Day 11 Paris-Rome After breakfast, jet to Rome. Time for an apertif at a sidewalk cafe along the famed Via Veneto. Tonight, why not take advantage of a free drink at an exclusive discotheque and each of two nightclubs in this fashionable area?
This morning we had what was our earliest call to activity – A voice on the phone at 5:45 reminded us that our bags should be outside our room door ready for pick-up at 6 a.m.- We were all glad this wasn’t the regular routine-
We had an early breakfast and a little after 7 a.m. saw our bags & then ourselves on the bus headed for Orly Aeroport de Paris –
The sun was bright & the sky clear – This was the only time we saw the streets empty – Passed the Arc de Triomphe & over the beautiful Alexandria Bridge – out into the suburbs & we were again on our way-
Our T.W.A. flight to Rome was a while away, so after check in we did some shopping in the free port
On board our pilot promised us a smooth ride at 32,000 feet & an arrival in Rome in 1 hour and 35 minutes.
Our flight took us over the French city of Dijon and over Geneva Switzerland – We crossed the Alps – were lunching as we looked out to see the unforgettable sight of the Matterhorn showing itself to us above the clouds – From that point on we were in the Italian sky – over the Isle of Elba & down over the Mediterranean Sea & into the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport – that is located at the mouth of the Tiber River-
Our Hostess took us through the airport and to the “trolly” for a 35 minute ride into the city and our Hotel – It was a delightful 56 degrees – Bright & clear – “The roads are sometimes narrow & the drivers always nervous” – the cab drivers drink for courage – 1, 2, or 3 depending on what’s ahead – Traffic lights blink but are not respected-
We traveled along the Tiber River & as we crossed it saw the first of many Roman ruins – These particular ones had been the home of the Emperor & were on the famous Palentine Hill – Also passed the Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine. Even saw the that ever welcome sight of the American Embassy –
The Hotel was a beautiful one located in a residential section – “Residence Palace” The floors were of beautiful ceramic tile laid in a beautiful pattern – covered partially with elaborate thick rugs in rich deep colors – The lobby was furnished with heavy Victorian type furniture, large heavily gilt framed mirrors & many plants – The rooms too, were very well furnished & the service deluxe!
We were checked in – shown to our rooms & then had a snack to tide us over until evening when we had reservations for dinner & tour of Rome by Night –
We started out on a walk to the Villa Borghese – a beautiful wooded & landscaped area where the University of Rome has its campus – Beautiful in a Garden Setting – & right in this crowded section of a city this size –
We dresssed & met in the lobby ready for a “nite in Rome”
Our tour guide picked us up & we were on our way down the Via Veneto – It was beautiful with its early evening lights the flowers, trees, glass, and side walk tables With beautiful linens & silver – This the setting for the well known Hotel Excelsior “Not a shopping but a sitting & watching place” – A good place “to be seen” – The Via Veneto makes a large s-curve & where it straightens out for the last time one see the very swank American Embassy where once the Queen of Italy lived – At one time the Americans began painting the building an orange shade – this brought loud protests from the Italians & to this day just 1 orange side of the building is visible. A sign of the times: There is a very large Wimpy Hamburger Stand in red & white stripes just a block from the elite Hotel Excelsior – And at the end of the street brick work of the Aurelian wall begun in 271 A. D. Truly an avenue of contrasts!
We traveled through the “Piazza della Republica” where we saw one of Rome’s most famous fountains “Fountain of the Naiads” done by Rutelli & by Roman standards a very new fountain having been done in 1911
Our guide explained that the heavy traffic begins in Rome at 8 p.m. & that was responsibile for the slow movement of the bus – this city of a little over 3,000,000 inhabitants boasts of having 1,088,000 cars & it looked like they were all out on the road this nite
Such honking of horns & fist shaking out of the windows I’d never seen –
Had a view of the very beautiful Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore – The story goes that church was built on this site in the 4th century when it had a miraculous snow fall & this was taken to be a sign to the Pope to establish a church on the spot. A part of the building that is in use today was built in the 5th Century
There are 6000 churches in Rome – “It is a city of many sins” our guide explained
Then, to Jim’s delight, we passed the ultimate in sights:
the F actory
T urin (plant location)
Whenever you see a cluster of Cypress trees you can expect that it is the location of a cemtery – sort of a traditional setting for the Romans.
Passed the Italian Commando Headquarters – Such an impressive buidling & so are the uniforms – The Commando’s don’t walk they do everything “double time” in parades foward & in battle to the rear!
By the time we had reached the edge of the City & our bus was unloaded at “Donadia’s” where we had an Italian meal & evening we will long remember –
Red & white wine
pizza (tiny ones) garlic bread toast
Spaghetti with meat sauce
At this time, we all joined in the traditional “Tarantella” through the dining room, & an adjoining room & then back to the dance floor for much hand clapping & foot stomping – The music lacked nothing in volume but it was fun –
Back to dinner:
Chicken – Peas – Green Noodles
[Editor’s Note: I can only assume this picture was taken before enough wine was consumed to permit this crowd to dance the Tarantella though two rooms. Where was the camera phone when we needed it? Obviously, two of us are underage so we were not in a position to “help out.”]
None of us was sure we could rise to our feet but we did & climbed back on the bus for a look at “Rome by Nite” – really a thing of beauty –
The beatuful “Triton” (a statue half man – half fish) done by Giovanni Bernini in 1640 is something to behold –
We passed the heavily guarded home of the President & on to the Fountain of Trevi. It’s water comes from an acqueduct built by Agrippa, in 19 B.C. The fountains was an 18th century structure of baroque stonework ruled over by a large statue of Neptune – done mostly by Nicola Salvi –
For those wishing to return to Rome you stand back to the fountain a lire in your right hand and toss the coin over your shoulder – once done the presiding spirit of the fountain will see to it that one day you will return to Rome – (Ihope it works!)
Our next stop was at the Colosseum –
In 64 A.D. Nero built his famous “Gold House” & where the Colosseum now stands was the great reflecting pool – After Nero’s death & a power struggle in 72 A.C. the Colosseum was begun – dedicated by Titres in 80 A. D. It could seat 80,000 & there were 80 entracnes to the amphitheatre
A strange feeling to stand where so much history has been made – a beautiful & eerie sight by night –
Another full full day –
Made delightful by a very “bouncy” & cute Guide: Annick
Volume labeled “The Pennsylvania Lawyer’s Diary 1971”, used as travel journal by Elizabeth W. Ruffner, for a trip taken in March-April 1971; held by Malissa Ruffner, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], Baltimore, MD; 2011.
For background information on this series of posts, see Spring Break, 1971.