We had a really nice visit with my parents both here and in Italy. I took two weeks off work to be their tour guide as I really wanted them to enjoy their stay. We visited in the afternoon with my Dad's cousins and extended family the day after their arrival. It was my mother's birthday the prior Thursday so we brought a birthday cake, as is the Dutch custom. As customary, they served coffee with the cake and once that was over brought out the booze. A little tipple is always in order before lunch! We then went out for a nice lunch and had a great chat. They are all over 65 but full of life.
In the following few days I accompanied them to Delft to view the precious Royal Delft factory (lordy lordy is their porcelain expensive!) and then on our last day before our trip to Italy we went to the Alsmeer Flower Auction. Check out my post on the auction for the details.
Thursday September 23
On Thursday Sept 23, evening we departed for Italy arriving just around 8:30 in Rome. We had a harrowing drive from the airport to our B&B with a crazy taxi driver. Luckily I was in the front seat as I soooo love to weave in and out of traffic at 160 Kms per hour narrowing escaping death. Fantastic! Our B&B was situated near the Vatican which was ideal for only our one day we visited the Vatican, however it was good value for the money in Rome.
Friday September 24
We set off for the Borghesi Galleria in the early morning from our B&B. The 15 minute walk to the Villa Borghesi turned out to be a 45 minute walk but we arrived just in time for our 9 am reservation. The Borghesi Galleria is situated in the vast Villa Borghesi park. The museum is home to many of the most exquisite statues by Gian Lorenzo Bernini and a few works of Michelangelo. He is one of the true masters with my favorite sculpture being Apollo and Daphne. It is a miracle to see the nymph Daphne transformed from a woman to a tree. The effect is magnificent! Don’t miss it if you are in Rome it is one of the highlights. There are also a number of fabulous painting to be seen but you are only allowed in the museum for 2 hours at which point they shoo you out!
We were turned out into the street at 11 and walked over to the Spanish Steps where we spent the afternoon shopping. Okay really browsing as I can’t afford Chanel and Ferragamo! Luckily this was not like my trip to Paris – you know the one where everything I tried on fit?
Cliff spent a bit of time getting to know our new camera and managed to get a lot of picture of use doing most anything other than smiling. Hmmmm….perhaps we just needed to spend money shopping?
For dinner we returned to a family run spot called Da Peitro G and I found on our honeymoon. We had a fabulous dinner once again and enjoyed the drama of the truffle presentation by Sonia, who pretended to remember us from 2 years ago ;)
After dinner we enjoyed the beautiful fountains in the Piazzo Navano. The piazzo is always filled with tourists and buskers. We particularly liked the Egyptian mummy – which only moved when you gave a coin. A busy and lovely first day in Rome!
Saturday September 25
On Saturday morning we took it quite easy to save our energy for our afternoon Vatican Tour. I booked with a guided tour through the Museum rather and an independent tour company and was really pleased. The Vatican tour was by far my favorite this trip as our guide had a doctorate in church history (I didn't know you could even specialize in that kind of study). The tour felt like a 3 hour intense art history lecture but to our relief our guide peppered his commentary with sordid details about the church, the artists and in some cases the Italians working at the Vatican.
One of facts he shared was an art competition that happened each year involving the Belvedere Torso. The Belvedere Torso is a fragment of a nude male statue, signed prominently on the front of the base by an Athenian sculptor "Apollonios son of Nestor", who is unmentioned in ancient literature. According to our guide, the torso represents “potential” and each year artists would have a competition to complete the statues missing parts. I can’t seem to confirm this view on the internet but you can’t believe everything that’s posted ;).
We finished up in the museum after a half hour in the Sistine Chapel and moved on to St. Peter’s Basilica. The church is an optical illusion of sorts as the architects and artists were charged with ensuring the pilgrims felt welcome in this vast structure that can hold thousands of worshippers. To create the illusion the church was welcoming the sizes of the statues get larger the closer they are to the ceiling. There are prayers written along the edge of the ceiling where each letter is actually 6 M tall! The illusion that you believe these visuals to be closer to you than they are. Amazing really!
After our 3 hour tour we were so enthralled we stayed for mass which although in Italian it was lovely to sit in the splendor of St. Peter’s Bascilia and listen to the glorious choir.
In the evening we headed Ristorante Trattoria, again near the Piazzo Navano, to enjoy a Sicilian menu. We started with a glass of champagne in the bar and then headed upstairs to dinner. The food was spectacular and I would definitely recommend it if you are in Rome. I started with a pasta dish and then, like my Dad, chose to enjoy a steak. My Mom had an omelet for her appetizer (?) but it was sooooo delicious I’d wished I’d had it too! Cliff ordered the heart stopper, veal cutlet, which was breaded and came with the most amazing potatoes (almost like chips but thicker – ymmm). We left very stuffed but very satisfied.
We strolled over to the Trevi Fountain after dinner where we all tossed coins over our shoulders to ensure our return to Rome one day. My mom was awesome at it and we kept trying to take her photo to commemorate the coin toss but she was so fast it was literally impossible! We had to keep digging out coins – remember these are Euros!
Sunday September 26
Sundays in Rome are for family. Generally most of the shops are closed on Sunday with the exception of those around the Spanish steps. I thought it would be a good day for Mom and Dad to enjoy Ancient Rome and the Coliseum. Cliff and I dropped at the site and then headed over to the Museum of Rome (???). It was quite a walk and we really should have gotten on the Metro as it took an hour to get there. The museum itself was free as it was Sunday which was great however the audio guides were so boring I had to stop listening. What! You say. History boring? My word the damn thing just droned on and on and on. I really didn’t enjoy this museum so I’m glad we didn’t have to pay to get in. There were some interesting recovered building ruins that showed how they vibrantly painted their interiors. Then the droning got to me and I started wandering around the museum aimlessly wishing Cliff was not diligently looking at the remaining works. Unfortunately we spent so much time there “enjoying” ourselves that the place we wanted to try and lunch was closing when we arrived at 2:40. Whahahah!
Sunday evening we went to a restaurant recommended by one of my Shell colleagues called Obika. Japanese you think? No a restaurant that focuses on fresh mozzarella. In fact you can do a mozzarella tasting! Never tried smoked buffalo mozza? You can try it here! They also have a location in New York so try them next time you’re in the big apple. I had such a hard time deciding what to order that I changed my mind before the waitress left our table. Luckily I didn’t have to choose as she brought me both! Oooppss….something got lost in the translation. Too bad J ….lunch for tomorrow!