on January 7, 2012
There were three big tourist sites in Rome that stole my heart despite the crowded, tourist atmosphere of them. The first was the Colloseum - how could you not love such an awe inspiring place? The second was the Vatican - for reasons I will go into much more specifically in that review and the third was Piazza Navona. One of the more famous Piazzas in a city filled with beautiful squares - I put it on my Rome To Do List as something to see if we got the chance or were passing by,. I didn't want to get caught up running from tourist attraction to tourist attraction paying inflated prices and dealing with crowds in such a welcoming, atmospheric city as Rome, but there were a few it seemed important to see. My first trip to Rome also happened to be my honeymoon - and meeting up with a few friends who we hadn't seen in a while as part of that celebration I booked a restaurant on a little street just off the Piazza Navona thinking this would give me a chance to visit the place - but in passing. As it turned out - it was one of the last things we got to in Rome - and after a very long day of walking the city and seeing all that we could, we rushed back to our apartment just north of the Vatican, got dressed for dinner and went back to the Piazza to meet up with our friends. The sun was just lowering as we got there - and I was utterly unprepared for how stunningly beautiful it was. going to be. It was crowded, but it had none of that frantic, pushiness we'd experienced earlier at the likes of the Trevi Fountain and Spanish steps. Perhaps this would have been different in the middle of the day - but as the sun lowered and lit the buildings around the square gold - there was a calm, browsy atmosphere to the square that I found immensly pleasing. I fell in love with it right away. It was crammed from one end to the other with vendors selling things - mostly artists with their work which I could happily have browsed all day. The work varied in all types and forms and was stunning to behold. For all that I heard Las Ramblas in Barcelona praised for it's wonderful art and atmosphere - but to my mind it had absolutely nothing on Piazza Navona. What a glorious place - and having not done much souvinir shopping yet I was thrilled to spend that money here - getting small oils, pastels and watercolours from various local artists at excellent prices. I highly recommend you pay a visit here before spending your money in any shops. The beautiful restaurants were turning on lights and setting up for the evening - and the fountains were brought out in contrast as the light lowered behind the square. I could have spent days enjoying this spot. However - I do have a stern word of warning for visitors. DO NOT go to a restaurant that is ON the Piazza Navona. They are vastly over priced, the service is terrible, they are pushy and worst of all the food is subpar - it's all set up for tourists and they do it well. While waiting for us our friends took a table and had a couple of drinks. When we showed up we decided just to stay there for dinner and the 7 of us took a seat. I will review this particular experience seperately- but let it just be said we were taken aback by the poor quality of the food on offer, the very high prices, and the pointedly annoyed attitude of the waiter when we just ordered pizzas. He actually told another couple they had to finish their drinks and leave so we could have their seats. We were, in fact, so put off by his attitude, we cancelled our order and left. And yet - literally around the corner you can get wonderful service, a much better atmosphere, Roman hospitality and excellent food, still close enough to hear the music from the square. Pay the Piazza Navona a visit in Rome, but be choosy about where you eat.
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