First Night and Day in Rome:
I don’t know if anyone is still hooked up to read this blog, but it’s mostly a personal record anyway. In any case, I am back in Rome! I am here as part of The Hill School’s Spring Humanities Trip to Rome, Florence, and Sicily, led by Dr. Henry Bender.
After a long overnight flight, we arrived in a rainy Rome and made our way by bus (driven by Fabio, who drove our American Academy group many times last summer) first to EUR to see the plastic model of Rome, then to the Albergo Santa Chiara, which sits one block south of the Pantheon. After checking in, I obtained free espresso in the small dining area downstairs, hit an ATM, and had a prix fixe lunch at a nearby restaurant consisting of bruschetta, pasta with red sauce pasta carbonara, mediocre pizza, plenty of house wine, and a pastry with strawberry wine (frangelino, or “sexy wine”). After an overly long rest at the hotel (I forgot to set an alarm, thinking I would get a call, then was left behind for dinner), I woke up, re-oriented myself, and joined everyone for dinner at the same restaurant at which we had eaten lunch (and had basically the same meal). We then made our way to Gelateria della Palma, an excellent little shop near the Pantheon that I had failed to try last summer, and I had an amazing chocolate cannela (cinnamon). I finished my evening with a long, late walk down to the river and up to the Garibaldi Monument on the Janiculum, recalling some of my summer evenings.
After a night of fitful, limited sleep, I awoke for breakfast at the hotel and then set out with the group for a wide-ranging day of exploration. Henry took us by Largo Argentina and Piazza Venezia, down the Via dei Fori Imperiali to the Colosseum, and into the Colosseum, where he gave us an informative tour. We proceeded up the Palatine Hill and then down into the Forum, both of which yielded a few new views for me (the Farnese Gardens on the Palatine, the inside of the Temple of Romulus, an un-scaffolded Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, and the mound, covered with flowers, where Caesar’s body is said to have been burned and where later stood a temple in his honor).
One parent and I took a walk over to Trastevere for lunch at my favorite pizza place, Dar Poeta. I had a wonderful margherita pizza and house wine, as always, but also had something new—an amazing chocolate mousse that I had never tried! After a stop in the bookstore on the way back to the hotel, I headed back out with the whole group to the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, where we saw the tomb of Fra Angelica and a Michelangelo statue of Christ, followed by the Church of St. Ignatius, where we saw a really neat perspective ceiling (it’s flat, but is painted to look like a dome from a certain spot). We then hit the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps before stopping for dinner on the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II—wine (of course), rigatoni bolognese, and veal. We ended the evening with a trip to Giolitti’s for gelato (still disappointing compared to other gelato shops, in my opinion, though the cinnamon was not bad).
Hopefully I will brace myself with better sleep tonight for tomorrow’s trip to the Vatican. It’s great to be back in Rome!