Rome Trip: Day 8 (Wednesday)

Today I packed up the last of my belongings to take a cab to the airport. I said goodbye to the B&B that had become my home for the last week. I wouldn’t mind staying in Italy longer, but I do have people and obligations to return to back in the US.

When I got to the airport, I spent some time waiting in the Alitalia lounge, which is still a new experience for me. I have to say that Italian Design really is a thing — the Rome airport was no generic airport you’d find in the US, comfortable but finely crafted chairs, unique flooring, lighting, etc. In the first class lounge, there was a breakfast buffet and a barista to make my last classical Italian cappuccino in the country before I departed.

I stopped at the duty free shop on the way to the gate to pick up souvenirs and postcards to take home for family and friends. The plane was fine, it was better flying during the same daytime because I’d planned to be awake anyway. I watched a collection of movies, enjoyed the service and napped a little. I enjoyed it being daylight enough for me to look out the window and see ocean, sun, clouds, and sky rather than just a wall of darkness.

Upon my return to the US at JFK airport in NYC, I had to claim all of my checked luggage along with my newly acquired assets from the duty free shop in Rome, which included a couple of bottles of Italian wine. I had some issues when we had to go through the security again because I didn’t know about this extra step, and containers with liquid over 3 fl. oz. are usually prohibited. The security agent took the sealed bag of the bottles, looked through it, and then resealed it, all while we chatted about TV shows we liked (she recommends The Good Doctor). She re-sealed the bag all officially, and then I was able to go into the customs line. The customs line was very long, until I saw a sign that recommended using the mobile passport app. I downloaded it, answered the questions and snapped a cam photo, and it greatly speeded up the line in which I was processed. Each gate agent from Rome to NYC each sneered a little at my having a temporary passport, like there was something wrong with me, asking where my passport was. I had already answered all those questions at the embassy, I didn’t know I’d have to do so again.

I made my connecting flight in NYC to Boston and finally flew home. My husband picked me up at the airport, and I crashed right into bed as soon as I got in the door, I was so tired. I already missed Italy, but there’s still no replacement for one’s own bed. And I had to return to work in the morning. I have a feeling that 6 hour jet lag will be pretty strong in the morning.

IMG_3085

Rome Trip: Day 7 (Tuesday)

This morning I chatted with the owner of the bed & breakfast about checking out before I heading to the Borghese Museum, where we had a tour with Alfio Borghese, a relative of the famous wealthy Borghese Gallery, whose mansion was turned into this gallery. Continue reading

Rome Trip: Day 6 (Monday)

This morning I awoke knowing that I needed to go to the United States Embassy in Rome, first thing, to get my new passport since my other passport had been lost. Continue reading

Rome Trip: Day 5 (Sunday)

I had trouble sleeping last night because I kept thinking about my passport. I had finally fallen asleep for awhile early at 9pm and then awoke to my phone ringing at 11pm (5pm his time) from my father checking in on how I was doing. I finally woke up for the morning around 7 and got some self-serve breakfast (yogurt, packaged pastry, croissant, orange juice, cappuccino) and ate breakfast on the little balcony of my room. Then I got ready and packed my bags. I went for a walk around the neighborhood to try to see if I could retrace my steps and find my scarf, and hopefully passport.  Continue reading

Rome Trip: Day 4 (Saturday)

DAY 4 SATURDAY

I took more time than I thought to get all my stuff packed and to get out the hotel, but I got out by around 10am, and then made a beeline to the Colosseum. I was able to skip the line using the Roma Pass, where passholders were able to use a separate entrance. It was really intriguing to be in an ancient Roman Colosseum, where gladiators had fought hundreds of years earlier. I took many photos on each level, from every angle.

In order to get to the best viewing level for the amphitheater, everyone has to walk up flights of very steep, uneven brick/stone stairs; I almost rolled an ankle just trying to get up! I was fascinated with seeing all the odd, seemingly abandoned corners of the Colosseum. As I was looking out over the mezzanine, a young couple was trying to take a selfie with the amphitheater in the background, so I offered to take their photo. As it turns out, they were from Spain! So we chatted very briefly in Spanish about our experiences in Italy. I even floated around a tour guide to hear how he identified the different times of each building material before he asked me to go because this is a paid tour and I just accidentally tagged along at the right time.


The restrooms were interesting. The restrooms were located in a trailer inside the gates of the Colosseum, and each of the stalls were really tiny there were no toilet seats (no, I do not have a photo of this). 

