Rome Day 9 / Vacation Begins

Well I thought so anyway… Started out with finishing up what I thought were going to be a few details but they turned into more of a nightmare! The US Customs Department became a pain in my @$$ because Fedex wouldn’t ship our stuff until I filled out some paperwork – paperwork that made little sense and was primarily in Italian. Did they really expect me to list every item in my shipment, including each item of clothing I and two of my associates were shipping back? The lady on the phone told me I need prior approval from the FDA to ship 9 bottles of olive oil and 9 bottles of balsamic vinegar home, even though I insisted they were gifts and for personal consumption. Not only this, but because I was still at the host hotel many of our delegates would see me and ask me questions, or need help with something. I just wanted to get out of there!

Terry was so sweet. He arrived mid-morning as expected and kept me company while I worked through the ordeals. Finally nearly at lunchtime I was at a point where I could leave. I left directions for the hotel to ship my stuff and Terry and I decided to just walk around for a bit – we went in the direction of Santa Maria Maggiore. This cathedral is merely typical on the outside, but once you step inside you are transferred into a peaceful, spiritual place. Many historical popes are honored here and the most amazing thing of all is the Bethlehem Crypt which contains many significant Catholic relics including the crib and cloths believed to be used in the nativity of the baby Jesus. Religious references aside, the church itself contained magnificent works of art including some astonishing frescoes in the chapel, and just look at the cieling!

Santa Maria Maggiore - Rome

After visiting the basilica, we grabbed some lunch at a bar. Bars in Rome aren’t places where one generally gathers to drink alcoholic beverages (though they are often available in the same fashion that you could buy a Coke then walk down the street with it). Rather, they are small streetside cafes with food displays similar to what you might find at a deli counter. We each chose a slice of pizza, though the portion size was quite large. Terry had the “pepperoni” which is not what Americans would be used to – instead it had roasted red peppers on top. I thought I was getting white pizza but what it actually turned out to be was pizza crust with paper-thin sliced potatoes covered with olive oil and cheese. It was good, but the crusts were not the traditional Roman cracker-thin, instead they were more a Sicilian style.

We walked back to the hotel and decided what we really needed was a nap – so we did! And it felt great! Later we we decided on dinner at a local place, but where? We followed our map and after nearly getting lost we ended up at Trevi Fountain. Legend says that when you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain (Fontana Trevi) you ensure your return to Rome – but you have to have your back to the fountain. Click here to see a video of Terry & me doing just that.

We walked around the area and settled on a touristy spot where we watched crowds of tourists (presumably from a tour bus) walk by in clumps every 20 minutes or so. I enjoyed “Chicken Roman Style” aka Cacciatore. At a traditional Roman meal you are served bread but to put butter on it is unheard of. You either eat it plain or dip it into olive oil, the latter being my favorite.

After dinner we walked back to the hotel and I was able to sleep off the numerous glasses of red wine I enjoyed with dinner.

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