Day 1: Arriving in Rome – 9/30/2012
We arrived in Rome on September 30th after a very long overnight flight from NYC. We were supposed to have a seven hour layover in New York, long enough to leave the airport, but our flight was delayed from Denver just long enough that we couldn’t risk leaving the airport and missing our flight to Rome so we had a lovely dinner in the JFK airport and tried to sleep on the plane to Rome.
Now, I had some thoughts about how Rome would be before we arrived and I was anxious to get to know the city and see which of my theories about my impressions would pan out. Back in high school, I went to Australia and New Zealand on a month-long trip that took up all the money I had been saving for a car. When I was there, I kept getting struck with the notion that a group of people could be put into a fake plane, “flown” to a destination, and then be driving around say, California, and we wouldn’t even know it – Truman Show style. Silly, I know, but I couldn’t get it out of my head. On the drive in from the airport, Rome felt a little like California and I feared that the city would seem familiar to me. Then we drove to its heart and the colossal ruins jutting out casually from the concrete, glimpsing around street corners, winking in the warm afternoon light, as real as stone and structure can be, made me believe that I was far from home. The flat faced buildings with molding detail painted a canary yellow or a pinkish beige with green plants spilling out over balconies overlooking the narrow cobble stoned streets, the sweet smell of rain on the air, all combined with the magnificence of the statues and fountains and ruins of the city to give me a feeling of excitement and adventure. We had made it to Rome!
Our first venture was to eat because we were starving! After checking into the hotel, we sat down at a nice chain restaurant La Famiglia and had some good pasta. I’m not going to lie, we’ve had better. Rome’s cuisine was not terribly impressive during our stay. Perhaps that is our fault, but as you’ll see, we really really tried to get off the beaten path in this city. The trouble is, when every area has a noteworthy attraction “off the beaten path” becomes extremely difficult to maneuver.
The rest of our first night in Rome was characterized by a whole lot of rain. We didn’t want to waste a minute of our trip, so we borrowed an umbrella from our hotel and set out. The rain was unlike any other rain I’ve ever been in in my whole life. It never let up, it was steady and warm and rather like standing in a bathroom shower. It was light enough that if you weren’t getting soaked in it you wouldn’t really notice it. But we got pretty soaked sharing an umbrella as we were. Not that smart of us!
We bought our Roma pass and used the metro to get to the Spanish steps. From there, we stopped at Babington’s Tea Rooms and had some tea and cake. We were not that hungry, but I wanted to check the place out as it has been there since 1893 and I was in raptures at anything my characters from the book might have experienced in their time.
The Spanish steps are pretty, but besides walking up and down them, there wasn’t much else to do. We took some pictures and headed off. We walked from there to the Trevi Fountain and saw a wedding party taking pictures. We took some lovely rainy night pictures ourselves and walked around a LOT because we got lost several times. We ended up walking all the way back to the Spanish steps area (probably several times as it was very hard to tell our way around in the dark and the rain) and headed back to our hotel fairly late. That was the whole goal, though, and we avoided jet lag the whole rest of the trip.