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Author: Host Ciao (More Trip Reviews by Host Ciao)
Date of Trip: January 2013

After all this Chef Fabio asked if I felt like dessert. I said maybe a bite. So off we headed to one of his restaurants, That's Amore. It's decorated with pictures of lots of movie stars from the past--Dean Martin, Steve, McQueen and others. There people were having lunch but we sat at a table and had what he called a small piece of a dessert made of very thin pastry, chocolate chunks, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. It was not very small in my eyes.

After this my adventure ended and I tottered home--about a 15 minute walk--and collapsed on my bed around 2:30 pm. I enjoyed this day and have found Fabio's recipe page on line. I will see if I can find any of the recipes we made. He told me that since this was my second session I was now one of the family--a nice comment from an interesting and nice man.

Suffice it to say that I could barely drag myself out for the Dark Rome walking and bus tour that night. This included a start with a drink and anti-pasti plate. No one who knows me will believe that I left 90% of my food on the plate. Did drink the wine, of course. And it was a good tour.

Off to wander the nearby area this evening.

Have to tell you about a great tour I had to Tivoli. Of course, it was pretty pricey because it was a private tour. But the Walks of Italy guide was excellent. And I do enjoy ruin running so wandering over some of Hadrian's huge villa was a treat with somebody who could tell me what every ruin had been. She was also very good in the gardens of Villa d' Este with its many fountains, a place I love.

Tivoli brings up another subject or two. I had to buy a train ticket at the Rome Tiburtina station, not the main one. It is a huge place and still being worked on and not at all filled. I completely missed the ticket office, but one of the train customer service agents showed me how to use the automatic ticket machine--except my credit card would not work. She knew why too and I have heard this before. American issued cards do not have a certain chip that Italy cards have ( maybe other EU countries too), and the machine wants the chip. Luckily I had the cash I needed, and the machine ate that and spit out the ticket. I have not had trouble with my cards in stores or hotels so maybe it's newer machines, but it is something to be aware of.

Also that day I managed to get lost in the station trying to get out. I followed every exit sign and didn't find an exit. I wanted to take the bus rather than the Metro and then change to a bus. A kind construction worker lead me down two levels and pointed the way, but I still found no exit. Finally another of those nice young customer service agents could speak English and told me how to get to the bus. I still had to go down and then up a level. By the time I was done I had started to feel like the old Kingston Trio (I think) song about poor Charlie who couldn't get off the MTA and was riding " 'neath the streets of Boston"--if any of you are old enough to remember that song.

Another day I spent part of on the Appian Way. I decided to go to the Saint Calixtus catacombs since I had toured the Saint Sebastian one on another trip. A mistake! Of course, the S. Calixtus is the one all the tours go to and the one most visited, which I think is the problem. The groups are too big; the English tour must have had 25 to 30 people. The guide had a strong accent and began talking before all the people in the group had made it into the rooms we stopped in. On this trip I also visited the catecombs of Saint Priscilla out near the opposite edge of town. This was great, only three people on the tour. It was easy to get interested and sense the feeling of the guide as he explained the rooms and paintings. It reminded me of the tour of St. Sebastian in the previous trip. I really recommend if you can take the time to visit one of the catacombs on your own that you choose either St. Priscilla or St. Sebastian. Both can be reached by public transportation though St. Sebastian is on the Appian Way and probably easier to reach. When I toured there I was the only person on the tour. Also according to the sign I saw when I visited the church, the catecombs donĂ t close for the noon break there.

After I had taken the St. Calixtus tour, I walked on down to the Fosse Ardeantine memorial to the over 300 Roman citizens who were shot by the Nazis in retaliation for a Resistance attack. The bodies were buried in the cave where they were shot, but after the war Rome recovered the bodies and identified them. Each is buried in a separate sarcophagus with a small light bulb that burns all the time--a very peaceful and moving area.

My last several days were as busy as the rest of the time. On Saturday I visited the Ara Pacis, which is the Altar of Peace of Augustus, much of which has been reconstructed. I also went to the first of the four sites of the National Museum of Rome. Palazzo Altemps is chiefly a museum of ancient statuary in a palace that also still exhibits part of the decoration in the rooms and the chapel. If I had managed all four sites in three days, I could have visited for only one 12E ticket. However, that seemed a bit much in three days so I ended up buying two tickets and still about said, "Enough!" Terme di Diocleziano is built right into the baths and features communication in early Rome and archeological evidence of that culture and two rebuilt tombs in one of the vast halls. Palazzo Massimo features sculptures from Augustus on as well as frescoes and other decorations of the ancient well-to-do villas. Crypto Balbi is a study of the "layers" of Rome in one small area of the city, showing evidence of homes, industry, churches, etc from Ancient Rome to now. You can see how much higher the present-day street is. All four are really interesting to me.

I also visited San Clemente where you can again go down and down into Rome's history. On top is the present 12th Century Church. The Irish priests who have had charge of the church started the excavating in the 19th Century. From today, you can go down to the 4th Century church and still see some of the frescoes from then and also a Mithraum area. And you then go down to the 1st Century Roman street with parts of the buildings and hear the water rushing under this part of the ancient city. On that day I also went out to St. Peter's and enjoyed the vast space with far fewer people than the previous visit two weeks before.

I can't end without one more food adventure. This was a walking tour in the evening. We stopped at a cheese shop and enjoyed samples of four kinds of cheese along with bread, walnuts and pomegranate seeds (why the latter I don't know). If we wanted wine that was extra, but how can you have a cheese tasting without wine. From there we went on to a Norceria, pork heaven! It is called that because Norcia is an area of Italy known for its cured meats. We could try anything on the sample plate on the counter, about five different items and we also each got a slice of prosciutto. We sampled pizza by the slice--pizza rosso with just tomatoes and pizza margarita with tomato and cheese. By this time it was raining quite hard, actually the worst rain of the time in Rome. Of course, my umbrella was back at the hotel so I had to succumb to the ever-faithful sight when there is even a chance of rain--the umbrella man. I spent 4E on a pink umbrella, which I willed to whoever needs it at my hotel. We also went to an organic gelato shop and could have two flavors. I picked Vin Santo and cantucci, gelato made with dessert wine and the crunchy cookies you dip in it--my favorite Florence dessert and great tasting gelato in Rome. And we finished with espresso at Cafe S. Eustachio.

The rain continued the next day so I did a bit of walking in the Spanish Steps area, bought my Parmigiano-Reggiano to bring home--vacuum wrapped or Customs will get it. I wandered over near the Pantheon and Piazza Navona for a last look. On my last day, I first walked down Via Giulia through Piazza Farnese and around all the stands in the Campo dei Fiori market, one time I wish I could cook! Then I ended my wandering the way I decided several years ago to always end my time in Rome. I walked up the Capitoline cordonata and then up more steps to the back of the Victor Emmanuel Monument. There I rode the modern glass elevator just about to the top and looked at "Rome from the Sky" as the city calls this excursion. From there I could see just about all of my favorite places in all four directions. I can't think of a better way to say Arrivederci Roma. But there was one more item I had to take care of. After I had packed or I should say stuffed my two little suitcases, I wandered the few blocks for one last ritual. I threw my coins in the Fountain of Trevi. I surely hope it works again!

Arrvederci all. I hope you enjoyed my travels and my words

Read More about my 2 months in Italy:

The start: Two Months in Italy - Venice
Christmas in Italy
Some Notes: Outdoor eating and Italians LOVE dogs

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