Saturday in Roma

Saturday began with an early morning trip to the Vatican. We took a beautiful 45-minute walk along the Tiber River to meet our guide for the morning, Francesca Zambini.

Francesca (l) with Debbie in St. Peter’s Square

As we planned this trip, we didn’t realize that Easter in Italy is a two-week celebration. Consequently, tickets for many of the main attractions were almost impossible to get. By using a guide, we were able to get tickets that were otherwise unavailable. As it turned out, Francesca was great, incredibly helpful and greatly added to our appreciation of the Vatican.

As nearly everyone says, despite having seen photographs of the Sistine Chapel for years, nothing prepares you for the experience. Likewise, I was not prepared for the sheer size, beauty and grandeur of St. Peter’s Cathedral. Mass was being celebrated in an alcove of the cathedral while we were there. Hearing the chanting of the priests echoing throughout the cathedral, even with the background noise of the crowd created a sacred feeling. Seeing the Pieta was a highlight.

St. Peter’s Cathedral

The Pieta – enough said
Swiss Guard

Then it was on to the Borghese Gallery, best known for its large collection of Bernini sculpture. I’m not usually a sculpture fan, but even I couldn’t help but be impressed. In addition, it seems like ever ceiling in every cathedral and palazzo is frescoed.

Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne photo by Debbie Henning

Following a morning and early afternoon of museums, it was time to take a walk through Roma on our way back to our home away from home in Trastavere.

On our way, we came across Harry’s Bar Roma on the Via Venetto and knew it was the perfect spot for a mid-afternoon break. Harry’s Bar originally came to fame in Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and was the hot spot in Roma for celebrities in the 60s. I’ll describe our experience at Harry’s Bar more in a later post.

We resumed our walk through Roma and were constantly reminded that Roma is a city in every respect. In this case, on a Saturday afternoon, the crowds were oppressive. Along the way, we saw the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. I’m sure they are impressive, but the crowds tempered the enjoyment.

Randy with our bartender, Luca, at Harry’s Bar photo by Debbie Henning
Trevi Fountain

Roma – Day 2

We logged about 25,000 steps on a mostly cooler and sometimes drizzly day today. The sun broke through in the late afternoon, creating some nice lighting just in time for our scheduled tickets at the Colosseum.

We were able to enjoy some nice wines with our meals today. Lunch included a very enjoyable verdicchio from the La Marche region of Italy. Dinner included a local Roman wine, Cesanese del Piglio. The Cesanese grape isn’t well known and isn’t even common in Italy. However, its roots go way back, and it could be similar to the wine the ancient Romans drank, as it is native to this area. Not necessarily a great wine, but fun nonetheless.

Here are some of the highlights of our day:

Mosaic of Jesus with Mary above the altar in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastavere.
Two nuns at prayer in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastavere
What do you when it’s lunch time, you need to go to the bank, and the bank is closed
A grey, drizzly afternoon at the Forum

The sun finally made an appearance, giving the Colosseum some nice light.

Cesanese del Piglio photo by Debbie Henning

First day in Roma

What a beautiful first day in Roma. After arriving around 8 a.m., we met the host of our AirBnB in Trastavere for an espresso to begin the day.

Our AirBnB is a third floor walk up on this street in Trastavere.

We spent the morning exploring the outdoor market in Campo de’ Fiore.

Numerous vendors offer everything from dried pasta and peppers to balsamic vinegar and truffles.
photo by Debbie Henning
Flower stalls delighted us with fresh peonies.
photo by Debbie Henning
Wonderful cheeses
photo by Debbie Henning

In the afternoon, we visited the Basilica of Saint Mary in Trastavere, where a wedding was being held.

The Basilica of Saint Mary in Trastavere
Interior of the basilica