And now for the final post on our Italy trip. After the Amalfi coast, the next stop on our adventure was Rome. The last time I was in Rome, I was in ninth grade and spent most of my time there eating gelato, buying crap, and not appreciating being in Rome. I mean, I appreciated it as best I could for being fifteen, but I think seeing Rome as an adult is a different, richer experience, mostly because I’m less of an idiot now. But I still like gelato.
Also making this trip better than my previous trip to Italy was the fact that I wasn’t stuck eating terrible meals at crappy restaurants pre-selected by a tour company. Hooray! In fact, my family took eating in Rome very seriously, and we had some truly memorable meals. Probably the best meal we had was at Taverna Trilussa, where we all shared a fantastic cheese plate and then several sumptuous pasta dishes served in the metal pans they were cooked in, followed by a few lovely (but unnecessary) meat dishes. We also had great meals at Osteria della Gensola (seafood pasta and a great bottle of Pinot Blanc), Dar Poeta (pizza), and various other little eateries around the city. We consumed a frightening amount of fresh mozzarella cheese, red wine, and cappuccini (<– I speak Italian now).
The only thing that dampened my enjoyment of our trip to Rome was the fact that I was suffering from a number of ailments, including a sore throat, cough, headache, and stomachaches. But I powered through and self-medicated with plenty of pasta and red wine. One week and four pounds later, I’m still kinda sick, so I guess that didn’t totally work, but man, it tasted good.
We weren’t overly ambitious sight-seers in Rome, partly because I was ill, and also because we wanted to make time for our real priorities: food and shopping. However, we did take half a day and go to the Vatican.
We started out in St. Peter’s Basilica, which is just as impressive as one would expect it to be. The light in there is breathtaking. Seriously.
There were also some unexpected surprises, like a couple of mummified Popes. Because why not?
We wandered around the Basilica and observed a fair amount of pushing and shoving in order to get closer to the creche to see the baby Jesus, which struck me as a *tad* ironic. Then my mom got told off by a priest for stepping on the wooden step of a confessional booth while a procession of singers was passing through. Well, you know what they say — you haven’t truly been to the Vatican until you’ve been yelled at by a clergy member!
After the Basilica, we wanted to see the Sistine Chapel. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that the Sistine Chapel, despite being directly next to the Basilica, is actually part of the Vatican Museums and thus requires something like three hours of standing in line to get in. So, dumbly, we got into a long line for an attraction that we believed to be the Sistine Chapel, but actually was not. Turns out, we were waiting in line for the Vatican Cupola, which requires climbing 550 steps to the top of the dome over the Basilica, which admittedly provides some nice views of Rome. Oops.
I had read about “climbing the dome” in my guidebook, and I remember thinking, Who the hell would want to do that? Again, oops. My dad, who makes a habit of avoiding exercise of all shapes and forms, was not pleased. But he made it! We also got some cool views of the Basilica from above, and saw some lovely mosaics.
Coming out of the Vatican, I got a kick out of the tacky religious articles shops, including this one that was selling a decidedly crazy-eyed baby Jesus.
After browsing in one of the less tacky religious articles stores, we stopped in its attached cafe for some (terrible) mulled wine for me and Al and coffees for my parents. At the table behind us, some French people were feeding a chihuahua at the table. The waiter caught wind of this and was so disgusted that he yelled at them in Italian and then took the plate the dog had been eating off of and threw it dramatically into the trash, while muttering angrily under his breath. (Hey, no one ever accused the Italians of being passive-aggressive.) Alas, the French people were undaunted and seemed entirely unfazed by this display.
Another highlight of our trip was Al’s Italian haircut. His hair was getting really shaggy and he wanted to get it cut, so we wandered down the street from our apartment and found a salon that looked promising. The girl who cut his hair spoke no English but Al’s Italian is good enough that he managed to convey what he wanted, and he came out looking like a red-headed Italian model, which I approved of.
The salon was also home to two tiny, barking chihuahuas, one of whom was named Ercoles.
All in all, despite my various illnesses, Rome was a huge success. And I hope one of these days I get to go back and actually see the Sistine Chapel, rather than climbing a giant dome by mistake. Anyway, here are a few other photos of the trip, just to end on a high note.