Rome: What can we see in one day? Aventine Hill

If you liked the first post, “What can we see in one day?” which centered around some of the most popular sights & sites featured in the movie Roman Holiday, you might want to venture to another of the 7 hills in Rome, Aventino, just a stop or two past the Colosseum stop on the Blue or ‘B’ line of the metro.

Note: Don’t be afraid of taking the metro or bus.

Let’s assume you are staying somewhere near the main train station, Termini; if you aren’t, you will want to know how to get there for your other train rides. Rome only seems to have two main train lines, the ‘A’ or the ‘B’. It’s really simple and easy to use.

Take the ‘B’  towards Laurentina. This ‘B’ line or Blueline heads towards a great little shopping neighborhood, Cavour, then on to the Colosseo (Roman Colosseum), then Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus). Get off here at Circo Massimo for a lovely walk around this ancient chariot track.

Circus Maximus
Just to the left you see Flavian Palace ruins.

Look up at the ancient ruins of the Flavian palace, which was destroyed by fire, flood, and demolition. I highly recommend taking the time to imagine chariots racing around the track 7 times while an emperor looks down from his lavish viewing area — the palace, on Palatine hill, was very grand in its day and is simply huge. Circus Maximus is in the valley, then there is Aventino hill.

Flavian Palace Ruins
Not impressive in my photo, but absolutely HUGE in person.

On the opposite side of Circo Massimo is the monument, Roseto di Roma Capitale. There you will find a street that will take you up into the Aventino neighborhood, look for Via di Valle Murcia, and head up the hill. You will walk near the walls on your right and find the Giardino Degli Aranci, a quiet small park with an incredible view. We happened on an open-air piano performance here, with families and their children relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. This has medieval architecture and is leading to the next building, the Basilica of Saint Sabina, the mother church of the Dominicans. This church is unique because of its simplicity and selenite windows (as opposed to stained glass).

Next to the Basilica of Saint Sabina, is a Basilica that is closed to the public, and owned by the Priory of the Knights of Malta. Did you know that the Knights of Malta are the oldest surviving chivalric order? Read more at https://theculturetrip.com/europe/italy/articles/the-story-behind-the-aventine-keyhole/

Now next to that is… the Keyhole of the Knights of Malta — a small viewing portal in a gate in the wall that aligns perfectly with a view of St. Peter’s Basilica. Read up on the Knights of Malta, the crusading knights founded in Jerusalem in the 11th century while you are waiting in line. Expect to wait in a line, donate a little, and spend a couple of minutes enjoying the view. For some, it’s underwhelming, for others, it feels like being transported back in time. For your wait, there is a snack vendor and your fellow folks waiting in line — interesting case studies in modern culture.

Take the Via di Porta Lavernale, all of the way down the hill to catch the tram, the number 8, heading across the river over into Trastevere. Since I can’t tell what time you began this day, I am hoping that it’s lunchtime — so here is one of my tips for a great restaurant for lunch in Trastevere. It opens at noon and it doesn’t have an Italian name, but it is great for those who love Carbonara done several different ways, and done better than anything you can get near the Spanish steps.

The restaurant is called ‘Eggs’ and you will have to use your map to find it — it’s close to the Trastevere Mastai stop (first stop across the river).

Have lunch, wander around, then head back on the tram and get off at Marmoratta and walk toward the ancient Pyramid of Caius Cestius. There is also an old protestant cemetery if you are in the mood for wandering around, looking at headstones. This is right in the walls of Rome. After exploring, head to the metro station. This is the Pyramide stop, which is the stop just after the Circo Massimo stop you got off to see Circus Maximus. Keep heading towards Laurentina for two stops and get off at the San Paolo stop. Cross a street or two to get to the Basilica Papale San Paolo Fuori le Mura, the Papal Basilica of St Paul outside the walls. This church burned down and has been restored. Some of the most amazing alabaster windows can be found here as well as a stunning mosaic. Part of the old, original doors are still there, inside and the folk art feeling of the ornamentation is informative of the period.

Head back to the station and decide if you are ready to go back to your room for some rest before a late Italian dinner. Now that you know how to get to Travetere you can make reservations or add a little more to this itinerary to stay over on this side of town.

Back near the tram is the Testaccio neighborhood, with a farmers market, two piazzas that are mostly used by locals and a church that isn’t always open, Santa Maria Liberatrice.

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Just one of the beautiful representations in this “small” church on the Aventine Hill in Testaccio.

 

A local Roman has recommended a restaurant in the Testaccio neighborhood, Felice, as having the best Caccio e Pepe — the Roman pasta dish that is simple and eponymous.

I hope you enjoy this sample itinerary of seeing some other Roman spots!

 

 

Rome: What can we see in one day?

 

Perhaps you are traveling to Rome and only have a couple of days to wander around. Perhaps you don’t want to rush, plan too much, and stand in too many lines.

