After breakfast (disappointing without Lorca there) we walked to the Castel Sant'Angelo. The site is on the pricier side to visit but we felt it was worth it. The grounds are intriguing, the air of the past surrounds you, and the view is fabulous.
As we walked back through Rome we noticed the barriers set up and people already gathering to view The Pope. Today is The Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Pope makes a pilgrimage to the Piazza Mignanelli near the Spanish Steps in honor of the Virgin Mary.
As crazy as it sounds a friend of Greg's was in Rome (haven't seen each other in 20 years) so we met up with Steve and his cousin Joe. We decided to have drinks at Il Palazzetto (at the top of the Spanish Steps) so that we could watch for The Pope. The bar offers a variety of wines, beers, and cocktails and provides olives and snacks. Several drinks and hours later we walked back to our hotel to change for dinner. We had such a good time with Steve and Joe that we asked them to join us for dinner at Osteria St Anna.
We got dropped off at the Piazza del Popolo and Osteria St. Ana is just a block away. For the full and amazing review visit: http://wanderlusthearts.weebly.com/rome-italy.html
After dinner we thought we would share our favorite time in Rome with them. We walked from the Piazza del Popolo, down Via del Corso, past the Pantheon to Grom Gelato. Then made our way back to the Spanish Steps. We got to enjoy our last night in Rome with a great meal, amazing new friends, and lots of laughter.
The next morning we got a call that our ride from Rome Cabs was there (15 minutes early). We checked out and headed to the airport. We passed through the Cattle Call (once you experience getting on an international flight from Rome you will know what I mean) and got comfy on our flight to Boston.
Once we were in Boston we had a bit of trouble finding our driver from Boston North Limo. We missed the part in our email that said to call for our driver because most of them don't wait inside the airport. Anyways a half hour later and we were on our way home! We couldn't wait for our soft bed!!
This morning we ventured across the river into Trastevere. Unfortunately, between the crowds and confusing directions we didn't stay long. We did a little shopping for our nieces and nephews and we were able to find Fior Di Luca (gelateria) unfortunately it wasn't open.
Rather than getting lost looking for Dar Poeta we headed to Baffetto. For the 2nd time in two years the restaurant was closed when it was supposed to be open. I give!
Now it's raining again and we're getting cold and tired so we grab a porchetta sandwich from the Piazza Navona and headed to Via del Corso for shopping.
For my stylish nieces we headed to Camomilla. Camomilla offers stylish wallets, accessories, and purses for everyone age. I bought one for myself last year and still love it.
We weren't really hungry for dinner so we thought we would just go out for a walk this evening. It was sprinkling when we left the hotel but thought that was fine. We go to the Spanish Steps and that's when it started to downpour. We decided to grab a cab back to our hotel. Purchased a bottle of wine at Castroni (wonderful store for wine, beer, treats, coffee, and more), ordered some cookies from Il Fornaio (delicious cookies, pastries, and sandwiches) and snuggled in with a movie.
Terrible sorry for not finishing our story from Rome yet! We have been enjoying the holiday season and have also become extremely busy for the holiday season lol!
Right after Christmas I will be posting about:
Trip Review: Our last two days in Rome
Activities Review: Christmas Stroll at the Strawberry Banke Museum
Restaurant Review: Portsmouth Brewery
Restaurant Review: Thai Sweet Basil
Recipes: New Cookies, and Dairy Free meals! (3 new recipes were posted today!)
This morning we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel although we hit a small snafu. When asking for soy milk - definitely tell the staff you would like it cold for cereal or hot for beverages. I received hot soy milk for my cereal. Eh, go with the flow I guess.
We walked through Piazza Barberini and headed for the Borghese Gardens. The gardens are so peaceful and beautiful that we wanted to spend some extra time just wandering about. We pre-purchased our tickets (online) and so when it was our allotted time we made our way over to the Galleria Borghese The Galleria Borghese is one of my favorites! I love sculptures by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and one of my all time favorite paintings is Raphael's Lady with a Unicorn.
One of the frustrations though as with any museum is people and their need to be pushy. Guess what the paintings and sculptures have been there for hundreds of years taking 10 minutes to not be pushy won't stop you from seeing them.
At lunch time we walked through the Gardens to the Piazza del Popolo. We tried to visit the 100 Presepi (Nativity Scenes) however at that exact time a full school load of children were visiting so we opted for lunch instead.
We chose to eat at Canova again this year and were just as happy as last year. For the review visit: http://wanderlusthearts.weebly.com/rome-italy.html
After lunch we decided to do some foodie shopping. We visited Altromercato which is a fair trade organization offering goods from several countries. Next we went to Lauderee for some delicious French Macaroons (yes I know I'm in Italy but I can never turn down French Macaroons). and also a chocolate store for some more sweets.
The concierge helped us arrange dinner reservations at Nonna Betta's in the Jewish Ghetto tonight. This restaurant was a highlight for us last year and we had the same feelings about it this year. For the review visit: http://wanderlusthearts.weebly.com/rome-italy.html
After dinner we took part in our usual night time stroll. This is always may favorite memories of Rome. Walking late at night back to our hotel (perhaps stopping for some roasted chestnuts or gelato) past all the sites lit up and empty. There is something truly magical about this time of night in Rome.
