Monday, April 30, 2012

Florence...

We took the train from Rome to Florence this morning.

It was a Surprisingly fast trip. We got there in little over an hour and twenty minutes.

We're staying at the very unique UNA Hotel.

Here's our door.


Here's our room.






Here's our closet.



Here's our bathroom.






Very fun and unique.

We headed to the historical center to see some of the sites.

Florence and Rome are very different. Florence has almost a medieval feel.

The churches and buildings are really beautiful and ornate.



We stopped at one of the street market shops so Jeannie could get some marzipan. I got the cannoli.



We went into the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore. It's the church with the magnificent Duomo.



We saw the underneath of the Duomo today.



Hopefully, we'll see more of the top of it tomorrow.



We walked around for a few hours and took in all the piazza's and buildings and statues.





It's a treat to see another side of Italy.

Tomorrow is Italy's Labor Day. It's a bit sketchy as to what will be open and what will be closed. No one can tell us for sure

We'll just have to wait and see. The most important part is that we both have to get some sleep. We're staying up way too late, getting up way too early and walking around way too much. 5 days into our vacation and we're both bushed!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rome, Day 4...

Much quieter, more relaxed day in Rome on Sunday.

We slept in a bit and missed breakfast.  Sounds like a tragic error, seeing how much I've trumpeted the breakfast here, but I missed breakfast on purpose.  I don't like running with anything in my stomach.

I planned all along to do a nice, big run on Sunday.  The location where my run would take place?

Circus Maximus.  The site where all the chariot races took place!

Although, it doesn't look like that anymore.

In fact, before we went to the track, I saw this photo and thought it still looked pretty decent.
Well, little did I know, that picture was taken in 1979.  Here's a photo of what it looked like in 2005
Worse, certainly, but not terrible.

Today, it looks like this.
Not good.  To make matters worse, the dirt paths have been replaced with gravel.  Some parts are dirt.  Most of it's gravel.  Such a shame.

I almost turned away and did my run somewhere else.  But, Jeannie had decided to come along and she said, "Don't you want to run where the Chariot's raced?"

She was right, that was the whole reason I went there.  The weather was nice and there was a small path around the rocks that was dirt and grass and we did a fun 6 mile run.
 I'm glad we did it.  As I ran, this video of the chariot race in Ben Hur played over and over in my head.

Ben Hur - Chariot Race di andybe29

We ran where the chariots raced.  I think that's pretty cool.  This used to be a stadium where 325,000 people gathered to watch those races.

There are some ruins that are still there at the Circus.  We read signs that look like they may be renovating it soon to it's previous glory.  I hope so.  It's such a cool place.
Afterward, we did a triumphant pass by the nearby colosseum.

Tomorrow, Florence.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Rome, Day 3...

Our third day in Rome wasn't too intense.  Or so we thought.

We got up and had the great hotel breakfast.  Why are we so crazy about it?  Well, here it is.

A green drink, an orange drink, wet scrambled eggs, sausage balls, sweet bacon, buffalo mozzarella, puff roll and gigantic grapes.
Too good.  Seriously, those sausage balls and bacon are like nothing I've ever had.
Our hotel is close to everything, so we strolled over to the Colosseum.
Once again, because I bought our tickets ahead of time on the internet, we were able to skip the lines.  I can't impress enough that if you go to Rome, buy your tickets ahead of time or go in a tour group.  At 10am, there were about 3000 people in line to get into the Colosseum.  Their wait time to get in was 3 hours!  We breezed to the front of the line and walked in in less than 4 minutes.

The Colosseum is amazing.  It's my favorite thing that I've seen.
 
 
 I knew it would be my favorite.  I've always been very intrigued and fascinated by it.
It was built in 79 AD.  79 AD!!!

So amazing.
Now, here's a nerdy confession.  Rance Rizzutto introduced me to a game called Assassin's Creed.  The game is an historical assassin game set in Rome and Florence in the late 1400's.  In the game, you climb and jump all over the city.  I took this photo of me climbing the Colosseum so I could send it to Rance.
Throughout our trip, every time we see a new historical building, I say to Jeannie, "Man, I've climbed that building so many times."  Embarrassing.  But, fun.

After the Colosseum, we skipped the lines once again and walked into the Palatine and Roman Forum. 

Loved it.  Loved walking the same roads as Julius Caesar, Caesar Agustus and all the Second Roman Triumvirate.  
Saw where Julius Caesar's palace and temple were located as well as the site where he was cremated after his assassination.  Saw the temples and the palace for the vestal virgins, as well as the arches and the house of the senate.

It was all so cool.
After spending 4 hours walking through ruins, Jeannie was drained.  She was done with it all about 90 minutes in.  She did enjoy the gardens though.  She liked this one because she thought it looked like the maze from The Shining.

I decided to try to see something that she might think as fun, so we headed off to the Mouth of Truth.  It's the site of the famous scene in Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck, where he pretends his hand gets eaten off.
We took this photo for Becca, because Becca was not a fan of the movie.  It made us happy to take the photo because the grumpy attendant who took it for us, laughed really hard when we posed.  

Once we got back to the center of the city, we stopped to eat.  I found a place that looked like they had exceptional pizza and we ate there.  
It was exceptional.  Jeannie thought it had an "old world flavor" and put it in the top 10 pizza's she's ever eaten in her life.

The main reason we came into that area though, was because this place was said to be the best gelateria in Rome.  It's called della Palma and they have over 100 flavors of gelato.
It was phenomenal.
Jeannie thought it was the best she's ever had in her whole life.

To backtrack a bit.  We sat outside, next to this church for our late lunch.  
It was a really nice atmosphere. This woman, sitting next to me, smoked 6 cigarette's in 45 minutes.  She was at a table with 5 other people.  There was never any point that one of them wasn't smoking.  In 45 minutes, they all smoked around 40 cigarettes.  Ah, Europe.
Rejuvenated, we trudged over to the Spanish Steps.  
In all the photos I've seen of the Spanish Steps, they never had any flowers planted there.  It was a nice surprise.
The Spanish Steps, Condotti Street and the Trevi Fountain were absolutely packed today.  The weather was outstanding and it was about 85 degrees.  There were people everywhere.  It was wall to wall people for a solid 3 miles.  

We got back to our hotel with our left over pizza and plan on spending the rest of the evening relaxing.  We were on our feet walking for a solid 14 hours.  Rome has worn us out.

Tomorrow, ...well, I don't know what we're doing tomorrow.  We've seen all the major sites and stumbled across all the places I'd planned for us to visit tomorrow.  So, tomorrow might be spent shopping and wandering.  I'm going to do a long run tomorrow, but that's it.

If you have any suggestions of things to do that we haven't done yet, feel free to suggest them.  If you have any restaurant recommendations, feel free to throw those at us as well!