|Rome Daily Tidbits|
I started sending these Daily Tidbits to everyone in May 07 to keep everyone interested and "in the mood" for Rome during the long wait before our trip. Plus, I wanted to share my research!
#1 Torre Argentina- The Roman Cat sancturary
#2 Did you know that the Roman City Police uniforms were designed by Armani?
#3 Webcam on top of the Albergo de Senato Hotel overlooking the Pantheon
#4 is Casa Albertina in Positano.
#5 You can bookmark this and look at it throughout the year....10 Day weather forecast for Rome
#7 Another webcam. This one has multiple views you can select.
#8 Was our reservation "proposal" from Casa Albertina.
#9 Was an icky Craig's list apartment which we briefly considered because it was super cheap and then dismissed due to depressing location. However, the Craig's list vacation rentals for Rome might be of use to someone...
#10 An hour and a half South of Positano are the ancient Greek Ruins of Paestum. There are 3 fantastic, huge Doric temples to rival those of Greece and Sicily.
And if Greek temples weren't enough, how about some cheese to entice you? The area around Paestum is home to the birthplace of Buffalo Mozzarella! There are buffalo farms and production facilities where we can tour and buy hours-old fresh mozzarella! YUM!
#11 Positano Webcam-Look at it before noon (US West Coast) for daylight images.Click on the photo 2 to make it bigger. In the upper left hand corner of the photo is a three story red building with white arches- Casa Albertina!
#12 Was more on the weather and was entitled "We can pray for Global Warming" (tongue in cheek here). A little research shows that avg. temperatures in March are somewhere around 60 degrees F.
#13 "Set your Tivo"- links to upcoming programs about Italy.
#14 The Borghese Gallery. A "must see".
#16 As fabulous as the NY Times is, my (and David's) all time favorite paper is the IHT (International Herald Tribune). We try to get one everyday when we travel. Check out their Travel section and their travel blog, sorted for Rome entries only.
#17 Easter in Italy.
The Italians have an expression which goes
#18 Check out some of these videos.
I liked the one about Trastevere. The one called Buona Notte Rome started on top of the Albergo di Senato hotel overlooking the Pantheon, just like the webcam link above!
#19 I keep reading about "Cecchino dal 1887" in all the “foodie” reports on Rome as the place to go for authentic Roman cuisine. It’s been there for over 100 years. Here's an article about it in the IHT.
David says he doesn't want to eat any "nasty bits" thus leading to Golden Rule #4. Still, I told him he and Tris could eat whatever they like as long as we get to go.
#20 Was a list of the million-and-one things we would like to do/see/experience while in Rome. In addition, there was a link to an interesting article about the Testaccio neighborhood.
#21 So, guess what’s happening in Rome on Sunday, March 16th? ( the day we arrive…) The Rome Marathon! The Cool thing about this website is a countdown to the race….247 days to go!
#22 Love this website in general! Here is an excellent article about Coffee.
Don’t know if I’ll be able to find a “marocchino” in Rome (could be a specialty of Turin), but I’ll sure try!
#23 All about Travel Insurance through American Express plus our final itineraries before we bought our tickets.
AMEX Insurance- Please don't quote me on this, you should call AMEX yourself. This is only my understanding of what they offer.
I have “International Medical Protection” which costs $14.95 per ticket and is automatically billed to the AMEX card every time I use it to purchase international tickets.It covers medical expenses and emergency evacuation. No deductable.Each ticket must be charged separately and individually on separate charge forms to be covered.
I also have “TravelAssure” which covers up to $500 trip cancellation (for specific reasons only), up to $1500 for theft, $1500 for lost or damaged baggage, Airport delays. This is $28.95 per ticket automatically billed to the AMEX when airline tickets are purchased.Each ticket must be charged separately and individually on separate charge forms to be covered.
So, basically, you’re paying $43.90 for what looks to be pretty nice, full coverage Travel Insurance. It can cost substantially more than this depending on the length/cost of your trip if purchased elsewhere. The only substantial difference in I can see is in the trip cancellation portion in that it’s only $500 max. That won’t cover the cost of the plane ticket and anything else we might have to pre-pay (like the apartment) but it covers a good percentage of it. The medical coverage is a really good deal in my opinion. The baggage coverage is really good, given that on International flights, the airlines only pay you pennies on the pound (weight) of your luggage, regardless of content.
#24-Vatican Museum Tours
The Guided tour on the Vatican website allows advance ticket purchase for 29.5 euro, but you can’t get in until 10:30 AM. Regular admission also starts at 8:30 and is 14.50 E. http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/z-Info/MV_Info_Servizi_Visite.html
Apparently there is a “back door” entrance into St Peter’s Basilica from the Sistine Chapel which is always the end of the Vatican museum whether or not one takes a tour. This saves a lot of time walking back outside, around the outer walls of Vatican City and waiting in line again to get into the church.
Great Website about St. Peter’s in General: http://www.stpetersbasilica.org/
“Scavi”=Excavation in Italian
There is an excavation going on under St. Peter’s Basilica. This tour requires a reservation which must be obtained in advance by the Vatican offices.We will need to pick a day and stick to it. We might be able to combine this with a visit to the Basilica, but trying to do that plus the Vatican museum (incl Sistine Chapel) may be too much for one day.
