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Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Photo Blog: How big is Rome? (Rome Day 1)

We left Florence today and it was really tough to say goodbye to Luigi at the train station – not to mention the twins (our cousins), Flippo, and Stefani back at the house just an hour ago. However, our time in wonderful Florence has passed and now we are off to Rome for 4 days before heading back to the good old United States.

Right after saying goodbye to Luigi in the train station – we run into Vincent from the party the other night. Talk about coincidence – of the 5 people we know in the city of Florence – Vincent happens to be one of them (even if he is a Boston Celtics fan). He’s catching a train to Venice for a couple of days. We hang out with Vincent for 15 minutes before heading to our train.

We ended up in train car #1 (note: if you cannot get an Amica rate for second class fare on an Italian rail, you might as well check to see if First Class is available. If the Amica fare is available for First Class, you should get it is as it is just a couple more euros than a standard second class rate). The only thing is that the first car is not laid out like the other cars. Luckily Ashley has a forward facing seat and we have to stow our luggage in the second car.

Once we make it to Roma Termini, the main train station in Rome – we hop a taxi to the Cavalieri Hilton. The cost is about 25 euros for the amount of luggage we have. I had the opportunity to stay in the Cavalieri Hilton back in 1996 as a student, when we crammed 8 of us into a room – thanks to the a 40% Hilton Eurorail discount. Sitting on the hill, a catch a glimpse of the hotel and memories come back to me.

However, when I walk in – the hotel is much nicer than I even remember. Considered a 5-star, we’re whisked to a separate check in for Executive Floor guests. We’re informed that in addition to the great view room that we have, that this hotel will be joining the Waldorf-Astoria collection in September. Without gushing about the hotel too much in this post, it deserves it – in fact, the Cavalieri Hilton hotel may be the finest Hilton Hotel I have stayed in. Yes, much better than the famed Waldorff-Astoria hotel in New York City. More on that in a future post.

Once we settle into our room with an awesome view of Rome, we catch the free Hilton shuttle to Piazza Barberini to start our wanderings for a fun afternoon and evening. We did a ton of walking and almost covered all the major sites (briefly) san the Vatican City and the Coliseum.

Here are a few pictures from the day….

Arrival at Rome's main train station, Roma Termini.  The train station has become much more modernized than I remember full of shopping and restaurants.Arrival at Rome's main train station, Roma Termini. The train station has become much more modernized than I remember full of shopping and restaurants.


Arrival on the hill at the Cavalieri Rome Hilton or just Cavalieri as the taxi drivers know it.Arrival on the hill at the Cavalieri Rome Hilton or just Cavalieri as the taxi drivers know it.


The initial look out from our room – pretty nice!The initial look out from our room – pretty nice!


The panoramic view from the Executive Lounge just a few doors down -- Piazza Venezia, Spanish Steps, Coliseum, Saint Peters -- it's all there.  Where you can get breakfast, light lunch, snacks, light dinner, and light desserts.  All free.  You actually never have to leave the Cavalieri, but of course you must – you are in Rome!The panoramic view from the Executive Lounge just a few doors down -- Piazza Venezia, Spanish Steps, Coliseum, Saint Peters -- it's all there. Where you can get breakfast, light lunch, snacks, light dinner, and light desserts. All free. You actually never have to leave the Cavalieri, but of course you must – you are in Rome!


Ashley looks back from the top of the Spanish Steps here in Rome.Ashley looks back from the top of the Spanish Steps here in Rome.


This crazy guy just walked up to the officers slammed down his mobile phone and cigarettes in front of a couple of police officers and shouted something.  Then he proceeded to climb on the Trinity Fountain and dived off of the ledge into the middle before climbing out and picking them up.  Notice everyone in the background staring at him – we were all so surprised (I thought he was just going to pose on it for a picture) that this was the earliest I pulled out my camera with the gelato in my hand.  He yelled a couple of things at the officers and then walked off with an arrest of citing.This crazy guy is now soaking wet, after he just walked up to the officers slammed down his mobile phone and cigarettes in front of a couple of police officers and shouted something. Then he proceeded to climb on the Trinity Fountain and dived off of the ledge into the middle before climbing out and picking them up. Notice everyone in the background staring at him – we were all so surprised (I thought he was just going to pose on it for a picture) that this was the earliest I pulled out my camera with the gelato in my hand. He yelled a couple of things at the officers and then walked off without an arrest of citing.


A look at the Trinity Fountain where the guy just jumped off of, returned to its peaceful state.A look at the Trinity Fountain where the guy just jumped off of, returned to its peaceful state.


Tossing a coin (penny) into the famed fountain means a return to the fountain and Rome.  I toss mine in.Tossing a coin (penny) into the famed fountain means a return to the fountain and Rome. I toss mine in.


Ashley tosses hers in, much more gracefully.Ashley tosses hers in, much more gracefully.


The Pantheon.  I somehow missed this historic site on my last trip.  Now that I am here and seeing how well positioned it is in the middle of the city.  I have no idea.  An impressive building and tomb to Rafael, the doors way 22-tons each – and they close each evening.The Pantheon. I somehow missed this historic site on my last trip. Now that I am here and seeing how well positioned it is in the middle of the city. I have no idea. An impressive building and tomb to Rafael, the doors weigh 22-tons each – and they close each evening.


A self portrait in which may be my favorite church here in Rome, the Basilica of Sant'Andrea della Valle.A self portrait in which may be my favorite church here in Rome, the Basilica of Sant'Andrea della Valle.


The Argentina ancient Roman temple ruins which are named for being founded here in the Argentine area of Rome.  The speculation is that this site is the most likely one where Caesar was stabbed.  Wow.  Now, it is home to over 100 cats.  They were just laying out on the stones and fallen columns – sunning themselves.The Argentina ancient Roman temple ruins which are named for being founded here in the Argentine area of Rome. The speculation is that this site is the most likely one where Caesar was stabbed. Wow. Now, it is home to over 100 cats. They were just laying out on the stones and fallen columns – sunning themselves.


The Tevere or river section right next to the Travestere area.  Lots of bars, pubs, small eateries, and street vendors.  The weather was a little cooler here, but the area was pretty much dead.  Instead we headed through the Travestere area for dinner – which was more populated on this evening.The Tevere or river section right next to the Travestere area. Lots of bars, pubs, small eateries, and street vendors. The weather was a little cooler here, but the area was pretty much dead. Instead we headed through the Travestere area for dinner – which was more populated on this evening.


You can always find vendors selling roses walking the squares of Rome after dark.  One found us, took a couple of pictures of us in front of the Trinity Fountain – I handed him a couple of Euros – worth it for capturing the last moment of our evening before taking a cab back to the hotel.You can always find vendors selling roses walking the squares of Rome after dark. One found us, took a couple of pictures of us in front of the Trinity Fountain – I handed him a couple of Euros – worth it for capturing the last moment of our evening before taking a cab back to the hotel.

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