A mid-morning British Airways flight out of tiny London City Airport had us arriving in Rome a couple of hours later at ~2pm. You’ll be glad to know that airport security at the airport was every bit as thorough and time-consuming as it is in the USA (and we are not complaining). This small metro airport isn’t far from Woolwich where we began our Thames Path walk. There are no flight announcements. “Keep your eye on the monitors,” we were told. “They’ll announce your gate a couple of minutes before boarding.” There were half as many seats in the waiting area as there were passengers… people milled around in packs. There are no jetways; we walked down the stairs and across the tarmac to board. Actually, it was pretty good - the whole process was relaxed and stress-free, if not a bit different than we’re used to.
A window seat afforded me some glimpses of the Thames and then we were over the English Channel and speeding over France. The mountains (the Alps) were snow-covered and then the land below us turned verdant and lush and the clouds took over. The weather forecast for Rome? Rain, rain and more rain. It might be a damp few days in Rome and an even damper start to our walk.
By the time we arrived at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci/Fiumicino Airport, made it through Immigration & Customs (easy, peasy), collected our duffeled backpacks and caught a shared taxi to the hotel, it was late in the afternoon. Interestingly, Uber was significantly more expensive than cabs! Though we spotted puddles when we landed, the local showers had cleared and the evening was cool and dry.
Tucked away down a narrow, cobble-stone paved street is the Hotel Bolivar. It is a surprisingly lovely, quaint hotel in an old building. After check-in and a quick jet-lag nap, we headed out to explore a bit. The famed Colosseum is only a ½ mile away. Rome is a pinch-me perfect place to be and there was a significant amount of pinching going on as we strolled along the narrow streets. We have to keep reminding ourselves that we are really here. It’s almost surreal.
We wandered around the Colosseum, awed by its age and grandness. There was no dearth of restaurants and pizzerias, hosterias and bars. Pastas and pizzas seem to be the mainstay of the menu offerings, kind of what we expected. Good thing we’re planning to walk lots because otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to manage the carb intake.
We chose a small, unassuming, but inviting cafe with only about 10 tables for our dinner venue. Linen tablecloths and napkins, excellent service and an interesting menu added to the ‘first night in Rome’ ambiance of the meal. David chose a 4-cheese ravioli with walnuts (ravioli con quattro formaggi e nuce) and for me, spaghetti alla vongole (spaghetti with clams). Yumbo columbo to both, but David’s meal was definitely the pick of the litter. We marveled as the waitstaff flitted from table to table answering questions in Italian or English or French without skipping a beat.
We’re glad that we opted to spend a couple of days in London and then a couple more in Rome prior to our Via Francigena walking departure. We lost another hour flying to Rome for a total of a 9-hour time difference from Las Vegas. Time flies when you’re having a good time.
Tomorrow the forecast once again calls for rain.. and the next day, too. We dodged a bullet today but the next few days portend to be quite wet. We have tours scheduled and we’ll see if the forecasts hold true this time. No worries we are not be deterred; we have rain gear. Maybe the rain will keep the tourist crowds to a minimum. One can only hope.
Check back in a few days and come along on our tours to the Colosseum, the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. Wear your walking shoes, bring water and you’d better consider your rain jacket if the forecast holds true. OR … read our blog and stay comfy and dry in your recliner!
We made it to Rome from London the easy way… the return to England portends to be a little more challenging.