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Roman Holiday

Doug Phillips

100+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
By Doug Phillips from Canada, Fall 2007
My 2006 Slow Travel Prize was a week in an apartment in Rome. This evolved into twelve days in Italy, based in Rome, followed by two days in Paris in September 2007. There were four of us - Liz, Doug, Steve and Brad Phillips. We had a great time, including two GTGs, a Scavi Tour, a visit to the Galleria Borghese, and an abbreviated sojurn on Capri. Read on.

This trip report was originally posted on SlowTrav.

Introduction and Preparations

Late in our 12 days in Rome in September 2007, I said to my older son who, along with his younger brother, Brad, joined us for two weeks of our 24 days in Italy and France, “Hey Steve, guess what I’m going to title my Trip Report on Slow Travel about this part of our adventure?”

“Roman Holiday,” Steve replied. “You’re so predictable, Dad.”

Originally I intended to call it “Four Travelers in Rome”, as an acknowledgment of my admiration of H.V. Morton, but Steve was right. And so, with a nod to William Wyler, Gregory Peck and the luminous Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday it is.

My name was drawn first in the 2006 Slow Travel contest, which presented my Beautiful Wife (BW) and I with a pleasant problem – which of the wonderful prizes should be select? After much deliberation, we decided on an apartment in Trastevere offered by Romepower.com. When I contacted Romepower with a few questions before making my selection, Marco Agretti offered us a second week at half price – which we accepted. There were several reasons for our choice, which included the opportunity to offer two of our four adult children the chance to visit Rome. Our two daughters were not able to make it, but our two sons were. Steve, a Mechanical Engineer, was able to arrange his holidays to coincide with the opportunity presented by Slow Travel and Romepower. Brad was a recent (May 2007) university graduate who was also able to arrange time off from his job in Ottawa.

Eventually we decided to spend 12 days in Italy (10 days in Rome and two days on Capri) and 12 days in France. Steve and Brad would join us for the first two weeks, with the last two days in Paris before flying home. BW & I planned to spend an additional 10 days back down in Provence.

With the help of many fellow Slow Travelers and our previous experience, I made all the arrangements from home in the months and weeks leading up to our end of August departure from our home in Eastern Ontario, including booking:
  • Montreal-Paris-Montreal flights on ZOOM and the connecting flights from Paris-Rome-Paris on Alitalia
  • shuttle service pickup and return at Fiumicino
  • a Scavi Tour for the four of us
  • a visit to the Galleria Borghese
  • hotel accommodations in each of Anacapri, Paris and the perched village of Saignon in the Luberon
  • TGV tickets from CDG to Avignon and return
  • a one-week return visit to Mas de Briançonceu, a rural gite between Menerbes and Lacoste in the Luberon
I distributed guidebooks among members of my family while I read H.V. Morton’s A Traveller in Rome (1960 edition), Alexander MacKinnon’s Things Seen in Rome (1927), Georgina Masson’s The Companion Guide to Rome (1965), and The Colour of Rome (1914) by Olave Potter. Masson’s book is elsewhere highly regarded, but I found it very slow going. I just skimmed Potter’s book, while I read MacKinnon’s and read and re-read Morton’s. I had been to Rome twice before, the last time in 1976. I had some residual memories and impressions, but it was a long time ago. Part of our plans included the opportunity to take part in four GTGs with mostly other Slow Travel members. Twenty-four days was by far the longest we had been away from home. We felt that we were very fortunate to have at least some of our family with us for part of the time. I have divided my Trip Report into two parts. What follows here is about our two weeks in Italy and Paris, accompanied by our sons.


BW at the Trevi Fountain. The coin trick worked before, way back in 1976. But it took until September 2007 for the magic to take effect.
Saturday September 1 – Montreal to Paris to Rome

Our Friday evening ZOOM flight from Montreal arrived at Terminal 3 at Paris CDG 30 minutes early on Saturday morning. BW, Brad and I made our way over to Terminal 2 where we met up with Steve who had arrived in Paris on Thursday morning. Our Alitalia flight was scheduled to leave at 12:35pm but we didn’t depart until 1:40pm, which put us an hour behind the rest of the day. Fortunately, Alessandro from Romashuttle was there to meet us at Fiumicino and transfer us to our apartment at Via Monte Fiore, 7 in Trastevere. On the way into the city I phoned Sacha from Romepower and he was at the apartment when we arrived. Sacha was very helpful and friendly, showing us around the spacious and very-well equipped apartment and directing us to a nearby supermarket (Supermercati Standa, Via di Trastevere 62/64). After unpacking, the four of us made a trip to the supermarket in the basement of a larger store. I was surprised to hear so much English being spoken – and later discovered that Trastevere is a favourite locale for exchange students and tourists alike.

