Happy spring break everyone!
My family flew into Rome on Friday morning and immediately wanted their personal tour guide (me) to take them around Rome.
Their first full day here we took the high speed italo treno to Florence for a day trip. About an hour on the train and we were already there. We were told prior to our trip by some family friends that it was important to go to the Duomo of Florence, Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, early to avoid long lines. They were right, not only is there only one very narrow flight of 463 steps to accommodate tourists going both up and down, but the line to get into the church had reached at least an hour and a half by noon.
We went to the Duomo around 9 o’clock and there was no line, which meant very few tourists at the top, which made for some awesome pictures!
Being in Florence, it can only be assumed that we went to the leather market. I was determined to find a beautiful leather jacket and bargain the price way down. We first went to the open air leather market where I found exactly what I was looking for, the only problem, the collar was unmistakably damaged. Disappointed, I knew I wasn’t about to spend a large sum of money for something damaged. As we walked around Florence we stopped in leather stores to see what they had. In one store we walked in a classic salesman showed us coat after coat but nothing was right. I explained the coat I had seen at the market and it was as if a light bulb had gone off in this man’s head. He told us to wait and that he would be back in 5 minutes. He ran out of the store down the street to his other store to grab a jacket, which to my surprise was exactly what I had seen from the other vendor, even nicer. This jacket was lined and the man even offered to do alterations on the sleeves to ensure a perfect fit. It’s clear my dad’s bargaining skills are on a completely different level. Not only was he able to bargain the jacket down even more, but he was able to do so with US dollars! I was able to walk away with a beautiful custom fit jacket that I can’t wait to show my friends at home. Thanks Dad : )
After a long day in Florence we jumped on the train and headed back to Rome to get some dinner. We found a hole in the wall place with a zero English menu and a zero English speaking staff. Even though dinners like this are a little tougher, the less English the better! No English means that the restaurant isn’t looking to pull in tourists, which means more authentic Italian food! The staff was friendly, and I think we even made them laugh a few times with our attempts at ordering in Italian which in some cases just ended up being us pointing to food on other tables.
All carbed up from our pasta dinner the night before, Rebecca and I were ready to run. While we waited in the corals to start the race we talked to two women from California who had gone to high school in Rome and came back for a reunion. At first we didn’t know how they could pick us out so easily, our lack of Italian? No. Our overall American appearance? NO! It was our race bibs that gave us away… I hadn’t really taken notice to the “F” before our numbers, but apparently it didn’t stand for fabulous or fantastic… nope, it stood for “foreigner.” Thanks RomaOstia, when the only thing I want to do is blend. If anything, I have way more respect for the international runners in the Philadelphia Marathon now.
After the race Rebecca and I celebrated with our tè caldo (hot tea). Side note for all of my running friends, instead of giving us foil at the end to keep us warm they gave us these cool plastic jackets. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t be seeing me sporting this on the street, but it’s perfect because unlike the foil that catches all of the wind and falls off, this jacket had buttons and drawstrings to keep you warm!
One thing that concerned the two of us was my dad and brother’s ability to navigate the train (different than the metro) to Ostia where the finish line was located. We shouldn’t have been worried at all. Somehow they were both able to manage their way into the VIP for just long enough to fill up on prosciutto and mozzarella sandwiches and croissants before promptly being escorted out when security found out they weren’t actually VIP.
It’s only three days into spring break, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend it than with my family! On Monday we’re taking another high speed train, this time to Venice. And on Tuesday we’re making our way down to Pompeii to see the city and climb Mount Vesuvius.