Rome - February 2011

Anyone who has ever purchased a plane ticket online probably gets at least a few e-mails a week advertising a great deal on a trip to somewhere. The titles are always attractive "Fly to Europe for $199", but when you try to actually book that trip you are sure to be disappointed. Either the fares don't exist, they are not agreeable with your schedule, or when you add in taxes and other fees you find out that the $199 ticket is actually $900. Well, one day we saw an online fare to Naples, Italy for only $413. Having low expectations, we entered the dates we wanted to travel and it actually worked.  It even coincided with Elliot's winter vacation from school. We really wanted to go to Rome, but if we stayed in Naples and just ate pizza for 6 days it would be the trip would be worth it. However attractive trying a dozen pizzerias in Naples would be for Keith,  it was not to difficult to figure out how to get to Rome.  It was a real "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" journey because it took two flights to get to Naples, a bus to the train station, a train to Rome and a taxi to the hotel. It sounded a little crazy, but the plan worked perfectly. The winter in NYC was exceptionally cold and snowy so to be able to sit outside at Ciampini and enjoy some gelato was a real treat.  Even though the gelato was great we still wondered if we could find better. A little searching on the Internet led us to Giolitti, a gelateria that has been around for over 100 years. The atmosphere is a little chaotic but after lining up to buy our tickets (yes you first have to buy tickets) we headed over to the counter to elbow our way up front. It was worth the effort because the gelato was better than any ice cream or gelato we have ever had. As an added treat they put panna (Italian whipped cream) on top which made it even better.  If you know of a better place let us know, but as far as we are concerned this is as good as it gets. We were certain that we tried the best, but we had to be certain.  We sampled many other other gelaterias and many were were very good, but did not measure up to Giolitti.
Pizza in Rome is completely different from NYC pizza. It has a thin, crispy (cracker like) crust, minimal sauce and cheese, and eaten with a fork and knife! We made sure to try a new place every day and while it was always good, it just wasn't as good as we had imagined. We were going back to Naples in a few days anyway so we would resume the quest for the best pizza there.
  Some fun at the Fontana de Trevi. We had a several days so we were able to take our time exploring the highlights (Coliseum, Piazza Venezia, and Castel Sant'Angelo are pictured above) . Everywhere you turn there is something amazing. 
Elliot picking an orange at the Palatine Hills but it didn't taste that good.  Even more sour than a grapefruit.

We decided to book a 3 hour tour of the Vatican Museum and Saint Peter's Basilica, and we are so glad we did because we would have missed so much if we tried to do it on our own. There is so much to see that you could probably divide the collection five times and five separate amazing museums would emerge. The Sistine Chapel is truly magnificent and the restoration work that was completed allowed us to enjoy it in all its splendor.

Traveling and a lot of walking can tire even the most adventurous seven year old.. One thing that can rapidly change this is a trip to the local toy store. We have learned that toys cost a lot more when purchased abroad but we try to find something as a reminder of our trip.  On this visit to the store we purchased a toy Alfa Romeo Police Car. 

Later that day we found the real thing.  Alfa Romeo police cars.... Only in Italy

Rome is truly an amazing place and is already back on our list of places to go.   Hopefully with a $413 airfare will reappear someday!

Arrivederci Roma!
Corinne, Keith & Elliot

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