My adventure began on a Sunday. I was feeling a bit nervous and excited all at once. I had never taken a big trip all by myself. Of course I’d flown alone, and I’d gone to war-torn countries, but that was totally different. This would be a week, with no Italian language skills, 11 reservations (plane, train, hotel and tours), and moving between four cities in five days. Somehow it was exciting but a bit intimidating as well. Would I be able to have a good time all by myself with no one to talk to or laugh with? Would I be able to get on all the correct trains? I had never even sat at a restaurant and eaten dinner by myself here in the States. Could I do it all? All questions going through my head while I waited at my gate. When… my flight was cancelled. The airline was able to move me to a direct flight from a neighboring airport. They gave me cab fare, lunch money and made sure I would make my first Rome tour: Espresso, Gelato and Tiramisu the next morning at 11am.
My flight was normal… considering I’d just crossed the Atlantic two weeks earlier. There were movies to watch and lots of sleeping since it was an overnight flight and a new book I picked up called The Alchemist to keep me from dying of boredom. I arrived in Rome around 8am and then took a train into the city center and a cab to my hotel, which was near Castel Sant’Angelo. I was able to check-in and drop my bags off, but unable to get into my room and freshen up. Nearly as soon as I arrived, I had to race off to meet my Espresso, Gelato and Tiramisu tour near the Pantheon. When I arrived… I was the only one taking the tour that day. The guide was extremely knowledgeable and shared so many fun facts about Italian cuisine I’ll make that a separate blog later on. During the tour, I sampled a frozen espresso with whipped cream, espresso, two flavors of gelato, and strawberry tiramisu.
The tour ended at the Spanish Steps. When it was over, I decided just to wander with no particular destination while taking pictures and enjoying my surroundings. Below is a sampling of what I saw.
When I was a little tired of walking, I went back to the hotel, freshened up and then went walking again. This time toward the Vatican, then onto Campo di Fiori. I thought this would be a great place to have dinner, but after sitting down at a table, I decided it was far too touristy and the service was poor. I had a glass of wine, paid and then left. I decided to go back to the Pantheon and eat at one of the restaurants there, because when dining alone atmosphere is everything, isn’t it? On my walk away from Campo di Fiori, an Italian man started following me. I felt like I was in a spy movie or something, because as I made a wrong turn and changed directions, so did he. I made a few quick turns and I think he returned back to Campo di Fiori because I never saw him again. It was a reminder that traveling alone I needed to be very careful with no internet service (maps or communication) on my cell phone and really no one to call on my cell phone anyway.
Dinner turned out to be lovely when I arrived. There were musicians playing in the square, lots of people watching to do and I had a table right on the square. I made friends with two lovely Australian couples and two Spanish couples while I dined. After some wine, I took a cab back to my hotel and called it a night. Early train ride to La Spezia in the morning and then onto Cinque Terre. More adventures to come…