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  1. #31

    • Gumball Rally Godfather
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    Friday was the first official touring day in Rome on our "Viva Italia" tour and it promised to be a strenuous day. We were scheduled to start out at the Colosseum, then work our way around to the Roman Forum. We would then have lunch at a small family-owned pizzaria, visit the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, and finish up at the Pantheon.

    Visiting the Colosseum, Forum and Pantheon is sometimes referred to as the Caesar Shuffle, and with good reason… you do A LOT of walking. The bus dropped us off across the (busy) street from the Colosseum. We eventually got across by essentially playing a game of “chicken” with traffic. I found that it’s usually desirable to walk in the shadow of a local… they got this street-crossing thing down pat!

    One more thing before I get into the days events: Something I noticed about the Adventures By Disney tour after a few days, but that I’ll share with you now, is that they took all of the stress of sight-seeing out of the equation. They always had our admission tickets ready, they always had someone waiting for us with the “Whisper” headsets, the bus was always where it was expected to be, the art/history tour guides were always on time. In short, everything that would normally be a headache when touring by yourself were non-existent. Everything just went smooooooth.

    We met Christina, our art/history tour guide in front of the Colosseum.


    She walked us right in past other tour groups that were waiting, and she began telling us the history of the Coliseum.




    The Colosseum was originally used for battles between Gladiators, and other public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on classical mythology. We were shown a small model of the mechanism that was used to hoist the wild animals up the floor of the Colosseum from the passageways under the sand-covered wooden floor.


    We were then escorted onto a mezzanine where we could look down onto the floor of the Colosseum.






    One portion of the floor had been restored which allowed visitors to get an idea of what it looked like in days of yore.


    We got about 20 minutes to explore on our own...



    Looking west towards the Forum.


    The Arch of Constantine


    Tina- One of our Disney tour guides.

    ....and then we were escorted out of the Colossem and walked west to visit the Roman Forum.




    The oldest and most important structures of the ancient city are located in the Forum, including its ancient former royal residency, and the surrounding complex of the Vestal virgins.






    The Forum is where the Senate and the Republic government began. It was the city square where the people of Rome gathered, and it was also the economic hub of the city. The Forum was considered to be the center of the Republic and Empire.






    Seeing this amazing area was incredible. I was really surprised at how well much of it was preserved considering all of the world events that have transpired since the forum was built before the time of Christ.

    Something that I was very appreciative of was that having a well-educated art/history guide made all the difference from seeing the same ruins the day before. Christina was an amazing guide who didn't just know the things she was pointing out to us... she knew EVERYTHING about Roman history and art.


    You could ask her anything and she had an answer. She took real pride in being a Roman too. Disney did a fabulous job in finding super-qualified guides.

    The weather was warm that day, and it was a welcome break to get on the air-conditioned bus that was going to take us to lunch in another part of Rome. We were taken to a small, family-owned pizzaria not far from the Spanish Steps. The pizzaria, like quite a few of the restaurants that we visited in Italy, was in a building basement. After walking inside, we walked down a flight of stairs and into a large banquet room.


    We had four types of pizza. A traditional tomato sauce and mozzarella pizza, a 4-cheese pizza, a “meat” pizza with sausage, and a vegetable pizza. All four were very good, and it was great to relax in the cool underground banquet room.

    After lunch, we started out for the Spanish Steps. On the way we passed what could have been mistaken for Romes version of Club 33...


    They even have the little intercom inside the doorway...


    After being refused entrance yet again, we moved onto the Spanish Steps...


    Having been there already, we weren’t so enamored with it during the day. They gave us 15 minutes to look around so Darlene and I walked west of the main area just so we could get away from the large crowds that gather at the fountain at the bottom of the Steps. We saw this guy waiting to give someone a ride...


    One of the folks that we’d had dinner with the night before said he was going to go make some dinner reservations nearby and would we like to join him and his wife for dinner. I enthusiastically responded in the affirmative.

    We rejoined the group, and then essentially retraced our steps from two days earlier that took us from the Spanish Steps to the Trevi Fountain.

    What a pretty fountain...

    The Trevi Fountain is a very popular tourist destination in Rome, and today was no exception.

    ...what an oppressive crowd!

    When visiting the Trevi Fountain, you’re supposed to toss a coin over your shoulder into the Fountain. Legend has it that by doing so, you’ll come back to Rome. Weeeeeeeell, I guess we’re not going back to Rome, because I opted for not going down to the bottom of the terraced fountain, but stepped into a nearby shop and bought an icy lemon gelato instead. Whatever… I don’t go in for that legend stuff anyways!

    We continued on our “Caesar Shuffle” with a trip to the Pantheon.


    The Pantheon , which means “Temple of all the gods“ was built around 25 BC. It is the best preserved of all Roman buildings, and perhaps the best preserved building of its age in the world. The Pantheon has served as a church and a tomb, and it is the oldest domed building in Rome. Walking inside, it’s difficult to understand how it was possible to build structures such as this before world mechanization began. It’s truly an engineering marvel.



    After leaving the Pantheon we walked back to our hotel for a much-needed rest. It had been an amazing day of discovery. But it was also a long day, and it was good to slip out of the walking shoes and take a nice cool shower.

