Thursday, July 4, 2013

Italy....at last!

Saturday June 8th
We landed nearly on time at FCO and exited the rear of the plane.  This was great for us!  Right down the steps onto the tarmac.  Then a bus took us to the terminal.  Immigration was fast.  Our luggage was right there and I’m not even sure there was customs!  I had watched the Rome Cabs video on where to go, so we easily found our guide right by the pole like in the video.  I booked the VIP 2 hour tour to the hotel.  We knew our rooms wouldn't be ready yet, so why not get a nice intro to Rome on the way!  Our guide Andre walked us to his van and the weather was perfect. 

couldn't believe we had made it!  Here we were, finally in Italy!  I had been planning this trip for nearly a year  - amazing!  I mentioned that I’m the obsessive trip planning type of person, so my parents of course knew where we were going, but not so much the daily details.  So before we left I printed everyone out a sort of daily trip planner.  It listed where we’d be each day and what type of excursion was planned.  It also included what time to be ready and where we’d have to meet.  And of course if shoulders and knees would have to be covered!

With a group varied in ages like ours, and that already spends so much time together, since we live together, we decided that we’d be doing tours each day.  No chance of spending hours upon hours with one wanting do one thing while the other wants to do another and in the end no one doing anything!   Everything was pretty much preplanned.  Of course, we knew there was always room for things to go wrong!  Be ready for the unexpected and relax!  That was the motto – we’re on vacation!  Although, how to exactly relax on this type of vacation – I’m not too sure.  Mentally I suppose! 

Anyway – here we are, in Andre’s van.  He’s driving us into Rome.  Recently I had heard some not to favorable reviews of Rome from family and friends who had been there.  It was dirty.  It was crowded.  People were rude.  How could this be?  I had to see for myself!   I was elected by the family to sit up front, and on the way Andre told us about the 2000 year history of Rome, both Ancient and Vatican Rule.  He was going to be a great guide!

Our first brief stop was the remains of the city wall.  Wow, just wow!  Well….Wow!

If you are into ancient times, history, or archaeology - it would be right there, at that moment that it hits you.  The history that this city has.  Coming from the US, you can't possibly fathom anything like this until you see it.  And yes, I know, this is just a wall, there would be so much more to come!  

So, moving along, the contrasts of the modern and the ancient are amazing to me.  Andre shows us how modern buildings are build right on top of ancient foundations!

The cars seem to drive in every direction!  Crazy!

We turn the corner, and there it is.  The Coliseum!  I wasn’t expecting it at all.  Nor was I expecting the angle!  We’re up high, not down on street level, and over there – look – the Roman Forum!  So, let us out – my new camera is just screaming! 


On queue he pulls over, we get some history, the actual name was called the Amphitheatrum Flavium but over time it became to be called the Coliseum because of a statue, the Colossus of Nero and eventually the statue disappeared and the building took the name the Colosseum!



We took pictures and went into a little café nearby.  Megan, G-pop and I got our first Cappuccino, Mimi got a pastry, DH didn’t get anything and Alex, well remember he didn’t sleep at all on the plane?  So he was just a big grump!  We quickly learned the system of cafés here.  It’s not like in the US.  You need to sort of figure out what you want, then go to the cashier and pay, get your receipt and then you go back to the counter where the food and espresso or cappuccino is and order.  Seems a little backwards, but this way if you’re going to stand and drink or eat, you just get your food and drink and the person dealing with the food isn’t also dealing with the money.  The cappuccino was creamy.  It hit the spot for this jet lagged family!  We took a few minutes just soaking in the moment, and then piled back into our van wondering what Andre had in store for us next!

We rode around Rome, through twisting and turning streets, around the Colosseum, through streets that in just a few weeks we’d become so familiar with!  But now, they seemed like a maze of zigs and zags and circles!  Next we went up a hill that Andre had to show a permit to drive up.  He said, this was Palatine Hill!  Another breathtaking view – we got out and had a perfect overlook of the Forum.  What this must have been like so many hundreds, oh no, make that thousands of years ago!  Looking down on the people now wandering through, I know that in a few weeks we’ll be back for our tour.  We have so much between now and then….


We spent some time just taking it all in.  Andre left us there for a bit.  He was moving the van.  We joked that he took all of our luggage and left us stranded.  You know, stupid Americans fall for the tourist trap, get out and watch the view and leave your belongings with me rouse….but no, he came back shortly.  We walked up a street and came out at a huge building. It was Rome’s City Hall!  He told us this was designed by Michelangelo.  It had a huge courtyard and while we were there weddings had just taken place and the brides and grooms were getting their pictures taken. 

We walked to where Andre had moved the van while we were looking at the Forum and we piled back in, we drove to the famous “Wedding Cake” or officially known as the Victor Emmanuel Monument.   He was the first king of a unified Italy.  Also here is the Venetian building, the Piazza Venezia.   

Our next stop is the Trevi Fountain!  He parks the van a few streets away and Mimi, G-pop, Megan and I climb out and make the walk.  Alex is sound asleep, finally!  So DH stays with him.  We get to the fountain, and it’s HUGE!  And the crowd was unreal.  It was hard to even get a view of the fountain itself!  We’d have to make a trip back to toss our coins in. 

  

We made it back to the van for our ride to our hotel for one night….Albergo del Senato, right at the Pantheon.  Our day wasn’t over yet though!  We still had a full night planned! 

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