Today we said goodbye to Cinque Terre to head to our next destination – Rome.
It was super cloudy when we woke up and started to rain on our drive out.
Getting to the Autostrade (the major freeway) was an adventure. We had what we are considering normal switch back roads, but then there was a small offshoot between buildings in a residential part of town. There was one corner where we had MAYBE an inch … and I am not exaggerating … on either side of the car as we tried to pass through. I was too busy trying to help Jeremy maneuver us through that I unfortunately did not get any photos or videos of it. It puts tight driving into a whole new context.
After making our way through that town, we wound our way along the hillside on a lane and a half width road. Thankfully we did not encounter much traffic, but the turns and anticipation of what might come around the corner was stressful. The road was absolutely lovely, we were surrounded by trees with little snippet views of the opposing hillside or a small river alongside the road.
Once we reached the Autostrade, it was 90+ mph driving after that. Cars here go fast and they move to the right lane to allow someone to pass. Trucks for the most part stay in the right lane as well.
As we moved down through the central part of the country towards Florence, I was surprised at how industrial things were along side the freeways. It reminded me a lot of the Sodo area of Seattle. As we continued past Florence, things started to open up into countryside and the wine region. There were a lot of grapes growing around the Autostrade and land that had been tilled, yet not planted. I believe this is the southern part of the Tuscan region.
I saw a couple of nurseries that were growing all sorts of trees and shrubs as we continued southward and small towns the dotted the hillsides. It was really lovely. We stopped at an Italian outlet mall to try to get some clothes that were suitable for the warmer weather. The forecast that we used to pack is about ten degrees cooler than what it really is.
We finally arrived in Rome around 3pm, navigated the crazy driving (where three lanes merge into one and then that lane opens up later into two and cars just move like a swarm in and out), and got to our hotel where we happily paid for valet parking so we didn’t have to deal with it.
We are staying at the Imperial Hotel, which is near that Trevi Fountain and in the heart of the city. After dropping our bags, we set out to see the outside of the Coliseum and Roman Forum before it grew dark. We walked past the Trevi fountain, or rather tourist hell. There were so many people crammed in along it, that it was not a very pleasant experience. After that, we stopped for a quick lunch and met Linda, the president of not for profit for the UK. It was the first time we were asked about American politics, which was interesting. She has been greatly impacted by Brexit – much of the funding for not for profit in the UK comes from Europe in general. She was in Italy to meet with all the other not for profit heads of countries in what we assumed was an annual meeting.
After getting a glass of wine and relaxing, we set out to find the Roman Forum and Coliseum. We arrived just as the sun was setting and the light was perfect.
From there we headed northeast past more of the Roman Forum to have dinner in Campo de Fiori. It’s a lovely little piazza that had musicians playing (who knew a cello and guitar could do so much!), so we grabbed a seat and ordered our meal and people watched. On the walk to the piazza, the light just kept falling giving us more and more dramatic scenery.
After enjoying our dinner, we then walked to Piazza Navona where there are three fountains in the center of it and artists sprinkled throughout. The center fountain is the Fountain of the Four Rivers created by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. When I last visited Rome I had no idea who he was and completely fell in love with everything he created. It still amazes me how someone can so accurately portray weight, mass, and gravity and the smallest details with marble.
I love Rome, especially at night – the whole city comes alive with such a different feel than the masses of tourists hustling throughout the day. It is almost as if a sigh of relief is felt as the day winds down into evening. Jeremy hates Rome, mainly because he hates crowds, but he had never experienced it at night. I think *maybe* he has a slightly different opinion now that he experienced the music, the artists and the piazza’s all slowing down.
We decided to head to the Pantheon on our way back to the hotel. You cannot imagine the size of it – we got our photo just outside the door in and it gives you some perspective, but being there was … overwhelming. We met a nice couple there who are expecting their first child in December and were from Montreal. Unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to get their names or photo.
We left the Pantheon, then headed to the Trevi fountain one more time (since it was on the way home) for a photo of it lit up at night. There were still a ton of people there, though not quite as many as earlier in the day. I think the funniest part of walking around with my camera was the amount of people who would stop me and ask me to take a photo. One couple totally admitted targeting me for it, haha. I tried to get a few photos so you could see how hard it was to get something without people.
Jeremy is glad that Rome was really only one day. He is not much of a city guy and while he is tolerating it for me, he definitely is ready to be done with the crowds! I was so happy to sit in the piazza’s at night and watch all the activity. It is just so different than anything that you have back home.