“Rome wasn’t built in a day” and now I know why!!
I finally arrived in Rome – and today Natalie joins me! After a long day of travel for me getting to Rome, to my airbnb, then to the airport to meet Natalie who flew in via Boston and Coppenhagen, we hopped on a train headed to dinner with two Opera Stars! As we are riding the train, admiring the beautiful countryside, an amazing castle on the hill overlooking a lake – a LAKE? There wasn’t a lake on the map when I mapped the trip to the Opera Stars house! The train we were on did not stop at the stop we needed to get off on!! We jumped off at the next stop only to find the only train heading back to Rome was an hour later – and we had missed our dinner. Heartbroken, I emailed the Opera Stars my apologies, only to receive an email offering to cook us lunch the next day! Bonus – we had gotten to see the amazing views and still have our meal! After our long train ride back to town, we were looking for anywhere to get food, and happened on this little cafe that was still open. We had the most delicious pasta and desserts – so went to bed happy!
The next morning, up early, out the door for a full day of sight-seeing! We had our lunch with the Opera Stars, tickets to view the Sistine Chapel! Grabbed a croissant and coffee – rounded the corner to the metro station – STRIKE!! ROME WASN’T BUILT IN A DAY BECAUSE THEY GO ON STRIKE!!! For the first time on my trip, I literally wanted to cry. I was stuck in the amazing city (which is so spread out that it’s difficult to walk it) and couldn’t go anywhere! The Italian barrista said ‘It’s Rome – we never know how long the strike is”! Again, I emailed the Opera Stars, and again, I get a response with stations and routes of trains that aren’t on strike! We’re off – we still can make our day happen!
Lunch with opera costume designer and artist Fabrizio Onali, opera director Otello Camponeschi and their college student niece Giulia Palmisani was the BEST – DAY – EVER! They invited us into their stunning apartment/studio for a lunch of local cuisine prepared with love! Fabrizio and Otello speak NO English, so Giulia translates for them. You can tell they love life and love sharing life! And not speaking the language did not keep them from asking us our views on religion, politics, cultural events or about our travels! We truly made friends for life!
Sad to have to leave our new friends, but excited to see Rome, we took the train, then walked 3 miles to tour the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. I will say it wasn’t as I had pictured in my mind – actually very small – but there it was – the Creation of Adam!
Generally I take it easy on travel days – but I still had more of Rome to see! I sat up late mapping all the options out in case the strike continued, but luckily they decided to work on Friday! Out early to Roma Centrale train station, left our luggage at the luggage drop, and off to see the Colesseum. It’s such a grande structure, but the history of it made it hard for me to enjoy. We walked through the Roman Forum, the Ruins, making our way to a hidden gem that our Opera Stars had told us about: San Piedro in Vincoli. It’s a small cathedral not far from the Colesseum that is home to Michelangelo’s statue of Moses. It’s free – there are no lines – you can simply sit and admire his work without the crowds!
Another 2 miles of walking brought us to the Trevi Fountain. Rome – I give up! The fountain was not running as they were cleaning it! It was still beautiful – but we just had to sit and laugh that maybe this was our invitation to come back to Rome some day!
Back to the train station, a fast train to Napoli Centrale, panic at not finding the ferry port, a ferry ride – and we land in BEAUTIFUL Ischia Island! We ride a bus up the hill and are met by the mother of our host – and she speaks no English! After getting settled in our apartment, we walk to a little restaurant down the hill, have a wonderful dinner of melon and prosciutto and fried anchovies. Watching the sunset – I’m ready for a few days of relaxation – and know I’m in the best place for that!