Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 53: Rome (Nov 8)

Today was a walking tour I put together mainly out of geographic closeness and bits & pieces of Rick’s various tours in the northern part of Rome. It was also day 2 of the Roma Pass and we hit 2 museums on the list.

We got off the metro at the Barberini stop, where we passed the Piazza Barberini on the way to the Cappuccin Crypt (which was a little hard to find at the time due to road construction). The Crypt (no photos allowed, but if you have someone blocking the view of the docents you can sneak one or two with no flash) contains the bones of thousands of monks, arranged artistically. It’s fascinating and creepy at the same time. We really only had time for one crypt and this one was closer than the various Catacombs (San Sebastiano, San Callisto, and Priscilla).

A couple blocks away is the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, which has a Bernini statue of St Teresa. Not sure I would have made a special stop for it, but it was along the route and it’s a Renaissance masterpiece by the guy who did the Extreme Makeover: Rome Edition.

We had lunch at the nearby Repubblica Piazza, where you can find the entrance to the Baths of Diocletian. In the interests of time, we skipped this although it’s supposed to be an impressive tour. Instead, a block further on down towards the Termini train station we went to the National Museum of Rome. I love museums and this is the best one in town on over 400 years of ancient Rome, in particular sculpture and statues. Took us a little more than 2 hours to see. The Termini station was undergoing major renovations as part of building a 3rd line, so navigating it took longer than normal, but we went to the Colosseo stop and then walked up to the Capitoline Museum, at the northern end of the Roman Forum and behind the Victor Emmanuel monument, in the Michelangelo plaza at the top of the hill. We chose to do this one last because it’s open later, until around 8pm (most others close at 5 or 6). Rick’s Rome book has a lot of info on what’s inside so I don’t need to repeat that, but one of the coolest things was being at a courtyard that overlooks the Forum, which is lit up with halogen spotlights at night.

For dinner, we first crowdsourced recommendations for gelato, and Gelarmony was the highest rated one. There are two of them, one not very convenient and one that’s just two blocks south of the Lepanto station (which was nice, because that was already in the direction we needed to go back to the house) on Via Marcantonio Colonna. We found a seafood restaurant for dinner named Grotta Azzurro (the Blue Grotto) about 3-4 blocks further down. Basically, it was convenient and my dad liked the menu, but we were really in the area for gelato.

(Originally published 5/13/14 at 8:45pm, Houston)

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