Our Week in Rome

After 7 idyllic evenings along the Seine on the Ile St Louis in a 400-year old apartment and a quite chaotic checkin on EasyJet, due in part to  a bomb threat in the checkin area & in part to lots of summer travelers (fyi, pay extra for the upgrade for checkin, it’s well worth it!), we arrived and checked into our 400-year-old Roman apartment at the Piazza Mattei.  (I had searched endlessly for apartments, thinking I’d found the perfect one and then finding a review of it, or its landlord, on TripAdvisor or SlowTrav. or some other site that informed me that the photos were of some other apartment, the landlord was a nightmare, the place was over an all-night nightclub, or some other horror story.  We ended up finding Silvia, a San Francisco-based travel agent who is quite talkative but who knows everything about italy and is a sweetheart who goes out of her way to please her clients.  She found us the Balconi apartment for significantly less than AmexEx had offered it to us, and personally knew the landlord and had seen the apartment.)  Silvia would call someone she knew in Rome and have them check out any apartment we were interested in that she hadn’t already seen before she’d recommend it to us, so I had the comfort of knowing that we weren’t walking into the unknown.  The apartment she found for us was perfect, and perfectly situated.  The kids loved having their own room (complete with gorgeous view of the city) & the owner himself, whose family had owned the building since it was built hundreds of years ago, gave us a personal tour and then walked us through the neighborhood (where we ran into his brother and sister-in-law, who introduced themselves to us as well), pointing out bookstores, grocery stores, coffee shops, etc. in the neighborhood.  We ate that night at an Italian restaurant across from the Largo di orre Argentina, just off Corso Vittorio Emanuele II.  As soon as I opened the menu I knew I was in heaven — more than 4 full pages of Italian food, and even more filled with red wine.  My husband wasn’t too happy that the place was filled with tourists but our waitress was funny and friendly and welcoming, we had good Italian food, red wine, and a front-row seat on our outdoor table from which to watch the Italians, and tourists, walking, kissing, talking, and enjoying life.  After dinner we wandered down Via dei Cestari and, passing a church, decided to check it out inside.  It was beautiful, of course, and there was an American high school choir singing Italian songs as part of a contest.  It’s so cool to be wondering down a random street after dinner and stop for a peak into a hundreds-of-years-old church to hear beautiful music surrounded by masterpieces from famous artists and sculptures and that just be the norm.  It could have been almost any street corner in the city.  This one, however, just happened to be next to an ancient Egyptian obelisk ….

and less than a block from the Pantheon.  There it was, looming right in front of us.

It was closed for the evening, but just to stand there and realize you were in front of it,  and in a beautiful piazza filled with people and, best of all, any flavor of gelatto you could consume, was completely amazing to a little East Texas girl from Tyler.  We may be the Rose Capital of the World, but that just doesn’t compare to the seat of ancient civilization… at least to this tylerrite.  As long as I can remember I’ve dreamed of being in Europe.  In my imagination I was part of a large, and wealthy, family and we had homes scattered all over the world, and each of us kids was able to choose 2 rooms, plus our bedroom, to have as our own.  So in some of our (imaginary) houses I had a light-filled art studio, in others a dark-paneled library literally covered on all walls with filled bookcases, and a windowseat with a plush, cranberry-colored seat cushion next to a bay window, with a curtain (also cranberry colored) that I could draw closed to create my own private world, with a window to the outside but a good book to take me anywhere I wanted to go.  That night in Rome, I was just where I wanted to be, and I didn’t need a book, or an imaginary house, to get me there!

Eventually we had to return to our apartment, and unpack our Rick Steves luggage and prepare for the next day.  (Rick had shamed me into getting by with only one carry-on — if he could do it, so could I! I still ended up with more than I needed, and highly recommend heavy editing on your packing, if for nothing else then to leave room for lots of stuff to take back home!)  My husband was sick of hearing about Mr. Steves by this point, although we found it amusing to point out fellow travelers that we just knew were his fans, from their clothes, luggage, and “look.”  There seems to be a “Rick Steves” connection all through Europe — you see folks reading his books and carrying his luggage and dressing per his advice everywhere you go.  Good for him — I just wish I’d thought of it first!



  1. great stuff!

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