We arrived with no difficulties beyond sleep deprivation. We checked into our lovely room in the convent of the Suore di Santa Elisabetta and took a brief nap before heading out to sightsee and start our ice cream research. Took the metro to Vatican City, where we stopped at Gelateria Millenium, which we’d heard recommended–and rightly so! It’s located right at the bottom of the steps leading up to Vatican City. I had the chocolate (our “control flavor”) and mint, Bethany had aranciotta (orange chocolate) and crema, and Dawn had tiramisu and mousse caffe borghetti. All were lovely, the chocolate very rich and smooth, the mint VERY minty, the aranciotta amazing and the tiramisu tasting just like…. tiramisu.
Bethany and Brenda at Gelateria Millenium
Alas, we missed the Vatican museum by five minutes after the gelato break, but spent an hour and a half being amazed by St. Peter’s basilica, which has more beauty and history packed into it than I’d even imagined. Walking back, we passed the Castel Sant Angelo and saw a sign saying admission was free that day, so of course we went in. (I adore castles!) As brash young Americans we were blown away by the ancientry of this place, which stretches back to pre-Christian Rome. We finally tore ourselves away to head across the river, making our way eventually to the Spanish Steps where we took a little break and studied our guidebooks and maps and weighed dinner options.
Dinner was at Pizzeria Leonardo, just around the corner in the Piazza Spagna, where we split pizza verdure, risotto mare and fettucini with mushrooms and a delicious white sauce (I forget the Italian name). The house red wine was as good as the food and a good time was had by all.
From there to the Trevi Fountain, which I believe has the greatest concentration of gelaterias of any area in Rome! After some dithering, we settled on Cafe Roma Gelateria (and belatedly decided we should have each had a dish from a different place for better comparison–lesson learned for next time!) The chocolate wasnàt as smooth or rich as the Millenium (though still better than any American ice cream) and the mint not nearly as minty. The coffee flavor was intense, though, and very good.
The internet cafe in Piazza Barberini that Rick Steves recommended was no longer in business, alas, but we discovered this small one on our way back to the convent. No time to blog then, so we just checked e-mail before staggering “home” for a blessedly good night’s sleep.
Okay, Bethany is still trying to book us a room in the Cinque Terre and we have a few more minutes before we need to head to Roma Termini, so I’ll start on Day 2…
Awakened by the 7am bells (who needs an alarm clock in Rome? The church bells are far more pleasant) we made it down to breakfast just after eight and out on the street by 9:30. We decided to walk back to Vatican City to see the museum (how could we leave Rome without seeing the Sistine Chapel?) and took a route that would lead past Giolitti, with their self-declared best gelato in Rome. Alas, when we reached it a little after ten, the gelato wasn’t out yet, so we headed over to the Parthenon, which is nearby. There, we stopped at Della Palma Gelato di Roma–such a colorful place!–and tried their dark chocolate (which had ice crystals in it), the menta stracciata (very sweet), chocolate amaretto (very good) and mousse caffe, which was lik coffee-flavored whipped cream. This would be a great place to take kids, with so many flavors and colors of gelato, the adjacent candy shop and the bright decor.
Back to Giolitti, which now had the gelato counter open, for chocolate, cinnamon, Grand Marnier and limoncello gelato. All of them were very, very good. We have to say that our admittedly limited sampling verifies Giolitti’s reputation. Of the seven gelaterias we tried, we most highly recommend Giolitti and the Millenium (which we resisted sampling again when we finally reached Vatican City around 11am).
The line for the museum was half an hour long, the museum ridiculously crowded and impossible to do in under an hour and a half, between the crowds and the circuitous route we were forced to travel. It’s a LOT of walking, so be forewarned! At least two miles, I’d say.
Okay, time to head to the train, so I’ll continue in a future post. Ciao for now!