After the Colosseum, I walked about 25 minutes towards a famous coffee shop, Sainte Eaustacio’s Cafe. I got a monachello (monah-kehlo). I sat outside with my coffee and pastry and watched people. Shortly after I sat down, one of the servers came over and let me know that it was an extra charge to sit al fresco, but after walking all over the city, I told him that the extra charge was worth it. Afterwards, I passed by the Pantheon and took photos of it but did not go inside it.

I walked over to the Trevi fountain, threw in my coin over my shouldn’t for good luck. The fountain is very beautiful and artistic, sculpted in marble by Bernini. The marble of the fountain actually looks like it emerges from the very building to which it’s attached. The fountain was crowded with many other people also snapping selfies and throwing their coins into the fountain.

Then I found a nearby restaurant with a covered patio dining (al fresco) and sat down to get lunch and do some people watching. I ordered tortellini in a cream sauce and a Rossini, a sparking wine cocktail with strawberry juices. It was all very good. After I was done, I walked towards the Flaminio metro station to head back to my hotel to get my bags to change hotels for one night.

Before I got to the metro, I entered a church just before Piazza Popolo, where there are 2 Caravaggio original paintings just hanging out in a church. Each painting has a box with a button and slot for coin, so that if you put in a coin, lights will turn on to better illuminate Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro paintings. I sat for a short bit just to rest and take everything in.

Then I went on my way, got on the metro, and arrived at HOA to take one of my baggage. Then I used Google Maps to try to find the new hotel where I will be staying just one night (Pini Di Roma) but my maps kept getting mixed up, so I got lost in on what was supposed to be a 10 minute walk that turned out to be an hour. I was tired, frustrated it was farther than I thought, and I was a female traveling alone and it didn’t look like the best neighborhood, and it was starting to get dark out, as the sun had started setting.

When I finally made it to the hotel, I realized that I was missing my passport. It had been in my scarf, and the hotel manager asked for my passport for documentation, and it wasn’t in the scarf, because the scarf wasn’t on my neck. I freaked out and tore throw my purse and backpack, but nothing there. It must’ve slipped off my head when I adjusted my backpack on a sidewalk whilst I was lost between hotels. I finally had a meltdown, frustrated by losing my passport, and about 50 Euro and 50 US Dollars. I was supposed to have gone to the art exhibit opening reception’s second night, but I just needed to figure out my passport situation.

I stayed in, took a shower, ate something, and tried to retrace my steps in my memory. I was also frustrated I didn’t feel like I could go right back out to search, because it was now dark and it’s a shady neighborhood that I didn’t earlier feel comfortable walking around by myself in. I called the embassy but they were closed, and would still be closed tomorrow, so I couldn’t go to the USA embassy until Monday.  I resolved to revisit my possible previous route through the neighborhood to see if it was still on the ground somewhere, and to go to the US Embassy first thing on Monday morning. I called my parents and husband to vent about the whole situation, and then I went to sleep extra early. 

Rome Trip: Day 3 (Friday)

I knew that we had an opening reception to attend this evening at 6pm, and I had been very exhausted and very sore from the day before, so today I took it easy. I wrote, read, napped, did laundry. Got ready and went out to meet artists for drinks at 4pm. Joshua, another artist who was also staying at the same B&B, and I arrived late and missed everyone so we walked around looking for them. We couldn’t find them so we went and got hot chocolate (ciocholate calde), it was like drinking a decadent, melted candy bar. We finally got a text with where they were, and met up briefly before all going to the gallery.

We stopped at the gallery shortly just before meeting up with the other artists to check in on the space and to see if the curator was there. Earlier I gifted him the small purple rainy mountain painting and he seemed very excited to have it, so he put it up on the wall in the room for the exhibit.


The gallery even in started off with a 45 minute talk by an Italian author about the Santa Graal, or Holy Grail. I couldn’t understand most of what he said, but people seemed interested. Then people mingled and talked, and then Alfio eventually got people’s attention and talked a bit about this international cross cultural exhibition exchange.

Alfio introduced each artist and had us each say a few words. My mini-speech was a mix of English, Spanish and pseudo Italian as I talked about the rain painting and my process. Alfio used the words “moulto colores” (many colors) when he was talking about my paintings. After all the introductions, a television cameraman recorded video interviews with each artist to talk about themselves and their work. Alfio held the microphone.


We all went to drinks and dinner nearby after, and paid. We all had a great time and talked art and life, including ‘What is art?” I ate Coccia y Pepe for dinner, a typical dish of Rome, spaghetti with cream sauce, pecorino Parmesan and sprinkled pepper. It was good with a little spiced finish. We ordered dessert and shared it. Then the waiter came around with little glasses of limoncello. Then I had tea, Italian style with a big slice of lemon in the teacup. Then we all walked back to our hotels. Once at my hotel, I organized and packed most of my belongings because I knew that I had to move hotels the next day for just one night before returning.

