Living in Vegas for a number of years, I always had a hard time understanding demolition of great buildings just to make room for new ostentatious ones. (i.e. implosion of the Hacienda which I witnessed from the Tropicana, where I worked, on NYE 1996; later came Luxor on this property). Visiting Rome, certainly reaffirms the value of salvaging our history in architecture. It is easy to see pictures online, in print or on the big screen of the iconic tourist sites in this beautiful old city but until your eyes fall on these spectacular representations of ancient life in person there is no way to imagine the “awesome” they evoke.
Arriving at Termini, the main transportation station in downtown Rome, we exited the train and made our way to Hotel Luce, an extremely easy walk even pulling a couple roller bags each. Check in was smooth and easy and the front desk clerk was courteous in standoffish Italian style. We knew this 4 star accommodation was under 200 square feet as are all of the rooms we booked for this introductory Europe Spring Fling, but wow we didn’t imagine how tight the quarters would be! The room was clean, the water was hot (although my honey could barely fit in the stall), the included breakfast provided a hearty start to the day and we were a stones throw to the edge of the Old City so we were satisfied. Not thrilled exactly, but with the Euro exchange and the cost of goods we were definitely pleased with the pricing we had found via Hotwire for this lodging. We headed out as soon as we had done a little settling in. Our bellies were grumbling and just a block over from Via Magenta we found Capitello Ristorante. We strode past it after glancing at the menu as the man at the door commented “Come in, is very good.” After perusing a few more spots we felt something pull us back to this location and even as we wrapped up our Roma time we found this spot to be on the favorites list. Walking down a short set of steps, we saw the below street level dining room open up warmly before us. Traditional small, intimate, cloth covered tables allowed for about 28 patrons. Bottles of assorted Italian wines lined the brick shelf that was naturally formed by the infrastructure of the building as the decor. A DCOG Barbera caught my honey’s eye and we were off on part of the adventure of this trip that was significant to the plan, simply to discover old vine wines in their country of origin. We ordered an antipasti plate to start and were thoroughly impressed by the cured meats and cheese offered in this starter. As is the case with many restaurants throughout the eternal city, this spot offered a combo. It was priced reasonably at 13€. We opted for the spaghetti with tomato sauce and veal saltimboca and a pizza fromaggio with a plan to share these plates. We were thoroughly satisfied both with the taste bud explosion and the care and attention provided by our server. After, we opted out of dolce (dessert) and instead decided to walk off our mid-afternoon gorging after dropping off our leftover slices to our room.
Familiarity with our immediate surroundings was our goal. The streets were lively with hawkers, shops and cafes and then suddenly we were in the midst of a park adjacent to the Egyptian cultural center. I want to mention now that I have been using the Google translator app and I am thoroughly pleased with the ease of use. I simply snapped a shot of the sign on the side of this building and was able to be provided the information behind the words I could not read. I can also plug in the words or speak them in to the microphone to translate to or from any language I wish. I can also hear an appropriate pronunciation with a simple tap on the megaphone symbol. It has served me well. The park was alive with the sounds of children excited by the advent of Spring. We were enthralled with the environment of a new society. As we made our way on past the park fountain, we came upon a game of soccer being played by young men in their 20’s. Just as I jumped my way quickly past their play, I spotted before me an unexpected site. Just this easily we emerged onto a sidewalk that gave us our first view of one of this ancient city’s greatest landmarks, the Colosseum. Continuing down the walkway our visual became greater and I was simply in awe. We made our way to a bridged walkway that gave us a view of this wonder and the adjoining Forum. I felt as if I needed to pinch myself. No amount of internet research I had done prepared me for the beauty of the A.D. structure remains or the architecture of the dated buildings we passed. As we meandered back a different path to call it a day and seek some rest to prepare ourselves for the week of discovery before us we stopped at a Coop grocery to buy some fruit and water for our room which did have a frig by the way.