Saturday, May 31, 2008

Friday (Orvieto to Rome)...

The overnight rain brought with it a pleasant chill. Perfect sleeping weather. Breakfast was out on the terrace...although an approaching storm was preceeded by strong breezes that tugged on linens.

Dropped ye olde Kia off at Avis. Crossed to the train station to wait for the 11:58 train to Roma Termini...delayed by 25min...and a bit confusing without seat reservations. But no worse for the wear, we made our way (finally) to Rome by around 1:30pm.

Taxi from the train station. Our first real problem. Even though we got an officially marked taxi from an official taxi stand, the driver still gorged us. Jeff berated him to reduce the price and we got a small reduction, but the 1 mile ride still cost us 30 euro...the hotel told us it should be 10-15 euro. Live and learn, I guess...still, it gives me that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you've been taken.

The Hotel 47 staff was helpful and the room spacious and comfortable. We're located near the end of the Roman Circus Maximus behind the Palantine Hill...which we set out to see after dropping off our bags.

In Roman times, the Palatino Hill was THE place to build your palace. Today, its a fun maze of ruins...arched brick walls, marble columns, scattered masaic floors, hidden passages. Our first and favorite sight was the newly-restored rooms in the Casa Augusto. These four tiny rooms were painted almost 2000 years ago, and yet the pigments have been amazingly preserved. Augustus must have loved brilliant red.

Finished the Palatino Hill and exited to the Forum below. The afternoon light made this open-air playground of Roman artifacts come alive. Exited the Forum at Capitolino Hill and the piazza designed by Michelangelo. Returned to the hotel to shower and relax before dinner.

Crossed the Tiber River into the Travastevere area...this is the heart of Medieval Rome...with narrow, winding, and slightly seedy streets. Found an outdoor restaurant on the Piazza Santa Maria en Travatereve. Ate a hearty meal while watching the colorful activities of the piazza...a comical mime, roving bands of salesmen hawking cheap plastic toys that light up, a gang of children mocking the roving salemen, a spray paint artist, and a rousing troubador.

Took a long walk into the wee hours. Historic Rome at night is just fun. The Jewish Getto and the Area Sacra...with its tribe of wild cats. The Campo di Fior with drunken/festive revelry. The race-track-shaped Piazza Navona. The simply breathtaking Pantheon. And every few blocks...a random patch of ruins.

Tired feet but an overwhelming sense of history.

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