Here is one walk that is relaxed and very easy to accomplish in one day, an evening if you don’t go inside the Pantheon [go inside the Pantheon though, really].

Take a hotel room on Via Veneto. Walk to Via Vittorio Veneto past the Hard Rock cafe and down to Piazza Barberini — where you will see a beautiful, but smallish by Roman standards, fountain, Fontana del Tritone.

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Fontana del Tritone in Piazza Barberini

Wind your way to Via Sistina, just the street further off the front of the fountain. Turn towards a tall Obelisk, Via Sistina and walk through the charming street, along with 57 other people to see the view, the Roman-made obelisk, the beautiful church. If you head towards the other Obelisk, you will be on Via delle Quattro Fontane which goes up a hill, then you see an intersection with a small fountain on each corner. Head back the other way.

Next, walk into the beautiful church. Then after you say a prayer for world peace, head back to the view, then down the Spanish Steps and see the fountain at the base, look up in awe at the steps themselves. When it is raining, you might have most of the steps to yourself, except for those guys who sell umbrellas, self sticks, etc.

Spanish Steps at night
Looking back up towards the obelisk and church.

Once you have taken lots of pictures of yourself near the fountain — be sure you don’t get into the fountain, the police will blow whistles at you and admonish you in Italian. Continue forward [West] on Via dei Condotti past several luxury shops and when you get to the Fendi flagship store, look around for another column — this one is an intricately carved memorial to Marco Aurelio [Marcus Aurelius] commemorating his victories. Continue on around the bend to see another obelisk, Obelisk of Montecitorio. Then wind your way around — following the crowd to the Pantheon, where there is another fountain, a Salumeria, and restaurants with outdoor seating.

In front of the Pantheon
Fontana del Pantheon

Enjoy the Pantheon, then take a side street back, winding past the Trevi Fountain, then back up to Barberini then up to Via Veneto. Use Maps to ease some of your anxiety about getting to Trevi fountain, although most likely, you will follow the crowd past Hadrian’s columns from his temple, Il Tempio di Adriano in the Piazza di Pietra …

Hadrians Columns
Il Tempio di Adriano in the Piazza di Pietra

and right over to Fontana di Trevi [Trevi Fountain of movie fame]. The scene over at Trevi fountain is amazing and there is a lot of police whistles going on to keep the crowd under control. Trevi is beautiful by day and beautifully lit by night, and worth seeing under both conditions.

Bullet List Rome: Cultural Differences

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Fontana del Tritone in Piazza Barberini

As far as I can tell, Italians are warm, friendly, and open generally speaking. The cultural behaviors that we love so much– the hand gestures, the emotional outbursts– are in evidence daily. Here is my list of differences that were new to me:

  • Fish and steak are charged by the 100 gram — so if you see €20 on the menu, that is not the price you will pay at the end — but rather you will pay €20 per 100 gram — so that piece of fresh fish might cost €40.
  • Toilet seats — or rather the lack thereof. Be prepared with disinfectant wipes and portable toilet seat covers, which are also not available. If you can manage not to sit — even better!
  • Grilled vegetables — listed as Miste Verdue griglia do not arrive at your table hot, or even warm. They come room temperature or even cool. That often goes for the side potatoes too!
  • Espresso is cheaper at the bar and costs around €3 more at Tavola or table. Go ahead, order it, watch it being made, and drink it right there standing up! When in Rome, do as the Romans do,
  • Don’t order a latte, rather order a Caffellatte. Latte just means milk in Italian and you get some funny looks when you order a milk.
  • Buona sera (Bonah Sayrah) happens right about noon and lasts until about the time you leave a late dinner at the restaurant. First thing in the morning is Buongiorno.
  • Old men and their shoe shops. So far, I have seen a few shoe shops that sell only Italian made shoes and each of these has an octogenarian greeting and running the money. These guys are over-the-top charming, one joking with us, flattering us, and kissing my hand even though he knew we didn’t speak Italian. The younger workers, I like to think that they are the great-grandchildren, make apologies, translate, and overall this creates the charming family environment that moviegoers expect.
  • Italian maids are amazing, don’t understand English and have full access to your room to tidy it up; once late morning and once while you are supposed to be out to dinner, plus someone else brings water, someone else checks the minibar, someone else checks to see if the maids did a good job…it’s like grand central station.
  • Roman water is good, unless you have a tendency to kidney stones. It has calcium — not the good bone-building kind, so one drinks a lot of bottled water. Frizzante is the most bubbly–the waiter will ask if you want gas, there is natural slightly sparkling mineral water, and there is still water. You are able to purchase water in glass bottles to avoid single-use plastic.
  • Birkenstocks have a tendency to get “side-eye” from Italian men. Women simply ignore them.
  • Skip the line by purchasing tickets and vouchers in advance from the hotel — you can even purchase from a hotel if you aren’t staying there, making impulse tours easy! There are always folks on the street selling tickets too — they are well marked so you don’t accidentally buy from the wrong guy.
  • Metro ticket machines — look at the pictures of the money it is taking — sometimes it quits taking bills and you can tell that by the picture of coins.
  • Don’t accept roses from the guys on the Spanish Steps — unless you want to donate.
  • Eat the roasted chestnuts. Look for evenly roasted chestnuts, the vendors paying attention to even roasting have the chestnuts arranged in a single layer. Wait until after 6 to ensure enough roasting has happened. Then walk around with 600 other people looking at the luxury shop windows and Roman landmarks.
  • Don’t get into the fountains. These are national treasures and meant to be enjoyed visually by everyone.
  • Be respectful of the churches — turn off your phone notifications and sound, wear pants not shorts, or skirts/dresses that aren’t classified as mini. Talk in a quiet voice, take in the art, make a small donation, and feel free to pray for world peace and contemplate.
  • Buy local. Italians make some of the best shoes — so look for “made in Italy” try them on because some are designed better than others, and in small shops sometimes you can make an offer. Italians have access to wonderful produce, so get as much fresh fruit juice (spremute) and fresh room temperature vegetables as you can get!
  • Learn some Italian — it’s really easy to get the hang of it! Grazie!

