We arrived to Fiumicino Airport in Rome at 4:30AM on Sunday morning. Temperature outside was +28°C. It is 83°F. We got our luggage at 05:18AM. Lira’s first experience was a smelly bathroom at the airport. We wondered around a bit, and found a train station. First train (05:31 €8×2 = 16 AmEx) was scheduled at 05:56AM. We arrived at the secondary transportation hub in Ostiense at 06:30AM. I had some €25 and change with me from our previous trip in August 2010. So we bought 2 ATAC (Rome transportation) tickets (€1.50×2) from a machine at 06:40. These tickets are good for 100 minutes after initial validation.
|While waiting for our luggage, I examined an interesting tariff chart for different modes of transportation to reach Rome||I planned to take a quick and easy bus ride that should have taken no more than 20 minutes|
Now we needed bus 280 (direction MANCINI) to reach Piazza Cavour and our hotel nearby. Instead (by mistake) we’ve lumped on bus 80 towards Cavour (a metro station) and Colosseum. When I saw Colosseum in a bus window, I realized that something is wrong, and we took a metro line “B” instead. At Termini (the main Rome train station) we switched the trains to line “A”, but took a wrong direction, because right direction was closed for “lavori” (works) till August 25. Eventually, we returned and took a bus that replaces the metro at this section. We rode bus MA5 to station closest to our hotel – Lepanto. All this switching and hopping happened on one ticket that is good for all public transportation.
I picked a location for our Rome hotel right in between Vatican and the rest of the Rome. We were situated near the Tiber (river in Rome), Palazzo di Giustizia (Palace of Justice) and Ponte Cavour (bridge). And we should be staying for €75 per night (no breakfast).
On the roll to the hotel (rolling our bags) I’ve tried to get Euros from two ATM machines. One said that this card is not approved for international transactions. The other had difficulties to get to English.
Hotel knew about our delay, and they said they still have our reservation, and will charge us for the first night anyway. It meant that we can check in into our room right at 8AM in the morning. And we did. It was great. We hardly slept on the plane, and we began to prepare for a very long day ahead of us. It was 2AM in the USA.
Room 108 was small (Hotel Sant’Angelo – Via Marianna Dionigi, 16), but we had a fast reliable Wi-Fi, so I was able to make a 1-800 call to my bank over Skype, to see, what is going on with my Debit card. It was 3AM on Sunday morning in America at that time. They said that the system they need to check is in maintenance right now, but I should call a few hours later.
Around 10AM we were on the streets of Rome walking. No backpacks or fanny packs. Just like ordinary Romans. We immediately discovered Piazza Navona with all the outdoor sculptures and fountains, but we did not switched yet into a tourist mode. We were just pedestrians on busy hot Sunday morning. Temperature quickly climbed above 30°C, and shadow was the only place to be. On La piazza di Campo dei Fiori we found a very controlled open market. We bought an amazing wedge of a watermelon for €1, and we ate it immediately without coltello (knife) or forchetta (fork).
At Piazza Venezia we climb a colossal monumental building “Vittorio Emanuele II”, and made out first pictures (11:58AM). Lira was very sleepy and she could only dream about going back to the hotel room. But we knew, how important not to fall asleep on the first day. We needed to concentrate on food and sights to divert our attention from sleep.
At this moment one of the places on Lira’s vegetarian and vegan food list (Insalata Ricca) opened (at 12 noon), and we started our movement in their direction. At the next trendy ATM with air conditioning (12:19 BPN) I requested not €700, but only meager €500, and it worked! So now I felt much better and confident in the success of the whole 3-weeks enterprise.
Lira and I order salads and mineral water (do as Romans do). For just under €20 we got refreshed in a cool A/C atmosphere, and were ready to continue exploration around 13:30.
Rome is not only a touristy place. It is also is a capital of a large country. Many Government buildings can be easily identified by heavy police presence and bulging metal bars on the windows on the first floor of the entire building.
Our next stop was Pantheon. It is impressive, and it is old (almost 2000 years), and it hosts a tomb of Raphael. Pantheon is the best preserved Roman building, because it was never out of use. It switched from being a Roman temple into a Christian basilica, and owners always took care of it.
The only source of light is a hole at the top of the dome. But this one “window” makes the interior bright and inspirational. Here are the tombs of father and mother of Italy (king and his queen). The first king of united Italy is Vittorio Emanuele the Second, and the second king is, of course, Umberto the First.
We spent here at Pantheon the whole hour. It is free. It wiped out our sleepiness for a while. But as soon as we got back on the streets, we started deviating and deviating towards our hotel. We only hold out to 4PM, and finally crashed to catch on sleep.
About 8PM I crawled out of the room for a solitary walk to Spanish steps and Trevi Fountain. I took nothing with me. Not even a valet. Just walking and watching new city and new culture. It was still very hot. I did not feel any desire to eat or drink. That was one tough and very long day – and just the very beginning of our grand tour.
Navigate through the List
- Italy 2012 August - Roma, Firenze, Napoli and between (2018/04/19)
- Aug 10-11 FRI-SAT - A two-day flight to Rome (2018/04/23)
- Aug 12 SUN - First steps in Rome - Pantheon (2018/04/27)
- Aug 13 MON - Vatican (2018/05/01)
- Aug 14 TUE - Colosseum (2018/05/05)
- Aug 15 WED - Getting the car - Starting North - Viterbo (2018/05/09)
- Aug 16 THU - Bagnoregio in Lazio, Orvieto in Umbria (2018/05/13)
- Aug 17 FRI - Orvieto - Montepulciano - Siena (2018/05/17)
- Aug 18 SAT - Siena - Villa Galileo - Firenze - Day 1 (2018/05/21)