Europe 2012: Day 10–Traveling from Florence to Rome

The morning after our Cinque Tour Trek and final night in Florence, we were up bright and early once again – this time, to catch a train! Riding the train, it turns out, was definitely easier than flying between cities, in that it eliminates the whole ‘commute to airport/get there 3 hours early/check your bags/go through security’ song-and-dance. This might not be true for European cities that are further apart, of course, when it might be faster to fly (such as when we flew from Paris to Florence).

Instead, we simply walked from our hotel to the train station in Florence (which took about 8 minutes), found our train platform, and hopped on the train! We arrived about 30 minutes prior to our train’s scheduled departure, and it did, admittedly, take us several minutes to figure out which train on the departures board was indeed ours, as the naming and numbering conventions were a bit different from our printed tickets. But in any case, we found our train, hopped on with our baggage (again, we each only had a carry-on, which was essential on this trip!), and 90 minutes later, we were in…

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…ROME!

We took a high speed TrenItalia train from the S.M. Novella station in Florence to Roma Termini in Rome.

Termini station was huge – and crazy!

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Luckily, I’d booked a hotel located only 0.2 miles from Termini Station!

Or so I thought. Okay, so our hotel was only 0.2 miles away, but we had a hell of a time locating it. We paced up and down, back and forth, so, so many times, down a several block stretch of Via Magenta, carting our wheeled luggage behind us, and absolutely could not locate our hotel! I was on the verge of tears, I tell you. #Dramaqueen

Remember that sore throat I woke up with the day before? Well, overnight, it had morphed into full-blown head cold-congestion-city. So that didn’t help matters!

Finaaaaallly, maybe 30 minutes later, the huz spotted this tiny sign on the wall of a building.

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Yes Hotel. That’s us! Phew.

Please, Yes Hotel, can we get some more prominent signage?

Above and below are some pictures of the entrance I took one evening in Rome, though our initial arrival into the city was around noon. The area surrounding Termini station isn’t the most pristine. In fact, there is a lot of graffiti and very little charm to speak of. I don’t believe that I would recommend staying in this area to others, after visiting Rome, but I will say that it was very convenient in terms of accessing public transit.

The concierge at the reception desk spoke perfect English and was very courteous, friendly, and helpful.

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Yes Hotel was an establishment recommended by my Frommer’s Guide. Yes, I purchased a Frommer’s Guide for each of the three cities we visited on our trip, and I highly recommend the Day-By-Day Guides.

This was the most expensive of the three hotels from our trip (our splurge stay, if you will, saved for the final leg of our trip), but only our second favorite. Our hotel in Florence, Corte Dei Medici, was full of Italian charm with all of the amenities we desired, and was our favorite by a landslide! With that said, Yes Hotel was in excellent condition, clean, and with all modern finishes throughout the room.

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However, we were spoiled in Florence, with our big room, which made this room seem smaller in comparison. Still, it was a decent size for our purposes. Amenities included A/C, flat screen TV (only English channel we found was CNN), closet, desk, and a mini fridge.

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What we didn’t like was that our room was located on ground level, which meant we had quite a bit of noise outside our windows at all hours of the day. The buzz of the A/C did block out most of the noise, but it was still discernable, and all in all, I would just feel safer on a higher level, even though our windows were barred. Also since we were on the first level, we kept our curtains closed 100% of the time, so passersby wouldn’t gawk into our room.

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The bathroom was actually really, really big! And very modern. I was a fan. I was not a fan of the translucent, ground-level, curtain-less windows in the bathroom though! But that is just me being paranoid, because you really cannot clearly see in or out of the windows.

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This giant shower seemed like a huge luxury after bathing in itty bitty shower stalls for the past 10 days!

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Promptly after checking in and depositing our luggage, we walked a block down the street to a restaurant for lunch, where we dined outdoors on the patio. Like, we literally walked ONE block away, to the closest tourist trap restaurant because we were on a mission for food, then rest. The name of the restaurant was U. Giuliani Caffe.

I ordered a coffee! I avoided coffee during this trip because it sends me to the restroom so frequently, and I didn’t want to spend my vacation constantly in search of one, but since I knew we were going back to our room for a rest after lunch, I indulged! Man oh man, had I missed the stuff! I am a daily coffee drinker at home. Love the stuff to no end.

This was where I discovered the joys of the Italian Café Freddo. The English translation beside ‘Café Freddo’ on the menu was ‘Iced Coffee,’ so I was all over that. Turns out it was a small glass of a thick, chilled espresso, topped with cold, frothed cream. It was ridiculous. Ridiculously GOOD!