In the early evening we walked around the streets of our neighbourhood, getting briefly lost in Trastevere before going for dinner at a tourist restaurant, Il Ponentino, a few steps from the door of our apartment - €70.00 for the four of us. Later we walked along the banks of the Tiber joining the throngs of people enjoying the beautiful evening.


Brad, Steve and BW at our apartment at Via Monte Fiore, 7 in Trastevere
Sunday September 2 – Walking Tour of Rome ... and Melanzane alla Parmigiana

Rome is a walking city, as we discovered early in our stay. Shortly after 7:00am I went to the nearby Pasticceria Giaocchino Belli for an espresso and a brief consultation with a couple of guidebooks while the others slept. I began to appreciate how well situated we were. We were within a few minutes walk of three bridges across the Tiber, even closer to a bus and tram stop, less than 10 minutes from Campo dei Fiori. Plus there was a nearby tourist kiosk, which we visited several times in the first few days of our stay.

Off by 9:00am to roughly follow a walking tour from Spiral Guide Rome, our favourite guidebook series. Over to the Capitoline Hill, where we walked up the broad ramped staircase designed by Michelangelo to the Piazza del Campidolgio and the Church of Santa Maria in Aracoeli, where we paused to watch a wedding before stepping outside to enjoy the great views of the city. We walked down the steep monumental staircase of the church over to, and up the Victor Emmanuel II monument, before proceeding over to the Piazza Venezia and continuing on our walking tour. We stopped for espresso at Giolitti, the well-known càfe, pastry shop and ice cream parlor, popular with tourists and locals alike. We departed from the walking tour route for our first visit to the Pantheon. While it was full of tourists like ourselves, our time in this best-preserved structure from the time of the height of the Roman Empire was still an impressive experience.

The Pantheon

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AO17AhYQKw

We rejoined the path of the walking tour until we were faced with a choice at a corner near the Tiber. We could continue the tour by turning left or turn right and pay a visit to Castel Sant’Angelo. It was no contest – the impressive building a short walk across the Ponte Sant’Angelo acted like a magnet. And of course once across the bridge on our left was the broad Via della Conciliazone that led to Saint Peter’s. The walking tour was abandoned. We walked over to Saint Peter’s. After determining the location of the entrance to our scheduled Scavi Tour the next morning, we attempted to tour the interior of the church, but were only partially successful. Steve and I passed though the first screening with no problem, but BW was turned away. The problem? Her shorts ended above the knee, although many others similarly-attired made it past the scrutiny of the Knee-and-Shoulder Squad. But I guess it's better to be on the discreet side, just to be sure of getting in. Brad stayed with his mother on the outside while Steve and I proceeded through the security checkpoint and toured the interior of the church before meeting up with BW & Brad.

We had about a 30-minute walk along the same side of the Tiber back to our apartment. Around 9:00pm we had a very enjoyable dinner at a nearby restaurant just around the corner – Ristorante Pizzeria Villetta – a big improvement on the previous evening. One item on the menu proved irresistible – Melanzane all Parmigiana. It was a much more cheesy version of a dish I had made a few times at home earlier this summer.


Castel Sant' Angelo
Monday September 3 – Scavi Tour

We arrived a few minutes early for our Scavi Tour at 9:30am. In addition to the English-speaking guide and the four of us there were eight others – four Australians and four Americans, two each from Indiana and Missouri. I had read H.V. Morton’s description of the excavations in his A Traveller in Rome and think I was better prepared for the experience than most of the others. Here is a selection from Morton’s description:

“We were standing in a Roman street... Tombs, one after the other, stood behind a continuous facade of beautiful red Roman brick which was pierced every few yards by massive travertine doorways and by windows. A road about five feet wide separated one row of buildings from those opposite... The tombs consisted of one room or, at the most, two. They were beautifully designed to look like the houses of the living, and the rooms were brightly decorated; there was nothing sad or gloomy about them. Some were painted in brilliant Pompeian red, and the walls and ceilings were bright with cupids, birds and flowers. They were sitting-rooms for the soul. Some of the tombs were furnished with niches for cinerary urns, some with shelves for sarcophagi. I glanced up at the roof-line of the street, once in the open air of the hillside and now untouched by sun or rain for sixteen hundred years: and I thought of the people thirty feet or so above, who were at that moment walking upon the polished pavements of St. Peter’s, unaware of this strange scene below.”

