Heart of Rome Walk – Day 3

As we did during the previous day, we arrived at the Frascati train station by 7.15am to take the 7.30am train to Roma. Normally, the train is parked at the station when we arrive, but on this day the train hadn’t arrived yet. The café inside the train station was closed. There was not a single soul in the station. “Hmmm, weird”, we thought to ourselves.

Really, we had lost track of the dates and days of the week. The thought then struck us that it was a Sunday and that trains might not run as frequently as they do during the other days. The train time-table nearby confirmed that. The next train was at 8.30am. Obviously the first thing that came to my mind was “Dang it, I could have slept for another hour”. Sleep seemed to be a luxury during this Italy trip.

Anyway, we decided to walk around and explore the cute town of Frascati. Every house has flower baskets with colorful flowers dropping all over! Even the walls on the streets look pretty with flowers flashing amongst the deep green creepers. Arbitrarily ambling through the narrow streets of this cute town was how we killed an hour.

In Frascati
Frascati streets
On an early Sunday morning in Frascati

On the way back to the train station, we stopped at a tabacchi (tobacco) shop to get the train tickets. Slowly, I said “Due biglietti per Roma Termini, per favore” (Two tickets to Roma Termini please), and with all smiles we purchased the tickets and took the treno (train) to Rome.

A couple of blocks from Roma Termini is Bar Fondi, a coffee shop that had good reviews on TripAdvisor. So we came here to get our standard breakfast – cappuccini e cornetto. Unfortunately, I couldn’t agree with folks who had given good reviews.

Il cappuccino

From Roma Termini, we took Bus 64 to Corso Vittorio-Sant’Andrea Della Valle. We had read horror pickpocketing stories about Bus 64, so my husband and I watched out for each other like a hawk while traveling in the bus. When we got off from the bus stop, the sight of the magnificent Sant’Andrea Della Valle church stood in front of us. “Let’s check it out” and we walk inside to get an eyeful of the Roman architectural marvel. We couldn’t believe the eye for detail that the Romans had for carving and painting. Their aesthetic sense is beyond commendable. Every church in Rome is unique and exquisite in this own way.

Sant’Andrea Della Valle
Inside Sant’Andrea Della Valle church

From here, we beginned our Heart of Rome walk.

Campo De’ Fiori

This piazza is now a vibrant marketplace with vendors selling scarves, hats, accessories, fruit juices, fruits, kitchen appliances, etc. Restaurants and coffee shops are strewn all around this piazza. The iconic statue of Bruno stands in the center of the piazza, on the exact spot where he was burned alive in 1600.

Just a block from this piazza, there was some kind of lively street entertainment going on. People were dressed up and merrily dancing and singing on the streets!

Campo De’ Fiori with Statue of Bruno in the background
Street vendors in Campo De’ Fiori
People merrily dancing in the piazza

Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona

Among the piazzas we have been to, this was the peppiest and our personal favorite! My husband specifically was thrilled. This monumental piazza hosts Sant’Agnese in Agone, a colossal 17th century Baroque church and Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in the center of the piazza. There are two other fountains, Fontana del Moro and Fontana del Nettuno at either ends of the piazza. Packed with pizzeria, café shops, restaurants, street vendors and live music, it was like walking in the beautiful depths of heaven.

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
Fontana del Moro (Sant’Agnese in Agone church is in the background)
Fontana del Nettuno

Bar Tre Scalini, a restaurant next to the basilica is popular for its chocolate tartufo (truffle) and of course we had to try it out! With the lip-smacking tartufo in our hands, we sat in one corner of the piazza to relish it, while letting ourselves drown in the merry ambiance. I came back to the restaurant to say “Delizioso” to the waiter.

Pantheon

Located amidst another bustling Piazza della Rotonda, is the outstanding Roman temple, the Pantheon! The massive dome with a central opening, the architectural interior designs and the eight robust granite columns are yet another testament to the adroit Romans.

The Pantheon
Inside the Pantheon

Tazza D’Oro Coffee Shop

Tazza D’Oro is a very popular coffee shop in the Pantheon neighborhood and we went inside to try espresso con panna (espresso with cream). The waiter filled up a tiny tazza (cup) with espresso, asked me to add zucchero (sugar) and then drizzled panna (cream) on top of it. Kind of looked absurd to me, until I tasted it. Gosh, that was really the best espresso I have had in my life by far! Bitter, yet sweet, it is a unique taste that I just cannot explain.

Espresso con panna

Lunch at Ristorante Vernissage

We stopped at this restaurant for lunch and got seated in a beautiful outdoor seating area. Ordered bruschetta and Napoli pizza. After a long wait time, we were served food at our table. Neither did the food look enticing nor did it taste good. That was really one of the worst pizzas I have had. I am not a good cook, but I can promise I make better bruschetta at home. The disastrous lunch ended up messing up our taste buds.

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva

In all honesty, I never knew that a gothic church actually existed until I planned my trip to Italia. When I learned about the Santa Maria gothic church, curiosity aroused and I was bent upon visiting it. I expected a gothic church to be very dark with gore structures and paintings, but it was actually not that way at all.

Elephant Statue outside the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva church (Gothic church)
Inside the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva church

Parliament

Cops stand outside to guard the Italian Parliament building, but no no, the country is not as bizarre as the US. There were a number of tourists standing right outside the building capturing pictures of this marvelous building. There is also a working sundial just outside the parliament.

Parliment

Piazza Colonna

The highlight of this piazza is a towering marble column of Marcus Aurelius.

Galleria Del’ Alberto Sordi

Right next to the Piazza Colonna is the Galleria Del’ Alberto Sordi, a shopping mall in Rome. It is incredible that even a shopping mall in Rome looks so grandiose.

It is a shopping mall!!!!

Fontana di Trevi

I have seen a replica of the Trevi Fountain in Las Vegas and I was very eager to see the original version. And the moment I saw it, I gaped in awe. So tall, so gigantic, so magnificent, so opulent, and so crowded as well. Abiding by the popular belief, we flipped a coin into the fountain and hoped that we would return to this Eternal City.

Fontana di Trevi

Spanish Steps

A beautiful stairway of 135 stairs, leading one to the twin-towered church of Trinità dei Monti at the top of the stairway and La Barcaccia fountain (Sinking Boat Fountain) located at the base of the stairway, this place is the hot spot amongst the younger crowd. The uber-fashionable neighborhood with classy, boutique shops attracts tons of teenagers.

Spanish Steps with the twin-towered church of Trinità dei Monti at the top of the stairway
La Barcaccia fountain (Sinking Boat Fountain), at the base of the Spanish Steps
Piazza di Spagna, the upscale neighborhood near the Spanish Steps
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