April 18, 2009

Day One in Rome

We had a United flight out of Chicago on March 31st that left at 1:00 in the afternoon, a nice time to fly; we didn't feel rushed, had time for breakfast, and the airport was empty. Lovely.

Had a two hour layover in Dulles and had a snack and a glass of wine, and Bill went into the smoking room (above right - isn't that gross??) which is a disgusting place where I'm sure you don't even need a cigarette to get instant lung cancer.
We arrived in Rome on April 1st and were met at the airport by our guide, Ila, whom I later dubbed Zsa Zsa. A Sophia-Loren wannabe, late 40s, long hair (which got dirtier and dirtier as the days went on), dressed in tight-fitting jeans tucked into knee-high boots and a leather jacket (the "uniform" in Rome). Her English was pretty good and altho she talked a lot, she didn't say much, but she was moderately helpful.
Our hotel was The Claridge, near the Borghese Gardens, not a fabulous location, but it was rated 4-stars so I had high hopes, which were dashed when we walked into the room. Cheap-looking and tacky, and very warm with no air conditioning (not the hotel's fault - a national regulation where the air doesn't go on til June). So we had to sleep with the sliding door open to get some air and the street noise was deafening. Ah well...it was Rome.
We had lunch at Pizzeria Rossini (left), near the hotel, which Ila had recommended, and it was delicious. Pizza, of course, but Roman pizza. Then we went to the Galleria Borghese which is beautiful (we liked the sculpture better than the paintings) but I was falling asleep on my feet. Went back to the hotel (it was raining a bit) and took a short nap. Had dinner at Pescheria Rossini (same owners as the pizzeria) and ate too much but it was fabulous. They brought us a complimentary glass of Prosecco (we love Prosecco, thanks to our friends Sam and Karen who introduced us to it a few years ago) and a tuna carpaccio bruschetta for an appetizer. Yum. We had gnoccietti with tomato and shrimp and "particular" fish (at least we think that's what they called it) cooked in salt.
Everything was incredibly delicious. Afterwards we went back to the hotel and collapsed. We both woke up about midnight, wide awake. It was very hot and very noisy but we eventually went back to sleep.
But it was Rome.

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