A June 2003 trip
to Rome by slabeaume
Quote: When I joined my daughter after her semester of school at Czech Tech, we took the train to several places. On the list was, of course, Rome!
During my daughter's and my two week Eurail trip through Europe, we made Rome our base for three days and four nights. Our first full day here was spent walking for hours and hours, during a heat wave, seeing the well known tourist sites on the east side of the river. The next day we elected not to train on up to Florence or elsewhere like we had planned to; instead, we headed to a beach near Rome to recoup and relax. The final day, we toured St. Peter's and saw the Colosseum at night. Even with the very efficient subway system, we still wore ourselves out walking, but at least we didn't have luggage to tote around for three whole days!
Hotel | "Golden Tulip Ambra Palace"
We rented a two-bedroom which had in it tea and coffee facilities, satellite TV, in house pay movies and free use of an in room safe deposit box. As with most places we stayed in Europe, the two beds were placed together, but had separate bedding. The staff was very nice and professional. The rooms also had a desk and mini bar in it. We were suppose to have access to the internet with your own laptop, but we never figured out how to connect. The bathroom was really nice, even having a retractable clothes line across the tub.
Also included in the cost of the room is a buffet breakfast, which we enjoyed very much. The buffet included everything from juices, cereals, scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh fruit and veggies, sliced meat, breads, and lots more. They also included a free welcome drink in their little American Bar -- with a great selection of drinks and free snacks to go with them. In the evening, the room where breakfast was served became a nice restaurant.
The only draw back to this hotel was it was in a rather dirty part of town -- although I could say that about a lot of Rome! But the location -- close to the train station and metro was nice. We did find out when we were heading back to the train station that we didn't have to walk along the street too far. There was a side entrance to the station about two blocks from the hotel.
BTW -- we got a special RCI member rate for this hotel by calling the RCI travel department and reserving it through them.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 31, 2003
Best Western Ambra Palace Hotel
Via Principe Amedeo, 257
Rome, Italy 00185
+39 (0)649 2330
This was pretty much like any other Hard Rock Cafe I've been in---decorated in rock and roll memorabilia. It was somewhat smaller than the Hard Rock Cafe’s I've been in around the USA. But the menu was basically the same--quite varied and good: the usual starters of nachos, chicken wings, potato skins, onion rings, various salads, etc; then the large variety of sub sandwiches and burger; for dinner, various steaks, chicken, fajitas, or sea food; and if you still have room, desserts of cheesecakes, sundaes, pies, cakes, shakes, etc. Plus they have a full bar with mixed drinks, beers, wines, shooters, as well as soft drinks and ice tea. We got sodas and I liked that we got free refills -- and they came with ice! Most places in Europe just give you a can of soda and a cold glass. I didn't realize I'd miss ice so much!
I don't know if the staff was acting typical the night we were there, but they were quite entertaining to watch! They really seemed to be enjoying their job. Even when they sang "Happy Birthday" to people, they did so with a lot of gusto. Their upbeat and playful service made the dinner even more special.
The Hard Rock Cafe is about two long blocks from the Barberini subway stop (on the Red line, the stop before Spagna where the Spanish Steps are). Barberini is also the stop for the huge internet/Subway Sandwich cafe, which is a couple doors from the northern steps leading from the subway station. If you plan to catch the subway after dinner, though, be advised that the subway stops running around 11:30---much sooner than the Hard Rock Cafe closes! We didn't find that out until about 11:15, but still made it back to the subway in time.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 1, 2003
Hard Rock Cafe
Via Vittorio Veneto 62 A/B
3 (906) 420-3051
Attraction | "Fontana di Trevi"
We took the metro to the Spagna station, checked out the Spanish Steps, then walked the couple blocks to the little intersection where the Trevi Fountain is. It's not a really large fountain and it's in a built-up part of the city, but it's still a pretty sight. There are plenty of signs around the central part of the city to steer you in the right direction.
This fountain was rarely visited before the movie Three Coins in a Fountain was made. Now it's Rome's most visited fountain. It's a beautiful spot to stop and rest for a while on the abundant concrete bench seating facing the fountain. There's even a drinking fountain there for refilling your water bottle. But it's not recommended that you drink from the Trevi fountain because of all the chemicals in it. And, yes, we threw a couple coins in the fountain to make sure that we'll be going back.
