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On our way to our new duty station in La Maddalena, Italy, we spent Four wonderful days in Rome. Actually to be more technically accurate, we spent one day of living hell in Rome, followed by three wonderful days in Rome
The first day, we arrived at about 10am, after a transaltlantic flight out of JFK airport, New York City. Remember, this was a trip with four children, one of which was a baby. We were extremely tired, but hopeful. We arrived at our "bed and breakfast", only to find it was a two bedroom apartment, and our hostess, who incidentally, would be sleeping on the couch, had no english speaking abilities whatsoever.
Disheartened by our attempts to communicated with Michaela, we decided to forge ahead into the hot, busy streets of Rome. We found an ATM, only to be told that my debit card was not compatible with the machine. (so what's the VISA logo for??). We used the Lire we purchased at rip-off prices from JFK to buy lunch...pizza. Although we truly love Italian pizza, we learned an important lesson that day. If you buy it off a gypsy street vendor in front of a giant tourist spot, it will taste like you bought it off a gypsy street vendor in front of a giant tourist spot. Oh, and a Pepperoni Pizza in Italy is NOT the same as Pepperoni from Pizza Hut, unless of course, your local Pizza Hut defines a Pepperoni as a 3 inch long pepper that is deep red in color. Ask for Salsiccia piccante...you'll get closer.
At this point, we were tired, hungry, and broke; and we were totally unable to communicate this misery to anyone. We went back to the "hotel", and slept for 18 hours straight.
Next morning, it was a whole new world, and we were ready to conquer it. We did it all. The forum, the coliseum, the Vatican, everything. We found a different ATM (in front of St. Peter's square, of all places) that took the debit card, and we were ready to roll. we did the forum ourselves, but did a guided tour the following day of the Vatican museums, the Sistine chapel, and St. Peter's.
The first day, we were ready to find an American Embassy and say "come get us". By the time we tasted our first "gelato" (Italian ice cream) on day two, we never wanted to leave.
Dinner the last night there warrants special mention. We had just stopped at this restaurant the night before, and totally fumbled our order, not understanding the Italian concept of eating in courses. In other words, we each ordered one component of the meal, expecting to get a whole meal like you would in the US, rather than ordering each part separately. The waiter understood some some amount of English, and explained the process. We told him we'd be back the next night and that we'd let them order for us.
Now, in the US, any waiter or restaurant owner would think "yeah, right buddy". But we arrived at the pre-arranged time, and lo and behold, they had a complete table already set aside for us, with our Antipasti Misti (assorted appetizers) already waiting. We had stuffed olives that were deep fried, rice balls filled with fresh mozzarella, Bruscetta, Strips of cured ham, fried, stuffed, mushrooms, several seafood antipasti which included crab, octopus, calamari, shellfish, you name it.
For Prima Piate we had some great Al-Dente style pasta in a cheese sauce. Our Secondo was Calimari on a bed of pitate fritte (french fries), or grilled pork for the less adventurous. This Calimari just melted in your mouth, unlike much of the rubbery O-ring consistency calimari I've had before. This was followed by a dessert of Gelato and Tiramisu. All in all it was a great experience. It did however, take four hours for the meal to run its course.
Yes, we had a great time in Rome, even if we did almost walk the bottoms out of our shoes.
On to the pictures. I actually have many many more pictures of Rome, but I figure I'm already approaching "painful" for load times.