    FOODIE WARNING!!
    The next portion of todays trip report is about our dinner that night. If you get bored with stories about food, this would be a good time to move on.


    We rested for a couple of hours and then we met our dinner companions down in the hotel bar for a drink before heading out to dinner. It was a great opportunity to get to know our new friends a little better.

    After we finished our drinks we walked a few blocks to our dining destination, Ristarante 34.


    Ristorante 34 is one of Rome's famous, long established restaurants. Our friends had dined there before, and they were familiar with the owner, Nicola. We were seated and our server, Lorenzo, came to our table with menus. He asked what we liked and we suggested that he bring us what he liked. This was a wise choice.

    Lorenzos eyes lit up as he gathered up our menus. He rushed off to the kitchen, and so began a sojourn into gastronomic heaven!

    Lorenzo promptly came back with four small glasses of prosecco, Italy’s version of sparkling wine. Each glass had a small strawberry in it. Such a pleasant way to begin our dinner!

    We then moved onto a bottle of white wine, and a bottle of the house red. Now when you ask for house red in the US, you get something that tastes like crap. But we found in Italy that the restaurants we visited took much pride in serving a very good house red. We never asked what we were drinking… we just drank it. And we liked it!


    I want to aploogize in advance for not taking many pictures at dinner. This was not the kind of restaurant where you photograph every dish that comes to the table. I'm sure you understand.

    The antipasti course arrived first. We started with marinated mozzarella balls with grape tomatos, deep fried calamari, and a homemade bean and escarole soup. We passed the food around so everyone could get a taste of the various offerings. This is the only way to eat when visiting a restaurant like Ristarante 34. It gives you an opportunity to try many different things on the menu without committing to an entire plate of any one item. Luckily for us, our dinner partners were of the same mind when it came to dining out in Italy!

    Next up was the primi, or pasta, course. Lorenzo brought out 3 plates which we all shared. One was a spinach ravioli in an alfredo sauce. Next was a hollow dungenous crab shell filled with vermicelli red sauce with fresh crab meat. Lastly we had a flat pasta with a in-season porcini mushrooms in a white wine sauce. Porcini mushrooms were in season when we visited in early October, and we tried to order as many porcini dishes as we could on our trip. We were not disappointed!

    After the primi course, comes the secondi, or meat course. We had ossobuco, which is braised veal shank. I had to get a picture of this...


    It was served with roasted potatoes in olive oil with garlic and rosemary, along with a plate of roasted eggplant, peppers and mushroom caps. This was the first time I’d ever had ossobucco and it was very, very good.

    For dessert we had vanilla gelato with chocolate sauce, sprinkled with hazel nuts. Lorenzo then surprised us with limoncello, a lemon liqueur produced in southern Italy. It is made from lemon rinds, alcohol, sugar and water. It has about 34% alcohol, so sipping this libation is recommended.

    With full stomachs and glad hearts we said our farewells to Nicola and Lorenzo. We strolled the few blocks with our friends back to the hotel with sweet memories of an unforgettable night in Rome.


    Tomorrow: We visit the Vatican museum, the Sistine Chapel and Saint Peters Basilica.

    CLICK HERE FOR DAY 4 OF OUR ADVENTURE!
    Last edited by Circarama; 10-30-2008 at 03:13 PM.

  2. #32

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    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    If you stand at the Pantheon, with your back to the entrance at 6:00, there is an amazing coffee house at about 2:00 called Tazza de Oro. I brought home as much as I could carry and then spent an unreasonable amount of money to have some more shipped over later. Best. Coffee. Ever.

    I'm so jealous, Charlie!
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  3. #33

    • Gumball Rally Godfather
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    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Dang, I wish I'd known. I would have brought you something back!
    Charlie
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  4. #34

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    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    If I had known you were going, I certainly would have been begging!

    Thank you anyway. I'll just have to go back and get some myself!
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  5. #35

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    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Quote Originally Posted by SusieP. View Post

    Thank you anyway. I'll just have to go back and get some myself!
    I'll gladly be your travel buddy. Charlie's TR has me ohhhing, awwwing and drooling!



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  6. #36

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    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Can't wait for tomorrow's installment Charlie!! This was a 21 day tour, right??!!
    Just countin' the days til the next visit!

  7. #37

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    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Quote Originally Posted by All4dISNEY View Post
    Can't wait for tomorrow's installment Charlie!! This was a 21 day tour, right??!!
    You wish Liane! When I told the Dusty One that I wanted to do a trip report on my Viva Italia trip, I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. But I'm in it up to my neck now, so you're gonna get all 10 days!
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  8. #38

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    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    We want 40 days and 40 nights. We accept no less!
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  9. #39

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    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    This trip report is nothing but phenomenal!! I can't wait to see what else you guys got to do. Bring it on!

  10. #40

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    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Great TR so far! I've been down to Italy twice in the last year and your TR is making me sooo homesick. Italy is seriously one of my very favorite places on Earth Can't wait for more

  11. #41

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    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    This is getting better and better! Thanks again.