And that’s exactly what it was like. I was almost as thrilled that I was retracing the walking path of H.V. Morton 50 years ago as I was impressed by the antiquity of the necropolis itself.

Following the Scavi Tour we were able to go directly into St. Peter’s. From there we decided to proceed to the top of the dome via a short elevator ride and a climb of 341 steps (€7). The views from the top of the Dome of St. Peter’s were spectacular and served as a companion experience to the Scavi Tour. In the early afternoon we joined the line for the Vatican Museum (€13) and then had a walk of almost an hour inside before reaching the Sistine Chapel. We had a late lunch at a restaurant a few blocks from the Vatican on Borgio Pio before walking back to the apartment, arriving at 4:00pm – totally exhausted.

After resting in the apartment for a few hours we returned to the area around the Trevi Fountain which we had visited on our walking tour on Sunday. There are many restaurants in the area, all catering to tourists but we found one which we can recommend if you are in the area – Trattoria della Stampa di Bucci at Via del Maroniti, 32. Tourists get an English menu; locals a verbal account of what’s available. There are no outside tables and no shills on the street. We were one of only two tables that got a menu. This time I tried another recipe I had made earlier in the summer – Penne Melanzane. Il conti for the four of us was €105.


Swiss Guards at the Vatican
Tuesday September 4 – Colosseum and the Forum

Over to the café for an espresso at 7:00am, then a walk among the almost-deserted streets of Trastevere, enjoying the cool morning air before walking over to Campo dei Fiori with BW by 8:00am to buy food supplies, including fruits, vegetables, meat and cheese.

After breakfast we walked over to the Colosseum, passing by the remains of the Circus Maximus. Even relatively early in the day there was a long line waiting to buy tickets. Following directions that we had learned on Slow Travel, we bypassed the line on the left, picked up our Roma Passes and were inside the Colosseum in a couple of minutes. We spent the next three hours marveling at the wonders of the Colosseum and walking through the nearby remains of the Roman Forum. We ended up back on top of the Capitoline, at the Campidoglio from where we descended and walked among the back streets looking for a reasonable place for lunch, without success. We made our way back over to the Campo dei Fiori and enjoyed a lunch of pizza and calzones as the market was being dismantled for the day.

Dinner at the apartment from the fresh produce purchased in the morning. Wine was a Verduccio de San Gimigano, purchased partially because we had been to San Gimignano in our Tuscan Rambles tour back in 2004.


In the Roman Forum
Wednesday, September 5 – GTG at Trattoria Der Pallaro

All four of us slept in until 10:00am, then walked over to the Piazza Navona, where I stopped at a TIM store to buy a mobile phone. We made our way back over to the Campo dei Fiori area for our 1:00pm GTG at Trattoria Der Pallaro with Josette and Doru, Kat B and Peter, Massimo and Biancamaria, Lia and Francesca and a late-arriving Tony da Philadelphia, aka, Tony da Roma.

We enjoyed good food and conversation for two hours before splitting up. Steve & Brad went off on their own, while BW & I took a bus over to the Termini to purchase train tickets to Naples on Monday morning. We took another bus over to the Colosseum area from where we walked up to San Pietro in Vincoli to admire Michelangelo’s Moses. The church has a rather nondescript exterior and is a bit difficult to locate. I had to ask directions even though we were only a couple of minutes away. Like every other time I had a ask a Roman for some help, the exchange was friendly and helpful. A very little bit of Italian goes a long way. Then over to Via Cavour and a bus to Piazza Venezia and a transfer to one across the Tiber and a short walk to our apartment.

The bus system seems very complicated, but we only needed to learn a few routes to get around. Many routes pass through a common area like the Piazza Venezia or the Termini and it was relatively easy to figure out the next bus to take. If in doubt, I asked.