Piazza di Trevi
Rome, Italy 00187
Although the outside looks quite old, the interior has been restored and is quite beautiful. Even the light beaming in through the oculus (the hole in the domed roof) is interesting. In case it rains, there are four holes in the floor under the oculus so that the water can drain out. There were chairs set up in front of the alter where masses are still held.
The Pantheon is a short walk from the Trevi Fountain. Just look for the well marked signs, or follow the crowds. Like the Trevi Fountain, and so many other Roman ruins, entry into it is free and there is plenty of space so that the crowd wasn't distracting.
It does seem odd to have these ancient ruins surrounded by so many modern buildings.
Piazza della Rotonda
Rome, Italy 00186
Attraction | "The Forum in Rome"
Even before Caesar's time, the forum was continuously being built. But by the end of the 5th century AD, several attacks on Rome finally caused the end of the Roman empire. The temples, basilicas, and other monuments in the Forum were abandoned and looted. For hundreds of years, this continued until the site became known as Campo Vaccino (the Cow Field). In the 19th century, it became known as the Roman Forum again.
Today, the best preserved monuments are the two triumphal arches. The rest of the ruins are mostly temples or basilicas. What a fabulous place it must have been. What an eerie feeling walking around a place where people had spent so much time thousands of years ago!
We accidentally came upon the forum from Capitoline Hill, where we got a great overview of the forum. The other entrance is across from the Colosseum. It is free and there are drinking fountains throughout the area. We went to see it lit up at night, but it is closed off then. You might be able to see it by night from Capitoline Hill, but we were by the Coloseum and to tired to make the rather long walk.
Largo Romolo e Remo
Rome, Italy 00186
Attraction | "Colosseum"
The Colosseum was four stories high and could hold about 50,000 spectators. The 80 arches around the perimeter were entrances. The ticket determined which arch was entered. The first three stories were identical in structure, but the 4th story was added in 230 A.D. and is different. The floor of the arena is gone now and the underground passageways and animal pens are visible. There was no roof, but sailors were sometimes brought in to set up canvas awnings.
This is the place that really brought an eerie feeling over me. It reminded me of my Busch Stadium in St. Louis, with all the arches, size, and shape. Yet so many lives were lost in the Colosseum. It's hard for me to imagine such entertainment in a sport that results in death.
There is a fee to enter the Colosseum (it was 8 euro when I was there in June 2003), but it shouldn't be missed. It was open from 9am-7pm when we were there (I believe the closing time changes with the seasons and sunset times). It's closed on May 1st, Dec. 25th, and Dec. 31st.
Piazza Del Colosseo
Rome, Italy 00184
+39 (06) 7004261
The present St. Peter's Basilica is one of the most important and beautiful churches in Rome. It is over 25,616 square meters in area and has 44 altars, 11 domes, 778 columns, 395 statues and 135 mosaic pictures. For the architecture buffs, its dome was designed by Bramante and Michelangelo. The columnade was built by Bernini and the obelisk in the centre of the square was erected by Sixtus V.
St. Peter's is actually in Vatican City--a separate enclave within Rome which is governed both spiritually and politically by the Pope. It is surrounded by a wall built to protect the Tomb of St. Peter and also encloses the Papal Palace and beautiful gardens.
St. Peter's is Catholicism's most sacred shrine. Being catholic, we made our pilgrimage there and marveled at the beautiful structure. There is a small fee to go up in the dome, but well worth it for the magnificent views---both inside the dome and of the city around the basilica. Be prepared for a lot of stairs, even if you pay the extra to ride up to the dome in the elevator. To get to the outside viewing area is an additional 300 or so steps. The inside of the basilica is also a not to be missed experience. There is sculpted marble of all colors everywhere you turn. Expect to spend quite awhile here in order to see it all, the place is huge. Within the columnade is even a post office. We mailed a couple post cards from here to get the Vatican post mark. This is truely the most beautiful "church" I've ever been in! Whether you are Catholic or not, you should appreciate the workmanship throughout St. Peter's.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 3, 2003
St. Peter's Basilica
Piazza San Pietro
Vatican City, Rome 00193
St. Louis, Missouri