces, the small one just down the hall from our room becoming our own private wine terrace every night.
One of the things that we noticed after our first stroll in Rome was that our timing for seeing some of its most famous sites was not the best. As we turned into the piazza of the Trevi Fountain, we were greeted by a construction site fence and zero water. The statues surrounding the fountain are still beautiful but the chain link fence sucked away all the romantic ambience.
A few blocks away our arrival to the Spanish Steps was also slightly disappointing with the Trinità dei Monti church at the top of the steps hidden behind a construction screen. The people-watching from the steps was still a nice break after all that walking beneath the Roman sun.
The construction zone didn’t just stop there—it also continued in the Coliseum. I guess even an ancient ruin needs updates once in a while! Thankfully the scaffolding on the outside did not diminish the awe we felt once we got inside. I say “once we got inside” because I believe we had to wait in line two hours to get in. If at all possible, make a reservation or sign up for a tour so you can avoid this line! The visit of the Coliseum was so amazing and it made you feel small and insignificant being inside. You know, like a building almost 2,000 years old should.
Following the Coliseum visit, we enjoyed a cruise around Rome on the top of a tourist bus. It was a very welcome break from all the walking. As we knew our time was limited we were at least able to view sites like the Castel Sant’Angelo, Pantheon, and Piazza Navona from the street.
Rome obviously had a much different feel than all of the other Italian cities we had visited. While Russell couldn’t stand the traffic and the insanity of the city, I thrived on so much chaos. One particularly enjoyable part of this chaos was eating at Ristorante Santa Anna http://www.ristorantesantanna.it/index.php?lang=en just down the street from our hotel. While we dined on fantastic mussels and clams and risotto with shrimp and cream at the table just outside the door, cars whizzed by us on the narrow street as if we were not just two feet from them. Fine cuisine AND adventure! What’s not to like?
And speaking of food, this tale of Rome would not be complete without a nod to the best dining experience we had in the Eternal City. Directly outside the entrance to Hotel Smeraldo is the Tratorria Moderna http://www.trattoriamodernaroma.com/ . They say sometimes the best things are right under your nose, and this was no exception! It is here that Russell began his “bromance” with our waiter, Daniel. In fact we were so impressed with the place and Daniel’s service that we ate here two nights in a row!
On the first night as we perused the extensive menu and eyed up the entrees of surrounding diners, Daniel suggested to us a seafood appetizer feast that was not on the menu for 15 euro a person. I am usually suspect of these type of “deals” because they never are. But we decided to go for it and were glad we did! Out came a plate of raw oysters, steamed mussels and clams, sea bass ceviche, octopus salad, sea bass tartare with couscous, smoked salmon with melon, goat cheese and arugula, and crostini with shrimp and balsamic vinegar. W.O.W. One of the best meals I have ever had. And to top that off, Daniel presented us with complimentary tiramisu at the end! Needless to say, this is why we returned again 24 hours later, this time ending our meal with complimentary limoncello. What a place–definitely at the top of my list of recommendations in a city teeming with great food.
So, would I recommend more time in Rome? Of course. But when you’ve already been in Italy for two weeks, spending a day or two here is a nice way to scratch the surface and let you know what you really want to see the next time you return. I think the city will be around a while longer!