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October 22, 2008

Roma, Lunedi

Filed under: Italy Rome-Sicily 2008, Travel — anotherheader @ 7:06 pm

Castel Sant'Angelo and Ponte Sant'Angelo

Castel Sant'Angelo and Ponte Sant'Angelo overlooking the Tiber

Monday sightseeing started with a trip to see Trastevere. Yesterday we must have walked 10 miles covering a good chunk of old Rome

Portico of Octavia

Portico of Octavia

on foot. We were looking for a little easier way to cover the 8 klicks to Trastevere and back so we looked for a taxi at the nearby Stazione Termini (train station). The driver offered a price (25 euros), which seemed high at the time, and we took it not knowing what was reasonable. In fact, we still don’t know, with certainty, whether it was reasonable, or not, though it seems likely. But, compared to the cost of metered rides of a similar distance we took in Rome, it was more than twice the cost. Most likely, we got a bad deal, either by being ripped off or failing to negotiate (see a link at the end). It wasn’t a big thing and we don’t let this sort of thing impact our enjoyment of places we visit, but it was a trip changing event in that minimized the use of taxis latter. We try to avoid being insulated from the places we visit. With the spontaneity we gain, come some minor hiccups like this.

Santa Maria in Trastevere

Santa Maria in Trastevere

The taxi took us to the old Jewish Ghetto. We checked out the area and its Roman ruins, and then crossed the Tiber River to Isola Tiberina and then continued on to Trastevere. Trastevere is a warren of winding, narrow roads and alleyways scattered with shops and restaurants. We headed towards the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere and viewed the golden mosaics inside. Our plans were to have lunch at a nearby restaurant recommended by one of Becky’s friends. Unfortunately, the restaurant was just closing when we were arriving (it was 2 pm). During our trip, we never could seem to get in sync with the 2 pm lunch closure times coupled with the late dinners. We did what we often do in the when this happens—eat street food. In this case, we had a decadent filled, flaky savory pastry called a baci (we believe) from a local shop. It was quite good. We’d eat them all the time, if we could, though we might end up as baci balls.

Piazza San Pietro

Piazza San Pietro

The Dome of San Pietro, designed by Michelangelo

The Dome of San Pietro, designed by Michelangelo

Powered by pastry, we decided to walk along the Tiber River to the Vatican City. We chose The Vatican, in part, because many of the other attractions in Rome are closed on Monday. It was only a short distance on the map, about two inches, so it couldn’t be that far, could it?

After walking the other half of old Rome that we didn’t cover on foot yesterday, we arrived at the Vatican and cleared the extensive, airport-style security so we could visit St. Peter’s Basilica. Baroque in style, St. Peter’s is most notable (to us) for its size. We didn’t pull out the tape measure, but it seems as if an American-style football game could easily be played inside, including enough height to accommodate punts. Wide receivers might be abruptly stopped by the pillars on the sidelines, but what are those big pads for anyway? The basilica is cavernous.

If there is any doubt about the apparent size of St. Peter’s Basilica, there are marks on the floor indicating the size of the nave of the other major cathedrals of the world on the floor. Of course, St. Peter’s is biggest. Needless to say, seeing and hearing what is happening in the front of the nave from the back of any of these cathedrals would be near impossible with out amplification. St. Peter’s is a beautiful cathedral but the shear size of the structure is what was most striking to us.

Swiss Guards at the Vatican in wardrobes designed by Michelangelo

Swiss Guards at the Vatican in wardrobes designed by Michelangelo

Leaving the basilica, we wandered over to the Metro stop, with a prerequisite birra spina (draft beer) and people watching break along the way. The Metro took us back to Stazione Termini. Later, we had a good meal at the one star Michelin restaurant Agata e Romeo, a short distance from our apartment, to finish the day.

Taxis in Rome:




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