Today was unplanned so we slept in and ended up missing breakfast. I think we were still full from dinner the night before so we drank some water, ate a cookie, got ready and headed out.
We decided to spend time in our area (Via Nazionale) and the Monti area. I did some clothes shopping at Blue Sand, bought some AS Roma gear for our nieces and nephews (we purchased Lazio last year), and then stopped in at a store I read about online Natale Per Emergency. Here is a little bit about Natale Per Emergency Shops from their website:
"Milan, Rome, Bologna, Brescia, Ferrara, Florence, Genoa, L'Aquila, Livorno, Reggio Emilia, Turin and Trento in the city that will host the December Christmas Shops Emergency, where do Christmas gifts is useful twice: to those who receive them and the humanitarian programs of Emergency.
The Christmas Shops are real shops, where they are selling items from the countries in which it operates Emergency and products offered by businesses, companies and shops wishing to contribute humanitarian work of the association.
Toys and children's books, beauty products, jewelry, gourmet food and wines of our land donated by companies this year will help support the Pediatric Emergency and Surgical Centre in Goderich, Sierra Leone."
At lunch time we stumbled across La Matriciana and we were so glad we did! For the review visit: http://wanderlusthearts.weebly.com/rome-italy.html
For a mid-day snack we walked back through Monti (which is full of artisan stores, restaurants, bakeries, and more) and headed to Gelateria Fatamorgana. Finally here is a gelato shop that is not only creamy, has a large dairy free selection, but it also has unique flavors that you never knew you always wanted. For the full review visit: http://wanderlusthearts.weebly.com/rome-italy.html
As we were walking back to our hotel we popped into a store to browse. Suddenly we hear a ton of noise and as we turn around we see what looks to be a snow storm but it's large size hail. Next you hear tons of car alarms going off and you see people ducking into stores. Luckily it was short lived and we were only a block from our hotel.
Thanks to the hotel concierge again we had dinner reservations at La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali. For the review visit: http://wanderlusthearts.weebly.com/rome-italy.html
This morning we woke up early and asked the concierge for a taxi to St. Peter's Basilica. We arrived early for the Scavi Tour so we walked around St. Peter's Square and then visited the Basilica. It was so beautiful to walk around without crowds and without camera's going off everywhere.
We then made our way over to the archaeological department and checked in for our tour. Our group of 15 were lead inside and I don't want to give away too much about the tour because I think it's something everyone should experience but you see some diagrams, the actual Necropolis (mausoleums of Romans), artwork, tiles, and finally arrive at the tomb of St. Peter. The tour ends in the middle of the Grotto.
Tip: to book this tour visit http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/institutions_connected/uffscavi/documents/rc_ic_uffscavi_doc_gen-information_20090216_en.html
Tip while on the tour: It says it right on the site if you are claustrophobic, or have problems with warmth of low oxygen levels don't chance the tour. It can truly disrupt your experience and those around you. Be respectful, don't take pictures, don't crack jokes, and don't pretend that you know everything. It's okay to be new to this information, it's okay to be in awe, and it's okay to just listen and learn.
After the tour we wanted to head back into the museums as fast as possible so we decided to just grab a quick bite to eat in the museum. Big mistake! The food is below average, cold, and not worth it! The last time we visited the museums we were inundated with crowds inside the Sistine Chapel. This time we were fortunate that it was a light day and could take time to look around, experience and enjoy the amazing work of art. In addition to this Greg was enthralled that he finally got to see the doorway to the "Room of Tears" ("the new pope goes to the "Room of Tears", a small red room next to the Sistine Chapel. The pope dresses by himself, choosing a set of pontifical choir robes (white cassock, rochet and red mozzetta) from three sizes provided. Then, he vests in a gold corded pectoral cross and a red embroidered stole. He wears a white zucchetto on his head.")
As we walked from the Vatican to our hotel (in the rain), we walked past the Castel Sant'Angelo, the Tiber River, and Gelateria Del Teatro. I had read so many great reviews about this Gelateria that we wound through many side streets to find it. The flavors we chose were Chocolate and wine (dairy free) and Sage and Raspberry. Both flavors were bold and inventive unfortunately, both gelato's were icy and not up to par.
Our room wasn't ready yet when we got back to our hotel so we went up to the Rooftop Bar and ordered a couple of drinks. Lorca was also happy to make dinner reservations for us in the hotels Rooftop Restaurant. Finally, we headed to our room to rest and then freshen up.
The Rooftop Restaurant of Hotel Artemide offers a casual atmosphere, easy going service, and fabulous food. Both Greg and I felt that the food is actually worthy of more formality. For the full review visit http://wanderlusthearts.weebly.com/rome-italy.html
We ended the night back in our room for a night cap and some cookies from Il Fornaio.
Once we were ready we headed downstairs to the breakfast room. We were greeted by Lorca who is beyond friendly, helpful, and personable.
