Roma & Napoli

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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  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'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.

Pa010001.jpg (331691 bytes) The coliseum,  obviously.  This would be the "classic" view, from Imperial Way. Pa010009.jpg (94133 bytes) These ruins were integrated into a later Christian church
Pa010010.jpg (48029 bytes) One of the remains in the forum.  Very cool indeed.  This stuff is EVERYWHERE. Pa010014.jpg (61586 bytes) there's nothing looking at a rut in the road you're on and being told that Mucus the Tribunal did that with his chariot 2000 years ago. (yes I made the name up)
Pa010018.jpg (109266 bytes) The Forum proper, looking towards the coliseum.  Katrina and kids are visible in the foreground. Pa010020.jpg (108203 bytes)  The floor was apparently wooden in the coliseum  and these catacombs under are  where you kept your Christians or what have you while the lions had appetizers.
Pa020003.jpg (68643 bytes) Some of the outstanding artwork from the Vatican's extensive art museum.  Everywhere you look, you get a feeling of "hey, I saw that statue in a book somewhere!" Pa020004.jpg (118590 bytes) One of the many beautifully rendered ceilings in the Vatican.  I could not get pics of the Sistine chapel.  Some weird deal with Nippon TV. get them here instead
Pa020012.jpg (66398 bytes) Outside of St. Peters, the Saints line the square.  There is one statue for every saint. Pa020022.jpg (80543 bytes) The Swiss mercenaries who defend the papal seat.  There are about 150 in Vatican City and has been for hundreds of years.
Pa030028.jpg (153035 bytes) Yes, this is us at Papal Mass.  What more can I say? Pa020020.jpg (275589 bytes) The inside of St. Peter's.  Flash was not allowed, so this picture was  shot in the dark and digitally enhanced after the fact.
P6170009.jpg (26077 bytes) This is a photo of Mount Etna in Sicily.  I apologize, as it's not my best.  However, I tried for 3 days to get a good shot of this active volcano and this was the clearest I got. P7280012a.jpg (70140 bytes) This is Vesuvio.  Sorry it's grainy, but that's what happens when you take photos from an airplane window
P1150087.jpg (81250 bytes) Pompeii, with Vesuvio looming in the background.  If memory serves, the fellow in the foreground is Apollo. P1150111.jpg (120050 bytes) Another Pompeii scene.  I could fill an entire page with photos from here. (and maybe I will!)