it is our second day or first full day in rome. We’re up late and have a great breakfast at the hotel as part of the price. We head back to termini station intending to transfer to the b line, however the crowds are so intense at termini, that after two trains we decide to hike to the hop-on-hop-off bus as an easier option.
Our first stop is the the forum and adjoining palatine hill. It is spectacular, both as an historic monument and more so as a display of the size and obvious power of imperial rome. These guys did not fool around when it came to erecting buildings to match their egos. It has an obvious beauty and the feel of an era that we all know from our history lessons, making it easy to imagine the goings on in the various buildings and temples.
There are a lot of people here, mostly italian and finding anything resembling a clear guide in english is next to hopeless. Many of the monuments have little or no information attached to them so we spend a great deal of time trying to decide what it is we’re looking at. Unfortunately we don’t get to see some items as they are not well enough marked and the guidebook we picked up seems to function with a randomness only comprehensible (perhaps) to italians. Regardless, it is fantastic site to visit. I have too many pictures to share.
Following the forum and palatine area (where the bigwigs built their palaces and temples) we headed off to see the coliseum. This place is gimungous and worth visiting if only to see the scale of it all. Again too many tourists, apparently mostly italian (fortunately our roma pass lets us walk past a very long ticket line and directly into the site) who likely come from the country to see the capital. There are also a lot of americans, of course, and it doesn’t help our disposition any that everywhere we go we also get mistaken for americans (shoulda attached those canadian flags to our packs, i guess!)
After the coliseum we decide we’re in need of food and water, which we get, for a price… a very steep price by a bunch of razzle dazzle (baffle them with bullshit) artists at a nearby kiosk. Lesson: never buy from a place without a price list. We paid 14 euro for two sandwiches, but another 13 for cokes and potato chips! (That’s roughly $40 for two lousy sandwiches, pops and chips.)
Following lunch we decide to hop on the bus and head back to the vicinity of the trevi fountain and pantheon which we find rather easily. The trevi is a beautiful monument, alas it had a huge crane and men running all over doing some kind of work. With luck it will be operating before we leave. Next stop the pantheon, an amazing and intact building from ancient rome. the floor tiles the condition and the engineering are a marvel considering the age. Next stop, the spanish steps again to get a photo as i didn’t have my camera the previous night. Interesting…i guess (touristos – like us – by the thousands everywhere.) We head for the hotel and a nap before heading out to dinner.
We thought something near the vatican would be happy and asked the desk for a recommendation, and of course! he knew vito who was a waiter at quite a nice restaurant and off we went. Vito was there to greet us and find a table as the place was packed, we think we are the only non italians there. Before we knew what was happening a plate of flat bread is delivered and shortly thereafter we had about a half dozen plates of anti pasta . some of the items were more than everyone else was getting and much more expensive choices. As an example we had a large serving of buffalo cheese which was excellent and a large ball of mascarpone cheese. (we noticed the locals got a small ball with their pancetta) we had a bottle of water and a bottle of chianti ruffino which was quite good. For our main course rick had the largest steak i’ve ever seen and which cost way more than the menu said as they charged by the gram! I had fettacinii with mushroom , excellent and so simple.
The desserts were delicious and vito gave us a free(?) liquor made from lemon…magnifico! It was a special meal and was truly excellent, however we were taken, as we had no way of controlling what was being delivered or the choices for the antipasta and so resigned ourselves to enjoying an authentic italian meal regardless of the cost.
one of the things we are certain of in italy is the structure of kickbacks, bribes or payoffs, whatever you want to call them they are epidemic, even the desk clerk gets a cut by the taxi for calling them or the taxi driver gets paid for delivering a customer to the hotel. everyone is out to screw you, particularly if you are a foreigner. It is leaving a bad taste with us and we’re not sure how we feel about rome at this point…but we’re not enjoying it as much as we expected. The social hierarchy is very evident and i found it distressing the way those subject to others, like the junior waiters, etc. are bullied (you can’t say asked) to do things.