We were up early this morning as we were turning in the key to the apartment at 0815. It was pouring rain when we woke up which did not bode well for all the walking we were going to have to do within the next few hours. I checked the weather radar and all of central Italy from coast to coast was covered with a big rain cloud. Ugh!
We had to have the rental car back to Hertz in Orvieto by 1000. G-man was able to make that little Fiat 500 break the sound barrier. We made it to the Hertz place with minutes to spare! The turn in went smoothly even with the language barrier. From the Hertz office, we had an easy three minute RAIN FREE walk over to the Orvieto train station to take the train to Rome! I just have to say those little tiny wheels on suitcases were not made for stone roads and sidewalks with granite curbs. Just wanted to point that out. We managed the self-serve ticket machine all by ourselves and after a bit of trial and error and trying three separate machines managed to validate our tickets so we wouldn’t get slapped with the big 50€ fine. Yes, boys and girls, the conductor walks the train between stops and checks tickets. We watched one couple have to fork over some euros due to the error of their ways. The train ride was uneventful other than we bought first class tickets and sat in second class because there wasn’t a first class car on the train. Meh. Right after we got off the train, it started to rain again.
Hello Termini station. We aren’t in Montepulciano anymore. Sheesh. Termini station is a mess. There are two groups of people in Termini station. The group who are trying to get from point A to point B and the group trying to sell a bunch of junk. This is the one time I’ve been thankful for being born with a mean face. If I’m not smiling, I look angry. For once, it was a good thing. No one would approach us. We got a few looks, but then they would turn and go after someone else. Brilliant! Loved it.
By the time we made our way out of the station, the rain had stopped. This time it was permanent. YAY US! We had a quick walk to our apartment in Monti. Turned out there was a bit of a snafu about what time we were meeting our new landlord, Fabio. It was entirely my fault. I had somehow told him we would be there at 1500 and here we were standing in front of the door to the apartment at 1300. God has smiled on us this entire trip. What happened? Our new landlord happened to be walking up the street. He was meeting the cleaning guy for the apartment. He threw our suitcases in the apartment and, even though it was my fault, he treated us to a coffee down the street. We agreed to meet him back at the apartment at 1500, so after coffee G-man and I wandered around the neighborhood. Wandering around the neighborhood lead to turning a corner and catching a glimpse of the coliseum. Goosebumps, people! Yes, imagine looking down the street and seeing a part of a world famous landmark framed by the buildings lining the street. It took our breath away. Needless to say, we managed to keep ourselves distracted until 1500 by strolling around the coliseum.
At 1500, we met with Fabio. He walked us through the apartment, showed us the ins and outs, and gave us the keys to our home for the next four days. This apartment may be the smallest of the three we have stayed in over the course of our trip, but it many ways it is the best. Everything is brand new. The shower is big enough that I can raise BOTH arms to wash my hair. The kitchen is a hoot! It is so tiny – as in, I’ve seen campers with bigger kitchens – that when G-man stands at the sink one shoulder touches the wall and one shoulder touches the cabinet. But, it has absolutely everything we need. Fabio has got “use of space” down to a science. I’ll post some pictures soon.
After Fabio left us, we got our stuff organized, freshened up, then set off across town to meet our tour at the top of the Spanish Steps. This was our first of three tours I scheduled through Walks of Italy. It was the Twilight City Stroll with Gelato. Our group consisted of two sisters from Belfast, two sisters from Australia, a family of four from Australia, a young woman from Long Island, New York, and our tour guide, Georgia from England. Georgia was dynamite and adorable and I wanted to adopt her! She’s probably in her mid 20s and is a walking fact machine on Rome. She told us about the Spanish Steps, then took us to the Trevi Fountain (yes, we did throw our coins in the fountain), and then Pantheon. After the Pantheon, she introduced us to Della Palma gelato! The place has 150 flavors of gelato. It was a madhouse! It was a madhouse not because there were 150 flavors, but because the gelato is delicious. Truly the best gelato we have had all trip. After gelato, we went over to the Piazza Navona where she taught us everything there is to know about the Fountain of the Four Rivers. She is just brilliant. There was not a single question we asked that she could not quickly answer with authority. We finished up the tour about two hours later at Campo dei Fiori.
Taking this tour was one of the best accidental ideas I had planning this trip. Honestly, the only reason I signed us up for it was because Walks of Italy was running a special. I got a discount for signing up for three tours. The discount made this tour almost free. I figured it would be an easy way to get our bearings on our first night in town. It was, indeed. So, that idea worked out perfectly. Georgia, however, was the cherry on top. Her depth of knowledge made the whole event so much more than a simple walk-about tour. I cannot praise her enough. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, Georgia is returning to England next month. The tour world will never be the same.
I’d love to show you all pictures from today, but we didn’t take our cameras around with us. Fear not, we will make up for it over the next few days.