They say that all roads lead to Rome. Well today mine did. But first I went a lot of other places.
This morning, we went to the Duomo early so we could be in line before it opened. We walked inside and looked up at Brunelleschi’s famous dome.
We headed back to the Pitti Palace after that and flashed our “Friends of the Uffizi” Pass one more time. I had wanted to go back to see the Modern Art Museum. I know that you’re thinking: “More art, Martha? And MODERN art? Seriously?”
Before you judge me, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at art that is not from my time period of choice. And modern art is apparently from the 1800s in Florence. Think Romanticism and a tad of impressionism. The exhibit also highlights works created during the unification of Italy. Ok, so I’m a nerd. I know
We finished exploring the Boboli Gardens, which are quite extensive. Then we went back to our hotel where we had left our bags. I ran to a nearby shop to buy bus tickets, then we caught the bus to the train station without a hitch. Of course the train was delayed. Oh, Italy. You just don’t run very smoothly.
We were in Rome in less that two hours later, though. Who can complain about that?
We walked about 15 minutes down Via Cavour to our hotel. We squeezed into the tiny cage of an elevator—complete with a metal door that you manually pull over. When we reached reception on the 3rd floor, the woman told us there was a “technical problem” with our room and we would have to be moved to a hotel near the Spanish Steps.
We were disappointed that the new hotel would be a longer walk from the things we wanted to see, but “technical difficulties” could mean “you will be electrocuted, drown, or asphyxiate” in a hotel like that, so we cooperated.
Reception called a taxi for us (which robbed me of the fun of flagging one down on my own… something I’d like to try sometime) and promised the other hotel would pay for it when we arrived.
We felt rather posh using virtually the only man-made form of transportation we hadn’t used yet (except for a Vespa… but I picked up a brochure on renting one as soon as we got to Rome).
Then we got to our new hotel. Hole-in-the-wall seems an apt description, as you actually had to walk down a covered alley to get to it. It was dirty and no one was waiting to pay the taxi for us. I ran back into the alley to find the reception guy. He made me wait while he worked with someone else, then gave me a 20 to pay the cabby.
I brought him back the change, but he absolutely freaked out when he saw that I didn’t have a receipt. Then he started running after the taxi which had obviously gone.
After his sprint, he seemed to forget what had previously been so distressing. He shook our hands and introduced himself. He said I looked like Jennifer Aniston and proceeded to give us a plethora of information that was really pretty worthless because of his accent. He gave us our room 407 key, and we managed to wedge ourselves into an elevator even smaller than the one at the hotel with “technical difficulties.” I held my breath and hoped my heavy bag wouldn’t cause another technical difficulty.
We opened the door to find a room covered in scuff marks and oddly occupied by another person’s bags.
Confused, Claire ran down to reception to learn that the receptionist, evidently distracted by my celebrity resemblance, had given us a key to the wrong room. Feeling less-then-secure at the possibility of the receptionist giving our room key to someone else, we settled into our humble accommodations.
We went out to get some of our required sites crossed off the list. It was super hot. We walked by a hair salon and nearly went in. I was inspired by one of my favorite movies, “Roman Holiday,” and thought about getting a short cut for the heat.
We walked to the Pantheon, but there was a mass being held inside. Did you know the Pantheon is a church? The former temple to all gods is now a church for just One.
We walked through some other churches while we were waiting for the Pantheon to clear out. I was really impressed by the Church of the Gesu.
There was a mass inside there, too, but we could walk around the back portion. The special thing about this church is that the ceiling paintings look like they are spilling out of the painting because of sculptures around the edges.
After this church, we walked back to the Pantheon. The ceiling around the oculus is just so incredible. The carving is unreal. This building inspired Raphael , and he is buried here.
There is also a statue of a lamb that I remember photographing on a whim with my sisters last time I visited. We laughed for a long time about how funny and creepy it looked. Seeing it again made me feel more homesick than anything on the trip yet.
After the Pantheon, we needed a pick-me-up. We were somewhat more drained today than a lot of other days. We found a restaurant where we could sit for a long time. I was contentedly munching on my carbonara pasta when Claire’s eyes turned as big as the mozzarella sliced on the salad across from me. She jumped up and ran down the street. Naturally, I was surprised.
It turns out she saw some good friends from high school walking down our very same street on their one night in Rome. What is the likelihood of that happening? I have no idea, but it made two girls a long way from home feel a little less alone in the Eternal City. It also entertained the wait staff considerably.
After dinner we walked to my favorite spot in Rome: the Trevi fountain. There’s just something about the Trevi at night. I tossed a coin over my shoulder, which means that I get to come back to Rome. Don’t laugh. I did it last time and look who came back!
We finished out the night by walking by the Spanish Steps. They are considered romantic, possibly because Keats died in the house next to them. Claire and I sat and discussed the movie “Bright Star,” for a few minutes before heading back to our hotel.
It was nice not sharing the shower with the toilet.
I’m going to sleep so well tonight.