Monday, June 25, 2012

Rome Day 5 & Trip to Florence

By Leo Babauta

June 24, 2012

Today was a transition day -- we checked out of our apartment in Rome and took a train to Florence, moving into a new apartment. But that doesn't mean it was without its charms -- we had some fun on our last morning in Rome.

Eva and I started our day at a café a couple blocks from our apartment -- Rome seems very sleepy on Sunday mornings. We had cappucinos as usual, and used the café's wifi to check email and the like. Eva wrote a blog post and I published it along with some photos. We brought pastries back for the kids.

We packed and then headed out, saying goodbye to our charming apartment and the lovely Piazza Navona. We took a cab to our last sightseeing stop, Santa Maria Maggiore -- an amazing church built in the 5th century as a tribute to the Virgin Mary, after the Patriach of Constantinople claimed that Mary wasn't the mother of Jesus. The church is breathtaking -- huge, beautiful from the outside, but it's the inside that floors you. The ceiling is covered in ornate gold patterns, the walls have gorgeous mosaics that date back to the 400s, and there are statues everywhere. The church was filled with the smell and smoke of incense, as a mass was being held while we entered. Eva, btw, had to cover up as she was wearing shorts and a tank top -- she put on pants and a sweater to look decent enough to enter the church.

After spending a bit of time at the church, we walked around the neighborhood nearby, and settled on a small place called Non c'è trippa pè gatti. They didn't speak much English, but we got by OK (I've been trying to learn some basic Italian phrases -- molto bene!). The meal was one of the best we've had in Rome! There was spinach ravioli, penne with gorgonzola, pizza margherita, mushroom calzone, some tomato-based pasta, and one of the best bottles of wine we've had in Italy. Yum!

We then rushed to the Termini train station, but had to wait in line to validate our Eurail passes, and missed our train! Luckily we were able to get tickets for the next train, which was just 30 minutes later. The train was very, very nice -- there were stewardesses that brought drinks (complimentary wine!), and Internet and plush seats and tables. The ride was extremely smooth, and took just 90 minutes.

At the Florence station, I had a hard time using the phone to call the landlord, but a nice Italian gentleman helped me by dialing the number on his cell phone. Finally we took cabs to the apartment, where we waited a bit, but it was worth the wait. We're on the 3rd floor with a spacious, beautiful apartment with two bathrooms, lots of bed space, a big kitchen, a washer, Internet. Ahh. So nice.

We took a ridiculously long nap -- fell asleep at 5 pm, didn't wake until almost 11 pm! I woke Justin & Rain up and we went out on the town to watch Italy finish its soccer (football) game against England in the Euro 2012 quarterfinals. It was so much fun to watch the game in a public square with really enthusiastic fans cheering every play. Someone nearby was playing a booming loud drum everytime something good happened, and after Italy won the match on a penalty shootout, some of the Italian fans broke into singing and chanting.

The streets were filled with people roaming about in the middle of the night. Eva and the kids continued to sleep until early in the morning, and we skipped dinner. Florence is absolutely fantastic (the part I've seen so far) and I can't wait to explore more of it by foot.

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