Monday, April 2, 2007
We woke up a bit late again, but this was a travel day and we did not have very far to go to get to Rome, so it was not such a bad thing to have a few more hours of sleep. Again we had a great breakfast, I suppose I could stop mentioning this but we are enjoying them so much I can't help myself. I think we finally made it out of Fiesole around 11am.
Got in the bimmer and put in Hotel Alimadi's address into the nav, it plotted a course on the A1, which was fine with us and we were off......
First thing out of the gate the nav told us to take a left, the next thing I knew we were on this road that was big enough to BARELY fit two smart cars, let alone a 3'er and something else... we had about the most harrowing 2 minutes ever, dodging cars by inches, maybe inch, we made it down with no issues, but it was enough negative energy for a whole trip let alone in the first 2 minutes. We maneuvered thru the city, I say this in the most literal way as driving in this city consists of constant maneuvering and we were headed right towards the correct autostrada when the nav told us to turn right, I obliged and we were off...in the wrong direction. We really had no way of turning around and I saw signs to Siena, which we had wanted to visit anyway, so we re-routed the nav for Siena and we were off.
The journey consisted of perfect BMW roads, curvy twisties everywhere, this was perfect for me and the rest of the family had amazing scenery to view. We were traveling thru the wine lands of Tuscany, it was truly quite perfect, well until both my kids began to vomit in the back seat. Perfection now turned to mass cleanup duty, luckily my wife was up to the task as I just kept "almost puking" at the site of it all. After a good 20 minutes of effort we were back on the road, luckily my wife had the forethought to pack for such a scenario so it was not as bad as it could have been, but it still sucked. We were only a few miles outside of Siena, we made it there shortly and found a place to park outside the main part of the city, which you more or less cannot drive into anyway.
Siena had a real medieval feel to it. The entry area was pretty dark and the roads very narrow, I began to wonder if we were going the correct way, but found a sign that told us we were, so we continued. It was Sunday, so we thought most of everything would be closed, so as soon as we found an open restaurant we sat down and had a bite. As with most of the meals, it was a simple one but very good, I had some veal tenderloins with porcini mushrooms that was really great.
After the meal we continued down the cobblestone road and found the Palazzo Pubblico, which is this really cool large open area that is lined with restaurants and shops. Again this area even seems more impressive after the small streets you took to arrive to it. The area makes a great place for kids as well as they can run around and play with other munchkins. We spent a few minutes taking in the area and wished we had more time, but we did not and we still wanted to find the local Duomo. We went back onto the small streets and followed the signs to the Duomo, not really expecting much we came across the amazing church. For some reason I thought Siena being a smaller town it would not have as much of an amazing building, I was wrong. It was just as amazing, although a bit smaller, as the duomo in Firenze. We had time just to walk around it and snap a few pictures and we were off back to the car to make it to Rome before it was too late.
Back into the car we set out to find the non-twisty roads, aka puke proof, hence made it to the A1 and towards Rome. About 70 miles outside of Roma I noticed the speed of traffic begin to pick up, the next thing I knew the general flow was going 90mph and I was doing over 100 fairly often, this made for a quick trip but a bit stressful as the amount of traffic also increased, but the road was still only 2 lanes, so there were a few 90mph to 50mph braking scenarios that were not the most fun, but the bimmer was up to the task and we were all of the sudden 7 miles from our hotel and in bumper to bumper traffic. Now the traffic in Roma is crazy, but I found it a bit easier to drive in than Florence, primarily I think because I did not have to traverse thru the middle of the city, as our hotel is across the river next to the Vatican, however there were several times where the traffic was 5 wide on a 3 lane road, but you just gotta go with it and you will get where you are going before you know it. I am still not used to the scooters and motorcycles coming up on both sides and wiping in and out of traffic, but I feel a bit easier driving now. Still I was very relieved to make it to the hotel.
Our room is very nice, especially for Roma standards, marble floors and two queen size beds. We are literally across the street from the Vatican, outside our window is a 40 foot wall of bricks that make up the huge wall to the Vatican and about 100 yards down is the entrance to the museum.
Once we were settled into our room it was dark and a Sunday, so we were not too sure about venturing out for dinner. My wife and eldest daughter decided to stay in for the night and my 4 year old and I went out in search of pizza, bier and gelato in that order....we found both just a half a mile or so away at a great pizzaria that had a healthy flow of Nastro Azzurro bier. The pizza was great and we were good and full, but not too full for some more gelato, think this makes visit 12, unfortunately I had the idea of getting creative with my flavor choice with licorice and coconut, this made for a horrid concoction that all should avoid. Fortunately, my daughter was more intelligent and chose white and dark chocolate, so I stole some of hers. We headed back with extra pizza in tow for Christie and Grace back in the hotel and we were down for the night.