November 30, 2021
Did you know there is a Hard Rock Café in Rome? After leaving the Vatican, my sister Patrice, Diana, and I took a taxi to find the Hard Rock Café. Patrice and Diana wanted to visit every Hard Rock Café along our path. Diana collects the hats and other paraphernalia from there wherever she travels. This was new to me. When we arrived, there was a line to enter. I decided to take an outdoor table and have a coffee while they shopped. I chatted with the waiter. He told me that Americans come here all the time. People from all over the world visit and collect pieces of Americana Rock. He also told me that the locals enjoy the food. I had not known it was such a tourist attraction.
Long after my coffee was done, Patrice and Diana exited the Café with arms full of goodies and big smiles. We took a taxi back to our hotel, freshened up and enjoyed a local meal nearby. We needed to rest as the following day would be just as hot and just as busy.
Our day began at 10 AM outside the Colosseum where we met our guide and small group of others. Have you visited the underground of the Colosseum? This was my first time in the underground and I would highly recommend it. My sister and Diana really enjoyed it.
The interior of the Colosseum from below ground upward.
Walking where the gladiators once passed and looking above into the Colosseum
We saw the incredible elevators used to bring humans and animals up to the floor above. Intricate construction and human strength did all the work.
More Colosseum Underground
The Underground often flooded. Here you can see standing water.
Here my sister is completely absorbed in the experience. I was loving her enthusiasm and, the archways and supports.
When we moved up into the main portion of the Colosseum, the heat hit us. But the striking power of the Roman Construction was powerful. We had a wonderful guide who walked us through the layers, the different entrances for the different layers of society.
The Marble seating was for the upper eschelons of Roman society.
The less wealth you had, the higher up you would sit. Since both my sister and I have worked with construction, me as a New Construction Real Estate Broker, and my sis in Remodeling and apartment management, we are always fascinated with how things are done now and how it has evolved over the years—in this case, centuries.
Colosseum supports with corbelled arches and wings or brickwork –in later years, this construction gave way to arches with Flying Buttresses that are similar, yet built outside, of cathedrals built in the middle ages.
We were able to walk where the action happened back when the Colosseum events were the major life distraction for the people. We traversed the stairs to visit the upper levels. I am always fascinated by the views out the arched openings.
Viewing a portion of the Forum from an upper level
View of the Arch of Constantine from the Colosseum
From the Colosseum, the view of the entrance to the Forum and the Palantine Hill which we would visit next.
Entering the gate into the Forum took a bit of time even though the number of visitors was light. Me and my compression socks we dehydrated again. I nearly drowned myself in water but it wasn’t enough. Since I had visited here last year, once we entered the forum, I chose to sit in the shade, drink water and remove my socks for a bit. Patrice and Diana followed the guide up to the Palantine Hill. I would join them when they walked down and into the forum.
When we reconnected, we wandered through the Forum together. I had first wandered through the Forum in 1971. Oh how it has changed. There is so much Roman history on the little patch of land. It was downtown. It was the marketplace and the place for worship. There is still a monument to Julius Ceasar that has flowers placed on it for him.
The Forum in the foreground with the Colosseum in the background
We said farewell to our guide and decided it was time for something to eat on our way to our next stop, the Church of San Clemente. We refilled our water bottles before walking to the other side of the Colosseum where shops and restaurants were open. Ultimately the church we sought was along this path. We sat indoors in a bit of air conditioning to cool us off while we ate. We had enough time to relax a bit and guzzle water.
Next stop, The San Clemente Church.
This church is not far from the Colosseum. Once inside,we experienced the main church used today first. This portion was constructed in the Middle Ages, beginning around 1100 A.D. It is lovely but what makes it special is where it was built. In the 4th Century a Basilica was constructed on this spot from what was once a Roman villa. That church was built upon a 2nd Century pagan place of worship—the worship of Mithras. This religion was originally from Crete and had to do with bulls. You can experience all of this by walking through the church and its levels. While wandering you will often hear water running. The original villa was built in the 1st Century A.D. and is over an underground source of water. Here are photos from a previous visit. See Below the lower levels of San Clemente.