In the evening we returned to the Campo dei Fiori and the popular La Carbonari restaurant right on the Campo. For a second time I ordered Melanzane della Parmigiana. Il conti for the four of us was €116, including a litre of both wine and water.


GTG at Trattoria Der Pallaro
Thursday September 6 – Galleria Borghese

A couple of weeks before leaving Canada I reserved tickets for entry to the Galleria Borghese at 9:00am. Becoming experts at the bus system, shortly after 7:30am we took the tram over to Largo Argentina and then searched for a few minutes until we found the small 116 bus that wended its way among the narrow streets until it reached to top of Via Venuto. From there we had a short walk to the Galleria and time for a relaxing café inside before our timed visit started.

We used the Roma Pass to pay the entry fee (€10.50) and decided to take a guided tour (€5). This proved to be an excellent choice as our guide, Isabella, brought life to the Bernini and Canova sculptures and the paintings by Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian and Corregio. Cardinal Scipione Borghese, who had the building constructed and was its first occupant, was apparently an unpleasant and unscrupulous character, but the collection he began atones for a lot of misdeeds. At exactly 11:00am we were ushered out the door. The number of visitors is limited to 360 in each two-hour period, which requires a bit of pre-planning but means that the Galleria is never overcrowded like many other attractions in Rome. Our visit to the Galleria Borghese was one of the highlights of our time in Rome. Highly recommended.

After leaving the Galleria we walked through the Borghese Gardens over to the Piazza del Poppolo where there was a large crowd, including several TV cameras, gathered outside one of the churches. As the well-dressed and apparently well-known people filed out of the church, we realized the occasion was a funeral.

We continued down Via Babuino, took a detour over to Via Margutta to try to visit the site of Gregory Peck’s apartment in Roman Holiday at Via Margutta, 51. The door to the passageway into the courtyard was open, but a young female concierge quite understandably stopped me from entering the courtyard. I took a couple of photos from the passageway, then returned to Via Margutta and Via Banbuino and continued along to the area of the Spanish Steps where we paused for lunch on Via della Croce. In 1976, BW & I had dinner at a small restaurant in the area. I have always remembered the most appealing setting along a short passageway into a courtyard awash in greenery. I never thought of trying to find it on this trip, but as soon as I saw the entrance I recognized the location from over 30 years ago. It’s at Via della Croce, 81 – and is now a pizzeria.

Following lunch, we climbed to the top of the Spanish Steps and enjoyed the views of the city. Our sons lingered in the area while BW & I walked along Via dei Condotti with its row of exclusive and expensive stores. We paused at the Fendi store to take a couple of photos for the benefit of one of our daughters. We turned left at Via Ripetta and walked over to Piazza Navona and then on to Campo dei Fiori to check on the location of a recommended restaurant. Then back across the Tiber to our apartment.

Dinner in the apartment with a gelato run over to Via di Trastevere for dessert.


Galleria Borghese
Friday September 7 – Via del Corso

Luciano Pavarotti died yesterday in Modena at the age of 71. I know this because it is front-page news in all the newspapers. Inside each there are several pages detailing his life and career.

We didn’t get away from the apartment until after 11:00am. BW & I walked over to the nearby Bocca della Verita, in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, for the requisite Roman Holiday photo. Next we made our way over to the area of the Pantheon and an espresso at Tazza d’oro where we also purchased some coffee beans to bring back to Canada. We met Steve and Brad for a late lunch on Via del Corso, then split up again.

BW & I spent most of the afternoon walking and shopping along the Corso. I am amazed at the number of tour groups wherever we go in Rome. The Corso is the nexus of a lot of groups as they make their way to and from the Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. In addition, the Corso is a major shopping area that includes the popular Galleria Alberto Sordi. There are people coming at you from all directions in parts of the Corso. Occasionally a group stops along the Corso for a brief discourse, causing another obstacle to navigate around.

We had an excellent dinner at Grappolo d’oro Zampano on Piazza della Cancellaria, just off the Campo de Fiori. Highly recommended.


