October 24, 2012:

Rome 3.0

I know I know, you are probably sick to DEATH about my Rome trip. Get over it. HA!

First off, I want to thank the half a zillion people who messaged me, emailed me, stalked me on all forms of social media before & during our trip with recommendations. These were invaluable and really made our trip all the more enjoyable. I thought I would put together my own "Meredith's Guide to Rome.." should you be in the market for a trip abroad. 

Flying direct via Alitalia was great in that we flew direct. The planes are old. Like, they still have working ashtrays old. The upholstery on the seats themselves, well the term THREAD BARE comes to mind. Given the reputation that Italy has for style, the airline is NOT an ambassador of any good standing.  Also, the direct flights are filled with passengers in need of a wheelchair and assistance. Both our flights to and fro had 12+ wheelchair users. This isn't really an issue except that it seems to have a correlation to BOTH flights requiring a page asking; "Is there a Doctor on Board?" somewhere above the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Good Times. (Note: No one Died thank the Gods)

Ironically, all of these wheelchair users are shit out of luck in Rome. Rome is not accessible. Oh sure there is the odd Metro station that has an elevator but these are few and far between. Most do have escalators (though if they have shut them off, you have to flag down someone if you have a stroller. Fortunately, they took pity on us and one ATAC staffer ferried all of our luggage up a flight of stairs and helped with the baby in the stroller on our way to the airport to fly home). If you are bringing a stroller, bring the heavy duty one. An umbrella stroller will NEVER EVER EVER last on the cobblestones.  Also, ignore the signs that say no strollers on the escalators. No one cares and it's the only way to get up and down. It also makes for a great glute work out if you are the one managing the stroller/baby on and off the escalator.

Best shopping in Rome if you are NOT in the market to hit up the likes of Dior, Hermes and so forth.... Campo Fiore - the Jewish Ghetto. If you want leather, Florence is better. Everything is better in Florence mind you. 

Best restaurant we went to in Rome was Casa Copelle (thanks Erin McLaughlin for the recommendation!). It's near the Piazza Navona. It's French & Italian and divine. Best restaurant we went to in Florence - ZaZa Trattoria. Oh my god so freaking GREAT. If Tiramisu is your thing - King of Tiramisu near Re Di Roma is where you need to go.

Book a private tour of the Vatican. Worth every penny!!!

Okay this brings me to the Rome Installment of my Traveling Loos Stories... this version known as "How to Survive Public Washrooms in Rome."

First things first - always carry wipes & tissues with you, you will never know when you need to use them in a washroom environment.

Practice your squats before you go to Rome. This will become immediately evident when you happen upon a less than posh washroom.

If you have the choice between paying for a Loo and a free one - Pay the money! They usually cost 50 cents but they don't give change and they don't take change bigger than a Euro. Always have spare change at the ready.

In Rome, restaurants cannot refuse you admission to the bathroom even if you aren't a patron. Our standard rule of thumb was find the nicest restaurant and use their bathroom or a really nice Hotel.

Crossing the Road in Rome.

This is not for the faint of heart. Use the cross walks but be warned, the cars won't stop for you even if you are ready to cross at the crosswalk. Think of it as a giant game of Chicken. Tourists are chickens and will wait for all the cars to stop. This could conceivably take a month. Romans don't wait, they walk out into the crosswalk and dare the cars to hit them. If you are a redhead with a baby though, you not only stomp out into traffic, but you also throw up your hand in an abrupt "Talk to the Hand" fashion and stare down each of the cars and their drivers a la that Austrian Knucklehead turned Politician/Wife Cheater. After doing just this in the heart of Rome, three American women who were behind me as I went all Moses & the Red Sea on the traffic bowed down to me and declared me some sort of Traffic Stopping Super Hero.  I didn't want to burst the bubble and tell them I stole my moves from our tourguide from the Vatican. Our little secret right?

I discovered the Camera Bag APP this weekend. It's like Instagram for your iPhoto Library. Here are my first efforts at playing with it.

So cool right?

It looks just as fake in person. I'm still blown away by it.

The Ecstasy of St Terese

Moses. Inspired me to Part Seas of Cars.

The Pantheon.

Me & G at the Duomo.

The Vatican. OH MY GOD. I think I'm going to blow this one up and put it somewhere in my house.