Pure heaven.

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The huz and I shared a Caprese Salad. But where’s the basil!? So, so.

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I ordered what was called “ravioli” on the menu but turned out to be tortellini, with a cream sauce and peas.P1090717

Lasagna for my man.

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After lunch… a rest! My cold hit me this day, and I needed to recharge my batteries for a few hours before our evening out.

We walked about 20 minutes from our hotel to our evening event, stopping for an easy dinner on the way (that I forgot to photograph, but, as it was simply a take-away panini and a burger, it wasn’t really photo-worthy).

A Segway tour of Rome – at night! – was our evening plan! We toured with the Italy Segway Tours company for this 2.5 hour excursion, which was limited to only 8 people per group.

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The huz is rockin’ and rollin’ on his Segway! We spent about 10-15 minutes practicing riding on the Segways in an open area and they were a piece of cake to master. So much fun!

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Since he was the tallest in our group (at 6’4”, that happens a lot), he got to be the caboose, so our guide could easily look back and confirm if the whole group was still close behind. We all wore helmets, as well as audio receivers and head phones, so that our guide was able to narrate the tour.

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We stopped several times, at different attractions, and simply lined up our Segways in a corner while we wandered and explored. I rode the bling-blang Golden Segway.

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The Pantheon at night! I’m all geeked out about it, too. In college I took a Roman Archaeology course and it was beyond incredible to see, first-hand, so many of the Roman structures I had learned about.

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The huz and the Pantheon.

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A cellist playing in the shadows.P1090735

The piazza in front of the Pantheon was abuzz with gawkers of all sorts.P1090736

Just amazing, isn’t it? Built in 27 B.C., and still standing! The walls are 25 feet thick. Pantheon means ‘all the gods,’ and the structure was originally built as a temple for worshipping any and all gods that one desired. I love that concept.P1090734

The lively piazza:

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Below: The huz and I sitting at the base of one of the Pantheon’s 16 columns. These columns were dragged on sledges (likely by slaves) across Egypt, to the Nile River, across the Mediterranean, and somehow made their way to this site in Rome. Blows my mind socket.

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Next we Segway-ed over to Piazza Navona. an artsy city square full of people.

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And we saw the Spanish Steps!P1090750

Ch-ch-check out that helmet!

At the base of the steps is the Piazza di Spagna, and at the top is the Trinità dei Monti church.

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Piazza di Spagna:P1090749

Rome at night:P1090751P1090753

Our final stop took us to this big crowd of people.

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Everyone was gathered around the exquisitely illuminated Trevi Fountain. What a sight to see!P1090756

After 2.5 hours of zipping around the city on our Segways, our tour concluded back at the Segway office, and the huz and I strolled back to our hotel room.

Rome is a …Big City. With capital letters. It was far more, well…urban?.. than I had imagined. It’s just so very loud, full of traffic, not pedestrian-friendly, smells of car exhaust and cigarettes, and overall just overwhelmed my senses. Such a change from Florence! But hey, I grew up in a small town, so I was kind of a small town girl in a big city. It was just, well, a lot for me. The charm was just lacking, and Rome took me longer to feel comfortable in than Paris or Florence. I’m not going to lie… earlier in the day, when walking from our hotel to our tour meeting spot, I had a bit of a meltdown. Blame the fatigue, blame female hormones, blame culture shock – I don’t know – at that moment I was just not feeling Rome. But over the course of the next several days, I warmed up to the city. We saw so many amazing sights that it would be difficult to deny that Rome is a cool city.

We had a blast on the Segway night tour and totally recommend it. It’s a great way to get an overview of the city after one first arrives. After the tour, my comfort level with the city had definitely increased. Our guide was funny, amiable, and managed the tour in a safe yet fun manner. We also loved that the tour size was limited to only 8 individuals. Definitely try it out if you visit Rome!

6 thoughts on “Europe 2012: Day 10–Traveling from Florence to Rome

  1. I had a similar experience in Rome – although it was my first stop on my first overseas trip – the whole city is so overwhelming, with crowds, smells, heat… but I think that hectic nature is part of it’s soul. That said, I can’t wait to go back to Rome and see it from a different perspective, now that I’ve travelled a bit more. I also love LOVED Florence. Beautiful city and much more of a relaxed vibe than Rome.

  2. Pingback: Europe 2012: Day 11–First Full Day in Rome « Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom.

  3. Pingback: Europe 2012: Day 12–Rome and the Vatican « Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom.

  4. Pingback: Europe 2012: Day 13–Final Day in Rome « Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom.

  5. Pingback: Europe Trip 2012–Two Week Summary « Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom.

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