  12. #42

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    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    This is a terrific report! Can't wait to hear more!
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  13. #43

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    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Quote Originally Posted by Circarama View Post
    Patience Grasshopper.

    I'm trying to crank out at least one trip report touring day/per day. Day 3 should be out early this evening. Until someone hires me as a copy-writer, I still gotta hold down my day job.

    Thanks for all the props so far everyone! This was an awesome trip and the Disney portion is just getting started!!
    I understand, but man this is to good to put down!! and you and the misses are wonderful looking !! thank you so much for sharing your trip

  14. #44

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    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Congratulations on a great trip. Love the report. Great pictures.
    I absolutely love Italy and Rome is one of my favorite cities in the world. In fact I just got back from there (yet again) about a month ago.

    As always, Rome was spectacular. We spent 10 full days there before moving on to Florence. Not enough time. I could spend months in Italy. Your photos brought me right back. I just had some time last weekend to go through my own pictures and looking at your trip report reminded me of my trip. Hope you dont mind if I crash your trip report and share an experience and a few pictures.

    On one of our nights there we were walking back from the Piazza Navona down Corso Vittorio and we notices a line of black cars along the road and many body guards. Guess who we saw coming out of a shop?






    Its the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. He was picking up a last min gift for someone. They had about 14 body guards but stopped on the street to shake everyones hand and pose for a few pictures. What are the chances? Funny thing was my wife didnt know who he was. lol

    Here is a shot of me doing what I like to do best in Italy. (Sit out doors and drink rossa vino) on the street next to Trevi.



    Keep up the trip report. Cant wait to see more.

  15. #45

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    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report



    Saturday morning we had to be up early for our trip to Vatican City. We were in the hotel dining room at 7:45 getting some nourishment for what would prove to be another busy day.

    I didn’t get any pics of the dining room at the Bernini Bristol, but the buffet breakfast that was included every morning was a full-on feast. They had American-style eggs, scrambled or over-easy, bacon (pancetta actually), sausages, all different kinds of yogurts, rolls, crescents, cheeses, cereals, fruits, juices, etc. The servers would bring you cappuccino, espresso, tea, or American coffee with a nice little pitcher of steamed milk so your coffee wouldn’t get cold. I really felt pampered at this hotel.

    Anywho, we loaded up onto the bus that would take us to Vatican City. Fifteen minutes later we’re hopping off in a neighborhood behind the Vatican. Apparently when you’re there for a tour, you go in thru the back way. We got in line and our guides gave us our “Whisper” headsets.




    Artwork courtesy of Michelangelo


    A self-portrait of Michelangelo

    Christina, our art/history guide from the day before then joined us and we went thru security and entered the Vatican Museum.

    I’m not going to do much commenting on the tour. It was so overwhelming for me, that I’ll never be able to do justice to what I witnessed that day. I’ll let the pictures speak for me.

    We entered the Vatican Courtyard...





    Christina lectures us about the artwork we'll see in the Sistine Chapel as Marco listens.


    Marco points out some interesting points that Christina can't reach.



    Darlene and me with St. Peters Basilica in the background.




















    Some pics of the Sistine Chapel...

    Exterior shot of the Sistine Chapel





    Various pictures from Saint Peters Basilica...







    Soooooo, exactly how do you get to be married at the Vatican?























    We also went underneath the Vatican to the grotto's where the Pope's are buried. It was a very quiet visit and became quite somber as we passed Pope John Paul's tomb. Catholics from the world over make this pilgrimage on a daily basis.

    To say that all of Vatican City is incredible would be a huge understatement. Like I said, words can't describe it...

    After departing Saint Peters Basilica, we returned to the hotel. We ended up going out to lunch with some other Adventurers on the Via Venetto.

    The church of Santa Maria della Immacolata Concezione was across the street from our restaurant, and there was an interesting sight that I wanted to visit before leaving Rome. It was called the Cappuccin Crypt. It is the home to the bones of 4000 monks who died between 1528 and 1870. What makes it so interesting is that the bones have all been arranged artistically in 5 separate crypts.

    Everything you see here decorating the walls and ceilings are human bones...






    We didn’t stay too long. It’s not a place that you find yourself wanting to spend a lot of time at. We went back to the hotel for some rest before our farewell to Rome dinner.

    Dinner was held that night at the Mariano Restaurant that night. The dinner was good, though not on the same level as our meal the night before. We were a bit spoiled from our dinner at Ristorante 34.

    Still, we enjoyed the company of everyone in our tour group, and afterwards we split off with our new friends from Chicago and some of the Junior Adventurers for some Saturday night socializing in Rome. We found an accommodating restaurant/bar right across from the hotel. When they realized there were 10 of us, they escorted us upstairs to a private room on the second floor overlooking Barberini Square.


    We left with our Chicago friends around 11pm since we had to check out early the next morning, but the Junior Adventurers decided to pull a DMCA and stay behind for a “nightcap”... but that's another story for another time.

    Tomorrow: We leave Rome and head for the medieval hill town of Orvieto. Then we press on to our villa in Tuscany...

    CLICK HERE FOR DAY 5 OF OUR ADVENTURE!
    Last edited by Circarama; 10-30-2008 at 03:14 PM.
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