I slept like the dead, but still managed to get up in time to make our 730 train from Milan. We had some homework to do in the train station there, however. G had a revelation and decided that perhaps she had overpacked a touch. Therefore she moved everything that she really really needed into a smaller bag that would suffice in Rome, and the larger bag was checked into the left luggage area in Milan. Butterblogger declines to comment further on this particular issue.
The train to Rome had free WiFi that I was able to use to get the blog up to date. The WiFi was slow with uploads, so I wasn’t entirely upset that the train arrived 30 minutes late, as those were crucial minutes.
We are staying at an apartment in Rome, and it is reportedly very close to a metro station, and therefore no cab would be needed. I followed the written directions for getting there … and got lost. And got lost again … The directions really were entirely useless. Even knowing where I’m going, I still couldn’t follow them if I wanted too.
Obviously, we eventually found the proprietress and got settled. Then she provided a brief tour of the very trendy Monti region where we are staying, pointing out the restaurants and shops in the area. At the conclusion to the walk it was well into the lunch hour so we had Rosette sandwiches. I had two (they were small – no really!)
The porchetta sandwich was wonderful – porky and fatty. It was too small, however, and I am left wanting more.
As was this little sandwich, which had a parmesan crisp, prosciutto, and a grilled eggplant.
One nice thing about this area is it is very close to the Coliseum and Forum. Today is a Monday, and everybody knows that museums (and often other sites) are closed on Monday. The Coliseum and Forum are notable exceptions to this rule, and so, settled and sated, we were on our way.
First stop was the Coliseum, standing monumentally as a beacon to the past and to perseverance. I keep returning here, and am certain I will do so again. I have been here for the first visits of Mom and Dad, P, D, J and her friend F, and now G. This blog has already seen me here twice here and here.
Throngs of tourists abound, taking photos, climbing walls, and generally being present. And presence is really the big point to the coliseum. Her history is important, but not as much as her presence. She speaks to my heart, whispering of her dead and her living, the times she has endured, standing across the millennia. From Ancient Rome in all her splendor, through many a Sack of Rome, across the Renaissance, and into the modern era and the future she remains a glorious structure, standing proudly, beaten and only a little broken after so many centuries. Through it all, she endures, while we visit, touching, feeling her permanence, listening to her voices, and standing humbled. She has seen us here, and will remain when I and my readers have gone. She endures.
The other thing that endures is the sun. Today is hot, and the sun wears on us, beating down harshly, cruelly, heartlessly. It is unrelenting. There are no clouds in the sky, so we seek shade where we can find it. But the sun is ruthless, seeking us out, and punishing us mercilessly. My Mediterranean genes are active, and I am not sunburned, but G is not so fortunate. Still we push forward hoping for the best.
Next we stop briefly at the Arch of Constantine, and head to the Palatine Hill. I am hoping that, with some of the trees, there will be more shade to protect us until later in the afternoon when we can hit the Forum. For a time this was true, and we found our respite. Yet we moved up the hill toward the ancient palaces and again were left without protection. And winds were gusty here, adding to our discomfort periodic blastings with sand. It was ancient sand, but still it was sand.
Somewhere on the Palatine Hill, G had a revelation. She loves the ancient world. She also loves museums. Yesterday she said, “I don’t understand the concept of people getting “museum-ed out.” I think tonight we are a little closer. By the end of the Palatine hill, walking through so many ancient rooms, she too was saying things like, “Yup, another ancient room with niches.” It’s all just too much to take in.
Finally we found our way into the Forum, which maintains its grandeur for me even after so many visits. We didn’t tarry here, spending most of our time in the House of the Vestals, because they were closing earlier than expected, so instead we found ourselves back up in the streets of the city as the dinner hour approached. I guided us forward to a favorite from my last visit: Hostaria da Nerone.
I had again the spaghetti alle vongole. I return to my hypothesis, that Americans just don’t know how to do clams with pasta, because this remains as divine as ever (I’ve tried this back home, even in New York, without success).
I also had oxtail, because it is one of the specialties of the region, and it was wonderful.
By this point we were thoroughly exhausted from the day’s events, and had eaten far more than our fill, so we headed back to our apartment in the Monti district and collapsed.