Remembering Rome, Italy- August 2012

It almost brings tears to my eyes knowing that it has already been one year since I was in Italy.  Okay, maybe that's a little much, but I definitely think about Italy every day. Although I was in a foreign country, I have never felt more at home.  I felt so welcomed by the people, I relished the eateries along the way, and was awestruck by it's history.  

There is so much to do, see, and eat in Rome.  Per Wikipedia, Rome is the most traveled place in Italy and the 11th most visited city in the world!  Rome is one of the oldest cities in Europe, founded around 750 BC.  Just as in southern Italy, you can feel the influences of ancient poets and writers in Rome; they deemed it "The Eternal City".  An apt name lasting nearly 2000 years.  

 

Colosseum- Rome, Italy

Colosseum- Rome, Italy

There are so many wonderful memories that come to mind when remembering Rome.  

I visualize the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Vatican; all breathtaking in uniquely different ways.  I smile when recalling meeting Al Pacino's Spanish doppelganger just outside the Vatican waiting tables at a pizza parlor.  I giggle a little thinking back when Mike decided to get his haircut in Rome by a barber who only speaks Italian and Mike only speaks English and Spanish, but they still managed to communicate with each other {Mike got a great cut too}.   But, one of the most memorable places Mike and I visited was Volpetti Italian Market.  I found out about this market while reading 'Travel and Leisure' magazine.  T&L had an "Insider's Rome" edition which just so happened to come out on the newsstands 2 months before our trip to Italy.  Seeing the picture in the magazine {rows upon rows of cheeses, cured meats, wines, olives, and breads} I knew Mike and I had fit this into our travel plans.  Does that make us weird because we went out of our way to visit a deli? I hope not.  From where we were staying in Rome, Hotel Adriano, it was about a 2 mile walk (one way) to get the neighborhood of Testaccio.  Just by walking two miles south of the Rome we got to experience true Italian life.  We witnessed everyday nona's grocery shopping, noticed english was rarely spoken, if so, it was just as broken as my Italian, and I'm pretty sure Mike and I were the only tourists around.    

We were greeted as soon as we stepped into Volpetti.  The store's smell was intoxicating.  Visually, the deli was overwhelming; cured meats hung from the ceiling, some of which the hooves were still intact.  Refrigerated cases held at least 50 types of cheeses, and wine racks reached from floor to ceiling.  Mike and felt like little kids awaiting Christmas morning as we walked around and took in all the store had to offer.  The gentleman in the top picture asked what would we like {in broken English}, and  I replied {using my limited Italian vocabulary} a small plate of meat and cheese for a light lunch for two.  He said, "I will make you a picnic for two" and then proceeded to give us sample after sample to narrow down our taste preferences.  I should have recalled what I learned in Florence, that when an Italian says something is 'for two', you will get double that amount.  We ended up with a large serving plate nestled with four cheeses, three cured meats, olives, sundried tomatoes, and pepperoncinis.  Also included was another plate of sliced breads and whole rolls, a small bottle of white wine, and finally a small sampling of dessert. Needless to say we ate this for lunch, dinner, and even had more to spare.  If you are ever in Rome, and want a true taste of Italy, be sure to visit Volpetti's.  

Volpetti Italian Market

Volpetti Italian Market

Another great hidden find in Rome was La Gelateria Frigidarium. Again, in doing research prior to our trip, I scoured Tripadvisor for the best gelateria and came across this place.  We got our exercise walking there from our hotel, but very well worth the trips {we ate there twice}. 

We spent our final four days of our Italian vacation in Rome.  Just as in Florence, we purchased, in advance, sightseeing tours through Viator.  I highly recommend this service.  We were able to see parts of the Colosseum and Vatican that are not open to the general public and gained access to those venues prior to general public opening time so it wasn't quite as crowded.  

Even if you are not Catholic, make sure you view the Vatican.  It is amazing how many works of art are on display.  Tapestries, sculptures, and paintings can be found lining almost 2 miles of Vatican hallways, murals are painted in the former living quarters of popes and on the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter's Basilica displays the genius of Michelangelo as an architect, sculptor, and painter.  A funny side note, Michelangelo was commissioned by Pope Julius II, they did not get along, so the artist painted two blatant snubbing towards the pope in the Sistine Chapel.  Make sure you look for them, one is near the entrance, the other by the exit.  

To sum up Rome, I found it to be a city unlike any other.  It is a city of juxtaposition.   Modern buildings are built next to or even on top of 2000 year old ruins.  Rome has ostentatious basilicas and fountains that make you feel small and negligiblebut yet you can find a small restaurant off the beaten path where the staff welcomes you like family.  It is a city of high fashion and culture, but yet we encountered humble, unpretentious people.  Thank goodness we threw a coin {traditional style- using your right hand to toss the coin over your left shoulder} into Trevi Fountain so we are guaranteed to return!   A dopo, Italia! {See you later, Italy!}