Back to Italy

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Rome! Every time I return to Rome I fall a little bit more in love with this city. This time was no exception. As I arrived, my eyes could not get enough of it. The architecture, the history, the buildings from ancient to modern - and then a glimpse of the Colosseum! I was back in Rome.
 
I spent three days in Rome at the beginning of a trip where the focus was a travel conference in Florence. My first night was spent at the Hotel de Russie. As we drove along the Via Veneto we came to the top of the Spanish Steps, a sight not only attracting visitors to Rome, but locals, too, as it is a popular gathering place. We drove down the narrow streets to the Piazza de Popolo, finally arriving at the hotel. 
 

Hotel de Russie was once the place Russian nobles stayed when they came to Rome. The structure remains the same, but the rooms and suites in this 5-star hotel are contemporary and stylish, while maintaining the mosaic tiles in the bathrooms and Roman statues and artifacts throughout the hotel. The most beautiful part of the hotel is the garden. The hotel is U shaped, with the open part being completed by a natural garden spilling down the mountain which encloses the hotel. This is the perfect place to sit at one of the cafe tables under and umbrella and enjoy a peaceful cappuccino or prosecco, hearing birdsong instead of traffic. One hardly knows you are in the middle of the city.
 
That evening, a stroll through the city with a local friend was the perfect antidote to jet lag. The streets were filled with people, even though it was a chilly night in March. There were chestnuts roasting, shops open and filled with customers, lots of energy all around. We stopped for a cocktail at the stylish boutique hotel, JK Place and were impressed by the sleek design and service. We continued to dinner at a local trattoria, where my friend was welcomed by the staff by her first name, as it is her neighborhood place. Pizza in Rome with wine and conversation - loved it.
 
I moved on to my next hotel - The Hotel Eden, at the top of the Via Veneto near the Borghese Gardens. This iconic hotel has undergone complete refurbishment and it is just perfect. The attention to detail is amazing. The rooms and suites are gorgeous and thoughtfully laid out.. Everything a guest would need was in its place. The top floor holds the bar and restaurants with amazing views as this hotel is on top of a hill - guests enjoy a beautiful view over the city of Rome.
 
Italy is my favorite country in Europe for food. That day I met another local friend who took me to a restaurant for lunch which specialized in truffles! Truffle ravioli, truffle fettuccini, truffle risotto - hard to decide but enjoyed with a glass of pinot grigio!
Then that evening we went to dinner in the area called Trastevere - local atmosphere, casual, with the best cacio e pepe ever! As I have said before, I’ve never had a bad meal in Italy!
 
One of our friends has lived in Rome and proposed we walk back to the Eden. We took our time, enjoying the sights and sounds along the way. We passed by the Pantheon and stopped at the Trevi Fountain the throw our coins, over the left shoulder with our right hand - that is the correct way! We had to stop for gelato and one of the best gelato places in Rome, San Crispina. Rome is a wonderful city for walking.
 
Touring in Rome is best done with your own private guide, someone with access to special places. We went to a home in a suburb, where the owner decided to add a garage. In digging the foundation, ruins of ancient Rome were discovered, construction stopped. We were privileged to climb down a staircase into the ruins and see the old stones with chariot tracks as well as other remnants of that time. 
 
We then went to see a church very close to the Forum. As we walked toward it I could see the Colosseum to my left and the old columns of the Forum to my right. Inside the church, our guide opened the doors at the far end of the building and asked us to step onto the balcony. In front of us and below us were the ruins of the Forum! We had the view all to ourselves.It was breathtaking!
 
One more stop at another church - but this time, after admiring the art, we were led down another staircase and were now in a underground city - another level of ancient Rome. Walking through these ancient streets, seeing remnants of statues of Mithras, old water jugs and a source of running water still flowing - for a history lover, this was amazing. It would also be a nice respite on a hot Roman day, to go into these cool underground streets.
 
As I left Rome I was content, as I knew I was due to return the following week. We headed to Orvieto, about 2 hours drive from Rome. The wind and rain were fierce and the streets of this medieval city were  so narrow our van could barely navigate, so we ended up walking up cobblestone streets to the huge cathedral. This was a stunning visit. The structure itself is impressive, black and white marble, towering up to the sky. Inside, the art was magnificent, with paintings telling stories meant to educate and probably frighten the local population. I only wish we had been able to spend more time in the town, but we had a date with Florence!
 
Arrivederci, Roma... for now!