Sunday, March 22, 2015

Day Two - Rome

Sunday, March 22

 After a solid night's sleep we were easily up by 7:30.  Although it's "only" in the 60s or so here, we slept with the window cracked open.  It was pretty quiet and comfortable and even with these twin beds only inches apart, we managed to survive our first night's sleep.

Breakfast here was great, as I expected.  There is a wonderful homemade granola with coconut and dried bananas.  I had it with pineapple yogurt and a glazed brioche that I slathered with Nutella.  Hey, when Nutella is a staple on the table, you make use of that.  And oh, a dear sweet cappuccino which was absolutely nothing like the venti capps I've been drinking at home.  Well fortified for our day, we started out for San Pietro in Vincoli to see our first Michelangelo of the trip.

DS said she was awoken early this morning by heavy rain.  When we first headed out it was a light rain and I was quite comfortable in my fleece with a light windbreaker over it for water-proof factor.  By the time we got to the end of the street, the rain was heavy enough that we both bought an umbrella.  The Rome Marathon happened to be on today, and its course ran through all of the centro storico which could have severely affected our itinerary today.  As much as I worried about that, it was really a non-issue. We walked to San Pietro in Vincoli in about 15 minutes with nary a bother.  It was pretty neat to revisit and see that it was just as impressive now as it was when I first saw it.  Michelangelo's Moses is just breathtaking, and well worth the soggy walk.  I think DS is quite struck by relics, and the story of St. Peter's chains really blew her away.

We left St. Pietro and had an 11:00 reservation at the Galleria Borghese.  By this time it was raining much more in earnest, so we opted to find a cab, and thankfully did pretty easily near Santa Maria Maggiore.  We got to the Borghese well ahead of time, checked our bags and umbrellas and queued up for our timeslot.  Our approach was to hit the second floor painting gallery first, while the rest of the 360 let in at the same time took on the first floor.  We headed downstairs once the throngs started to find their way up.  The Pinacoteca is pretty impressive, with some early Bernini statues and Titian's Love Sacred and Profane.  Downstairs though is where my heart lies.  Bernini's Rape of Prosperina is just insanely incredible.  I melt when I see it.  Same with Apollo and Daphne, with her turning into tree rather than submit to Apollo's lustful advance.  Here too though are six stunning Carvaggios in one room.  Holy crap is all I can say.  It was really just too overwhelming, particularly coming from a nation and an experience where one on its own is a gem.

Fully sated on art, we moved on with a few hours to kill before having to meet the tour group.  Thankfully it had stopped raining.  We stopped for DS' first gelato of the trip.  The girl running the counter let us sample a few before we decided on chocolate, orange chocolate and creme caramel.  it was pretty delectable.  We then had a lunch chaser at Harry's Bar, the Rome location.  This ended up being a great meal, if a little pricy.  We had an avocado stuffed with crabmeat and pink grapefruit which was just out of this world; I would never have thought those flavors would go together.  I had a pici pasta in a butter sauce with black pepper and black truffle, which was heavenly.  And it being Harry's Bar, we had their signature cocktail of a Bellini.  We were starting the tour off well!

We walked a bit hoping we could get into Santa Maria dell Vittoria to see another Bernini, but it was closed for midday siesta.  So we headed back to the hotel and rested a bit before we met the group at 3.  

The jury is still out on whether we'll both survive the tour.  I admittedly yielded to the temptation of letting someone else handle the logistics, but that puts me at their mercy, which is somewhat frustrating.  Even DS has said "we could do this better on our own" or "I learn more from you" which is good but also annoying in that we're paying to learn.  I just don't think the rest of the demographic really wants to as profoundly as we do.

Our walking tour took us to a bus that dropped us near Largo Argentina, from which we walked to the Pantheon, which we got to go into for about 20 minutes before it closed. Then we had our first group dinner at Trattoria del Pallaro, which was a family style restaurant with no set menu.  Appetizers were rice balls, lamb balls, buffalo mozzarella, lentils, prosciuto, fennel and bread.  Primi was two types of rigatoni, carbonara and tomato.  Secondi was two types of veal, chicory done in garlic sauce and some really great homemade potato chips.  House wine was flowing nicely and it was a reasonably good meal.

There was a night walk that took in Campo de Fiori, Piazza Navona, the Pantheon and was headed towards the Spanish Steps. I called it at 9:30 to bail and hit bed early.  We start off early tomorrow, so I want to get a good night's sleep.  Quiet once again here, so hope I get a good night in.

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