Bocca dell Verita
Saturday September 8 – La Notte Bianca

Our apartment is only a few steps from Via della Lungaretta. I have noticed several people walking along the street, map and/or guidebook in hand. Now I now why. It is on several walking tours of Trastevere, including Spiral Guide Rome. BW & I decided to spend the morning following the walking tour which took us over to the St. Cecilia Church in Trastevere where we saw another wedding; then across a bridge where we walked along Via Giulia and over again to Campo dei Fiori where we bought fruits and vegetables for dinner at the apartment. We paused for a beer at a café on the Campo where we were joined by two other couples, both Canadians from the Toronto area. One couple had just arrived in Rome and were unable to check into their nearby hotel until later in the day. We recommended both Slow Travel and Grappolo d’oro Zampano. Then I was off on my own for a few hours – over to an Internet Point then up the Corso for a return visit to Via dei Condotti and the area around the Spanish Steps.

In the late afternoon I sat outside the apartment reading a book and sipping a glass of wine (or two). I began to understand the pattern of life in this quiet corner of Trastevere – the friendly exchanges on the street, the importance of scooters as a means of transportation, the young and not-so-young men heading out for the evening, the couples strolling by. I say “sera” often. A young couple approaches me, asking directions – sorry.

I had read a bit about La Notte Bianca before we arrived in Rome, but wasn’t really sure what to expect – except that it would go through the night. This was the fifth edition of the event. Around 10:30pm BW & I walked across the bridge with vague intentions of making our way up to Piazza del Poppolo but we were distracted by a steady stream of people walking up to the Campodoglio and decided to join in to see what was happening. On the Piazza we saw a very large group of people milling around, a TV crew wrapping up a report and a stage set up at the far end. “Wow, I thought, there must be 10,000 people here,” and they kept coming up the steps. We were at one end, on a slightly raised section. Many people were sitting down, so we joined in to see what would happen. The crowd was predominantly young, very friendly and very Roman. Everybody around us was speaking Italian. We had no idea what we were waiting for. Privately, I feared a punk band. Shortly after 11:00pm two musicians appeared and played several pleasing jazz-like selections to a polite reception. But obviously they were not the main attraction. All the while more and more people were crowding onto the already full square.

The Campidoglio on La Notte Bianca

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vyxqS-eIwZY

At midnight several musicians appeared and began to play. The vocalist was the obvious star attraction, singing several familiar (to the rest of the audience, if not to us) songs. His voice, phrasing and presence were all very appealing. I partially turned to a young woman sharing much of the same space as I, and asked,
“Who is he?”
“Franco Battiato” was the reply.
“He is very popular?” I asked.
“Oh yes,” she said, “He is from Sicilia and studied philosophy and music.”

It is difficult to convey the magical feeling on the Campidoglio that evening. I know I will remember it for the rest of my life. It was wonderful.

It is also difficult to judge the size of the crowd. If there were 10,000 people on the Campidoglio when we arrived, by midnight there were three or four times that many. After about an hour we decided to make our way off the Campidoglio. We didn’t want to get caught in the crush at the end of his concert. It was very difficult to push our way through, but eventually we made our way down the steps where we were rewarded with another amazing sight. Franco Battiato’s performance was being shown on a giant screen to the right of the Vittorio Emmanuel II monument. There must have been more than 200,000 in the area around the monument. We enjoyed a few more songs, including “Ruby Tuesday” before heading back to our apartment around 2:30am.

Over then next couple of days, I was able to decipher enough of newspaper reports to understand that La Notte Bianca in Rome in 2007 involved over 2,500,000 people, an increase of more than one million from the previous year. If I was planning another trip to Rome in the future around the same time of year, I would want it to coincide the La Notte Bianca. It was great.


The Campidoglio on La Notte Bianca
Sunday September 9 – GTG with Gavin and Ches

Up at 9:00am, over to the café for an espresso and some croissants for the apartment. Out for a stroll after 11:00am, making our way slowly over to our GTG with Gavin and Ches Crawford from Sydney Australia. In January 2006 I won first pick in the Slow Travel contest. I chose our apartment in Rome. Gavin won second pick. He chose the other Rome apartment offered in the contest. Now, 20 months later, we are in Rome at the same time. Amazing.

Our 1:00pm lunch at Osteria al Vecchio Pegno at Vicolo Montevecchio, 8 lasted until 3:30pm and included a complimentary limoncello at the end. The lunch was one of the highlights of our time in Rome. Our two families discovered that our life experiences were quite similar. If I ever make it to Sydney, I feel that I have already made two friends before we arrive.

