April 18, 2009

Day Two in Rome - My Birthday

April 2nd, my birthday: We had a wake up call for 6 a.m. (yawn) cuz we had a tour that day. Zsa Zsa introduced us to Patricia and then thankfully left us in her capable hands. The weather was gorgeous that day - low 60s and sunny. We went to Vatican City, the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica, the Colosseum and the Forum. Whew! Lots to see but it was a wonderful tour and Patricia was terrific. (See my previous post for lots of pictures from Rome.)

After the tour Bill and I walked over to the Piazza Navona. Rome is an incredibly beautiful city but there's an awesome amount of graffiti. You can't even believe what it's like. It's everywhere, on every wall, on many buildings...thankfully not anywhere near Vatican City, but everywhere else. There's no way they could clean it up without the cooperation of every single citizen. They've obviously given up on it. You sort of get used to it after a while but it never ceases to shock you. There's graffiti in Florence and Venice as well, but not as bad as Rome.
Anyway, we had lunch at an outdoor cafe on the Piazza Navona. It was a school holiday so there were hundreds of kids wandering around. Here in the U.S. kids hang out at the mall, in Rome they hang out at ruins that are thousands of years old.
After lunch we went to the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Palace of Justice... walked, walked, walked. Stopped for a glass of wine and took a cab back to the hotel for a short nap.
We were too tired that evening to venture very far from the hotel so we asked at reception for a restaurant recommendation. The most unhelpful young woman at the desk waved her hand in some unspecific direction and said there were lots of restaurants. When I asked if she could give us a name she said, "Oh they're all good." Well, gee thanks, you little twit.
So we walked in the direction we thought she'd indicated, and walked and walked. Then we walked some more and a little farther on, voila, there we were on the Viale Parioli, a busy area with lots of shops and restaurants. We found a beautiful restaurant called Molto and asked to see the menu. They were gracious and helpful, and a waiter went over the entire menu with us and everything sounded fabulous so how could we not stay? It turned out to be an amazing meal; first the waiter brought us a complimentary shrimp lightly fried with shredded filo - yum! (they're big on complimentary dishes in Rome, which is a very lovely custom), then we ordered steak tartare on a carpaccio of zucchini with olives, delicate ravioli stuffed with ricotta in a sauce I don't remember, spit-grilled chicken with potatoes. The pasta in Italy tastes so much different from pasta here. I don't know what it is, fresher maybe, but it's delicious. It was all delicious. Of course we had wine. We were too stuffed for dessert but the waiter brought us something anyway, complimentary of course. Nice, since it was my birthday. He brought us little espresso cups with a little tiramisu-type dessert, which was heavenly.
All in all an incredible day. I have to say it was my most favorite birthday ever. Needless to say we were completely exhausted that night and slept like the dead.


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Samantha! Thats one great trip you had in Italy!

Kartik & Veena
(The couple with glasses at the Chapungu Resort in South Africa)

Sam R. said...

Love your photos of Rome. I especially like your pose with the Kosher chef. When we were in Rome a couple of years ago K and I had dinner at a restaurant in the Jewish Quarter next to the one in your photo and had the same dinner special - fried artichoke - it was wonderful.

The grafitti thing must be recent as we did not see any or a least not enough to notice. Too bad, it's a beautiful city and to see it defaced is painful. But I'm sure the ancient Romans had their own graffiti problems - things like, "CEASAR RULES", "CLAUDIUS SUCKS", "BRUTUS IS A SISSY", etc.
Some things never change.