Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Pisa and Rome


Today is my birthday!

We had a nice breakfast at grazias, said goodbye to the pets, threw on our backpacks and caught a train to Pisa to break up our long train to Rome. Plus come on we had to see the tower that leaned.

We had about a 2 hour period to drop our bags, catch a bus, shoot the "picture", and back. Ah easier said than done. The bus signs threw us off and about 30 mins later we were on our way.

We were surprised by just how much it leaned. It was pretty severe.

The tower is located on the field of miracles which also has a less photographed baptistry and church.

Hustled back to the station just in time for a long 4+ train ride to Rome. This train sadly was the loudest and hottest train we'd be in to date. Bs allergies were also raging so we were sweaty sneezy messes.

Finally at Termini station in Rome. The station was huge and surprisingly not dirty as I'd read. We searched for the longest time for information so we could by Roma passes. They seriously have to update their signs. We made our way to the metro to go to our b&b. A note on romes metro: amazing graffiti under there and on the trains. Also out of all the metros we've been on (and we've been on alot now!) it was packed all the time. Not just at peak times but always!
Our b&b was a short walk from the metro in a quieter area. Our host was exceptionally friendly with a gorgeous home.
It was too late by the time we were all checked in to go anywhere so we went for dinner around the corner. Had the best brushetta! They didn't have cake so apple strudel was my birthday cake :).

The next morning we had our scavi tour under Vatican city. Walking into st peters square was definitely a reality check. It was a Tuesday so they were setting up for the papal audience tomorrow.

Our tickets said to talk to the swiss guard so while everyone was snapping pics of them, we cautiously went around the gate and B went to talk to them while I lingered behind Just in cases. We were too early so we went and took pictures. When it was time, we repeated going around the gate and the guard gave us the go ahead to pass into Vatican city (so cool!). This was worth doing the tour alone. We also saw the spot where the obelisk use to be before it was moved to the square. After we checked in, our small group of maybe 15 was led under ground. The hoards of people leaving the basilica were so confused at what we were doing - some tried to follow. The area under is temperature regulated for preservation so we had to wait a bit to enter. The tour was an hour and a half and was wonderfully guided. It was very cool to see the layers of st peters. At some points we could look up through ceiling grates and see the dome of st peters.

After the tour, we sent some postcards and walked towards Castel st Angelo, over the bridge, and to piazza navona.

Then to the panthenon.

And to the Trevino fountain. Stumbled upon an interesting building on the way.

And street artists.


All the people doing the same thing we were.

We came back to our place and grabbed some laundry to do. We dropped it off and went exploring. We saw the equilino park nearby so we headed for that.

In the park, we rounded a corner and saw the coliseum. It was a big surprise because we thought we were too far up in the park.

We grabbed some salads, balsamic, and bread from the supermarket and had dinner on the terrace of our place. So nice. Then some gelato from the oldest gelateria in Italy (just around the corner) and called it a night. THIS day was my birthday because I decided my birthday was on California time and well it was just way more fun and exciting and involved no traveling via train from hell.

The next morning we hit palantine hill, the roman forum and the colosseum before our 3 pm reservation at the Borghese Gallery. We were a little rushed but we had an amazing time. Saw everything we wanted and from some great angles.

Took the metro to Borghese Park and had a little time to kill so we had lunch in the park.

The borghese gallery was a very nice museum. I knew that it was mostly a sculpture museum and that you had to have a reservation to go. Thankfully our host called for us the day before to make us a reservation. The gallery was like a villa built a few hundred years ago. Each room had amazing ceiling decorations and paintings that looked 3D. It also housed some of Berninis best work and my favorite, Apollo and Daphne. We finished a little before our 2 hour allowance and strolled back through the park.

That night we took the metro to the Spanish steps and hung out with the masses while the sunset. The top of the steps and the steps to the church on the hill had some amazing views of Rome and to people watch.

After sunset, we walked to the Trevi fountain to see the night lights on it but they werent on yet so we just walked around. We stumbled upon the campioglino (I think) which was perhaps the most chaotic piazza traffic wise in Rome.

We admit it. We were sick of pizza and pasta at this point so when we stumbled upon a cute semi busy Chinese restaurant with great outdoor seating - it just seemed right. We feasted on fried rice, wontons, orange chicken, sweet and dour chickens, and some other good stuff. It hit the spot.

Back to the trevi. More beautiful at night.

I think the crowd there is always the same size.

Back late to pack up for our early flight. Yay another travel day.

Rome was my favorite big city we visited. It seemed the people there were proud of their city and what stood their and still stands there thousands of years ago. I don't agree with articles I've read that Rome is extremely filthy. For being Rome, I thought it wasn't bad and well preserved. I also found Rome to be really friendly, well actually Italians as a whole over some of the other places we've visited this trip. Glad we are coming back.

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