Saturday, September 13, 2008

Roming Around

It was our last day in Rome for this leg of the trip. Since we saw a lot of the big landmarks already, we spent today looking at some of the lesser-known sites. First was the Capuchin Monk Crypt. The description I read said that it was a crypt of monk bones "artfully arranged". I had thought this meant the skeletons would be posed in praying positions or lying in rest, but it turns out it was actually a few rooms of individual bones arranged into mosaic-like patterns. I'm talking vertebrae nailed to the ceiling in a flower pattern, for example. It was a weird mix of interesting and creepy.

Next was the Borghese Gallery. When we got there, there was a sign posted that tickets were sold out for the day. We decided we'd at least look around the gift shop and went in. A lady standing nearby saw that we had no tickets and gave us 2 for free! I guess her friends didn't show up. Score again! After a further art overload of Bernini, Raphael and Bassano, which was all the more sweet for free, we checked out the garden behind the gallery.

Lunch time! I had spaghetti and clams (#2). The restaurant had to move us to a different table to make more room on the patio, and not only did we not get free lemoncello, they seated me directly beside a sign that said "dog parking"! But the real highlight was when this guy came over and said he noticed us reading the Rick Steves' Italy guidebook - extremely popular for North Americans and you see tons of people carrying copies. Then he asked if we had any questions. I thought he was about to follow up with "because I'm Rick Steves", but no. Apparently he was an American that had been in Italy for a whole 9 days and had the same guidebook, so clearly, he was now an expert. He also didn't have any useful advice and had ill-fitting Gap pants.

In the afternoon, we took some pictures outside the Hall of Justice, then we toured Castle San Angelo. The castle was built by Emperor Hadrian as a monument to his boy lover. His wife must have liked that! The castle is a big cylinder, with dark, sprialing walkways and an amazing view of Rome from the top. We got some of our best pictures here.

Before a quick nap back at our hotel, we stopped at Piazza Navona. It had the requisite church and fountains, of course, but t
hey were also setting up a big stage for a tango concert. We came back later to see it and couldn't even get a seat. After about 45 minutes past the advertised start time, still nothing. Everyone started leaving, us included. Full of bitterness due to the lack of tango.

To wash out the bitter taste, we went to dinner and had some wine. The waiters at the restaurant used handheld devices to record orders - unlucky for me. Kevin ordered soup and a chicken entrée and I ordered a salad and scallops, or so I thought. Soup comes. Chicken comes. I still have no food. I guess my order was erased. After we flagged the waitress, I got my food just as Kevin finished eating. The "escallope" also turned out to be pork. It still tasted good!

We hung out for awhile and saw a comedian and then some acrobats perform in the square. I avoided all eye contact with fortune tellers.

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