Monday, February 20, 2012

Rome - Feb 2012

For the week of winter break, we decided to see the sights in Rome.  On VRBO I found a 2/2 apartment just three blocks from Piazza Navona in the city center and it was less than 200 euros per night - what a deal.  

As you can tell, we had wifi in the apartment so of course we had to bring along the laptop and iPad to keep everyone happy.

Above is the view out our living room windows of the side street with an outdoor cafe at the end, tented due to the cold winter temps.  I love the light fixture on the side of the building.

We left melting snow in England only to discover more of the same in Rome.  We were told that the city hadn't seen this much snow accumulate since the mid 80s, back when I was a wee babe in high school.  I documented it in some pics at the Forum, so no doubt you'll see that in a future Rome post.

We kicked off our trip with a bit of comic relief.  I laughed until I cried at the baggage carousel in Rome.  We packed light but brought our bigger suitcases in case we did some serious shopping.  The teen swung her suitcase off the conveyor belt, started rolling it along, misjudged the weight of it and landed atop it on all fours when it tipped over and hit the ground.  She was unhurt but embarrassed and hopped up quickly with the hope that no one saw her take a dive.  Too late because my shoulders were already shaking as tears rolled down my face.  I imagine it's some sort of heinous character flaw, but I just can't help chuckling when folks take a spill.  

The owner of the apartment arranged for a car service to take us from the airport to our accommodations, and boy was it a hairy ride.  I never once saw a posted speed limit and it was pretty obvious that folks could put the pedal to the metal.  Our driver whipped around anything going less than 80 on the highway, though he did slow down to a more reasonable speed for the city streets.  Those quaint cobbled lanes are pretty, but hell on the car's suspension... and your bladder if you guzzled both a diet soda and bottled water on the plane before deciding to just "hold it" until we got where we were going.

Upon arrival, everyone unpacked and then we strolled over to see the three fountains at Piazza Navona.  The skies were clear, but it was really cold.  I had checked the forecast in advance (25 years ago I was a devotee of MTV and now it's the weather channel) and so we had all brought warm coats, gloves, hats and scarves since we knew we would be touring about in morning temps that dipped below freezing.

It's such a European thing, how they put street and square signs on the sides of buildings instead of poles the way we do in the states.  I just had to take a pic of this one because the building was stuccoed in such a beautiful color, a la Under the Tuscan Sun.

Above you'll see the husband and girls at Bernini's famous fountain in the middle of the square, titled The Four Rivers and sculpted around 1650.

The piazza had lots of street vendors, most of them with some sort of artwork.  It was fun to just stroll and check out their wares.

See the obelisk in the middle? The Romans stole this from Egypt back in the day.  Nothing like decorating with a giant phallic symbol, right. Goes well with all the naked wee-wees we saw on statues and in paintings.

Below, the teen is taking a swig from one of the many old public spigots found in the heart of Rome.  Our tour guide Mario assured us the water gets tested daily and tourists really appreciate them in the summer... no worries about picking up Massimo's revenge, the Italian cousin of Mexico's Montezuma.

I love the two close-ups of the smaller fountains in the piazza because the pigeons have no respect for the statuary - perching and preening and pooping atop heads or hands.

Of course, the girls oohed and aahed every time they saw folks out walking their dogs around the city.  They snapped pics of the older gent walking the two bushy fellows and the sharpei eyeing one of the (probable) antique streetlights as a likely place to mark his territory with a quick leg hike.

That evening, we met up with another family from school to have dinner at a "nice" restaurant.  We started the meal with a bottle of prosecco, had a bottle of red wine with the main course and washed down dessert with limoncello (the men) and amaretto (the women).  I figure it was the booze that jacked up our bill to 500 euros because my soup and pasta certainly didn't break the bank.  

Ah the teen and her vocabulary snafus.  We were walking back from dinner adjacent to the Pantheon and had to pass by a public building with carabinieri (Italian paramilitary police) stationed out front.  Autos were not allowed due to the bollards across this small side road.

Coming from the land of suburban sprawl, we are more accustomed to electric gates rather than bollards.  However, we currently live in the British version of a gated development and have electric bollards blocking three entrances into our neighborhood.  I have a pass card that serves to lower the bollards so we can pass in and out at will.  

So as we were walking by the bollards, the teen says, "Hey, they have those bollocks here in Italy just like we have back home."  Bollard, bollock... close.

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