I have always enjoyed traveling, even if it meant sleeping in a tent when I was younger. I prefer hotels and cruise cabins now, but the motivation is the same...an adventure waiting to happen. Sometimes you will find me traveling with my husband and/or family. Sometimes I will travel alone, and sometimes I will travel with friends. I hope you find it entertaining to keep up to date with me as I explore the world around me. Warning...I like to take pictures of food so don't read if you're hungry. More adventures await...see ya soon...Amy.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Second Day in Rome

Terme di Diocleziano (Baths of Diocletian)

the baths are now the Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli

The only feature of Michelangelo's project to have survived all of the additions and renovations on this building were the ceilings.

love the little tiny cars

Trevi Fountain

The Spanish Steps

mosaics in the metro station

Our traveling companions needed some time to catch up on their sleep this morning so Danny and I spent the first part of the morning touring the Terme di Diocleziano (Baths of Diocletian) which is the largest thermal bath complex ever built in Rome. In it's glory days, it could accommodate up to 3000 people at one time. It was composed of a series of spacious rooms containing a cold bath, lukewarm bath, and hot bath as well as a gym, libraries and a huge swimming pool. The baths remained in use until the siege of Rome in 537 A.D. when the Ostrogoth king had the aqueducts cut off that supplied the water. The frigidarium  (cold water bath) has been transformed into the very large and beautiful Basilica Santa Maria degli Angeli which is where we spent our time for awhile this morning. The transformation of this part of the bath to a church was designed by Michelangelo and was his last architectural work. We came back to the hotel around 10 and collected the Howards and took them to Trevi Fountain to throw in their coins and also to the Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna). The steps date back to 1726 and lead up to the church of Trinita dei Monti which was founded by the French in 1495. Because we were so high up, we could see out over the roof tops of Rome with a beautiful view. We took the subway back to the hotel to get the Lensings and go to lunch. We didn't have a set place for lunch and randomly picked a place while we were walking that turned out to be terrible. They had a pasta special, and three of us got the pasta with Bolognese sauce and three of us got the Pasta Carbonara. Danny said the pasta with meat sauce tasted like Ragu and I noticed that the Carbonara was curdled in all three dishes and didn't taste like any of the Carbonara I had eaten on this entire trip and I've eaten it three times. Not a good experience! Danny and I wanted to see a church we had missed the first day we arrived and our companions agreed that they wanted to see it as well. We started walking and came across the Santa Maria Maggiore which is a truly majestic church with the highest campanile (bell tower) in Rome. As the largest Catholic Marion church in Rome, it is considered one of Rome's greatest marvels, or so our book said, so we opted to go inside. This was not our destination, but a beautiful stop along the way. Within this church is a container that supposedly contains a relic of the manger of the Nativity of Jesus. We left there and continued on to San Pietro in Vincoli church which is said to contain the chains that bound Peter in prison in Jerusalem. This was our original destination and when we arrived, we discovered that the church was closed until 3 and it was 2. Danny and I opted to stay and the others walked back to the hotel. Danny and I sat down and had a cappuccino decaffeinato at the cutest little cafe and then went back to the church. We were so glad we waited for it to reopen because it was stunningly beautiful. We have decided that the Italians have beat the French in the decoration inside their churches. This church also holds Michelangelo's Moses (1516) and we did see the chains in their special glass box. We took the metro back to the hotel in plenty of time to change our clothes, freshen up and hail a cab to meet with our tour guide for our tasting tour in Trastevere (a neighborhood of Rome). Our tour guide's name was Bo and she was from Virginia but has lived in Italy for 8 years. We started our tour at Da Enzo Al with Prosecco, Proscuitto, Cantaloupe and Burato, a type of mozzarella cheese. We then walked to a very very old wine cellar underneath the oldest Jewish Synagogue in the world named Spirito di Vino. We tasted a delicious red wine and appetizers. From there we walked to Innocenti which is a cookie factory that makes the most delicious cookies that I have eaten in Italy. I don't know if it's because they were fresh or not, but they were fantastic. From there we went to Antica Caciara for a taste of Truffle cheese, Mortadella, and Hungarian Salami. We walked to La Renella and stepped behind the scenes to see the baking of the bread in a very old oven. We had a taste of their Pizza Rossa which is pizza crust with tomato sauce. We had the opportunity to see the Farmacia Santa Maria della Scala, a very old pharmacy (apothecary) from 1597 that was closed up in the 70's with everything still on the shelf. It was once a pharmacy to the 17th Century Papal court. It is adjacent to the Santa Maria della Scala church and is still run by Carmelite monks today. We weren't able to take pictures in this place, but just imagine a Harry Potter type of experience. Everything is exactly as it looked in the 70's, dust and all. It was really a neat thing to see. As if we weren't already a little full, we went to dinner at Checco. Dinner was three different pasta dishes and fried zucchini flowers. I like fried zucchini flowers, but this one was stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies. My first bite had a chunk of anchovies and nothing I ate after that could get that fishy taste out of my mouth. So I can't say that I enjoyed that part of the tour at all. After that we went to the Fatamorgana Gelateria where we were instructed on how to know if you are eating authentic Gelato. We learned that 85% of the gelato in Rome is made from a powdered mix.. Here are some clues to know if it's a powdered mix. If it's all piled up in a mound, it's a mix. If it's flat in the container, it's not a mix. If the color of gelato is not a natural color it's a mix. For example, yellow banana or bright green pistachio, green mint or a weird flavor like blue smurf, it's a mix. Good gelato has intensity in it's flavors as well. It is also the law that you are to receive two scoops as a minimum when you order and it is also a law that you are to receive whipped cream if you would like it. So far, we haven't been offered any whipped cream and thought two scoops was just an option, so I guess you have to be in the know on that one. We said goodbye to Bo and hailed a cab back to the hotel. Tomorrow is our last day and we girls plan to split from the boys so that we can do a little shopping and looking at stuff.

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