We are in Rome for 3 days with our lovely friends George and Eileen.
Eileen is a former work collegue who has become a very dear and valued friend. She has supported me through many family challenges. George is an architect and has worked with us on several home improvement projects. Eileen is also an artist and a phenomenal vegetarian cook. Both she and George offer a different perspective on things that we are seeing and experiencing. Eileen is a great person to talk to, funny, wise and grounded. She is not only an artist but also an excellent executive coach, if ever you should need one.
One of the things I have noticed with people seeing Italy for the first time is their astonishment about experiencing the real thing versus some imitation. My friend Lorraine kept asking is this really real? Are we in Disneyland? To see Rome, the Colosseum, the Forum, the Spanish Steps in the original creates a cognitive dissonance after seeing so many imitations and movies. Most of the important monuments in the acient world have become iconic representations of something other than themselves. Logos of famous things rattle around in our consciousness and it is sometimes difficult to put all of that aside and try to see the classic site without our personal filters. To see the Colosseum in the context of the middle of the crazy city of Rome is in and of itself a trip. It is difficult sometimes to see things without hanging it on a familiar framework or without absorbing it and trying to pretend we own it. Although they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I think it is basically a lack of imagination.
So the first day we were like demon tourists. We stayed at a lovely apartment that we found through City References. http://www.citiesreference.com/ The apartment was located just blocks from the Campo dei fiori, a new location for us. I loved the area. Great walking, restaurants and shops and not too far from the classical sites.
We had an audio guide of the Colosseum, first time I had actually been inside. It is a bit overwhelming with the size of the structure, the size of the crowds, and listening to the bloody history of the place. I was relieved to leave after 2 hours. There is an additional tour of the underground which we didn't take. Maybe next time.
Then a buffet lunch at a roof top garden overlooking the Forum; at the Hotel Forum. I had seen the restaurant several times but had never made my way up there. The view was great, the service was excellent and the food was varied. I had excellent grilled swordfish. Some of the other dishes were a bit bland and typical buffet fare. The price was fair E30 a person for all you could eat, a special lunch deal.
A nap for the Stoic One and me while they made their way to the Pantheon. Later the 4 of us walked to the Spanish Steps, and then through the major shopping area, it reminded us of Southern California and was too boring for us. We headed down to the Trevi fountain, that now has no water as it is under restoration. People were still lined up to drop a coin in the dry fountain and take a photo. Not us. We moved on. Shopped in little small streets, Eileen bought a very unique necklace for a friend and then back to our apartment. Tomorrow we have a food tour of the Campo and the Jewish ghetto.