The jet lag lingers, but I’m back from Italy and ready to share my adventures. Let’s begin with the actual travel. We left McMinnville around 6:30 a.m. to catch a Delta flight from Nashville to Atlanta. This flight was short and I sat by a tween named Ethan who performed magic tricks. Smart kid, he knew I was a captive audience, but it was rather enjoyable.
The next flight was far less pleasant. We flew KLM Royal Dutch and it was long and hot. I passed the time reading “One Day in December” and playing “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” until we landed in Amsterdam. From there, we flew to Rome arriving around 9 a.m. on Thursday morning.
I don’t know about you, but I’d forgotten how grueling flying internationally can be. I was so thankful our taxi guy was waiting for us at the airport. He whisked us off to our hotel - Hotel Relais dei Papi where we crashed as soon as we checked in.
After napping for a bit, Ross and I met up with Nicole and Dwight for an early dinner at a place called Ristorante alla rampa dei Gracchi. It came recommended by our hotel guy and I really liked it. The ambience was fabulous and my fettuccine alla Bolognese (Fettuccine with tomato and meat sauce) really hit the spot.
Next, was dessert so we took the five-minute walk to Gelateria dei Gracchi. (My absolute favorite part about our hotel’s location.) At Gelateria dei Gracchi, everything is made in house — from roasting nuts to peeling and cutting the fresh, seasonal fruit, with no use of artificial colors, preservatives or hydrogenated fats. Ross chose honey and walnuts while I went with pistachio gelato. Both were delicious!
Afterward, Ross and I took a walk to the Vatican just to get some fresh air and to get a feel for how far away it was. We had a four-hour walking tour planned the following morning for the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica.
As we wandered into St. Peter's Square, we were greeted by the Vatican’s 65-foot Christmas tree with the beautiful Basilica in the background. Next to it was a nativity scene sculpted entirely out of sand. The 52-foot-wide sculpture of Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and an angel was created by four international artists using around 700 tons of sand brought from the Dolomites.
Let me just tell you, Rome does not mess around when it comes to holiday decorations. (Another perk is it is less crowded in December.) On our walk back to our hotel, nearly every store front had lights, garland or both. The strands of lights above us looked like twinkly archways as we walked the old cobblestone streets.
It was a nice, magical moment to share together ... just a nightly stroll in the Eternal City. We both enjoyed the city’s dazzling display and the 50-degree weather. Still, I was happy to get back to our room and my pillow.
Standard reporter Lacy Garrison can be reached at 473-2191.