Interesting website about the Scavi-http://www.stpetersbasilica.org/Necropolis/ScaviTour.htm
#25- I can't find it!
#27 Dining "rules of the road" in Italy-
This is a really interesting thread about dining in Italy:
#28 I did a little research about the piazza where “our” apartment sits. It’s called Piazza Sforza Cesarini.
If you want to learn more about the Palazzo (the “palace”) building itself, go here, midway down the page: http://www.romeartlover.it/Vasi109.htm#Palazzo%20%20Sforza%20Cesarini
There are two restaurants in the piazza. Both sound like good, basic, neighborhood restaurants.
Trattoria Polese- http://www.trattoriapolese.it/index.html
And Trattoria da Luigi: http://www.trattoriadaluigi.com/gally.html
Here’s an article in the NY times which mentions Polese:http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2006/10/13/rome-picks-and-pans-part-one/
#29 We could be a commercial:
In Case you were wondering...United is have a Fare Sale to Europe. I checked our flights, just ‘cause.
What I discovered was shocking….
Our tickets (similar, not exact) currently on United.com,
Our exact tickets, on Orbitz.com,
Buying our tickets for only $835 eight months in advance,
# 30 Homework:
Homework??? Yes, you have homework.Here is your task…
1. What bank do you use? You need to look at their websites to find out the following about your ATM Cards:
2. What do they charge for International ATM withdrawals? Is it a percentage, a flat amount, or both?
3. Do you have a 4 digit PIN #? If not, you will need to change it because many European ATMs only accept 4 digits.
4. What is your Daily Limit for Withdrawals? Consider asking for an increase if necessary.
5. Do they have reciprocal agreements with any other banks in other countries or local branches in other countries?
For example, Citibank does not charge a fee if you use their ATMs in other countries, but if it’s not a Citibank ATM, they charge 3%. Wells Fargo charges a flat rate of $5 (I’ve read). Bank of America doesn’t charge you if you use Barclay’s ATMs, but otherwise charge both a flat rate ($5) and a percentage (maybe, not sure). Our Credit Union charges 1%. Some are free.
Don’t even think about Traveler’s Checks or getting Euros before we go (unless it’s a minimum amount to make you feel secure). The exchange rates are absolutely horrible.
Example: Citibank has a “world wallet” program where you can have currency delivered. Currently, their exchange rate is 1euro=$1.49 plus $5 for less than $1000, plus $5 to have it delivered to your house.So, 500 euro would cost $755 500 euro withdrawn from an ATM at the current rate ($1.40) plus 1% would only cost $707.500 euro withdrawn from an ATM at the current irate ($1.40) plus 3% would only cost $721.
Traveler’s checks are a pain in the ass to cash, plus they charge fees (6-9%!) and give crappy exchange rates.
Before you leave, you will need to call your banks and notify them of your travel plans, lest they cancel your card when they see a foreign withdrawal.
#31 Our Google map of Rome-Watch it grow before we go…
#32 "Italian Time" Here’s a nice article about living on “Italian Time”.
#33 Rome Daily Tidbits are now online (here) and the website is going through a major re-design.
#34 Interesting self-guided walking tours of Rome:
From national Geographic:
From Frommer’s guidebooks:
There are 4 different ones on the page linked above. Click on the links in the left hand column.
In other news, I thought I’d found a super-cool photography focused walking tour led by a guy who was a national Geographic photographer for over 30 years. He gives you photo tips and critiques as you go. Here’s the bummer; he only runs the tours May-October! Waaaahhh. Anyway, it’s pricy at $175 per person.
Some other trip perhaps…
#35 We are confirmed with well known Rome guide, Francesca Caruso for a private tour of "ancient Rome", the coliseum and the forum, etc.
She doesn’t have a website but a google search will turn up quite a bit..
#36 Scams and annyoyances
This is an interesting thread on Fodor’s about Tourist Scams in Rome.
Good things to know about and watch out for.
#37 How to see the Pope in Rome:
Make sure you watch the video. There’s something a little odd about a Pope who speaks English with a German accent.
#38 We are confirmed for a pick up from the airport with Romecabs for 55 euro for 4 people.
#39 Alternatives to Positano
Here are some day trips we could do (obviously not all) in lieu of going to Positano:
Orvieto-Lovely hilltop Etruscan town about 1 hr from Rome by train. Famous for “orvieto classico” white wine, ceramics, truffles. Beautiful striped Duomo (church). About 30 euro R/T.
Ostia Antica- I’ve wanted to go her for a while. It’s the ancient Port of rome and there are ruins of the city there which you can wander about, similar to Pompeii.
Tivoli & Hadrian’s Villa, famous gardens with lots of fountains.
#40 New archaeological tour in Rome
#41 -The underground tour of Rome continues...
There are a few restaurants in Rome which have ruins in their basements. One is called Da Pancrazio and sits atop the ancient Theater of Pompey where Caesar was murdered (not in the Forum btw, which is what most people think). I’ve read mixed reviews, but it might be worth a look…
#42-other options for Day trip to Orvieto
There are a couple of palaces and gardens detailed here:
Villa Lanta Bagnaia
What I’m thinking is this: Rome to to Orvieto to Civita Bagnoregio to Villa Lanta (or Palazzo Farnese) and back to Rome.
#43-Free tour of Pantheon
Every day at 5PM, only ½ an hour.
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