S: La Dolce Vita Rome 2009
BC: "La vita e un sogno" Life is a dream. -Italian Proverb
FC: La Dolce Vita | ROME 2009
1: Connecticut March 18, Wednesday | Our trip to Rome started at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut with a 40 minute connecting flight to Philly. From Philly, we boarded US Airways at 6PM for a long 8 1/2 hour red-eye flight to Rome. Plenty of movies , magazines and good books kept me busy while Hector was able to sleep the whole flight.
2: Our plane landed in Rome around 7 in the morning. The weather was cloudy, damp and cold. The temperature was in the mid-50's for the next few days. We couldn't complain about the weather. We were in Rome after all. We checked into the Westin Excelsior Hotel located on the Via Venetto. It was beautiful. Lucky for us, our room was ready and waiting.! | Rome March 19 Thursday
3: What a room! We took a little tour then freshened up a bit before heading back down to the lobby anxious to see what Rome had to offer.
4: Piazza di Spagna | Our first stop was the Spanish Steps. It's about a 5 minute walk from our hotel. Not as crowded since it was only around 10 in the morning.
6: The Spanish steps were built in the 17th century. The Plaza attracts visitors at all hours of the day and night. Most just sit on the steps, but this is also the place to find the city's most elegant shopping districts. We would come back to the steps all throughout our stay in Rome. Depending on the time of day, it could be so crowded with tourists.
7: We hung out with Debbie and Todd. | Fontana della Barcaccia literally the "Fountain of the Rotten (or Worthless) Boat.
8: In the southeast part of the square is the column of the Immaculate Conception which was erected in 1857. The Piazza in the afternoon..
9: Where next?
10: Fontana di Trevi
11: What a fountain! One of the largest and most famous in Rome. The water at the bottom of the fountain represents the sea. Legend has it that you will return to Rome if you throw a coin in the water. Hector & I weren't messing with this legend & made sure we threw our coins!
12: McDonald signs similar to this were everywhere, but I was surprised that I only saw McDonald's & Burger King.fast foods.
13: Smart cars were all over Rome and usually parked in any way the car will fit. We also saw food trucks and gelato stores on every street corner.
14: Pantheon | Built more than 1800 years ago, the magnificent Pantheon building still stands as a reminder of the great Roman empire. The Pantheon, a temple to "all the gods" contains the tombs of Raphael and of several Italian Kings.
17: The Pantheon borders the Piazza della Rotonda, a rectangular square with a central fountain and obelisk. We loved all the narrow streets with the outdoor cafes. We finally did sit after walking all morning and enjoyed a bottle of wine and some appetizers.
18: Piazza Navona | A magnificient and famous square iincludes 3 fountains. The square was lined with vendors selling their paintings. It was a nice place to rest our feet and admire the people, the place, the ambiance. This was how I pictured Rome!
22: Villa Borghese | March 20 Friday
23: The Villa Borghese is the largest public park in Rome. It features a lake, temples, fountains, statues and several museums.
25: The Museo e Galleria Borghese is housed in the Villa Borghese. One part of the museum, the Museo Borghese, has a collection of sculptures with some important works by Canova and Bernini. The Galleria Borghese comprises a collection of paintings from several masters including Titian, Rubens and Raphael. Unfortunately, we didn't know that we had to buy tickets ahead of time and & couldn't get in. So, we spent most of our time walking the park.
26: Santa Maria Del Popolo
27: Piazza --- Apollo? | A Renaissance church refurbished by some of Italy's most important architects (Bernini, Raphael, & Fontana).
28: Piazza del Popolo | The Piazza del Popolo is a large oval square near the Borghese Park. It features an authentic obelisk from Heliopolis, Egypt. The 2 churches were the Santa Maria dei Miracoli and the Santa Maria in Montesanto.
30: The Vatican Museums | After lunch, we headed to the Vatican for a guided tour of the museums and Sistine Chapel. A very long line awaited us inside, but well worth it.
33: The Vactican Museum was nothing but room after room of priceless treasures!
35: The paintings were absolutelybeautiful. The ceilings and walls looked like they were made from tiles, but eveything was painted to appear 3D.
36: Sistine Chapel | The Sistine Chapel closes the tour to the Vatican Museum. The glorious ceiling which no one is allowed to take a picture of is no doubt Michelangelo's masterpiece. It took 4 years to complete (1508-12) and has taken over 20 years of meticulous cleaning to restore it to its original glory.
37: More churches...
