Buongiorno from Roma! So when I said in that last blog that we were going to get some sleep after writing it, well our body clocks did not agree with us. We have been up since midnight and it is now 9PM Italy time – another long, but excellent day.
The plan for this morning was to leave at 7:30 and grab some breakfast on our walk to our destination, We stopped at a little bakery/cafe and ordered due cornetti e due cappucino…in Italian this time. The coffee was excellent and the croissants were just plain with a bit of sticky sugar on top – yum!
We had pre-purchased our tickets to the Borghese gallery which is where we were headed. It was about a 30 minute walk from our hotel. Beautiful way to see Rome strolling through the streets on a summer morning. We arrived a little early at the gallery so we took a stroll through the park that it sits atop of. It is really green with fountains and paths. Lots of dogs being walked, Italians tend to be very patient with their dogs – We would not tolerate some of that behaviour with Beryl!
The Borghese gallery is enormous – like most buildings in Rome you just don’t expect how big they’ll be until you’re there. It is a big beautiful building with lots of art inside. The bottom floor has sculptures (mostly Bernini) and the top floor has paintings. We bought an audio-tour which you listen to as you look at the different art. Bernini’s sculptures were pretty amazing. We liked the sculpture Apollo & Daphne the most. We did not take photos of the sculptures or the art – no pictures we would take could not be found to be better on google.
Our favourite art, by far was from the artist Caravaggio, particularly his piece “David with the head of Goliath”. We both agreed that this painting and the story behind it is amazing. It is a picture of David with the head of Goliath, but the head depicts Caravaggio. He sent it to the pope as an admission of guilt for a murder he committed prior to being exiled to try and get a pardon. He received the pardon, but died before he learned the good news. He was 37 years old when he died. His art was dark but definitely the most intriguing.
One of other favourite paintings at the Galleria Borghese was Bassano’s depiction of the Last Supper. It shows Christ and his disciples as more ordinary men. The disciples have just been told one of them will betray Christ and the disciples reactions to this are shown. The detail in the painting was amazing and it was cool to see an alternative to Da Vinci’s Last Supper.
After this we did another huge walk to a nice restaurant for lunch that we had reserved when we were in Australia. We went to this walk via the Trevi fountain..which was again, enormous in scale. However, we went at a bad time of day – it was super hot and super crowded. We were in there like sardines. We did the classic throw the coin in the fountain over your left shoulder which legend states “If you throw the coin, you are guaranteed to come back to Rome” – I hope so.
We eventually made it to the restaurant – this restaurant is called Piperno and it is located in the Jewish Ghetto neighbourhood of Rome. We were sweaty and underdressed for this nice restaurant ha! We ordered their famous Roman style fried artichoke. It was strange because we had never had artichoke before but the texture was nice – kind of like cabbage?
Aimee ordered a secondo (main course – usually meat) Saltimbocca which was some veal with prosciutto and sage leaves. Ronnie ordered a primo (course prior to main) which was a cheesy gnocchi which was cooked so excellently. It was so creamy and cheesy and the gnocchi was soft and perfectly cooked. Bellissimo! We had a couple of contourno (sides) of spinach and potato chips.
All the time whilst eating this was had a bottle of red wine go to with it. I (Ronnie) got very drunk, very quickly. The wine was delicious but I was tired and exhausted so it hit me hard. I was using all of the Italian words I know “Molto Bene!” (very good) “Io umbriaco” (I’m drunk) hahah speaking Italian is fun when you’re drunk!
We walked drunkenly back to our hotel, which was quite a trek and then hauled our massive bags down 100 stairs. It was not a great idea to do this whilst drunk haha. We cabbed it to our Contiki hotel just in time for our kickstart meeting. A Contiki kickstart meeting is a meeting between all the people on tour and the tour manager where the tour manager provides us with all of the information and expectations of the tour. Our tour manager is named Jimmy C. He is half Italian and half Spanish. .He said he has been homeless for 5 years, doing Contiki during season and travelling the world outside of this.
There are 43 people on our tour. About half of them are comprised of Americans, half Australians and a few other mixed in there. This is a different make up to the other two Contiki tours we have done. Usually it is almost entirely Australians, but lots of Americans this time – it should be a good dynamic.
We went out with the group for dinner to the neighbourhood Trastevere. It’s a pretty trendy neighbourhood which is apparently “the place” to be and to eat. Apparently our restaurant had a bit of a disaster so we had to walk around for 20 minutes so they could repair the kitchen, which was fine with us. Jimmy walked the group to this bar that serves shots in shot glasses made of chocolate. I (Ronnie, only just sobered up) thought to myself at this moment, I don’t think I could stomach another drink. However, #noregrets. The bartender made us all a shot called “One night stand”..which you have to take from behind. It was a chocolate shot filled with baileys with whipped cream on top, and you have to drop it into your mouth “from behind” all in one hit. The sexual innuendo here was hilarious and the way she explained it was great “Now you know what its like to take a one night stand from behind”. It was delicious haha!
Contiki have three different types of dinners. The first is included, where the cost is a part of your overall package, the second is an optional which you have to pay extra for (usually not just dinner, but an experience, and usually better) and lastly free time dinner which is where you just go wherever you want and buy it yourself. Tonight’s dinner was included.
We returned to the restaurant called “La Gattabuia” which was an old gaol that has been converted into a restaurant so the acoustics in there were too good – we had to speak very loudly because it got loud easily. We sat and ate dinner with a few American girls from OC, California. They were really nice. We had a starter of a few slices of salami, some cheese, olive tapenade on bread and a few fried things that I am not sure what they were. We then had the main which was a pasta called Pasta Alla Gricia which was large tubular pasta with pecorino cheese, Parmesan cheese and pork cheek. It was delicious. We must say that we are definitely loving the pasta in Italy so far. It was creamy and went down a treat.
For dessert we had a kind of Mille fuielle which is like a crumbly pastry with custard. It was pretty delicious. Jimmy described it as a thousand little leaves with custard and chocolate sauce. I (Ronnie) enjoyed it. Aimee, the weirdo, doesn’t eat custard,
By this time we were pretty tired and the bus drove us back to the hotel for sleep. We were hoping to get over jet lag, but as we are finishing this blog post, it is yet again 4am and we are wide awake. It is an improvement though and we will get there!
City tax (at hotel) – €6
Coffee and Cornetti – €5.40
Borghese tickets (pre-purchased) – €40
Postcard from Borghese – €1
Borghese audio tour – €10
Freshly squeezed Orange Juice – €9
Lunch at Piperno – €105
Taxi to Contiki hotel – €14
“One night stand” chocolate shots – €6
Total day cost: €196.40
A bit more expensive today, but we bought the Borghese tickets weeks ago, so it wasn’t too bad. Tomorrow we visit the Vatican and travel to Sorrento!
Ronnie and Aimee