Though I’m not a princess escaping the duties of her crown, I can say that Corey treated me to a royally excellent trip for my last weekend of unemployment- ROMA!
We drove along wooded roads from the airport, and it was about 9:30pm before we were within the walls of the city. Our neighborhood Airbnb was right around the corner from the Forum and the Colosseum. I later learned this neighborhood had been on fire for six days and nights during Nero’s reign. He promised to rebuild the neighborhood once he collected taxes thrice the normal rate. However, he ended up co-opting the money and built himself a massive palace with taxpayer money.
Our first Italian dinner left me drooling over the bread, the vegetable soup, and the flan. We wandered through the Forum after our meal, and I just couldn’t believe that I was looking at marble columns from thousands of years ago. It felt like every corner of the city had a story to tell.
We spent most of Saturday touring the Vatican City, however the Pope only appears at St. Peter’s square on Wednesdays so we missed his public appearance.
We did see Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, Raphael’s murals in the Vatican museums, and we visited the somber grottoes of St. Peter’s basilica. Our tour guide pointed out that the Roman sculptors had a clever way of making the statues of emperors and leaders very efficiently. The statues were created with head and body as two pieces of stone. That way, when a new leader suddenly came to power, one could remove the head of the fallen leader quickly, and sculpt a new head to affix on the already-crafted body.
** Yes, some of these pictures were taken in ‘No Photography’ zones.
After our tour of the Vatican, we passed Castel Sant’ Angelo along the Tiber River, and strolled through Piazza Navona, stared in awe at the Pantheon, and traced the square of the Campo de Fiori. It was a gorgeous day with both locals and tourists alike sharing the streets. Much of the Jewish Ghetto was closed due to the Sabbath, so we continued back across the river to the Trastevere neighborhood for an aperitivo, an Italian tradition of going for a pre-dinner drink with some small snacks. In honor of my KIPP colleague, Sarah King, I had to drink an aperol spritz with my bruschetta.
Trastevere was such a lively area with local hawkers, tourists, and clubs opening up their doors. We had our best meal of the weekend at Il Duca. We can’t thank our friend, Giulio, enough. From a bottle of house red welcoming us at our table to the thick bucatini guanciale pasta and roasted lamb shank, we could barely make conversation since we were stuffing our faces. The waiter was incredibly nice, and laughed at Americans who eat all the bread before having dinner. He warned us not to spoil our appetite- wise words before such a wonderful meal.
On Sunday, we toured the Colosseum with a great tour guide, and then walked through the Palatine, a lovely green space that used to be the Beverly Hills in ancient Rome, where you’d be neighbors with the current emperor.
We also saw Trevi fountain, the Spanish steps, and Piazza del Popolo. The tourists were pretty strong in these areas, so we found side streets and small alleys to avoid some of the major crowds. Our pizza lunch left something to be desired so we scored gelato and walked all the way home on Via Del Corso, a main shopping thoroughfare similar to NYC’s 5th Avenue.
The dairy did take me for a couple of loops, but you know what they say…”When in Rome…” -I felt like I couldn’t argue with that. The weekend weather reminded me of a bright day in California, just cool enough to enjoy walking 12-14 miles a day through the city streets. I did miss Jules and Miya who would have schooled me on the architecture, and I have to get back for more fried artichokes and guanciale. What a great way to celebrate my last free weekend before work.