Saturday, July 6, 2013

vacation 7: Rome

The hotel in Rome has no parking, not even to unload. They direct us to a former repair garage 70 meters down the street (they meant 700 meters) where we can park for 15 Euros a day. However, we will have no access to the car, as they pack them so tight that they put cardboard between the bumpers to avoid dings. I have to tell the attendant the hour I'll be by to claim the car in 3 days.

A word about Rome--wear good walking shoes and carry several bottles of water. The city will sweat a two week cruise off you in two days.

After carrying all our luggage back to the hotel  we walked the 30 minutes+ to the main train station Termini to pick up our Roma passes--our ticket to the subways and all the attractions we planned. The pick up spot hidden in the basement on the far side of the station required us to show passports to pick up our uniquely numbered cards--sounds valuable. The only English sign around was one that warned "if your card gets stolen we won't replace it." This must happen fairly often. So now we're worried someone is going to mug us for the cards. How hard up are the Italians?

We still reached the Coliseum by three. Rome is very easy to navigate--the metro is a big X and Termini is the center. At 9am, you can't shoehorn another human into rail cars and often have to wait for the next car.

The Roma pass enabled us to skip a ridiculous line and walk right in! The ipod audio tour was about two hours long, repeating a lot of info. When we finally walked across to the Forum ruins, no entrance was labeled and several alleys, sidewalks, and staircases were wire-fenced off by the authorities for no apparent reason. Once we finally reached an entrance (by following a guard back from a smoking break), it was after 5:30 and the ruins were closed. We could see people on the other side, enjoying a closeup view, but we couldn't go in. Fortunately, almost everything was visible from the street or Coliseum balcony.

Disappointed, we walked the rest of the ancient Rome plan for that day. Everything was closed except the Pantheon (domed temple of Minerva with the occulus co-opted by the church) and Trevi fountain. The walk through this area was quite pleasant, even though the fountain was packed. Since the nearest Metro stop was another 15 minutes+ away, we stopped to eat, rest, and potty at a burger and gelato place. They made an ice cream dish with crepes and Nutella that tasted sinfully good.

I'll skip ahead to the last ancient site on day three--the Diocletian Baths. We skipped the ones at Bath, England, figuring the ones in Rome would be better. (buzzer) Wrong. We had to walk 30 minutes from the Borghese Gallery park to the site, and when we arrived no one could tell us where it was. The road it sits on is named for this site, for goodness sake. We had the right mega-city-block, but had to walk 3/4 the way around and past an unmanned guard shack to get into the museum. Once inside the museum, we wandered for another 10 minutes. The docent thought we wanted the toilets. The actual baths have not been preserved or made into exhibits. There is one video in the corner in Italian about rebuilding the roof, and the rest is a MODERN ART GALLERY. We felt robbed and went back to the Vatican post office to send postcards instead.

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