Having arrived in Roma on a Wednesday, by the following Tuesday, we were completely sick of the shower situation at our flat as well as taking 22 Euro taxi rides each way to or from Centro, so we decided to check into a gorgeous, *upper end* hotel called The Grand Via Veneto Hotel, which was located centrally to all of the historical sites and lovely restaurants. Naturally, both of our husbands were furious but neither of us cared at this point. I needed a decent bed and good shower/bath or I was on the verge of a total emotional breakdown. (Yeah, doesn't that just make you yearn to be my travel partner?) I can only camp-out for so long before I yell "Uncle!" It's different if you're hiking or backpacking everyday, but we needed to look presentable everyday, which was getting increasingly difficult. So, my friend agreed and we were ever so happy with our choice, even though it was only for 3 nights and cost a freaking fortune. I'm still catching grief over it...
The hotel was lovely and the concierges all spoke perfect English, as well as most of the employees. Best of all, we were only a few blocks from the Galleria Borghese, where we had reservations for our tour the following day. We ate at a lovely little sidewalk cafe that night as we slowly returned to being happy campers, living in the lap of luxury we are accustomed to.
Now, let me assure you that the Galleria Borghese should NOT be missed, as it was exceedingly intriguing and beautiful. No matter how many pictures you've seen of any of the ceiling frescoes, sculptures, and paintings, it is ever so much more overwhelming when seeing it all in person. The Bernini sculptures were mesmerizing. We were there for 4 hours total and it still wasn't enough. Of course, you weren't allowed to take in cameras or purses, or anything else (they had to be *checked*), but they did have a wonderful deli style bistro that also served cocktails, which made us both smile. They also had an excellent gift shop with items from all price ranges. After our galleria tour, we toured the gardens which were truly breathtaking and we took many pictures there.
That night during our dinner at an enchanting restaurant in the Travestere area of Rome, we decided we'd take the high speed train to Florence the next day, since we were close to the Stazione Ferroviaria (the train station). Let me just say that we both fell in love with Florence and wished we'd based out of Florence rather than Rome. Of course, we didn't take as many pictures as we'd intended because we were walking around with our mouths agape, at the beauty of Florence. We also dropped several hundred dollars each on leather goods there, which made us both once again, happy women. I mean shoes and purses make almost all women happy, right? It is especially so when they are handmade in Italy. We dined at a restaurant recommended by my daughter SD, and it was worth every penny we spent. Unfortunately, we had to make the last train back to Roma (at 21:00 - 9:00 PM), so dinner was a bit rushed but the steaks were *life changing*, I assure you. The restaurant was called Acqua Al Due, one of only 3 locations in the world (with one being located in San Diego, CA.).
By some miracle, we made our train and met the most fun couple from Scotland, so we had a blast talking with them all the way back to Roma. Arriving back at our lovely hotel, we both collapsed and slept like we'd never slept before. I was in Heaven! Unfortunately, we slept too late (AGAIN!) to really do much more than explore on our own, which turned out to be quite the treat actually. We found a great little bar called Peppe's and sat there for several hours eating thin, crispy pizza and drinking our chosen poisons, as we watched the people come and go. It was there where we both became obsessed with the way Italian women look and dress, not to mention the Italian men. I'm quite certain that the cocktails had nothing to do with said obsession.
The next morning we decided to check out and return to our flat for the remaining three days of our trip, hoping this would quell the husband's thoughts of murdering us. As soon as we returned to the flat with our luggage, we went right back to Centro to visit the Trevi Fountain and toss our coins in the fountain, in hopes of returning one day to Rome. Then, we did some more damage to the hubby's bank accounts, much to their demise. Once it got dark it began to rain cats and dogs, so after about 30 minutes of trying to hail a taxi, we were finally on our way back to the outskirts of Rome, and our apartment. Upon arrival, our neighbor Gino welcomed us back and invited us to dinner for our last night in Roma, which we accepted with great pleasure.
The last full day in Roma (Day 12) was a Sunday, so we decided to visit The Vatican, which all the guide books said would be open the last Sunday of the month from 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM. We carefully dressed in the appropriate attire, hailed a taxi, and arrived at The Vatican around Noon, which we thought would be a safe time to go. After standing in line for almost an hour, we were then turned away, as they said they were closing for the day. HUH? Yes, I started to tear up, as I had saved the best for last and got the "No Vatican For You!" rigmarole, as if it had come from The Soup Nazi on Seinfeld. I was totally crushed and defeated at this point, but had no choice other than to accept it (I mean, the Vatican IS protected by The Swiss Guard). So, we began to once again wander the streets of Rome as if we knew what we were doing. Ha! We kind of got lost again but quickly recovered once we recognized a landmark we were familiar with. Whew! We took a few pictures here and there, then hailed a taxi to take us back to the flat, where we licked our wounds from not being able to see the Vatican or The Sistine Chapel. Which, of course, means that I need to return someday in order to see that which I missed, and I missed A LOT.
We also had Gino's wonderful home cooked meal to get ready for, which we thoroughly enjoyed, with enthusiasm this time. I was only able to get a picture of our salad, as Gino was getting cranky over all of my picture taking. Still, it should give you a pretty good idea of what his meals were like. He also served us Eggplant Parmigiana that he'd made especially for us. It was absolutely divine, as were his desserts and Limoncello. Yes, the wine with dinner was excellent as well and we went back to our rooftop apartment completely satisfied, although not quite ready to return home. But, alas, it was the end of La Dolce Vita for us!