OK... It's Sunday morning, November 17th and we are in Rome until Friday morning. Time to figure out what to do this week!
We had received a recommendation for a private tour guide from our new friends Roger and D'Arcy who we met on the cruise. They found him online and had enjoyed his tour. No way in heck were we going with a group!! So, I called Giorgio on Sunday and booked 2 hours on Monday morning and 5 hours on Tuesday afternoon.
We were staying at the Hotel Excelsior on the Via Veneto and we asked for a recommendation for a museum (i.e. something interesting and useful but INSIDE). It was in the low 30s Fahrenheit and we were simply not prepared for the cold. The concierge recommended the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. This is a part of the national museum and focuses on ancient sculpture and mosaics. We saw LOTS of interesting ancient art and kept very busy for a couple of hours.
We had a GREAT time in the museum.
Then we just went walking... We were a few blocks from the museum and there was this large church with a simple outside. It looked like we could go in and so we did. I'm embarrassed to admit I don't even recall the name of this beautiful place!
After leaving the church, we walked through some beautiful Roman neighborhoods heading back towards our hotel. It was warming up since it was getting to be the afternoon.
It was fascinating to bump into what was clearly a modern building which was constructed in a fashion that would not disturb an ancient wall. Wow!
And we ended up in a neighborhood near the Vie Veneto which includes a lot of mansions and embassies (including the US Embassy which is across the street from the Excelsior).
We then set out to find the "Spanish Steps" which are a nice walk from where our hotel is. We walked down the steps (which are beautiful but we forgot to snap any photos).
At the bottom of the steps were a horse and carriage. The driver was negotiating to take us on "a beautiful ride... I'll show you fountains, the Colliseum, take lots of pictures...". I was concerned about being scammed but negotiated the ride down from 180 Euros to 110 Euros. A lot of money!!
So, we paid him and off we went! We asked for a blanket as it was getting cold. He offered the one from the horse but that wasn't quite what Lisa had in mind so we just huddled together and enjoyed the peaceful ride through Rome. The driver was nice but we were still concerned about where the scam was... We were hoping to ask him to take us back to our hotel which is not far from the Spanish steps when this ride was over. We both clicked away with our cameras.
Then, the driver stopped and said we should go around the corner to take photos of the Trevi Fountain. I was on alarm about us getting ditched but ran to catch it by myself.
Soon, I looked over and Lisa was along and the driver was holding her camera and encouraging us to get our photos in front of the fountain. As this picture is being taken, I am wondering if we are about to lose the rest of the horse ride AND Lisa's camera... I didn't really notice the fountain much.
Soon, we were in front of the monument to Victor Emmanuel II who had unified Italy.
Right there is the balcony from which Mussolini used to make his speeches.
And we continued a few blocks towards the Forum and the Colliseum.
Then the driver said: "OK, we're done!". Lisa and I were very surprised as he had not returned us anywhere NEAR where we had joined him. I asked about taking us back to our hotel and he replied that that was "a long ways and uphill!". He would want another 100 Euros.
Well, I guess we just hadn't been clear enough. We climbed out of the carriage (with Lisa's camera... no worse for wear) and found a taxi stand. Seven Euros later, we were back at the hotel and starving. It was around 5PM and getting COLD!
Now, did I mention there is NO way to eat before 7:30? So Lisa's second major concern in Italian food is finding a good Lasagna! We asked the concierge where we could get Lasagna and he recommended a place a few blocks away. We killed time at the hotel bar which (at least) was warm.
We went to the recommended restaurant and found Lasagna was not on the menu... Still, the waiter offered to make some. When it came, it was really not similar to what we are used to (much more an ala vodka sauce). Oh, well!! They did have a wonderful dessert wine and biscotti!
Tomorrow, we meet Giorgio!