07.04.2011 - 09.04.2011 25 °C
From Roquefort-les-Pins, France, we headed to Rome, Italy. We traveled along winding and narrow roads, twisting and turning first through Nice, then Monaco, and then finally, crossing the border into Italy. It took us about eight hours to get to Rome, which we squeezed in nicely between an early lunch and a late dinner.
A glimpse of the French Alps
This way to Monaco
Stopping at a rest stop - Nutella anyone?
We went to Rome to visit Eric's Aunt Sylvie. Eric's mother Anne and her sisters Sylvie, Claire and Cecile lived in Tunisia and France while growing up, as well as a short stint in New York for a little American flavor. Later, Claire and Cecile's father (Anne and Sylvie's stepfather) worked for FAO in Rome, and it appears that Sylvie basically never left Rome after that.
In preparation for our trip to Sardinia, we did quite a bit of shopping:
First the open air market in Sylvie's neighborhood
then the organic store NaturaSi…why Nature, yes…
and for Fanette, EuroPet!
At the Torrino Market
Fresh zucchini, with flowers
Also in Sylvie's neighborhood, here's where Italy's football captain Francesco Totti aka "Totti" is living, while he constructs some sort of grand mansion on a hill for his family, his parents, and of course, his in-laws. I guess he always wanted to live on a hill overlooking the city, or so Sylvie told us.
Totti's apartment in Sylvie's neighborhood
Check out this enormous mozzarella ball for lunch. And yes, we ate the whole thing.
We played tourist and headed downtown. Somehow, we managed to hit all the major tourist attractions in Rome in one day: the Coliseum, the Forum, the Spanish Steps, the Trevi Fountain, and my personal favorite, Piazza Navona. But first, we went to view the Palazzo Farnese exhibit at the French Embassy. We tried to meet up with our pal Giusseppe, who works for WWF Italy in Rome. Unfortunately, he was traveling for the week, so we missed him on this visit. He had already visited the Palazzo Farnese exhibit, and warned us of long lines! We were not to be disappointed in that department.
Here's the line on Via Giulia just to pick up the tickets we ordered in advance
Palazzo Farnese - Farnese Palace, also the French Embassy and Ecole Française de Rome (French Historical Roman Institute)
After picking up your tickets and walking through the gift shop, you stand in line to get into the French Embassy. Then you stand in another line to put your bags, cameras and cell phones in coat-check.
Then you stand in yet another line to pick up the audio-guide. Since you have to leave some form of ID at each stop, that means - you guessed it - you have to stand in both lines again after your tour just to drop off the audio guide, pick up your bag, and get the heck out of there.
Here are a couple of photos I took outside, before a snarky gift shop attendant on a smoke break pointed out the no cameras sign to me… I pretended not to understand Italian, French or English, but she was on to me pretty quickly. "For your security" she said. Ahh but the beautiful courtyard of the highly secure French Embassy in Rome is BEFORE the coat check. Perhaps they need to restructure the tour a bit, as well as come up with a new system for retrieval of said deposited objects. I'm pretty sure standing in line took longer than viewing the exhibit.
Palazzo Farnese aka French Embassy from a safe distance
After the trauma endured at Palace Farnese, Claire took off, and Eric and I set out to explore Rome on foot. For the next six hours or so.
Nutella gelato anyone?
Here are some serious scholars, obviously
Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II - National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II
A beautiful statue
Eric really liked this apartment in the background - imagine the view!
Ignoto Militi - Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
For a little history lesson about Victor Emmanuel II, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monument_to_Vittorio_Emanuele_II
These guys were all over the place… feeding grapes to tourists and posing for photos for a fee
What's this supposed to mean?!
Ahh the beautiful Trevi Fountain…
with a throng of tourists
The lovely Spanish steps, with more tourists
and more tourists!
and my favorite place in Rome, Piazza Navona
The view when we returned to the Spanish Steps was spectacular
The next day, Eric enjoying the view from Sylvie's balcony
Sylvie's son Jean-Marc and daughter Adrienne, along with her two daughters Laura and Sarah, stopped by for lunch.
Here are Laura and Sarah, who really enjoyed playing with Fanette.
Time for a stroll
And before we knew it, we were off to Civitavecchia, to catch the overnight ferry to Sardinia.
Boarding the ferry to Sardinia
Parking (backwards) in Garage 2A
Eric enjoying the "Piano Lounge"
Fanette learning to drink from a portable water source
Bonne nuit Fanette!
Congratulations to Italy - celebrating 150 years of unity!