Tag Archives: Rome

Roma e Sorrento (e Napoli)

8 Apr

We made it to Rome, but not on that pre-dawn train. Even so, we arrived early enough in the day to do the ancient city and even found ourselves checking sights off the list that we hadn’t planned to get to until the next day. Rome is so small and convenient/twisty and you’re never really quite sure what direction you’re heading.

I’d been to Rome once before, remember, so I didn’t really take too many photos. There were a few new things for me (like the Bocca della Verita and the Raphael rooms in the Vatican), and of course it’s always more fun to do things with a friend. I also felt a lot less piggy getting a gelato a day when I wasn’t doing it by myself.

Look out, he bites!

After two and a half days in Rome, we were ready to head south for Sorrento. More train troubles meant we didn’t arrive to the area of our hostel until about 10:30 at night, and we probably wouldn’t have found it at all if it had not been for an older Italian man who was friends with the owner and offered to give us a lift up an incredible hill.

The view from Casale Antonietta in Sorrento

We were a little travel-weary but rallied with a lovely breakfast the next morning and managed to catch a bus headed to Positano, I believe the northernmost town in the Amalfi Coast area.

Mamma mia, what a cute little town! Our friend Kera had recommended we visit it, and I’d say it was easily one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was so nice to be by the sea, and since it was still low season, there wasn’t any competition for space on the sand-rocks. The half-day we spent there was just enough time to relax and recuperate.

Those are some sorry winter feet if I've ever seen some.

The next day was spent in Pompei, and my iPod had just enough battery left for Rick Steves to guide us around the town. Obnoxiously, at 11 a.m. they were out of English maps and booklets, so once Rick Steves was finished, we tried to piece together what information we could from the Spanish (Noel) and Italian (me!) guides.

Pompei definitely came with a few mind-blowing moments. I think top among them was the fast-food industry that was established in the city. Marble countertops with holes for pots of hot food and cool wine; tracks in the doorsill for an accordion-style sliding door; grooves in the sidewalk for attaching an awning. Mind. Blown.

This seems like a nice place to discuss how darn easy it was to get around down south without a car. In the Napoli train station we switched to the Circumvesuviana line, which is somewhere between a regular train system and a light rail system. Ticket prices are reasonable and trains run twice an hour between Napoli and Sorrento, the two terminal stations, and stop everywhere I can imagine a tourist wanting to visit, including Pompei and Erculean (another Vesuvius-preserved town). The staff at the Sorrento station had perfect English and helped us with the bus system, for getting to both our hostel and Positano.

Downtown Sorrento, too darn cute

Anyway, I really liked every part of the Sorrento leg of our journey and am happy I’ll get another chance to visit it again in May. We had a brief time in Napoli before we got on the train back to Bologna. Poor Napoli. It was a bit drizzly (the only bad weather we had on the whole trip), we were carrying all of our stuff and a bit paranoid because the first thing most people say about Napoli is how sketchy it is, and we didn’t even get to eat at the amazing pizzeria because the crowd in front of it was just too darn big. Napoli, I’m sure you’ve got a lot to offer, but you kind of reminded me of a developing country.

Ahh one more thing I need to write down so I don’t forget it. On the train back to Bologna we were in a compartment with the most charming Italian kid I’ve met and her grandmother. The 7-year-old had no DS, PSP, iPod, cellphone–niente–and yet she managed to stay well-behaved and not at all annoying the entire eight-hour journey. About halfway through the trip, her curiosity was enough that she started chatting with us, and in my very broken Italian and with the assistance of a 20something with less-broken English, we shared our story. And then I pulled out Noel’s sudoku book and the girl sat right next to me and wanted to know how to play. One of the other passengers knew the game and explained the basic rules in Italian, but then I was left to try to explain strategy in Italian. Oi. But she got it!

Roman Holiday

18 Oct

When I got back from Rome and had a half-second to look at Facebook, I wanted to write a little one liner about my trip, and I was sort of stumped. Though I’d had an enjoyable time, I’d tried to catch an earlier train home than I’d anticipated: I was done about five hours earlier than I thought I’d be.

And you can’t just write: Valerie Tidwell enjoyed Rome. That’s not nearly exciting enough for the heart of one of the world’s original empires. Facebook offers little room for details about traveling on my own for the first time or being thrust into such a tourist mecca and everything that comes with that.

Rome was everything I expected it to be.

I was there to do the tourist thing: the Colosseum, the Forum, Vatican City, etc. Going alone meant I made a few careless mistakes like not noting English tours only run on the weekend and backtracking across town to make it to a tour that wasn’t being offered.

Early morning shadows stretch across the Colloseum

The Forum

Hail Caesar, and bring him flowers!

Remus and Romulus with the she-wolf

Fountain from the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona. Closest is the Nile, whose head is veiled because they didn't know the source of the river.

The crowds at the Trevi Fountain

On the whole, traveling by myself was OK. I got to be in charge of the money, the guide book, and the map; I got to decide what I wanted to eat and when. Sure, there aren’t as many pictures with me in them on the first day, but how many of those do I really need?

I did meet another solo traveler at my hostel that first evening, and she and I paired up for the second day.

The Vatican Basilica

It's hard to see, but this is a map of Bologna in the Hall of Maps in the Vatican Museum. Even the iconic Due Torres were painted in.

I’d like to go back to Rome. I didn’t get to see any museums except those in the Vatican, and I somehow missed the Raphael rooms there. Since my hostel was a far walk from most of the touristy stuff and I was trying to avoid too much walking around at night, I didn’t get to see anything lit up. Also, I’d like to go around and recreate images of Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in “Roman Holiday,” possibly in period clothing. Colin doesn’t know this yet.

Recovery

15 Oct

Perhaps somewhat foolishly, I decided to go to Rome for a few days without fully recovering from my trip to Siena. Oh, poor Valerie, too much traveling around Italy? I know, but it’s true. I had the rough night in Florence and only a couple days before I was getting on another 5:15 a.m. train to do a full day of sight-seeing.

Anyhow, I’m back. Pictures and stories tomorrow, or maybe even later tonight.