a day of statues & fountains and a visit to the Jewish museum

Monday, June 25th
When I awoke on Monday morning, my ankle was looking better. It was still slightly swollen but the redness on my leg was gone and I was able to tighten my shoe a little. The weather was sunny and very HOT! I had not yet been to the Campo de’ Fiori in the morning. I think I have been spoiled by the big Venice fruit and vegetable market next to the fish market as this market seemed smaller in size. I walked around and decided on a nectarine and then headed over to the Sant’ Eustachio bar for a caffè macchiato and brioche. I thought the coffee was good but nothing to rave about. Perhaps it is the special coffees they offer that are all the rage there. The bar was not very crowded. This is one of the places where you need to pay first. Everyone was very friendly and nice there.

After having my morning coffee, I went over to the Piazza della Minerva. I have wanted to see the elephant statue in this piazza ever since seeing Janet’s amazing picture of this statue. It was another “wow” sighting in Rome. After taking a few pictures of the elephant, I went into the church, the Basilica di Santa Maria sopra Minerva. This church was incredibly beautiful and houses the famous Michelangelo’s statue of Christ risen from the tomb.

Being so close to the Pantheon, I had to go inside once again. I don’t think I will ever feel like I have spent too much time in this famous site. I then stopped in a few shops, and ended up somehow on the street of the famous Giolitti gelateria and pasticceria. It was now lunchtime. It was so hot outside. I could not pass up stopping in for a gelato. Because of the heat, I decided on fruit flavors. I ordered a small cone with peach and kiwi flavors. Besides the gelato being so much better in Italy than in the US, the size and cost are very different. Here in Italy, when ordering the smallest gelato (which will usually cost between 1.80 and 2.00 euros) you always get 2 flavors and the size of the scoops are usually very large. I could probably manage to eat a medium size gelato but I don’t think I could finish a large gelato. WOW the kiwi was amazing! The peach was also very good. I have to say that I agree that this is a very good gelateria. I guess I would have to order the same pistachio and nocciola flavors I have been ordering to say if it was the best gelateria. I may have to take that test before I leave.

I then stumbled onto Piazza Colonna. In this piazza, you will find a very tall column with rows and rows and rows of carvings of battles. At the top of the column is a statue of St. Paul. Across from the huge column was a galleria. Now when I was in Milan a few years ago, we went into the galleria across from the Duomo. This was a shopping mall. Then when I was in Perugia, I saw the word “galleria” on the map and searched for it much of one of my days only to find out that it was a tunnel. This year while with Katia & Guido, we encountered a few gallerias (or galleri?) which were tunnels. And now here in Rome I am looking at this sign saying: Galleria Alberto Sordi. I was not sure what it was at first until I got closer. It indeed was a tiny mall. I went inside to look around for a few minutes to cool down. I swear it had to be at least 100 outside.

After leaving the mall, I looked at the map to figure out where I was. I realized that I was very close to the Trevi Fountain. I have stopped by this fountain on all of my visits to Rome, but this was my first time visiting with a digital camera and so I went back for more pictures. The fountain was beautiful as ever. It was also packed with tourists. I spent a few minutes taking pictures and then decided to walk over to the Palazzo del Quirinale. Somehow I ended up on the back side of the Quirinale and so I walked over to the Piazza Barberini. In this piazza, you will find a very beautiful fountain. I remembered Sandra mentioning that she really enjoyed the Palazzo Barberini. I walked around the piazza a bit looking for the Palazzo Barberini, figuring that it would be somewhere in the piazza. No luck. So I headed up toward the Quattro Fontane (four fountains).

There on the street heading to the Quattro Fontane was the Palazzo Barberini! If only I had known. Because it was Monday, I was not sure if it would be open. I met a nice Italian man who was also standing outside the gate wondering the same thing. He also mentioned that he had the hardest time finding it. Although the information for Palazzo Barberini says that it is located on Via Barberini, we both found the entrance off of Via delle Quattro Fontane between the Piazza Barberini and the four fountains.

It looked like the palace might be open so we both headed toward the ticket door. There we saw the sign: aperto tutti i giorni/open every day 9-19:30 AND THEN underneath: chiuso lunedì/closed on Monday. Now, please explain to me how this sign makes sense! For a minute after reading “open every day” we both thought that it was open until reading the second part of the sign. We both shook our heads in amazement over the conflicting information. We even went as far as the entrance in hopes that the “open every day” part of the sign was the hours for the museum. At this point an American man and his son came walking up. I told them that the museum was closed. They asked why. They said it wasn’t Sunday. I replied, “no, it’s Monday”.

I then continued walking up Via delle Quattro Fontane and reached the four fountains on the corner. I took a few pictures and even refilled my water bottle. Although I have read many times that the fountains are very safe to drink from, I have been a little leery. It was just so hot out that I went for it. The water was so refreshing. I then walked over to the Palazzo del Quirinale. The piazza is huge! There is a beautiful statue in the middle of the piazza and a view of St.Peter’s Basilica. I have read that the views at night from this piazza are spectacular.

