Rome – Transatlantic 2009 Day 5 – More Touring Rome

Yesterday we continued our wonderful, albeit tiring experience in Rome. The previous day we logged nearly 7 miles walking and touring in the city. Yesterday we logged about another 6 miles. We are certainly getting our exercise. I guess it makes us feel less guilty about the awesome food we are eating. Suzanne and I usually try to eat a relatively low carb diet but have pretty much thrown that out the window here in Rome. Hopefully, logging 6+ miles a day of walking is countering the diet change.

Yesterday, Suzanne and I rose about 7:30 in the morning. We let the kids sleep in until about 9 given the heavy walking the day before. We enjoyed a traditional European breakfast of rolls, cold cuts and cheese. It really hit the spot!

About 10:00 we started out towards Castel San Angelo. It was a former Hadrian palace that was then converted to a castle as a safe haven for the Pope should it be needed. They had some museum type stuff in there, but the best part was the spectacular views it offered of Rome. In all directions, you could could see very far from the top of the castle. We should have some good pictures from there.

We then walked over to the Vatican and St Peter’s Basilica. We decided not to see the Sistine Chapel as Suzanne had seen it before and the kids weren’t really interested. I have been to the Vatican maybe 10 times, but never seen the chapel due to lack of interest. I am more of an architecture and view kind of guy. There was quite a few people at the Vatican, perhaps more than I have seen before. It was hard to tell because many parts of of St Peter’s Square and the Basilica were blocked off with chairs. They were set up and prepared for the Advent and Christmas celebrations. It took us about 20 minutes to get through security and into the Basilica. They even had St Peter’s crypt/tomb blocked off. We spent about an hour walking around the Basilica. The kids were quite amazed.

After the Vatican, we walked along the Tiber River for a while enjoying the sites. We stopped in Trastevere area for a nice lunch. We sipped on some wine, enjoyed some pasta/pizza and plotted the course for the afternoon.

Turns out there was a church, St Maria of Trastevere, that Suzanne wanted to see so we swung by there. It was the first Catholic church built in Rome. It was another fascinating church, but they are all starting to see that way now. They certainly used to spend a pretty penny on building churches!

Then we walked back into old Rome and swung by another ruins at Largo Argentina. It s a ruin area that also serves as home to stray cats. An animal shelter is run nearby that spays, gives shots, feeds and tries to find homes for the cats. There was probably a couple dozen cats visible in the ruins on this visit. I think I remember more cats on previous visits.

After the ruins, we swung by the Pantheon again. The kids wanted to compare it in daylight to nighttime when we went by before. Unfortunately, when we got there, they were shooing everybody outside of the Pantheon. It looked like they were preparing to have a mass or ceremony of some sort inside. So, instead we grabbed a Gelato!

The kids were now pretty beat and it was evening, so we headed back to the apartment but stopped at a couple more churches on the way. One of them featured a false dome. Instead of building a dome with windows. The false dome actually looked pretty good and was believable.

We arrived back at the apartment about 6:30 and enjoyed a glass of wine before heading out for dinner about 8:00. For dinner, we went to Fontanella’s, one of my favorite restaurants in Rome. This was going to be our splurge in Rome. After arriving, the waiter said I looked familiar and asked if I used to visit the restaurant. I certainly remembered him from other 8 or 9 stops at the restaurant while on business travel. We enjoyed a nice bottle of Italian wine and several courses. First, we had some special prepared Proscuitto. Then we had a pasta course. Me and the kids enjoyed Spaghetti Carbonara – again – while Suzanne had Putenesca. Then we had a special Risotto prepared for us. Savannah is a big fan or Risotto and I wanted her to experience the real thing. It was fabulous. After the Risotto, Savannah and I were treated to a tour of the kitchen and met the chef and his staff. She has taken a real interest in cooking and was very giddy at the tour. It was a nice special treat for her. Then we enjoyed a main course of Saltimbocca, another favorite of ours. Creme Brulee was on the menu for dessert. It was great dinner!

After dinner, we returned to the apartment and retired for the night at about 11:30 pm.

Be sure to follow our travel exploits on this blog as I try to make a daily update of our Rome and transatlantic cruise. Today, we will have a bit more relaxing day. We plan to visit a bunch of piazzas (ie Novona and Popolo) and probably will visit a couple more churches. We may also try to get back to the Pantheon so the kids can see the inside during daylight. Should be another fun day!