Saturday 13th October.
Yet again, we woke to another glorious morning and so headed out for our early walk. We decided to walk along the Tiber and ended up near Vatican city so headed up to St Peter’s for the obligatory photo opportunity. We were struck by how long the queue was to get in to St Peter’s, even at this early hour of 8.30 am, it snaked around to almost fill 1/3 of St Peter’s Square! We were glad we weren’t wanting to visit here this time.
As it was a Saturday I thought I’d do a little shopping along Via del Corso, the main shopping street in Rome. I’d already covered the bottom half of the street in walks thus far so planned to do the northern part, up to Piazza del Popolo, this morning. This proved rather uneventful except for the fact that much of Via del Corso is now pedestrian-only so it made the move along the street much easier.
We stopped for a quick coffee, where Mark paid 150% more for his coffee than he does downstairs each morning, but we had lunch at a much better-value venue, Cafe Ripetta. After lunch we wandered back down to the southern end of Via del Corso to the Palazzo Doria Pamphilj. We had stumbled across this Palace yesterday and it received good reviews so we returned today with more time to take the two audio-guided tours; one of the Galleries and one of the Apartments within the Palace.
The Palazzo dates back to 1651 and has interesting history connected to the Vatican. Pope Innocent 10th had appointed his nephew, Camillo Pamphili, as Cardinal and it is from this that we derive the word ‘nepotism’ as the Italian for ‘nephew’ is ‘nipote’. However, the nephew abdicated this Cardinal position so that he could marry and was banished by the Pope but Camillo eventually came to live in this part of Rome and built this lavish Palace that is still owned and occupied by the Pamphili Family. It was nice to see a high chair in one of the apartment rooms revealing that this particular Palace is still occupied and used by the family at various times! The two tours are worth taking as this Palace is like a mini-Versailles and the opulence is rather stunning.
We headed home after the Palace visit to charge our phones as we need full batteries to take our audio-guided tour of Trastevere later in the afternoon; we loved the place so much yesterday we were heading back to take a Rick Steeve’s audio guided tour and we then planned to stay in the area for dinner.
Setting off in the afternoon we exited our building and were shocked to see how many people were filling the streets, bars and cafes; it was extremely busy! Our walk down to start the tour took us past the Pantheon, which was packed too, and past some more ruins that just dated back to the 3rd Century BCE! How amazing this place is were you turn a corner and are faced with such wondrous structures so rich in history!
The Rick Steeve’s guided walk had us starting down at Isola Tiberina, a tiny island that linked the inland peninsula with the Mediterranean. The sick used to be isolated on this island during plagues and epidemics and there is still a hospital here today; although it’s a maternity hospital now. From there we weaved our way through a different section of the Trastavere that we had walked yesterday and, wouldn’t you know it, but part way through our walk we found a craft beer place! Well, we just had to stop for a drink at ‘Name Not Found’ and sample their range of brews. Mark had a beer from Milan that had a distinct lemon zest to it but it wasn’t to my taste. We ventured on to see the oldest church bell in Rome, one of Mussolini’s schools and a restaurant that used to be a synagogue and ended up back at the Piazza Santa Maria, where we had finished our walking tour yesterday.
It was a great way to take a walk through an uncharted area of the city and a great place to end the tour as this area was filled with cafes, bars and restaurants. We’d both felt trying some meatballs so Googled ‘best meatballs in Rome’ and, interestingly, three of the ten on the list were to be found in Trastever! We settled on the closest one, Cajo and Gajo, and this was a good choice as the meal and ambiance were great. I’d highly recommend this restaurant if ever in Trastevere. The only problem after dinner was the 1 km walk home through Easter Show-type crowds along the whole route! Rome is absolutely packed and pumping at the moment!