The breakfast staff are also friendly and helpful! Right away my dairy allergy was recognized and I was told that the eggs in the buffet have milk but the restaurant would make me eggs any way I like. I was also told that I can have Soy milk for coffee, tea, or cereal. The buffet offered:
Rolls and bread, toast, and pastries
Scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes, and beans
Coffees and Teas
Refreshed and full we headed to the Colosseum. We've been here several times but can't seem to stop visiting. Luckily today was a light traffic day and perfect weather. Tip: Purchase your Colosseum / Forum tickets online at http://www.ticketclic.it/Gb/index.cfm for the same price and be able to skip the line.
Next we wandered through the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill area. It's nice to find new ruins you didn't see before, take a break and sit down and enjoy the scenery, and experience history.
For Lunch we went back to the hotel and enjoyed drinks, and sandwiches at the Artemide Restaurant. For the full review visit http://wanderlusthearts.weebly.com/rome-italy.html
We decided to head into the Monti area and try to find Gelateria Fatamorgana. Unfortunately, it's closed on Mondays (their hours aren't posted on their website). So we made our way back to Via Nazionale and popped into Castroni for some wine and artisanal beer.
For dinner we walked through Via Nazionale, passed Piazza Barberini, and headed into the Spanish Steps area to eat at Life. For the full review visit http://wanderlusthearts.weebly.com/rome-italy.html
Considering most restaurants offer desserts with dairy we opted to skip dinner and head to Venchi Gelateria for some Aztec chocolate gelato (dairy free).
Things started out a little rocky with Alitalia. We booked our flights through Expedia and were told that we couldn't book seats until check in. I called Alitalia and we were given 11 JK. A few months later I called to add a special meal and to verify our seats. I was told that those seats didn't exist and that I would have to have 25 JL. I accepted this but wasn't too happy - I have a fear of flying behind the wing ( I know crazy but it's how I am). A few days later I noticed row 18 opened up so I switched to those sets. The day before our flight I checked in online and noticed that I was in row 18 and Greg was in row 10. Not even 10 minutes later and we were both in row 10 but in middle seats. Tip: You have to check in online with Alitalia before you have the ability to change seats. Finally I was able to select row 11 and all was right.
We headed to Boston Logan thanks to Boston North Limousine. Our car arrived early and our driver was friendly. We dropped off our luggage and decided to enjoy some drinks and Oysters at the bar inside Terminal E. We boarded our plane (which was an older plane) and off we went. I had requested a dairy free meal from Alitalia however what they provided me was a Vegetarian meal including bread and butter. Luckily I brought some Larabars.
After a safe landing at Fiumincino Airport we cleared customs and picked up our bags. Hmmmm what is that smell??? Oh yeah that would be my Miss Dior spilled all over my carry-on!! Not the best start to an early morning lol. Outside we met our driver from Rome Cabs. The minivan was clean, and our driver was extremely friendly, helpful, and informative.
The check in staff at Hotel Artemide were friendly, funny, and personable. Unfortunately our room wasn't ready but we only had about a 2 hour wait. The staff offered us breakfast or coffee but we were prepared for not being able to check in and were ready to head out into Rome.
Within 3 hours we got to see the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Castel St. Angelo, Piazza Navona, and the Campo de Fiori. We purchased cookies from Il Fornaio, and got rained on. La Dolce Vita!
We we got back to Hotel Artemide we were fully checked in and given room 115. Hotel Tip: The hotel staff received my email about my dairy allergy, had it noted in the reservation, and already informed the breakfast staff about it.
Room 115 is the perfect Deluxe Superior Room. You enter the room into a long hallway with a closet, shelves, table, mini fridge, and a coffee/tea area. The bathroom is large with shower / tub, sink, bidet, and toilet. The bedroom has a large bed, two end tables, a chaise, desk with chair, and a flat screen tv. The added bonus were two doors leading to a small personal courtyard (no view and no privacy but still very nice to have). The room can get very loud from the courtyard and the breakfast area of the hotel (you are above it). So if you are a light sleeper this may not be the best room. With that said, I still highly recommend this room and would stay here again.
Tonight we were a bit tired so we ventured to the Spanish Steps and got some Pizza to go. I ordered my favorite potato with rosemary pizza (dairy free), and Greg tried the zucchini flower pizza. For some dessert we ventured over to Grom Gelato near the Pantheon. We both love their Cioccolato Extranoir gelato (dark chocolate) especially because it's dairy free but still ultra creamy.
More coming soon!
We are back from Rome and despite some weather issues we had a fabulous time. I will be telling you all the details shortly. My plan is to post one story and review per day (I'm kind of freaking out right now that Christmas is 2 weeks away - lots to do).
Here's a taste about what you'll be reading about:
Boston North Limousine
The Vatican Museum, St Peters Basilica, The Cupola, The Scavi Tour
The Roman Forum
The Borghese Museum and Gardens
Castel St Angelo
Piazza Navona and Christmas Market
Osteria St. Anna
Gelateria del Teatro
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
I will still be posting reviews from Boston:
The Bristol Lounge
J.W.'s Burger Bar