Right. So, we’re in Roma and recovered from the ignominy of dining at 7pm last night (with the tourists!) and ready to get out there. About this time last year, I was probably heaping praise on this hotel’s breakfast spread, so I’ll skip that bit, but suffice to say we were appropriately fortified to face the challenge of peak hour roman traffic to return our little Panda to the hire company.
The GPS had plotted a circuitous route that saw us plunge headfirst into the centre of Roma – so long as we could extract ourselves from the tetris-style park the Panda was now part of. A Smart4Two had parked perpendicular to the curb not 10cm behind us and ahead was about 20cm before the next car. Without the aid of reversing cameras, but with the able waving assistance of Pip, we managed to extract ourselves and escape as the next car was preparing to reverse into the space (how they even thought they could it, I do not know). The drive was surprisingly uneventful, despite the near squashing of a van driver who exited his vehicle while it was triple-parked in a two way street with triple-parked cars on both sides – we even managed to get fuel before we reached the rental car office.
Car dumped, we turned our attention to the eternal search for a wee café and found a jolly barista who even provided directions to the nearest railway station (’cause we were out in the Roman suburbs). In all the times we’ve been to Roma, we’ve never used the trains to get anywhere other than from or to the airport, and we even spoke of the metro, another first for us in Roma. The train was on an elevated line and we weren’t quite sure of our destination, which we subsequently discovered we over-shot by a couple of stations, and had to return to a station where the tannoy announcement boldly asserted that it was possible to change to the metro line A. The signs to metro line A pointed us out the door. That was it. Out in the car park – no metro station in sight. Turned out that it was indeed possible to change to the metro line A if you were prepared to walk about two kms up hill and around several corners. We did and metro line A soon delivered us to Termini, the main station and a short walk from Eataly in Piazza della Repubblica. We discovered Eataly in New York – the co-creation of a number of folk including Iron Chef, Mario Batali – and were keen to see the Italian version. Not as big, or extensive, (there is another larger one across Roma) but a likely luncheon venue and gift-atorium. Lunch was good, but not fantastic and we were successful in the gift buying department, before we headed out to join a large crowd of folk ogling the frozen fountain in the middle of the Piazza – unusual for Roma apparently.
Now fully engaged with the metro thing, we returned to the depths and subway-ed our way to the Spanish Steps, which featured another frozen fountain as well as the usual thronging masses and horse-drawn carriages. We spent the afternoon roaming the expensive shops along the Via Veneto and down around Via Corso, before stumbling into a sneaker shop to spoil our children (who are both sneaker-freakers). We had to take pics and seek approval and correct sizes before we could return to the shops tomorrow for purchasing. (even after the pictures, number young son wanted us to FaceTime him from the store tomorrow and film the rows of shoes …)
A big day’s walking meant a big taxi home and a couple of hours in the well appointed hotel bar trying a range of remedies. Unwilling to risk being run out of town as early diners, we waited in the bar until 8:30-ish before heading up the road to the restaurant district of Trastevere for to find a restaurant. We found a very lively Tonnarello that provided us with a very lovely dinner and an amount of red wine to further aid our recovery from the big walking day. It was all fried squid, ox tail and meatballs before a dash back to the hotel in the -4C night.