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ancient ruins, painted ceilings, and truffles

March 25, 2009

Days 8 and 9 – Time to see the sights

columnThe forecast on our first full day in Rome called for rain in the afternoon, so we headed out early in hopes of covering some ground before the weather deteriorated. We began our day in ancient Rome with a tour of the Forum, Palatine Hill and the interior of the Colosseum. It was a lot to see, but we got through it all without pulling out our ponchos. It was really amazing to walk around and imagine what life might have been like 2000 years ago. The Colosseum was built not long after Jesus was roaming the earth. What a thought! Those kinds of realizations struck us again and again during the trip. We visited places where Paul was imprisoned, safehouses where the apostles hid from persecution… it was really incredible. I can only imagine what it would be like to visit Israel.foruminside-colosseummamertine

st-petersThat night it started raining just about the time we went to bed and it continued most of the night. We woke the next morning to gray skies and wind. That day was our actual anniversary. We went to the Vatican and spent several hours walking through St. Peter’s, the Vatican museums and the Sistine Chapel. By the end of that day we both had stiff necks from walking around looking at ceilings. It was all so incredibly beautiful – so much so that it was overload – very much like visiting the Louvre.

st-peters-detailWe walked through what felt like miles of rooms that were filled from their mosaic floors to the painted ceilings, every square inch was a masterpiece. By the time we were herded into the Sistine chapel to see Michaelangelo’s famous ceiling, we were almost desensitized to its beauty. Almost. I would love to show you a picture, but photographs were forbidden. As was sitting. And talking. And breathing. Although announcing on a loudspeaker that all of these things were forbidden every 3 minutes was apparently perfectly acceptable.ceiling1ceiling3

Or plan after that was to walk to Castel St. Angelo and then through Piazza Navona and on to Il Bacaro, the tiny place where we had made dinner reservations. But it was windy and cold and well, not really a day where you want to spend a lot of time walking outside. So we opted to skip the walk and go back to the hotel and get cleaned up before our dinner. The restaurant had been recommended to us for a special night, so we decided to splurge. At first we were skeptical. There were seriously no more than 10 tables in the place and when we got there there was only one other table occupied. All the other tables had signs that said “Riservato”. We were seated and sure enough, one by one the tables filled, and two by two people were turned away from the door and told to come back after 10:00.  Eric was brave and ordered an appetizer of quail eggs, asparagus and shaved truffles and I was less brave and had a salad of endive, shrimp, and avocado. Mine was good, his was WAY better. If you ever have an opportunity to try truffles – DO IT! After that we both had rigatoni carbonara, followed by a steak. Mine steak was supposed to be “with bacon” and his was “with four cheese fondue and mushrooms”. The bacon on mine was actually a thin slice of fat that they draped over the steak so that when it cooked it looked almost like a slice of melted cheese. I didn’t eat the fat, but it made the steak taste really good. Eric’s was, again, way better. We still don’t know what we ate for dessert. We saw something on the menu that didn’t have chocolate, since Eric isn’t really a chocolate lover, and we asked the server what it was. She didn’t speak a bit of English but she motioned with her hands like she was making layers and said “crema, something Italian, crema, something Italian, crema”. We both understood her to mean that it was something with layers of cream, so we ordered one to share. When it arrived it looked more like a pile of breadcrumbs with cream underneath. Whatever it was, it was pretty tasty.

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