By now my feet were pretty tired from all the walking I had done. The one place I knew was open on Monday was the Jewish museum, the Museo Ebraico di Roma. I asked one of the carabiniere for directions. He asked me, “by foot?” I told him that I had walked here from Trastevere. He was amazed. He gave me directions and off I went. I ended up by the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument (also called the wedding cake or the typewriter). I walked over to the monument and walked up the stairs to the tomb of the unknown soldier. I looked at the time and dicided that I better head on over to the Jewish museum before it closed.

After a terrorist bombing where a two-year old boy was killed in 1982, the synagogue and Jewish museum have been guarded. It was a little confusing getting into the museum. You go to where it says tickets but instead you find a man who operates the gate to let you in to the museum where you then by the tickets. I did not understand the man at first. You have to go to the gate, he will buzz you in, and then you walk down some stairs and down a path to get into the museum. There you buy your ticket for the museum and the guided tour of the synagogue.

I really enjoyed this museum. There was a very moving movie, which played continuously, rotating between the Italian version and the English version as well as many displays from ancient times until present. At one point, someone walks through announcing the English synagogue tours. Our tour guide was quite amusing and also very informative. Because of Jewish custom, men must cover their heads and women must cover their shoulders. I happened to have a scarf with me but many women did not. He said that in each of the two synagogues, there were coverings provided. When we got to the bigger synagogue, he helped pick out scarves that went with each person’s clothing. I would definitely recommend this museum for anyone interested in all with the Jewish history or Rome.

After spending a couple of hours in the museum, I headed back to my apartment. I stopped at a little store along the way to buy some buffalo mozzarella cheese. I also stopped at a little fruit & vegetable store for some tomatoes. Since all I had for lunch was that gelato, I was starting to get hungry. It was 7pm, too early for dinner out, so I made a caprese salad.

I went back out about 8:30pm for dinner. Because it was Monday night, a couple of the places I wanted to try were closed. Ann from Hawaii told me that friends of hers enjoyed eating at Hosteria del Moro, also known as Tony’s. I actually walked by there Sunday night pretty late at night and the waiter tried to get me to sit at a table for dinner. I told him that I had already eaten and asked him if I would need a reservation to eat there on another night. He said definitely “no”, I would not need a reservation. The restaurant is a short walk from my apartment.

When I arrived, Hosteria del Moro was pretty full but there still were a couple of tables left outside. I asked the waiter for a table for one. “No tables for one” I was told. He then told me that I could sit inside and pointed to the room where I could find a table. There I found a table for two crammed into the corner with a place setting set up although the table was pretty dirty with lots of crumbs everywhere. I also saw a clean table for four. I sat at the table for two. A waitress came by after a while. I told her that the table was dirty. She suggested that I sit at the table for four (which by the way could have been split into two tables for two). I moved to the new table and she brought me bread and a menu. About five or ten minutes later the waiter who originally told me where to sit came by and told me I could not sit there and that I had to sit at the table for two. I told him that the woman told me that I could sit there as the other table was dirty. He told me that she was crazy and did not know what she was talking about and that I had to move back. Meanwhile, he did not attempt to clean the table. I waited for the table to be cleaned. He came back about 10 minutes later and told me again that I had to move to the other table and that that woman did not know what she was talking about. He again did not clean the table and it seemed apparent that he was not going to wait on me until I moved. I sat there for about five move minutes and then decided to get up and leave. The lady saw me walk out and seemed very surprised. The waiter also saw me walk away. The food may be good there but on this night, a single diner was not treated well (at least by that waiter) and I would not eat there again.

I had food in my apartment and was ready to just go home and make dinner when I was surprised to find that the restuarant near my apartment, La tana de Noantri, was open. I walked by there earlier and it seemed that it was not going to be open. I also walked by there the other night and saw someone eating the zucchini flowers I loved and I also saw someone eating mussles. I had thought about eating there sometime during my stay. I asked for a table and as seated outside at a very nice table. I was still upset about my treatment at the previous restaurant and so that my have clouded my opinion but I would have to say that I felt the service I recieved was not that great. It was hard to get the waiter’s attention. The food was good, but I would not say great. I think I was just spoiled with my zucchini flowers I had the other night. I was thinking about having dessert, but it took forever for my waiter to come back to see if I wanted anything else. By the time he did come back, I asked for the bill. I had to ask him again about 15 or 20 minutes later after the waiter walked by me quite a few times with no bill. The restaurant was busy but I saw other waiters much more attentive to their customers. Again, I wondered if it was because I was a single diner.

When walking back around the corner to my apartment, I heard someone calling my name. At first, I figured it could not have been me that they were calling but then again I heard my name. It turned out to be the woman who is renting the apartment to me. We had talked about having coffee Tuesday morning and set a time. I told her my story of my “single diner” experience. Even though my dinner experiences were not so great, I did have a wonderful day in Rome!!

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