** 1 **
This afternoon, as I eat my lemon pepper fish lean cuisine while looking out my dining room window at the dreary afternoon, I take joy in the knowledge that one week from right now, I will most likely be eating my picnic lunch of fresh artichokes and other antipasti in a sunny open-air piazza IN ROME!!!!
That’s right friends, somewhere in the midst of baby fever, packing boxes, carpet shenanigans, and life in general…I forgot to mention that Atticus and I are going to Rome next Thursday for 8 whole days!
Despite my oversight of not mentioning it here, I am basically beside myself with glee. While Atticus has been to Europe several times (Spain, France, England), little old me has never, ever been across the Atlantic.
** 2 **
We are staying at a hotel near the Termini train station, Hotel Montreal (yeah, its kind of weird that it’s named Montreal in Italy, but they had a Rick Steeves discount!) It is about two blocks away from La Chiesa di Santa Maria Maggiore (The Church of Saint Mary Major), on a street called Via Carlo Alberto. I don’t know who he is.
** 3 **
Since we will be there for 8 full days (arriving Friday 30th, leaving Sat. May 8th), we will be able to see just about all of the city, including a day trip to a town called Ostia Antica, which was the first port town of the Roman empire. The town was basically one big salt mine, then after the fall of the empire, it became a big old swamp. The swamp mud preserved a lot of artifacts from decaying, and you can tour the town today and see how it functioned as a port town for the Roman empire. It’s also only about 45 mins away from Rome, which is a nice distance for a day trip.
** 4 **
Very, very high on my list of exciting things for this trip is the Vatican, of course. In a sense, it almost feels as though going to Rome is a bit like going home. I’m hoping it will feel even more that way when we are there.
We have the great fortune of being able to attend the Pope’s Wednesday Audience in St. Peter’s Square. There will be several thousand people there, but a ticket is still needed, and we were able to get two, and for free. A lovely church in Rome, St. Susanna’s, which is the english speaking church in Rome, has them available for pilgrims/tourists who want to attend the Wednesday audience.
I’m going to get to see Benedict come out and wave to the people, and whats best, we’ll get to receive a blessing from our German Shepherd!
We will also attend a weekday Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica (what?!) and attend Sunday Mass (hopefully) at the Pantheon, which is the oldest Catholic Church in the world where Mass is still celebrated (as it was a pagan temple before the conversion of Rome).
** 5 **
And of course, the food. Oh, food. I love you. I recently joined weight watchers, but let me tell you, I will *not* be staying on plan in Rome. I mean, I’m not going to totally pig out, but nor am I going to meticulously count points and turn down such marvelous things as gelato and pizza.
Our basic food plan is this: we’ll have breakfast at our hotel, as its included in the price of the room. Most of the days we’ll stop at an open-air market or old-fashioned grocery store (alimentari), pick up some food, and picnic for lunch. Unlike the US, its very common in Italy to pretty much eat following the seasons (no tomatoes in January!), so we’ll have the following things to look forward to that are in season in April-May:
calamari, squid, green beans, asparagus, artichokes, zucchini flowers, black truffles, mussels, cantaloupe, and of course fresh clams and meats which are in season year round
For dinner each night we’ll try a different restaurant. The one I’m so excited about is called Ristorante Il Gabriello (the website is in Italian, but you can see pictures of how cute it is inside!) Rick Steeves (the god of all things Europe) calls it the ‘splurge’ restaurant in Rome that he’d pick above all the others. From his description: “Caludio serves with charisma while Gabriello cooks creative Roman cuisine from fresh, organic products from his wife’s farm. Italians normally just trust the waiter and say, ‘Bring it on!'” Bring it on is right!
** 6 **
I have to say here, that if anyone is thinking of going to Rome (or anywhere in Italy) get the Rick Steves’ Rome (or Italy or Florence) guide. You won’t be sorry. We bought three or four guidebooks for planning the trip, and hands down, the most thorough one was Steves. It’s the only one I’m planning to bring with us, along with a map of the city. And just so you know, I’m not getting anything for recommending his book (except hopefully a great trip to Rome)!
** 7 **
When I was in high school and college, I told myself that I couldn’t really consider myself cultured until I went to Europe. I still think that’s mostly true (at least for me), and I’m so eager to become a world traveler next week! Among the things I will pack are a journal and a camera. I can’t take all of my lovely friends with me, as much as I might love to, and I probably won’t update the fumbles’ press while we are gone, but you can be sure there will be some reflections upon our return, and probably twice as many photos!
In order to prepare, I am listening to Italian language cd’s on repeat for the next week, and strong-arming my husband into watching “Roman Holiday” sometime this weekend. You know, to inspire us on our “Roman Holiday.”
Have a great weekend, and head over to Conversion Diary for more Quick Takes!