Gavin’s enthusiasm for Caravaggio inspired an afternoon visit by BW and I to the Church of Santa Maria del Poppolo to view “The Conversion of Saul” and “The Crucifixion of Saint Peter.” We also paused at the Chuga Chapel, mentioned in Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons, following which we walked to the top of the Pincian Hill to enjoy the great views of the city.

Down Via Babuino to the Spanish Steps and on to Piazza Barberini, another Angels and Demons locale, before heading over to the Corso and back to the apartment by 7:00pm.

Cheese omelets for dinner and packing for Capri before an early night’s sleep.


GTG with Gavin and Cheryl Crawford
Monday September 11 – Nightmare in Naples / One Night on Capri

Early in our planning, we had decided on a mini-vacation within our holiday in Rome – two days on the island of Capri. I had been twice before, BW once – both over 30 years ago. We thought we would all enjoy a couple of days away from Rome after more than a week in the city. I had booked two nights at Hotel Senaria in Anacapri. The hotel is at the end of the centro storico of the village on a small laneway, Via Follonaci. BW & I had purchased our train tickets to Naples a few days earlier at the Termini in Rome. We also familiarized ourselves with the layout of the Termini, so there wouldn’t be any problems catching our early morning train south. When we arrived in Naples around 10:30am, we decided to purchase our return tickets, then proceeded outside to take the tram to Molo Beverello where we could catch the ferry to Capri. Tram 01 was clean and bright and only partially full with a mixture of tourists like ourselves, and young and older locals. At the port we purchased tickets for the ferry that was departing in a few minutes. So far everything had proceeded smoothly, but that changed in an instant.

“Doug, I can’t find my purse!” broke the spell.

BW has traveled for years with a small fabric purse, usually hanging from her neck in front, with one hand on the purse or very nearby. Today, she stuck it in the bottom of a larger bag as we left the train terminal in Naples. And now it was gone. It had been stolen, most likely on Tram 01. Our ferry was about to depart. We got on board and tried to assess the damage on the ride over to Capri. We lost a small amount of money ... a few Rome bus tickets ... our train tickets back to Rome ... a credit card, health card and driver’s license ... one of the keys to our apartment in Rome ... and BOTH our passports. Using our new mobile phone we immediately canceled the stolen credit card, but we were at a loss about what to do about our passports. Most fortunately, Steve had brought along a Lonely Planet Guide to Western Europe, which he had used on his previous hostel-based trips. The guide included a number for the Canadian Embassy in Rome. I phoned, explained what had just happened and sought advice on what to do. One of the complications was that we were booked on a flight to Paris in three days.

As a result, we spent only one restless evening in Anacapri, including a couple of hours in the carabineri station filing a police report, which we needed to get new passports. We did manage to take the ski lift to Mont Solaro at the top of the island where we enjoyed some spectacular views. But I have now been on Capri three times and I have still not made it to the Blue Grotto. Next time for sure.

From Monte Solaro, Capri

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ah98qczkv7Q


View from our terrace on Anacapri
Tuesday September 12 – The Canadian Embassy in Rome

Tuesday morning, BW & I caught the earliest ferry back to Naples, took a taxi to the Terminale and bought two Eurostar tickets that got us back to Rome shortly after noon. Steve & Brad decided to stay on the island and do some hiking. We returned to the apartment, retrieved the required documents, including our plane tickets to Paris and back home and headed over to the Canadian Embassy at Via Zara, 30. I can assure fellow Canadian Slow Travelers that our government is not throwing away our tax dollars to create a lavish presence in Rome. The embassy is in a modest building on a very small street, apparently sharing at least part of the building, as well as a security guard, with the Embassy of New Zealand. Its presence is inconspicuous to say the least. We had to ask directions twice, even after making it to Via Zara.

We were handed a large number of forms, parts of which were impossible for us to fill out. Fortunately, a consular officer came to our aid after about an hour. She zipped through many of the sections on the forms and even phoned one of our guarantors while we were there. Her role in this situation, she explained, was to help Canadians in distress. After about an hour and a half we had completed the forms, then had to proceed to a nearby photographer to get our passport photos, which we dropped off at the embassy. Our passports would be ready tomorrow afternoon.

