Scott & Janet on Rick Steves' Heart of Italy 2016
Scott & Janet on Rick Steves' Heart of Italy 2016

Rome, the Eternal City

Theater Mask column in Ostia Antica

Theater Mask column in Ostia Antica

Visiting Ostia Antica to fend off Jet Lag!

After a series of flights from San Antonio, Texas to Rome, we checked into a local hotel and emerged into a glorious sunny afternoon. We learned our method of avoiding jet lag from Rick - the formula includes mid-day arrival, a walk to get us into the sun, and a light dinner followed by an early bedtime. Getting onto the local schedule quickly is the key!

Janet is ready for the premiere!

Janet is ready for the premiere!

Ostia Antica was a working port town before the Tiber River filled it with silt, rendering it unusable as a port.

Colorful mosaic of Christ in the Santa Cecilia Church

Colorful mosaic of Christ in the Santa Cecilia Church

Meandering with Rick through the Jewish Ghetto & Trastevere

Our second day was guided by Rick via his Audio Europe tours of the Jewish Ghetto & Trastevere. These free audio tours are a great way to "not fill up on the bread" and see the most significant sites in an area. Rick, along with local experts, helps put things in historical perspective so we understand the significance of what we are seeing.

The Jewish Ghetto was the forced home of the Roman Jewish population starting in 1555. Highlights of our tour were the Theater of Marcellus and San Nicola in Carcere, which incorporated ancient temple columns.

Trastevere is a vibrant neighborhood on the Tiber River - this was one of Rome's first suburbs and shows visitors a less touristy, grittier side of Rome. We wandered through ancient streets, visited the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere and Saint Cecilia, and took in the locals soaking up the sun.

We stopped for a sunset Spritz and, on a tip from Rick, had dinner at Pizza Napoletana. Janet was thrilled with the Panna Cotta! We were lucky to get there early as we watched Italians line up on the sidewalk, waiting to get inside.

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When in Rome, do as the Romans, and have an evening spritz! (And take a selfie of a selfie!)

Traditional fried artichokes from the Jewish cuisine of Rome - Carciofi alla giudia

Traditional fried artichokes from the Jewish cuisine of Rome - Carciofi alla giudia

What's so special about those artichokes?

In the Jewish Ghetto, we had a delicious lunch featuring artichokes. Carciofi alla giudia (traditional Roman Jewish artichokes) are a seasonal delight, available only in the spring. They're soaked in lemon water and then fried in olive oil to reach crispy, golden perfection. Delicious! 

After a lovely morning at the Borghese Galleries, we met up with our Rick Steves Group and quickly each made a buddy! The "buddy system" involves picking out someone you don't know and getting acquainted.  When we are checking to see if everyone is present, each person looks to make eye contact with their "buddy."  After introductions, we started a walking tour of Rome with highlights including the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and the Trevi Fountain. We enjoyed a fabulous group meal at a local restaurant.

Our next day included tours of the Vatican and Vatican Museums. Listening to Rick's audio tour of the Sistine Chapel was a great way to absorb the almost overwhelming painting by Michelangelo.

Don't forget it's a sacred place...SILENCIO!!!

Debating the virtues of gelato...

Debating the virtues of gelato...