When in Rome…


We had amazing weather the next day, which was perfect for the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill.  I wish I could say what all of these were, but we tried our hardest with a map and written guide and something were easy to figure out, and others were not.  Then there are some that I just can't remember now what they were.  In general, the Forum was where all the major stuff took place.  Speaking, governing, ruling, socializing.  So from what I gather, this was the spot if you were an Ancient Roman...assuming you were "someone". 

I just love the architecture and knowing that this was build so long ago and that we still study their culture today.

It was so hot out, but much better than the rain the day before.  I took a moment to pose among the ruins.
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It is amazing that some things are really still intact.  Some things were preserved well, but others were destroyed because it was common to just build on top of everything.  Much of these ruins were or still are underground.
I love this picture!
Now we are up in the Palatine Hill area.  The two parts are connected and you buy a ticket for the entrance to both.  There is a lot of walking involved to see these.  We didn't even have enough time to see everything.  Palatine Hill was the location where many Roman rulers made their home.
Here is a picture of me with Ryan.
There were a few of these big arches.
So beautiful!
A current excavation site.
Nice view from up on the hill.  Certainly much more modern than what the Romans would have seen.
Another current dig site.
Garden area, and then a lot of pieces from columns and things that are just laying in the field.
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A view of the Colluseum.
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This is on the Arch of Titus.  The day before we learned about this drawing so I wanted a picture of this.  It is a depiction of the Romans on their way from Jerusalem back to Rome, bringing with them the Jewish slaves and things they picked up when they destroyed the temple.  This was very meaningful as I made this journey as well (in a sense, since I did fly back home to the island in between, and I did not walk) but of course in happier circumstances.  You can see the menorah very clearly.
Then it was off for more walking as we searched out a place to eat lunch.  We did not plan on extra walking, but they were breaking down the stands made for the parade for the holiday the day before, and the road was closed.
Lunch was at L'Archetto, and it had a great little area for eating outside.
I spotted salmon bruschetta again, and although it was not a piece of smoked salmon on top, I was surprised to find it creamy in a salad type of spread with melted cheese on top.  It reminded me of a carb pretzel from Maryland.
Ryan ordered a white pizza (can't you tell it was white!).
Honestly, either was I super hungry, or this was the best pasta dish I have ever had.  This was a creamy sauce, but not too heavy (or really just not too much so that it was dripping), and with lots of olives.  It was so good!
Good thing there was more walking to do after lunch! 

The next stop was back to the Pantheon.  This is an impressive building, not just on the outside (pictured in this post) but in the inside as well.
This was built in the time of Ancient Rome and continues to stand to this day.  I think I remember hearing a guide say this fared so well because it was later used by others as a church.  Therefore they did not destroy it.  I guess if something seems to be of use, it is better to keep it and alter it than to rebuild.  At least that would make sense to me.

The most interesting part is that there is an open hole in the dome.  This is quite an impressive feat in architecture, particularly for that time.  It is the largest unreinforced dome made of concrete.  Amazing that nothing else of this kind was built of this size.
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Here are some shots from inside.  You can see that it now look more like a church.  
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Truly a sight to be seen!

Speaking of things to see...

check this out...
Any ideas?

If you guessed nutella on a cone, you are right (and you might eat too much nutella!).  I have no idea what happened, but in a few gelato places I noticed they had a nutella flavor.  When we went to  Giolitti for an afternoon gelato (so important when in Italy!) I spotted nutella front and center.  I decided to get nutella because it look so good, and dark, and creamy.  All the things you want from your nutella.  Since the server offered to have another flavor, I also took some cookies and cream type of ice cream.  As I started eating I noticed that the nutella was not as cold as my other flavor.  But since it was more on top, it too a few licks to discover this.  But I kept eating.  A few minutes later I came to the realization that I actually was licking straight nutella.  I am not kidding you!  This was actual nutella, not like the other places where it was ice cream.  What had I done!  It was so good!  But it was not melting like the ice cream and the consistency was different, and I really think that it was just nutella.  At the rate I was going I had to call it quits before I ate about a small jar's worth.  I think some people get it and mix with 2 flavors, but I just thought it was a flavor and the guy kept putting more on.  Guess it might have been more like a topping.  It was delicious, but I think I will pass on ever eating nutella on a cone again.

Now, I know you are wondering how I ever managed to make it to dinner.  Well, that is an interesting story too.  We ate at Sugo, which was just done the road.  We picked it, but we knew it seemed more touristy.  They mostly played American pop music.  But we still thought we would give it a try.  They were busy, so it seemed like they were doing something right.

We started with sangria.  It was OK.  Not the best, but not the worst either.  I am guessing the Italian version is a little different anyway.
At least we got some great bread to start.  I was amazed to see so many places in Rome serve bread that resembled pita.
Did you really think we could have had our last real meal in Italy without bruschetta or tomatoes and mozzarella?
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Ryan had some pasta with meat sauce.
Now, this is what really did it for me.  I had a freak out.  I ordered crab risotto.  I was think thinking something other than this would be served.  Then I picked up the shrimp and it seemed to have crab claws (after talking to my sister later we came up with a few options for what the species may have been).  I screamed, just a little.  Tossed it at Ryan, and really just refused to eat it.  It didn't taste good and was not what I was expecting.
Now, don't even ask why I let the server convince me to get the gnocchi.  I think the biggest problem was that I was just not hungry.
Oh well!  We had plenty of other good meals, and at least the starters were enjoyable.  

After the meal we took on last evening stroll in a direction we had not yet been.
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It was a nice and quiet evening sitting in the square, enjoying the weather.  Then on the walk back to the hotel, we discovered there was a concert going on at the Spanish Steps.  We didn't stay for long, but I liked that they had free concerts here.  It is a great location for that.
The next day we were leaving, but not until 3 pm.  We started the day with a walk to the Rome equivalent of Central Park, known as the Vila Borghese.
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We heard a lot of shouting, but in a controlled manner, so we wandered closer.  Turns out there was some type of military graduation ceremony.  Like they all finished their basic training or some kind of schooling.  Not too sure, but that is what it looked like.
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It made for some cool pictures at least.
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We ended the morning with one last view from the top of the Spanish Steps, and then headed on our way to the airport.
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Not sure how we managed to fit one more meal in, but we did eat at the airport before we left.  I had the orcchiette pasta with peas and salmon, and it was surprisingly good.
Oh farewell Italy, and homeward bound to Portugal (by way of Lisbon of course).
No shocker though that I couldn't make it out of the country without one last cannoli! 
I am still unsure of where I found room for the sandwich on the plane, but at least this was just grilled veggies in a wheat bun.
The ending story for the AMAZING trip we had in Italy would be that they changed the flight times, and we ended up with only 45 minutes for a layover.  So, I emailed the airline and they said we would have no problems.  However I did think it might be a problem because once the plane lands you get on a shuttle to Terminal 1, and then have to take another shuttle back to Terminal 2 for a domestic flight.  At least out bags would be checked through, but the connect time was so short.  The good news was that there was an attendant waiting for us as we walked off the plane and he drove us to Terminal 2 and said that we were right on time because the same plane would be taking us to the island.  It just needed to be cleaned up.  So what is the bad news you ask?  Someone took our bags off the plane and did not put them back on...so we did not get our luggage until the next day.

Despite the luggage debacle, Italy was fantastic and the trip was enjoyed immensely.  

QUESTIONS:  Ever been disappointed by a meal because it was not what you were expecting?  Or perhaps pleasantly surprised?  Have you ever mad a connection but your luggage did not?  What is the craziest ice cream flavor or topping you have ever tried?