Saturday, May 9, 2009

more thoughs on Rome

yesterday i trained back to Milano...
i must say the high speed train first class is quite comfy, i enjoy the train rides more than i thought i would...

more thoughts on Rome...

yesterday i had no real plans for anything... after re-finishing Angels & Demons, i decided to take myself to Piazza Navona since it means passing through the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon.

another sunny day in Roma - Roma is quite nice when the weather permits. i checked out of the hotel and, backpack ready, made my way..
the Spanish steps were less crowded today and seemed less pretty somehow... i stood there a full minute before i realized that all the potted flowers from the other day was gone... plus it's way more beautiful near later afternoon/dusk time...
trekking my way, my feet no longer feel tired. it's only painful when you stop and rest for a few minutes, then try to walk again.

the key to my trip is that i'm bumbling along, didn't really do all that much research. Especially for Rome, where people have stayed for weeks and feel like they have not seen enough - i figured that's the attitude i should have...
I pass by the parliment buildings (bonus!) and a bunch of random churches and obelisks.

i probably took the longest way to Piazza Navona... walked the longest perimeter around it that one can walk without seeing an entrance... when i walked in, there was music, and lots of people, the sun was blazing, the fountain was gorgerous... i sat by the fountain for 10 minutes just observing it all and letting the sun bask on my skin.

all along the piazza were the tourist trap restaurants - the maitre d' / head waiter is more like your Amway salesman trying to 'woo' you into sitting down at their restaurant. once you sit down, the service is noticeably less attentive. ah, just like men ;) once they have you, they are busy searching for others... *wink*

i got a gelati limone - believe it or not i hadn't had gelato until then in Roma. it was very yummy - not quite icy, not quite ice cream, but the best of both worlds, tart and creamy yet not overly rich. I wander into the specialty shops (per my Lonely Planet guide) - of the Monk-created grappa/lotions store, then the first pharmacy/Monk-related perfume/lotions store. at the hefty price of 70 euros for a bottle of perfume, i spray tested a few and continued to wander.

i made my way back to Piazza Navona, and walked into Church di Sant'Agnese in Agone. the ceiling was magnificent and huge, and circular - the painting too, looks skewed and lopsided until you are directly under the center of the painting - then the layers of clouds and angels and movement of the painting hits you. beautiful and hard to capture, in words or pictures.
as usual per my tradition, i spent another 10 minutes in church, sitting, saying a quick prayer and feeling the church.
i'm a heathen by most standards, and the last mass i remember going to was for midnight mass at christmas some time back (it was beautiful) - but i feel spiritual when i walk inside these basilicas.

it is touching to see what grand masterpieces of art that can be created, designed and built by people who have such a strong believe in their faith.


after being a bit disgusted by all the woo-ing waiters (woo-ing for my tourist euros, mind you), i decided to grab lunch en route back to the spanish steps. the choice was sit down and take a chance at all the tourist restaurants along the way, or when i pass by, i saw people who bought pizza-by-the-slice at the take out pizzaerias. decision made.

when in rome, i decided to try for pizza that i normally might not eat - i think my pizza had tomato, and napa-cabbage-like greens, and anchioves. the crust is delicious - thicker than the ones i've had in Milan - soft on top and crunchy on the bottom, a perfect melange of the textures. it was so good i ended up eating more crust than the insides (the anchioves were surprisingly non-offending, they were just a bit too salty and i should've wash it down with wine but i was eating and walking, like good north american tourists are prone to do - instead of sitting down and chilling over a relaxing lunch like italians would).

i then loitered onto the Spanish steps once again... i can see why people think this place is romantic. although taking stock of the people here around 1pm, lots of tourists and mostly families, or friends just hanging out - not so much of that yucky sickly kissy couples.

made my way to the train station, and got back to Milano.

TW came back from her week long school trip (did i mention she is doing a masters at Bocconi?) her trip had involved 1 week at a culinary school here in Parma. a real culinary school, like for chefs - as part of her school. :) so envious...
we had dinner out (sushi, because she's had overloads of fantastic local italian food all week) with TH and their friend. the area they live in is pretty trendy (not like Louis Vuitton flagship store, but more college crowd age gathering to hang out).
we decided to be Milanese, so we followed the crowds into a little grocery store to buy beer, and just hung out outside the piazza at San Lorenzo church, on Ticinese street.

today they are on a day trip to Lugano, so i can use the laptop to do my random online stuff. having issues with facebook app on iphone for uploading, so i've uploaded to my flickr account - will blog from there about my food randomly (and probably out of chronological order).

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