my last weekend in Roma & in Italia

Big SIGH….my trip to Italy is coming to an end. How did the time go by so quickly? I have so enjoyed my time here in Rome as well as all of the other places I have visited this year. Here’s my post about my last weekend in Rome.

Saturday, June 30th
Saturday, after moving apartments, I headed back over to the Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth) to take the mandatory hand in the mouth picture. The line was much shorter this time and so I got in the line and waited my turn. It’s sort of funny doing this silly thing as everyone waits patiently for their turn and then runs over to the face, sticks their hand in, and someone else quickly snaps the picture.

After leaving the Bocca della Verità, I headed over to see Trajan’s markets. Either it was closed or I was in the wrong location. There were still more ruins to see along the way and so I took more pictures of ancient ruins and then headed back to the Colosseum. I was getting hungry and took a short diversion back to Hostaria da Nerone for lunch. I walked in the door and there was the same waiter that was so nice to me and insisted that I needed a handsome man to have lunch with. He again asked why I was alone. I had the spaghetti with clams again and it was wonderful! I stopped by my table often and chatted with me.

When I was leaving, he recommended that I go see the Domus Aurea. I headed over to what I thought was the correct location for this site and was not sure what I was missing. Yes there were some ruins but nothing so spectacular that would warrant a recommendation to see this site. A guy came and asked me if I knew where the Domus Aurea was. I told him I was also looking for it as I thought it was something you had to pay to see and could not believe that the ruin we were standing in front of was it. We both decide to walk around and look together. There were some shady characters on one side of this big park and so I did not go over to that side to see if that was where the entrance was. We finally found it down a few stairs and found out that it was closed on the weekends! I believe if I remember correctly it was only open Tues-Fri. So, I guess I missed out on that one on this trip. I will just have to return again!

After we both realized that it was closed, we chatted for little while. He was from Croatia and has been living in Rome for the past 10 years. He told me that his country has changed names three times in the past 10 years and that he was very lucky to escape being in his country during the war. It was very interesting talking to him. He mentioned that his purpose for the day was to actually visit the Basilica di San Clemente. I had read about this church and had wanted to visit it but had no idea where it was located. It must have been fate going to the Domus Aurea as I would have missed out on seeing this church if I had not been at that site. He pointed out the church which was very close to where we were. It did not open for another 20 minutes. I had to find a bathroom and so I thanked him for the info and said goodbye.

After finding a bar and a toilet, I headed over to the church to wait. There were two different entrances to the church. At each entrance was a big tour group also waiting for the church to open. Once the church opened, I headed inside. This church is a very special church as it has three layers to it. The top layer is the current church. It has wonderful mosaics inside. You then purchase a ticket for 5 euros to go down to the two lower levels of the church. I ran into the guy from Croatia inside the church. He said he had printed out some information about the church. He was specifically there to see the tomb of this guy named St. Cyril, who invented one of the alphabets and was buried there. While we were in the courtyard, I noticed this gray thing that looked like a mailbox to me. It turned out to be the tomb of St. Cyril! He was so happy that I noticed it as we would have never found it. So fate was working for both of us. We then went down to see the two lower layers of the church. It was a fascinating tour of the two lower layers. We evesdropped on this guide for a little bit to learn more about the different frescoes and areas of the church.

Once done with the tour, we said our goodbyes and I headed back to the Colosseum. I took a few more pictures and then walked through the Forum area once again. Rome is so incredible. I could spend days and days in the same area and still not be bored.

After walking around for a while, I headed over to the Piazza Venezia area. The apartment owners I had a drink with mentioned to me that there was a great bookstore in that area called Mels. For some reason, I could not remember the name and thought it was called Gus. I guess you could say they were close as they were both male American names. I finally found the store after just about giving up. I spent some time in there and bought a few books. The guy at the register was very helpful and gave me a discount once I told him what I did for a job. I thought that was so nice of him as it is not a usual thing done in Rome from what I am aware of. I then went back to the Campo area hoping that the tea store was still open as I wanted to buy more tea. No luck.

It was now getting to be close to dinner time. I had my reservation at Da Giggetto. I stopped in a few more stores along the way and arrived about 15 minutes before my reservation time. I was seated outside in the front at a nice table. I had the zucchini flowers once again and more of the eggplant parmigian and fresh pineapple for dessert. The waiters were all very nice. One came by and asked if I wanted some whiskey! I wasn’t sure if I heard correctly. He was smiling and laughing. He repeated whiskey and then I laughed and declined. He than asked me, “grappa? limoncella?” I have only had a few glasses of wine to try to avoid migraines and thanked him but said “no” once again. A wonderful dinner once again.

Sunday, July 1st
As the canon went off, I headed out to enjoy my last day in Roma!! I decided to take a nice peaceful walk back up to the Gianicolo to start off my day. There I saw a woman on the ground with blood on her head. I think her two adult daughters were with her. I asked if they needed to use my phone to call an ambulance. They said they had a phone and were fine. The woman looked pretty dazed. They had a wet cloth on her head. I felt a little strange walking away but there was not much I could do and they did not seem to want any helped. As I walked away an ambulance came and took them all to I assume a hospital. I was glad that they were getting some assistance.

After enjoying the peacefulness of the park, I decided to walk back down toward the St. Peter’s Basilica. I made it almost all of the way before getting lost. When I got to the parking lot, I could not remember if the walkway to the piazza of the Basilica was on the top or if I had to walk down some stairs. A man was asking directions to the same place I needed to go. He said he was from Bari and has been to Rome 12 times and still gets lost all of the time. That made me feel much better!

