Since we did the Vatican thing, I also wanted a to check out the Jewish history in Rome. Just before we headed to Italy, I saw a friend of a friend post on their Facebook page about a tour company called Rome for Jews. This friend highly recommended it, and I was lucky that they had room for us on such short notice. It turned out to be a good day to do this tour because in Italy it was a holiday. Similar to Independence Day, this was a holiday to celebrate when Italy became a Republic. We at least passed by the parade getting set up on our walk over to the Ghetto.
The Ghetto is on the water, and Jewish homes used to line right along the bank of the river, only to be flooded time and time again.
Our tour guide was extremely knowledgable and passionate about the Jewish history here. He told us many stories and accounts of Jewish life here, from many many years ago, to more recently in the time of the Holocaust. This building here is a restaurant now, but many years ago was a synagogue.
As we were walking we got a great aerial show for the holiday. Check it out:
The jets flew by and out came colors like the Italian flag.
This is Jewish Hospital, and a church next door where nuns hid Jews during the Holocaust. There remains a synagogue (a small one) inside the hospital.
We took a walk back over the bridge, and went to see some ruins.
Actually, the ruins are pretty much everywhere so not matter where you go, you will find something old to take a picture of.
Here is a cool fountain. The turtles were added on later. I also think this is the fountain that our guide said was originally supposed to be in a different location, but was placed here instead.
Then we took a walk back to the spot we had passed the day before, and it was at this time that we learned Julius Caesar was killed here.
One thing that was neat about the Jewish area was that you could find kosher restaurants.
We went on a tour of the Jewish Museum, and then also looked at the main synagogue in Rome. Sorry, no pictures were allowed inside.
As we neared the end of our tour, we stopped at one of the many free, clean, public drinking fountains in Rome. There we watched a little kid do something so cool that Ryan said I had to try it out. If you plug up the spout, the water redirects out a little hole and makes a drinking fountain. So neat!
Ryan and I wanted to eat at a kosher dairy restaurant for lunch, so our tour guide recommended this place and joined us for a nice lunch.
I had the mushroom salad and smoked salmon bruschetta.
Ryan and I split the artichoke.
Then Ryan enjoyed a pizza.
After the Jewish tour, we headed back towards the hotel and thought we would check out the Pantheon. Nope, this was closed for the holiday. But we were able to take some pictures outside. On the way I saw this statue with an elephant and took a picture for my friend Mer, although she was in Rome and maybe she saw this for herself. She loves elephants!
So here we are at the Pantheon, standing around with many others trying to reevaluate the days plans that were altered as a result of the holiday.
Quite an impressive building, and so well preserved.
While we regrouped and thought about the options, we stopped for a gelato.
After thinking about it, we decided to try the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Again, we were off by foot.
Here is a statue of the she-wolf from the story of the creation of Rome. The two brothers were orphans and nursed by the she-wolf.
Score! The Forum was open on the holiday.
Or so we thought! It started to rain just as we gave our tickets to go through the gate. We went in but quickly took cover and waited about 20-30 minutes for it to let up so we could venture out, leave, and head back to the hotel. The Forum would have to wait one more day, just like the Pantheon.
We bought some umbrellas a braved the rain. At the hotel we took a suggestion for dinner and tried out this place called Le Grotte.
This place was neat because they offered an antipasto bar filled with many vegetarian treats.
We enjoyed some bread, naturally.
We spotted some cheese on the menu and quickly inquired about one listed as grilled. It almost sounded like the Greek flamed cheese, but we knew it was different. It turned out to be really, really good. It looked like a special kind of cheese that was smooshed in a panini press.
Also delicious here was the flat bread, similar to naan with herbs.
I started off with the antipasto bar. I grabbed a little of most everything.
Ryan had some pasta to start, and for his entree he had some chicken.
I went with pasta for my entree, and I was super stuffed because I really took too much from the veggie bar.
We ended the meal with some coffee.
After paying and sitting a little to digest our food, the server bought us out some limoncello, which is a lemon liquor popular in Italy (we bought some in Florence). What a great way to end a great meal.
Wait!!! No evening is complete in Italy without gelato! Too bad this was a place that really ripped us off and this ice cream you see here cost me 7.50 euro, which is more than $10 US. That is why it is best to find a place where you pay first and not after.
Sadly, I wound up wearing more of the ice cream than eating it. It looked pretty, but the shock of the price (mixed with the giggles from the alcoholic beverages) made it take longer than normal to get to eating the ice cream, and with the heat outside, and some not so frozen ice cream, it just dripped, dripped, dripped and went all over my hands. Never fear, there was still one more day in Rome, and more gelato to be eaten!
QUESTIONS: Have you ever toured a city from a religious point of view? Have you ever visited a Jewish museum on vacation? Do you usually have good weather on vacation? When was the last time you were surprised by the price of something?