They reused other pieces of the past to create the 4th Century A.D. church.
Incredible Artwork from the 4th Century
Altar of Mithras, 2nd But tCentury A.D.
By now, it was around 1700 or 5 PM. I was beat and we all needed a rest and freshening up. We returned to our hotel in the Monti area where I chose to rest and elevate my legs. Patrice and Diana went out once again. When they returned, we walked the area once again searching for a restaurant where Patrice and Diana felt comfortable. Diana had said that she only wanted to eat at restaurants with pictures on the menu. She said she wanted to see what she would eat. Normally, I discourage eating at these establishments as, often, the food is not fresh. But she was adamant. We had a decent dinner nearby. Theuy were happy with it. And we headed back to the hotel to pack up for our trip to Naples, Napoli, in the morning.
When we arrived at Roma Termini, the main station, we grabbed a coffee and dolce while we waited. This would be their first train ride in Italy. We took the fast train and they enjoyed the ride. In Naples, we took a taxi to our apartment in Centro Storico di Napoli, the historical center of Naples. I picked these lodgings for the price and the location. But It was not in the shape shown on the photos and the wall across from it had a good deal of graffiti. This unnerved my sister and Diana a bit. But here we would sleep for three nights, like it or not. I will not name this spot. I would never recommend it. It was clean and the air conditioning worked well. That is the best of our experience.
Since our main reason to visit Naples was to EAT REAL PIZZA, that’s what we had for dinner.
We walked to Bellini for excellent Pizza Napolitana. YUMMMMM.
It was in a very busy area of the center. Yet, the owner stopped to give food to a local mother and child who were very poor. I was so impressed by their generosity that I, too, gave to the poor people we saw in Naples.
Young people gathering and enjoying the night.
We wandered our neighborhood for a while, visiting a piazza with a church behind a gate and an obelisk.
But it was time to relax and try to sleep. Tomorrow would be another busy day in Naples.
After a light breakfast of coffee and snacks that we brought with us, we went off to find the ride for Patrice and Diana. They had booked a vespa ride through Naples. My friend, Federica Rubino of MindTheNap assisted us even though this was booked through a competitor, Napolin Vespa.
Patrice was disappointed at first that they could not drive it themselves. She is on the first vespa. Afterward, she was happy to have been a passenger.
It is lucky that Federica joined us. We never received a confirmation for the pick up at our place. Therefore, we walked to the point given for no pickup and waited. She called them for us, only to discover that they were waiting at our lodging.
After waiving goodbye to Patrice and Diana, Federica and I went for coffee in the Mall in Naples.
A tasty breakfast at Caffe Vergnano.
We laughed and talked about the following day when Federica would be our guide to Pompeii and ride with us to Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.
Federica Rubino, Mind The Nap
The Mall which is so similar to the one in Milan.
While the girls were on their vespa ride, Federica and I wandered the sea front of Napoli. It was glorious.
Mt. Vesuvius and me, smiling in the sun.
The seafront views.
After we met up with the happy Patrice and Diana, Federica showed us around the area a bit and took us to an authentic Napoletano Ristorante, Casa Viscardi.
My meal was authentic, delicious.
Patrice and Diana loved their meal and really enjoyed meeting my friend and exquisite Tour Guide, Federica.
We wandered around the seaside and walked back up to Centro Storico together. We planned our upcoming day together and picked our pick up spot for the morning.
We only had three nights in Naples. That meant that, once again, we were short on time. When we left the next morning, we would visit Pompeii for 3 hours, drive to Sorrento for a quick visit, and then onto the Amalfi Coast via car. After we said our goodbyes at the local farmacia Federica showed us where we could take a covid test, we wandered to local streets a bit. I went back to our room while Patrice and Diana went shopping on the streets of Naples. I was so happy to elevate my feet and have a bit of alone time. They were being brave and enjoying the night.
Once again, thanks for traveling with us. More of Naples and the Campania Region on the next blog.
Ciao for now!
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