We left Milan by train on 3 October going from the 2nd largest train station, Milano Centrale to the largest station in Italy, Roma Termini which is less than 1 km from our Airbnb in central Rome.
We walked to our new home and were met by our lovely host Stefania who oriented us to the apartment which is the home that she grew up in and lived with her parents for over 30 years. The flat is on the 6th floor of a concierge building built in the late 1800’s and is larger than our home in Boston. We have three bedrooms, three baths, a long private terrace and a sunroom which catches the morning sun. It is still decorated as a true home rather than an Ikea Airbnb so it is very warm and homey.
We also have great views of both the sunrise and sunset.
As of this writing we have been here three weeks and we are still rearranging furniture, redecorating and we even changed bedrooms today in anticipation of our first planned guests.
After the 10 days of daily touring with friends we are enjoying being alone and just living a leisurely life in this wonderful city. We have settled into a routine of running every other day, doing the New York Times Crossword before the run, doing a little exploring, a lot of shopping and then making an early dinner at home.
Our first full day here we took a run down the street on the side of our building, Via delle Quattro Fontane (road of the four fountains) which goes by the four fountains two blocks away. It then goes through Piazza Barberini and by the top of the Spanish steps, by Villa Medici and then we turned into Park Villa Borghese where we meandered through the park to the Museum and Gallery of Borghese at the far corner.
We ended our run about one mile from home at the Via Vittorio Veneto which is home to Harry’s Bar, many fancy hotels and the American Embassy. We have been to Rome before but only for a few days so we have spent a lot of time just orienting ourselves to the city, come to find out we are less than one mile from The Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Coliseum and Piazza Venezia.
We can see the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica from our terrace which is about two miles away.
Two of our favorite places, Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto are also about two miles away. We would have preferred to be living in Trastevere but ended up where we are due to a number of factors. Actually this is a much better location for our friends who will be visiting and want to see the tourist sights of Rome and it is OK for us as there are a plethora of markets, restaurants, and other stores that we need very close by.
This is our second time in Rome and we still find it to be amazing; every corner you turn there are massive statues, fountains, buildings, art and sprawling Piazza’s with numerous cafes where people sit, sip and watch the hustle and bustle of both tourists and natives. Many people find this city to be dirty and crowded which makes them dislike it. Although this complaint is somewhat true compared to many other cities we have been in, we have also been in dirtier cities like San Francisco and we still manage to enjoy the good about them and on the other hand we are so distracted by the history and architecture here that we barely notice the street detritus.
We have been blessed with beautiful warm weather and have only experienced an occasional shower or thunderstorm. Our second run here was on a rainy Saturday morning but it let up enough for us to venture out and run to and along the Arno to the Vatican. On warm summer days it is sometimes pleasant to run in the rain.
We have signed up for a 10K on All Saints Day which is a holiday here and also happens to be Jim’s 69th birthday. Significantly the run starts and ends in front of St. Peters Basilica in Vatican City so we will be covering two countries during the run. The run also goes by the corner of our home here so all of our runs since have been on the 10K course so we will know it well by race day.
Signing up for a 10K in Italy, like everything else here involves a lot of paperwork and bureaucracy. We signed up on the Italian web site and paid the €15, then we had to obtain an Italian run card for another €15 and download a medical form to be signed AND stamped by a doctor verifying that we were fit to run as proven by a resting and post exercise EKG, spirometry and urinalyses. We will not name the physician who signed and stamped our forms but we have been approved to run.
Eating out in Italy has been similar to Paris as almost every restaurant has the same menus and the food seems tourist oriented and dated. You can find hidden gems but you either have to search for them, get recommendations from friends and locals which are not always worthwhile or you just trip upon them spontaneously. In the three weeks we have been in Rome we have eaten out in restaurants only about six times. We have searched out local open markets where we have bought produce and spices and have also found a great butcher as most small markets do not sell the meat products that we are looking for. The search for fall chrysanthemums took us on a three mile walk, but we were successful.
So we have been in Rome for three weeks and have not yet paid an entrance fee for anything as we have been very low key tourists. We have visited Palazzo Barberini which is about two blocks away but The National Gallery of Ancient Art which is displayed there was closed which will give us something to do nearby on a rainy day. Maffeo Barberini who purchased the site went on to become Pope Urban VIII.
We are also only a few blocks away from Basilica Papale di Santa Maria Maggiore which is one of four highest ranking Catholic churches also called major or Papal basilicas. We did spend about thirty minutes there yesterday but would like to return for a guided tour when we have guests in town.
Speaking of guests we have had some surprise visitors which will be covered in the next blog.
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