Thursday, January 30, 2014

Disembarkation in Rome

Oh blog, how I've been avoiding you. I could come up with lots of reasons why I haven't blogged in so long. Christmas. We started watching Downton Abby. We've been busy with a remodel. I could go on and on but, while all of that did/is actually happen/ing, the truth is, I just haven't had any desire to blog. But, life has been busy and it needs to be documented, so here we go. It's time to finish this cruise!

After a lovely 11 nights abourd the Silhouette, we arrived in Rome and disembarked early in the morning. We made our way to our hotel, driving right by the Colosseum on our way.

When we first booked our cruise, many moons ago, I was only mildly excited about Rome. I figured it would be cool, but I was looking more forward to the other places on our itinerary. As we got closer to the trip and I started learning more about Rome and researching all the things to do there, I got more and more excited about it. One of the things that fascinated me before the trip was seeing how ancient Rome and modern Rome coexist so closely together. I mean, the ruins and other artifacts of ancient Rome are interspersed throughout the modern city and just sort of meld together. I thought it fitting, then, while driving through the city, that we just happened to drive right by the Colosseum like it was no big thing. Like having an ancient, thousands of years old building popping up right in the middle of a modern city is nothing out of the ordinary. Of course, to the Romans who live there, it probably IS no big thing. It was a nice welcome to Rome.

After getting settled in our hotel and getting housekeeping issues taken care of like stopping at an ATM and picking up subway/museum passes, it was off for our first adventure. Our first stop was the Capuchin Crypt. This is a series of small chapels which are decorated with thousands of human bones arranged in different patterns. Unfortunately, for me, it did not impress. There's a church in Portugal which is also constructed of human bones and I had seen it while on my mission there. So, for me, having been to that church, the one in Rome was just more of the same sort of thing. And since we know how well Stella does in churches/chapels, I just did a quick breeze through with her and was done in no time. It probably would have been better if I had just waited outside with her. Oh well. I think everyone else liked it. No pics of that adventure.

Next up we headed to the Spanish steps. We got off the subway and were greeted by gobs of people crowding the square and the steps. It was quite a popular spot.

Looking down the steps after climbing halfway up:

The top of the Spanish steps. It was quite a climb.

I should mention that we stopped for lunch before heading up the Spanish steps and on to our next adventure. What did we choose for our first meal in Rome? McDonalds. Don't worry - we subsequently had some great meals, so our visit to Rome was not a waste of a grand culinary opportunity.

After climbing the steps, we made our way to Villa Borghese. This is a large garden, somewhat like Golden Gate Park or Central Park, and it houses the Galleria Borghese. What's in the Galleria Borghese, you ask? Lots of art. Lots of paintings and some sculptures by Bernini. We had a reservation for the Galleria (which you must have to go in), so we had to be there at a specific time and we ended up having to rush to get there in time. It turned out to be quite a hike from the Spanish steps, so we were practically worn out by the time we got there. However, the Galleria did not disappoint. I was only mildly interested in the paintings, so we breezed through that section and then spent most of our time checking out the stunning sculptures by Bernini. It was some of my favorite art of the trip.

After checking out the museum, we decided to split up as we all had different interests. Some wanted to stay and enjoy the gardens, some wanted to rest a little, and we Frisbys wanted to see Rome! We made plans to meet up with everyone for dinner in the Piazza Navona that evening. We headed off to see the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. The Little Miss was extremely tired at this point and ended up falling asleep on Mr. Frisby's shoulders as we walked along.

Yep, she's asleep. We enjoyed our walk to the Trevi Fountain and the sights along the way.

Amazingly, Stella slept the whole time and completely missed our stop at the Trevi Fountain.

The fountain was quite spectacular and it ended up being one of our favorite places to visit. Fortunately for Stella, we went back numerous times.

After checking out the Trevi Fountain, we headed off to see the Pantheon. Stella continued to sleep, even after a change in position, all the way to the Pantheon.

The Pantheon was one of my favorite sites in Rome. I'm not sure why, but it was just a very intriguing place to me. Again, it was a great example of ancient and modern Rome co-existing in great harmony.

Shortly after arriving at the Pantheon, Stella woke up. With her awake, we headed inside to check it out. It's a functioning church, but doesn't look like a typical European church. The inside is round and there isn't really an alter or pews or anything like that. But, it was very interesting and there were loads of people inside.

After checking out the Pantheon, it was time to make our way to the Piazza Navona to meet everyone else for dinner. We took a roundabout way to get there so we could check out the Campo de Fiori along the way. It's the site of a big open market in Rome. As it was later in the afternoon when we went by, the market was all closed up and done for the day and there wasn't much there. It was fun to see, though, and we did enjoy a few flower stands that were still open.

Then, it was on to the Piazza Navona. We enjoyed checking out the square while waiting for everyone else to arrive.

We found a restaurant on the square and had a nice dinner. Rome is known for their spaghetti carbonara, so I decided to try that and it was delicious. After dinner, we all decided to go in search of a gelato place that was recommended in our guidebook. It was near the Pantheon and the Trevi fountain, so we decided to go by those sites as well so we could see them all lit up at night. We came to the Pantheon first and it was quite spectacular and a lot less busy.

Next stop was Giolitti's for gelato. This proved to be a stellar find and we returned again and again during our stay in Rome. When it came to gelato, our guidebooks did not disappoint. Giolitti's was a little unique in that you paid for your ice cream up front and then took your receipt to the back to pick your flavors. And speaking of flavors, they had an incredible selection. I still remember most of what I got. That first night, I got Cannoli ice cream and something else. It was life-changing.

After Giolitti's changed our lives, we headed off to the Trevi fountain. Like the Pantheon, it was quite a sight all lit up.

The Trevi fountain is located in a fairly small square and, as one of the most visited sights in Rome, it was always packed with mobs of people. Since Stella was asleep on our first pass that day, we didn't stop there long. We checked it out from afar, but didn't want to fight the crowds to get right up by the fountain. When we went back that evening, it was slightly less crowded, so we were able to find some openings in the mob and go right up near the fountain. Stella thought it was great.

Since it was our second time at the fountain that day and it had been a very busy day that started very early in the morning, we only spent a few minutes checking out the fountain before we decided to leave the others and head back to our hotel with an exhausted little girl. We needed to get rested up for another busy day ahead.