38: Campo de' Fiori | Campo De' Fiori (Field of Flowers) a wonderful outdoor market selling just about everything. Had to be one of my favorite places to just browse and walk around. | March 21 Saturday
41: Santa Maria Minerva
42: Basilica di San Pietro
43: St. Peter's is the world's most famous church. A definite must see when in Rome. Line after line of people trying to get in. The inside was absolutely breathtaking. I still can't believe we were there! The church is built over the tomb of St. Peter, one of the Apostles and the first pope.
45: Swiss Guard
46: Bernini's Canopy | Michelangelo's Pieta | St. Peter enthroned
48: Pope's tomb
49: Don't be fooled by the Swiss Guards designer duds, they have been keeping the peace and protecting the pope for 500 years. | We saw and prayed at the tomb of Pope John Paul II
50: Foro Romano | The Roman Forum was the heart of the Roman Empire for almost 1000 years. Today, it's once mighty emsemble of majestic buildings has been reduced almost to nothing. But to think that I walked the grounds where Julius Caesar, Nero, Caligula used to walk was hard to believe. Cade, a friend of Debbie & Todd joined us to see the Forum. | March 22, Sunday
52: Monumento a Vittorio Emmanuelle II commemorates Italy's unification and first king.
53: Palatine Hill
54: A panoramic view of the Forum taken on top of the Palatine Hill.
55: Julius Caesar
56: The Colosseum was a majestic and awe-inspiring ancient monument. It seemed that we couldn't take enough pictures of the same thing over and over. It truly was beautiful. | Colosseo
58: Arch of Constantine
62: Our trip would not be | In Search of... | and hat for Hecky. Here we were at Kappa, the only store that carried the authentic AS Roma soccer uniforms | complete without a soccer shirt
63: Along the way...
64: Chairman's Trophy Dinner at Villa Miani | March 22, Sunday
65: We got to Villa Miani and just took in the spectacular view of the city. We sure looked good all dressed up.
66: Hector is all smiles as we posed for our official picture taking.
67: Pictures were followed by entertainment, a little mingling, then a wonderful dinner, speeches and awards.
68: Burv | Melissa | Here's Hector with of a few of his favorite people and definitely enjoying the evening.
69: Deb & Todd | Hector, Marivic, Donna & Burv | Barb
70: Darden Leadership in Excellence Alumni
71: Luiz, a Cuban GA from Miami with his wife
72: Le Grotte | Buon Appetito! | Our first sitdown dinner was held at Le Grotte Ristorante. The bus that drove us dropped the 6 of us off at the top of the Spanish Steps. The bus was too big. We walked the steps in heels and sleeveless dresses. It was a 10 minute walk to LeGrotte. The walk was painful and it was freezing. The thing that saved the night was the great food and company.
73: Le Fric | Harry's Bar was the first bar we tried out in Rome. It was adjacent to our hotel. We sat outside for drinks, but within seconds of ordering it started pouring rain heavily and we all had to run inside. | Le Fric had excellent food and service. I googled the word "Fric" and it meant "cash, bread, money". But the walls in the restaurant were decorated by paintings of big heavy women.
74: Cafe de Paris | Cafe de Paris was a favorite hangout after a long day. Our waiter was this big, tall, bald guy that looked just like "Uncle Fester" from The Addam's Family. By the second night he knew what everyone drank and he still looked like Uncle Fester.
75: Volare couldn't save a tired Todd!!! | The bar also had a piano man that Todd tried to request song after song especially by Al Greene but he didn't know any. The Piano man would sing 'Volare' every night and everyone in the bar including us would sing along. Not sure what the words to the song meant, but here it is...... | Volare, oh oh Cantare, oh oh oh oh Nel blu, dipinto di blu Felice di stare lassu
76: Lotti | We walked out of Lotti Pasticceria Gelateria Gastronomia (what a mouthfull) when we didn't see anything we liked. A short , fiesty lady chased us back & showed us the delicious food we can have inside. Needless to say, we stayed & ate. Hector & Todd both agreed that she'll be good at selling insurance.. Hector & I shared our first Panini and pastry at this little quaint Pane Dolci Caffe. Of course our meal will not be complete without a cappuccino to wash it all down.
77: We didn't actually go to 'Cicacica Boom', I just like the way it sounded, but I bet everyone was having fun inside! | Hector and I try to find Hard Rock cafe's everywhere we go. We normally buy a guitar pin and a hurricane glass for my sister-in-law Lourdes.
78: Loved the windows that adorned the old buildings. Here's a few of them.
79: train station | ambulance
80: Enjoying our last night in Rome. Soaking in every bit of the city before we head back home. Our 4 days went fast. | Last night in Rome
81: We headed to the airport early Monday morning for a long 9 1/2 hour flight home. We passed security without a problem and took off back to the USA | Fiumicino Leonardo Da Vinci Airport | March 23, Monday | Arrivederci Roma!