Bullet List: Rome Style Decoded

 

What makes women in a particular city, say Paris, look so Parisian? Likewise, what makes women in Rome, look so Italian?! Here are some decoding bullets:

  • Jewelry (big, bold, and lots of it!)
  • Scarves
  • Trendy or beautiful shoes
  • Loose locks of hair
  • One really big statement piece
  • Clear style statements of confidence
  • Hosiery
  • Mani/pedis are a must
  • Fully styled professionals
  • Luxury denim is styled upscale
  • Lips and Mascara

Here are some other style helpers:

  • Umbrella
  • Helmet that coordinates with scooter
  • Leather (Italian) handbag
  • Leather (Italian) jacket

Here’s what I don’t see on the streets of Rome worn by Romans:

  • Pajamas
  • Flip flops
  • Wrinkled clothes
  • Bottom cleavage/muffin tops

So let me describe a few of the beautiful Italian women I have seen so far, but haven’t gotten photos of:

Woman #1: 60s/70s — Black hair — skinny skinny

  • Hosiery with large criss-cross design, flat black suede shoes
  • Black sheath dress trimmed with short fringe
  • Black leather jacket
  • Giant pearl and gold necklace, earrings, multiple rings

Woman #2: 40s/50s — brown hair — average build

  • Wide-legged, over-dyed, oversized denim cropped jeans in a melon color
  • Matching oversized straight cut car length jacket in same melon denim
  • Extra-long print scarf down to her knees in a print of melon/neon green/red
  • Ankle boots, mid-height heel, trendy in light tan (Italian leather, I would bet)

Woman #3: 60s — salt and pepper hair — athletic build

  • Cropped gabardine pants in dark green
  • Open-toed suede shoe in cognac with a chunky stacked heel (Italian leather)
  • Silk print blouse — three shades of green with some purple for good luck
  • Leather jacket in cognac (Italian leather)
  • Cream-colored helmet & matching cream and black scooter
  • Silk chiffon scarf in pale green
  • Leather brief portfolio in cognac (Matchy-matchy I love it!)

Each of these women had a certain striking air of confidence, and of assertiveness. I got the sense that they didn’t put too much focus on matters that didn’t directly involve them. I also sensed that they weren’t looking for style approval, but rather that style was their medium, under their control.

 

How to Use the ICE train

When I first moved to Frankfurt, Germany, I wanted to see everything in Europe on a budget! The best way to travel is by train. There are the local trams, the Regional trains, and the ICE or Inter City Express high-speed trains. Each train has a very well-organized process and it helps to have it quickly explained. For instance, once you purchase your ICE ticket, how do you know where to get on the train to find your seat?

This short video below shows you how to quickly find out!

 

 

20190619_080537 ICE Train in Binz

Travel: Beauty & Rx

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What to pack for a long weekend: Beauty & Rx

Being over 50 has some new guidelines for what is necessary to take on a long weekend for beauty & Rx medicine categories. Here is a bullet wardrobe reminder of what I “need” to be comfortable on a long weekend–that still comfortably fits into my one small suitcase. I rely on travel sized items, beauty samples, and premiums–those nice little extras that come with a cosmetic purchase. I also rely on my favorite brands and their special travel-sized, age/skin-type related items–I usually purchase some as I see the kits available, as well as ask for some as a gift idea every year! My go to is Clinique–the comfort of knowing how it smells (or doesn’t smell) as well as how my skin feels when I use it makes it part of my travel routine. You will see that I use many other brands for other “must-have” items, but I always come back to Clinique for the foundation of my skin care routine.