My plan was to catch the metro to the Barberini stop to go to the Palazzo Barberini. When I saw how short the line was, I could not pass up one more visit inside of this amazing church. After waiting about 10 minutes, which would have been less if others could have just waited their turn instead of having to push ahead in the line, I got through the security, put my little silk scarf around my shoulders and went back inside the church. This time to my delight, most of the church was accessible. All the chairs in the middle were gone and we could get pretty close to the front alter. I spent about 30 minutes inside the Basilica and then headed back out. The Swiss Guards were in action telling everyone that they had to stand a certain distance to take their pictures. I waited for a turn and took a few pictures of them. Their outfits are so cute!

I then headed for the Metro. Now before coming to Rome, I read all about the gypsies, the pickpockets, etc. I even hesitated for a little while about returning to Rome after reading how bad it had gotten. When I arrived in Rome, I was ready with all of my locks to be prepared for an all out attack with daily pickpocket attemtps: I have not had one near incident and have not even witnessed any pickpocket attemtps. I have of course been very aware and have not left my purse wide open or on an empty chair. I have seen signs at some restaurants to beware of your purses from robbers and I have made sure to not even leave my camera or sunglasses out on the table. But, I figured for sure, I was entering the most dangerous place for the pickpockets…the Metro! Well, there again, I felt completely safe. I held tightly to my purse which was over my body and I have been using a carabiner to hook all my zippers together so that they cannot be easily opened. I also bought this wonderful little wallet that has a thin steel cable for a strap which I can wear over my body. This set up as well as being aware has worked for me. I am now knocking wood as I still have tomorrow morning left in Rome.

The metro system is very easy to use. I prefer trains and the metro over buses as you can always count the stops. Both the metro and the train stop at all planned stops. Buses only stop if someone needs to get off or if there is someone waiting at the stop and even then sometimes only if the person waves their hands to indicate for the bus to stop. For the Rome Metro, you purchase a ticket at a machine. The current cost is 1 euro. You then put the ticket in this little slot. This part was a little tricky as it has to go in the correct way. A very nice Metro worker helped me with the ticket. Then you just wait and hop on. The train announces each stop in advance and even indicates which side door will open (in Italian – destra mean right & sinistra means left). The trip took about 5 minutes in all.

The Palazzo Barberini is near the Metro stop. The ticket office is on the second floor. The ticket cost 5 euros. I really liked this museum. Most of the paintings are religious paintings and then you will find a painting of King Henry VIII! I was not expecting this painting! It was actually quite interesting. The entire visit took about an hour tops but was very enjoyable. There are also nice information cards to read for each room explaining many of the paintings and the amazing frescoes on the ceilings. I have to thank Sandra for suggesting this as I probably would not have visited otherwise.

After leaving the Palazzo, I walked by the Trevi fountain once again, and then stopped in few stores along Via del Corso. It was getting pretty late and I had not really thought about what I was going to do for dinner. I had to go to the bathroom and needed to decide if I wanted to head back to Trastevere or find a restaurant nearby. I had walked by this place called, ROSSOPOMODORO a few times. I walked inside to check out the food at some of the tables. The food looked good. You can tell the difference between the terrible perfectly round pizzas with the perfect crust and the chef boyardee looking pasta and food that is probably pretty good. I have however been fooled a few times.

Anyways, I was greeted by a very friendly waitress and told that there were tables available upstairs. I headed upstairs and asked for a table for one and also asked about the location of the toilets. After using the bathroom, I was seated and promptly asked what I wanted to drink and was also given a menu. By the way, I was seated at a very nice table, not one stuck in the back. I decided on pizza. The very cute waiter suggested the very pizza I was thinking of ordering, called La Verace, with tomato sauce, bufala di mozzarella, basil, and a special sorrento extra virgin olive oil.

I asked the waiter how long the restaurant was opened as it looked brand new. He said it had only been open for two weeks now. I asked him if he had a card that I could have as I wanted to write a review on this travel website about the restaurant. Well from that moment on, I was treated like royalty!! It was pretty funny. There were four waiters and one waitress coming to check on me. “Tutto bene?” “Can I get you anything else?” “How is your pizza?” “Buona?” The main waiter asked me at one point the type of article I was going to write. I gave him the slow travel website and told him there were many reviews of places to eat in Rome and that I wanted to add a review for this place. The service was wonderful, but even if they did not think I was some sort of restaurant reviewer, I would have been very happy with the service as I was treated very well before I mentioned my review. I did think the pizza was very good. I will write more later as a review about this place.

After a filling pizza and a strawberry torta for dessert, I headed back to Trastevere. As always, the shops were open, there were tables lined up along the way with stuff to sell, and there were the typical bag sellers. In the Piazza di Santa Maria in Trastevere I noticed a show being put on in the far corner. I went over to watch it for a while. There were 5 women and two men putting on the funniest acts. It was hilarious. I really could not understand much of the Italian as they all spoke so fast. They did some singing, dancing, acted out some skits, and even reinacted some funny Italian commercials. I kept starting to leave after one act and then the next one would be even funnier.
I finally left as I had packing to do, which by the way I am still avoiding but better to get to soon! I actually packed Friday night when moving apartments for the weekend but need to re-pack a little and make sure all of my liquids are in the correct bags.

I apologize for all the typos, etc. but I am too tired to proof read.

Well that is just about it for now. My next adventure…2 fun filled flights home!

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