We made it back this morning. After some flight delays... but all is good. The last few days in Rome were fine. We took the metro and walked around some. We finally got into the Colosseum. Jane was fascinated by the brickwork and is convinced that the small, thin bricks are the key to the survival of these antiquities. She may be right. If it was a structure and it was around 2,000 years old, it had small, thin bricks.
After my last post, we hiked down to the Pantheon (small, thin bricks). There were so many people there. Everywhere really. But we got right in and craned our necks to see the amazing dome and hole at the top. Later we had coffee at this "famed" coffee bar nearby...
Thoughts on Italian coffee: First, it's not all that great. They'd like to think so, but in reality, not so much. Oh sure they're big on "no cappuccino after 11AM" and "what's a mocha?" and other snobbery, but the actual coffee product is usually mediocre at best. They do some things right; such as using ceramic cups, drinking at a bar, and nothing is to go. They have good machines too. But most of the time, the beans are roasted off site, by the same company and they aren't all that fresh. The coffee all tastes the same. This "famed" bar near the pantheon is probably well regarded because they roast on the premises. But what bugged me the most about this place is that they pull the espresso into a demitasse with a teaspoon of sugar already in it. Then, since I'm an American, they have to tell me this and they give me a glass of water to chase it. Because, this coffee is probably too strong and bitter for my tastes... since I'm an American... I needed the chaser alright; to get the sickeningly sweet coating off my tongue. I drink my espresso as a double shot over ice with a splash of cream. No sugar. If the beans and roast are good, that's what I want to taste. I couldn't get this there. They don't put coffee on the rocks. They have "caffe freddo" which is pre-made, sweetened, espresso that's room temperature. They could do better with ice and to stop thinking that Americans are stupid about coffee.
Italy is freaking expensive. Never mind the exchange rate; dollar to euro Italy's prices are wacky. A caffe (shot of espresso) is 1 euro. That's good. A small bottle of cola is 6. WTF? A pizza for one person (about 12 to 14 inches) is between 5 and 8 euros. That's good too. A small plate of pasta is 12 to 15 euros. The cheapest dinner we had which included 4 pizzas and 4 sodas and a bottle of water was 33 euros. The most expensive was 110 euros and that included 4 small plates of pasta, a salad, 6 sodas, and a bottle of water. The former was at the best pizza place in Rome, the latter was at some cafe near the Piazza de Popolo. None of it made sense.
I read that Italy had a difficult time moving to the Euro from the Lira. No one really knew how to price anything. They figured if it was 10,000 lira then it should be 10 euro. When in reality the thing should have been only 5. All I know is that even though we put most things on the credit card, we still had to go to the ATM to pull out 150 euro every other day.
Who cares though... we were on vacation and it was fantastic.
We walked around the Campo di Fiori, then across the river to the quieter side of Rome. I started to take photos of the graffiti. For the record, every surface in Rome, that's in reach, is covered in graffiti. I know graffiti is an Italian word, but they take it to another level. Not just Rome, it was in Florence and some in Siena too. It covered just about everything. The only things that were spared were the Vatican and the Colosseum. But other than that it was fair game. It wasn't that good either. I like street art as much as the next guy, but this was just shit.
It poses a dilemma... because it is absolutely everywhere, how do you clean it? Where do you start? If you begin to paint over it all, everything will start to look new and fresh. And Rome is anything but new and fresh. That's part of its charm. Something should be done though... either find a way to clean it up and keep it clean, or give these kids some art lessons.
I think that's it for now. I have a few more things to add and remember for another post. I'll do that when the photos are on Flickr. Should be soon now...
I'm glad to be home. It was the perfect vacation. Just long enough to see so much and to want to come home.