June 26 to July 5 - Rome, Florence, and Ravenna
A few words about our hotel choices, for those who might some day follow in our footsteps. We started out very well, and ended badly:
- The Hotel Domus Tiberina in Trastevere (above) was our favorite hotel in Italy: tiny, homey, friendly, charming. Everything about it was small (see below for a photo of our shower), but not in a bad way. The concierges were welcoming and outgoing, and let us check in three hours early. The view when I threw open our windows was full of bustle and swallows and terrace gardens and terra-cotta tiles. The remote for the A/C beeped cheerfully at us. Breakfast (delivered to our bed) was simple but tasty: cappuccino, yogurt, juice, croissant, cheese. Crossing the river from Rome to Trastevere was like leaving behind the tourism and coming home for the night. I'd stay there again tonight if I could.
- The Hotel Globus in Florence offered a great breakfast buffet in a cozy, conversation-encouraging lounge, and that heartlifting view of the dome and bells of San Lorenzo from our window. Beverages in the self-serve fridge were free for those of us with a "superior" room. I was thrilled to have wireless for the first time in five days. On the down side, we wrestled with the A/C when we got in (I never quite got it to work), and there were a lot of stairs involved — check-in was on the second floor.
- The Jolly Hotel in Ravenna was the most American of our hotels: big, bright, glitzy, mirrored, charmless. The breakfast buffet was enormous. (Let me insert here that I love blood orange juice, which is bright red. Like blood. Only citrusy.) Good cappuccino, mirtillo yogurt, cold cuts, eggs, pastry. We both prefer charm to glitz, but at that point it was a bit of a relief to be encased in the familiar for a couple of days. The triangular mirror in our room confused us. Internet access was ridiculously expensive.
- Finally, the Hotel Dolomiti is not a place we will be revisiting. We chose it for our last night because it was near Termini — our first mistake. (Everything near the train station in Rome is seedy and unpleasant.) We waited for an elevator that never came, then climbed four flights of stairs through ongoing construction and naked brick to our tiny room. There was a dongle on our hotel key that had to be inserted into an orifice in the wall to turn on the lights. Breakfast was fine, but "the girl" was late, so breakfast was late, so we missed the train, so we almost missed our flight. (To be fair: their website does say they've just renovated, so maybe things have improved.)
The ground crew changes our plane's front tire before we depart from JFK.
This was the first picture I took on Italian soil. The weights on the seat keep it flipped up. No peeing on the seat in Fiumicino!
The station at Fiumicino, where the Leonardo Express leaves from. We were bustled and buffeted and jet-lagged and wide-eyed. This was the first place I spoke Italian — "Due biglietti, per favore!"
Our tiny shower at the Domus Tiberina, smaller than a phone booth. It took me two days to figure out how to wash my feet.
Every time we took the train, this is what we saw out the window: rolling hills and limestone cliffs beneath bold blue skies. Extremely pleasant, when it wasn't too crowded.
Our room at the Jolly Hotel in Ravenna. Regarding the mirror, all I can say is Fnord.
On the plane home, they gave us ice cream cones!
Your intrepid photographer, in Trastevere, signing off.
The travel-'n'-hotel set is here