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Italy: Day 2 – Rome

March 3, 2010

SUNDAY, April 13, Rome

We’re up early and decide to go to Campo dei Fiori for some fruit for breakfast. Alas, it’s too early for a Sunday morning: no vendors are set up yet. Did I mention that we’re early birds? My toes are throbbing today, but once I’m up and around a bit, they’re okay.

We need to be at the Borghese Gallery by 10:30, so we check the guide that came with the RomaPass to see what buses go there. After walking up and down Corso del Vittorio Emmanuelle, we don’t see the right bus listed on the signs at any of the stops. We finally decide to start walking. At the same tourist information point on Via del Corso we had been to yesterday, we find out which bus is correct. When it arrives, it’s very crowded, and we can’t get to the machine to insert our bus tickets. We notice no one else is validating tickets. Hmm, maybe buses are free on Sunday, we wonder?

At the Borghese Gallery, we get our tickets, and use the RomaPass for the admission. We rent the audio guide, and Charlie grabs a panino before the tour starts (poor guy, all that walking with no breakfast!).

The Borghese: neither of us claim to be art aficionados; we appreciate things we think are beautiful, but frankly usually do little more than walk-bys, pointing out what we like to each other. The Bernini sculptures, however, simply take our breathes away. We spend most of our two-hour allotment inside the Gallery staring at the sculptures, pointing things out to each other, looking from different angles, and just being awed by the sheer artistry made possible from pieces of marble. This is definitely a high point of our trip.

After touring the Gallery, we rent one of the double bikes and spend an hour pedaling around the grounds. After all, when would we have the opportunity to ride a bike in Rome again? It’s fun, but our muscles pay for it by the end of the day, especially on top of all the walking so far and still ahead of us.

We take a bus back to Via del Corso (again, we watch and no one validates their tickets), and walk to the Vittorio Emmanuelle monument, where we’re meeting up with our tour of the Forum. We have some time to spare, so Charlie has another panino, and we walk around the monument. Oh, and since there’s time, we force ourselves to have some gelato!

Our tour with Sarah of Icon Tours was great. I can’t imagine seeing the Forum without a tour. There are only two other couples on the tour with us and our guide is very knowledgeable. The high point for us is Mamertine Prison, where Saints Peter and Paul were said to have been held before they were martyred. The upper part of the prison has a hole in the ground, which is where they threw the prisoners down to the lower cell. Later, stairs were installed for pilgrims and tourists. The lower cell has very low ceilings, and it’s sobering to be standing there. Neither of us knew this piece of Catholic legend, and it definitely gives me chills to be in the cell.

The rest of the Forum is equally as interesting, especially since we don’t know much about ancient Rome. I’m amazed at the ingenuity of the Romans with the construction of the Colosseum.

By the end of the tour, we’re exhausted, and consider taking a bus home, but they’re all very crowded, almost cartoon-crowded, so we walk. We find a restaurant in Campo dei Fioro for dinner. We have wine with dinner, and get a tiny bit tipsy, which may account for my earnest confession to Charlie that I love our waiter, truly love him. He speaks very little English, and my elementary Italian doesn’t win any prizes, but it brings the most wonderful smile to his face! I manage to take a picture of Charlie with my new boyfriend in the background. Okay, so actually Charlie is in the corner of the picture and I’m mainly trying to get the waiter. Gee, I wonder why Charlie looks less than thrilled?

We decide we deserve a second gelato of the day, and then it’s back to the apartment.

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