Here’s the bullet wardrobe reminder list:

  • Cleanser
  • Eye makeup remover
  • Toner
  • Serum (only the small format bottle, the larger serum stays at home)
  • Eye cream
  • Moisturizer
  • Moisturizer with Sunscreen for daytime
  • Sunscreen, sensitive skin
  • Eye primer (Urban Decay)
  • Concealer
  • Eye shadow set (usually just one, but sometimes two–I will use any brand with the right combination)
  • Eye liner
  • Eyebrow pencil (found a great version for salt and pepper haircolor–Bobby Brown!)
  • Urban Decay 24 hour makeup setting spray (only brand I use and it is a lifesaver, since I use layers of moisturizer around my eyes)
  • Mascara
  • Blush, cream stick in perfect neutral for me
  • Zambeezi lip Balm (favorite brand)
  • Lip color, gloss, stick in my wear everywear neutral (find your perfect neutral–don’t use someone else’s–because then it’s not perfect on You!)
  • Brushes, cotton balls, cotton swabs (Q-tips, because I wouldn’t know what a cotton swab was)
  • Extra washcloth or two (I can’t tell you how many times I wanted an extra washcloth and couldn’t seem to get one from housekeeping at midnight, or in a pensione sometimes they are really rough)
  • Hairspray (I only like Dove right now)
  • Small travel size shampoo & conditioner (just in case they provide a pump of all-in-one gel in the shower)
  • Spare bobby pins, hair comb (just in case need to put hair up and look a little more “evening”)
  • Brush
  • Toothbrush, paste, floss, picks
  • Eye drops–for allergies, dry eyes
  • Extra contacts, in case glasses get lost/broken
  • Shaving gear (I know, at my age?!!)
  • Medicine: allergies, chronic conditions, aging stuff (we’ll talk later), migraine, muscle relaxers, ibuprofen
  • Aloe Vera gel, with lidocaine (good for more than the occasional sunburn!)
  • Disposable wipes for whatever needs wiping (door knobs, toilet seats, hands) or many times, if I don’t need the antiseptic element, I use wet paper towels in a zip lock bag–better for the environment, your health, etc.
  • Black Electrical Tape– This is my best secret essential! For people with light sensitivity–inevitably, I am kept awake by the blinking smoke detector light positioned right over “my side” of the bed, or other LED lights that unfortunately, cause migraines

It all fits nice and neat in the usual bags. This is not for carry on bags! We have been traveling by train and car to our destinations, and I have had to check my bag when I fly, due to the small size of the airplanes. So there has been little to no need to do the extra work of a carry-on plan here in Europe. I will do a break down and show a carry-on Beauty & Rx in a later blog post.

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It all fits easily!

Travel: Berlin and Potsdam

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Traveling to Berlin for a weekend had me solving the weather problem: rainy, humid, hot, sunny, and chilly, and windy– all in the course of three days. On top of that, it was my 16th anniversary, so I knew that at least one nice dinner was on the itinerary. Other than a nice dinner, we planned to go to museums, see a memorial to fallen Russian soldiers, see the Berlin Tiergarten Siegessaeule, a monument honoring victories in the “unification” wars. We also planned on seeing Charlottenburg Palace, and hopping a bus over to Potsdam to wander around Sans Souci, built by Friedrich the Great inspired by Versailles. In addition, we couldn’t see Berlin without going to the Helmut Newton museum. So, comfortable shoes were a must — there was so much walking on cobblestones, dirt paths, steps, and streets.

Here’s my bullet wardrobe reminder. I followed prevailing fashion advice, neutrals–white, gray, black–with one predominant accent color–petal pink. After all, it was my anniversary and I certainly wanted to look light and feminine, summery and happy! Additionally, I wore some beautiful Alexis Bittar jewelry that my hubby had purchased for me a few years ago.

  • Rain windbreaker: packable, white
  • Trenchcoat: short, pink, not super waterproof
  • Dress: pewter, lightweight, comfortable, nice enough for most restaurants
  • Pants: white
  • Jeans: black motorcycle
  • T-shirt: floral, Balmain
  • Tank: floral, charcoal
  • Birkenstocks: silver
  • Sneakers: white converse
  • Walking cross trainers: black and white
  • Scarves: microfiber pastel print, pink mesh, linen white print
  • Vintage accessory: charm bracelets

 

A few Berlin highlights: There is a street called Strasse Juni 17th — so if that is your Anniversary date–it’s perfect to celebrate on that street, on that date.

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Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

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Strasse Juni 17th looking at the Seugessaeule, or Victory Memorial. There was a bicycle race that day, Juni 17th!

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The Reichstag — the German capitol building with the flag flying in the wind!