Chianti Countryside
We arrived in Rome on Sunday, April 1st after taking the train into the city and the subway across town. We only
started looking for accommodations a few days ago while we were in Chefchaouen, Morocco. For awhile, it looked like
we would not be able to find anything in the city, as it was the week before Easter. Luckily, came
through again. We rented a small studio in a neighborhood of Rome called Monti. The studio is very small, but has a
kitchenette, tiny fridge, and most important, an espresso maker. I can definitely live here for a week!
Beautiful Rome
We noticed a small open area surrounded by cafes with a
fountain in the middle during our walk from the subway to our
studio. We headed back in that direction to find some late
night food. Come to find out, these open areas surrounded by
cafes with fountains in the middle are called piazzas, and are
all over Rome (and Italy). Most of the ones in Rome are not so
little, but Piazza Madonna de Monti, located 15 feet from our
front door, was definitely on the quaint side. We walked into
the first open restaurant we saw with their lights still on.
Surprise, surprise-- a pizzeria. Ravenous by this point, we
selected the pizza napoli and a 1/2 liter of house wine. Both
excellent choices, although when ordering I had no idea pizza
napoli would have sardines. Very tasty! The wine was also
very tasty, and cheap too. In hindsight, I'm not sure if it was
the quality of the wine or the fact that this was our first drink
since leaving France two weeks ago. Having a predominantly
Islamic population, we did not come across the opportunity to
Erin's first (of many) Italian gelatos, in front of the
Piazza Madonna de Monti fountain
buy or order a drink the whole time we were in Morocco (that's 11 days for those of you wondering). The wine
went down so smoothly that we were soon on to our second 1/2 liter. You get the picture from there. In addition to
the wine, we were giddy with the atmosphere surrounding us. Imagine the sound of a fountain trickling in the
background, conversations in the beautiful language of Italian taking place around you, and the sight of locals
bringing their weekend to a close across the piazza--taking their dog for the last walk of the day, making a
late-night gelato run, meeting a friend on one of the many benches surrounding the fountain to catch up on the
weekend gossip. It was one of those moments you take a mental snapshot of.
Somehow or another, we get into a conversation with three girls sitting across the cafe from us. They were all from
Long Island and about our age. Two were special ed teachers and the third was an assistant principal. We shot
the breeze for awhile and then walked with them back toward our apartment. This was their first full day in Rome,
so naturally we asked them what they did, what they saw, where they ate, what they liked. Somewhere in the
description of their day's events they mentioned they went to the Colosseum. Being one of the top Rome sights on
Jarrod's list, we asked how close it was. They tell us it is super close, just right down our street from our studio. In
fact, they say, you can see it from the front door of your apartment. We round the corner and are met with the
sight of the monumental Colosseum illuminated at the end of our street. Literally, it is less than three football fields
away. The side with the original marble faces us, and our street appears to disappear into one of the lower arches
of the Colosseum. The first sight of this colossal building will give you chills. After all, you grow up seeing it in every
history book, and who hasn't seen "Gladiator"? We immediately decided that seeing it up close and personal would
be the first thing on the schedule tomorrow.
The next morning we return to Piazza Madonna de Monti for a
cappuccino and pastry at a cafe before setting out to see the
Colosseum. Little bit of Italian insight for you. Cappuccino is only
consumed in the morning in Italy, never at night after dinner as is
popular practice in the States. Also, ordering and drinking your espresso
or cappuccino at the bar is much cheaper than sitting down at a table.
You will see that the majority of locals congregate at the espresso bar in
a cafe in the mornings, sipping their espresso and nibbling their favorite
pastry. After one bite, Jarrod and I developed a favorite pastry of our
own. The most perfect chocolate croissant! Flaky, buttery pastry shell
with a rich, dark ribbon of chocolate evenly dispersed throughout the
entire croissant so that each bite delivers an equal amount of chocolate
to our awaiting mouth. Not like some chocolate croissants that have the
chocolate squirted in as an afterthought, leaving one side of the pastry
overloaded with a gob of chocolate and the other without a scant trace
of the stuff. It was a great start to our first full day in Rome.
I was not prepared for the effect seeing
the Colosseum in its full glory would have
on me. It is unbelievable that a structure
of that size was built almost 2,000 years
ago and still stands today. Granted, a
good portion of it has been renovated,
reinforced, or recreated, but there is
enough of the original structure remaining
to give you a very clear idea what is must
have looked like sitting below Palatine Hill
in ancient Rome.
I won't bore you with my impressions of
all the other historical sights in Rome, and
believe me; you can't turn a corner
without stumbling upon a statue, church,
building, or piece of art that has some
historical significance. Not being a history
buff myself, I was shocked at the amount
of enjoyment I was getting from seeing
these things. Of course, when I had my fill
of churches, ruins and art, there was
always a wine bar, trattoria, or gelato
stand nearby, beckoning me in for a
The mighty Colosseum
Jarrod on his way to becoming a coffee