Rome Trip: Day 2 (Thursday)

Since I had gotten so much sleep the day before, today I wanted to get my tourism and exploration started. For breakfast I had a small toast, Nutella & jam, and tea offered by the guesthouse, got ready and then I was out of the door by around 10am.

I walked around a few blocks of the nearby neighborhood, just getting a sense of what’s nearby to get my bearings. I stopped at a Farmacia (pharmacy) to buy some toiletries that I had forgotten at home, then at a little cafe and got a pastry and then walked some more. I had plans to meet another artist at the Vatican at around 11am, so I found my metro stop around Ponte Lungo and took the train to the Ottaviano metro stop. On the train, a woman came aboard with a rolling speaker and microphone like a karaoke machine, and sang her heart out as though it was an audition for American Idol (Italian Idol, rather). Her voice actually sounded pretty good for the crowded subway train and brought an amused smile to several people in the car. There were also two adorable dogs on the train who were very friendly.

On the top of my list of things to see at the Vatican was to see the Sistine Chapel (Capella Sistina) painted by one of the great masters, Michelangelo. Before I could do that, I had to find the office where I could obtain my Omnia/Roma Pass — a prepaid pass that granted special access to attractions and transportation. To make a long story short, I asked for directions to find it, and someone pointed me in one direction. When I got to that place, someone pointed me in the opposite direction. Once I got there, someone gave me vague directions across the way again that I had just come from. I essentially bounced around Piazza Pietro up to 10 times, walking on uneven cobblestone, exhausted, for about 3 hours. I finally found the Omni Pass office in a shop that I had passed at least 6 times, got my pass, and then joined the 2:00pm tour of Sistine Chapel with only 10 minutes to spare. Then we walked to the the Vatican Museum (the one entrance you have to enter Capella Sistina through there, the only entrance). I wondered through and made a beeline to the chapel, running up many stairs and down many stairs to get to the correct level to enter the Sistine Chapel.

I was so awestruck upon entering the Sistine Chapel. My visual senses were overwhelmed with color and I was visually overstimulated with trying to make sense of every square inch of walls full of frescoes of sacred symbols and figures. I found a spot on a bench and sat to take it all in. The level of detail was amazing, and the sense of light, shadow and depth really fooled the eye to think that the “marble” ornamentation was real, when it was all just part of the fresco. I was able to find the Adam and “God” figures reaching out hands across the space from the clouds where they reclined, though it took me awhile to realize that it was on the ceiling and not on the main wall.

After the chapel I planned to go up St. Peter’s Basilica, but I couldn’t find my way out of the Vatican Museum. I could see through the museum windows the dome of the basilica, but each common-sense way of going in in that direction was blocked off. I asked several security guards directions, and each one said that I had to go back up the stairs, back through the Sistine Chapel, and then out to the basilica.

I finally found the way out it, and went through the main level, full of statuary and sculptures marking the burial place of several popes. The decoration and gold-leaf and marble sculptures were all very intriguing to see. The monument to the burial spot of Saint Peter was marked by a very tall marble or black bronze with columns spanning up almost to the ceiling. At the bottom of the monument were candles and flowers that people had left in respect for sacred spot.

I had plans to meet two other artists by the Spanish Steps for dinner after that, and went on the train to the Spagna stop. I was ready at the door to that stop, but the train just kept going through that station without stopping. I got off at the next stop and took the train back in that direction, and again the train didn’t stop. I got off and on multiple trains to try to get to the Spagna stop, but nothing came through. I thought maybe there was a button or some way to let the conductor know that I wanted to stop there. Finally, while I was waiting for my 7th train, an announcement in Italian, then English, came through saying the the Spagna stop was temporarily closed. So I had to get back on the train to the next closest stop (Flaminio), and then walk about 2 miles to the place where we met for lunch.

Exhausted and soaking wet from the rain, it was really great to get indoors and get something to eat. Our waiter was wonderful, and the food was authentic and fresh. I got gnocchi al formaggio for a meal and we shared a caprese for antipasti. It was all very good. We talked and laughed and exchanged experiences in the city so far. We all shared dessert and I got a tea, which I then spilled all over because it came out fast from the pot.  I walked back to the train, got off at Ponte Lungo and went back to my B&B and went to sleep after I got back.

Rome Trip: Day 1 (Wed->Thu)

During my trip to Rome, Italy, I chronicled my adventures through my Instagram Stories each day, but I did not provide a detailed account of all the inner workings, the joys and travails of my trip because of limited internet access and time, so I am doing this here, through writing a blog post each day with accompanying photos. Continue reading