In the evening we returned to the Campo dei Fiori area once more, to Ristorante Ditirambo on Piazza dell Cancelleria, directly across from Grappolo d’oro Zampano. We enjoyed our best meal in Rome. There are so many restaurants in the area and we ate relatively early – 8:00 – 8:30pm – that we never had to make reservations, although at some there were line-ups when we were leaving.


Ristorante Ditirambo
Wednesday September 12 – Looking for Sophia Loren

Today we stopped for lunch at a very unassuming trattoria just off Via Nomentana. We ate outside and when we had to leave for an appointment, I walked inside to pay il conto. I noticed a signed black & white photo of Sophia Loren behind the counter.

“Has Sophia Loren been here?” I asked.
“Si”, replied the owner.
“Recently or a long time ago?”
“Often – she lives only cento metres from here,” as he pointed toward her building.

It’s amazing what you can learn by asking a simple question. Sophia missed us at lunch. Maybe next time she’ll get lucky.

In the afternoon we returned to the Canadian Embassy where we picked up our temporary passports and returned to the apartment in the late afternoon where we met up with Steve and Brad who had returned from Capri. In the evening we ventured along Via Lungaretta, across Via Trastevere for our last evening in Rome. Like most evenings, Trastevere was teeming with people, most of the restaurants were full, and there was a vibrant atmosphere wherever we went.


On Via Giulia
Thursday – Saturday September 13-15 - Paris

Yesterday Scotland defeated France 1-0 in a football (soccer) game. It was the first time in 57 years that Scotland had won on French soil. Wherever we went in Paris this afternoon and evening we encountered kilted Scotsmen celebrating the victory in varying, but generally deteriorating, stages of sobriety.

Our day began in our apartment in Trastevere in Rome and ended in the small 20-room Hotel Saint Louis Marais on rue Charles V in Paris. We spent our two days in Paris showing Brad some of the highlights of this most beautiful city. We didn’t see much of Steve in our time in Paris. He returned to the hotel late at night & left right after breakfast. He met up with a friend from Toronto. Her name is Jane.

While football was popular with the Scots we met, the highest profile sport in Paris when we were there was Rugby. The World Cup was being contested over several weeks and in several venues in France, including Paris. It was obviously a major sporting event in France. There was even a scoreboard on the Eiffel Tower and a very large inflated balloon between the first and second stages of the famous landmark.

I spent some time on a couple of personal projects - taking several photos of the beautiful Pont Alexandre III and tracking down the locations of the recent film, Avenue Montaigne, on the fashionable street of the same name.

We had a great time. Our joint activities included:
  • a Seine tour on the batobus
  • up the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe
  • flying visits to the Louvre, Montmartre and rue des Rosiers
  • return visits to two of our favourite restaurants – Le Florimond on avenue Motte-Piquette in the 7th and Chez Nenesse on rue Santonge in the 4th.
I don’t think Brad realized that food could taste so good or that a city could be so beautiful.

Our family adventure ended on Saturday morning as the four of us took the RER back out to CDG. Our sons had to return to Canada, while BW & I continued our journey with an additional ten days on a return visit to Provence. Our TGV train left before their flight, so we had a quick farewell and parted. Our story continues in another Trip Report - Return to the Luberon.


Welcome to Paris
We made our way back over to the Campo dei Fiori area for our 1:00pm GTG at Trattoria Der Pallaro with Josette and Doru, Kat B and Peter, Massimo and Biancamaria, Lia and Francesca and a late-arriving Tony da Philadelphia, aka, Tony da Roma.

How nice to see old familiar faces in your GTG photo! @Doru ! Massimo and Bianamaria who are offering a stay in their Rome Apartment in our contest. Tony da Roma, also offering prizes!!

Out for a stroll after 11:00am, making our way slowly over to our GTG with Gavin and Ches Crawford from Sydney Australia. In January 2006 I won first pick in the Slow Travel contest. I chose our apartment in Rome. Gavin won second pick. He chose the other Rome apartment offered in the contest. Now, 20 months later, we are in Rome at the same time. Amazing.

More familiar faces! We saw Gavin and Ches just a couple of months ago!

“Doug, I can’t find my purse!” broke the spell.

My stomach lurched reading this. This can happen to anyone, no matter how experienced a traveler. What an awful thing to happen on a trip.

Great trip report! Brings back happy memories seeing the sites in Rome.

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