Day 4: Orvieto/Rome
On day four, we checked out of our hotel in Florence and hopped on a bus for the 3.5 hour trip to Rome with a pit stop in Orvieto for food and to stretch our legs. Check out and departure was at 0900.
This bus ride out of Florence was a little less exciting since we didn’t hit anything (read about hitting a parked car here). We were on the road for about two hours before we were able to begin seeing Orvieto in the distance. Orvieto is a small city that sits on top of a butte formed by a volcano centuries ago. It is most well-known for Duomo di Orvieto, a cathedral that dates back to 1290. The temple was ordered to be built by the pope, to commemorate the Miracle of Bolsena, to house the bloody altar cloth.
To get to the top of the butte, we took a small tram from the bottom and then hopped on a bus which took us to Piazza del Duomo. After snapping pictures of the cathedral, we took a brief tour and stopped for lunch at Cantina Foresi, right off the square. **If you’re going to eat near touristy things this is the place to do it.! We enjoyed local cured meats and cheeses paired with crisp, white local Orvieto Classico wine. The city also has an awesome tour of the underground caves, which we missed because the English tour didn’t start until way after we left. In retrospect, we should have just gone on the German tour! Check out this blog post from Our Escape Clause for more great things to do in Orvieto.
After departing, we continued the 1.5 hours bus trip to Rome and checked into our hotel, Hotel Albani Roma, which was…colorful. Our bathroom was bright yellow! The rooms were split up into triples again.. We took about 1.5 hours to settle in and then set off on the city bus for another free, informal, speedy, walking tour lead by our Director, Jason.
Our first stop was the Trevi Fountain. It was incredibly crowded, but we managed to elbow our way to the edge of the fountain for a few quick pics. We then made our way to the Pantheon. On the way there Jason told us it was getting ready to close and we should rush inside so when we walked into the square and saw the open door… we all started running. After pictures at the Pantheon, we made our way to Piazza Navona. Unlike, the majority of squares, which are…drumroll…square!, Piazza Navona was built on the site of the Stadium of Domitian and remains oval in the shape of the stadium. Our next stop was Jason’s favorite gelateria, in Rome, Quinto gelateria, where he bought gelato for all of us. We then made our way to Campo di Fiori, and finally to, Trastevere, where we ate dinner. If you’re looking to enjoy Rome’s nightlife, this is where you should be!
**Cool fun fact about Rome. There are 2500 drinking fountains, called Nasone, scattered all over the city for free, cold, drinking water. Alas! The leftover water is collected and recycled for plants and pets.
For dinner we stopped, really we were stopped, at a restaurant named Hosteria Del Moro Da Tony. We had planned on eating there anyway; however, when we stopped to look at the menu, they shuffled us inside with promises of a free bottle of champagne. We were not actually given a full bottle, but they did provide all eight of us a glass of champagne. We were mostly confused because they didn’t offer us wine or Prosecco instead. At dinner, I ordered Cacio e Pepe, a Roman pasta dish which literally translates to cheese and pepper. It was on my bucket list of things to do on the trip. It was delicious but heavy, and I don’t think I’ll order it again.
After eating, we spent the evening exploring Rome after dark. We walked around taking pictures of Circo Massimo (Circus Maximus), a Roman chariot racing stadium and entertainment venue, the Coliseum, and the Trevi Fountain.
To get back to the hotel, we planned to take the last bus back to the hotel at midnight. We arrived at the bus stop around 2350 and waited for about 35 minutes, in the rain, for the bus to pick us up. While waiting, a taxi stopped. We reluctantly decided to take the taxi home. We dragged our feet hoping the bus would show up, tried haggling with the driver for a lower price (it ended up costing five euros each…40 euros!), and eventually hopped in because we weren’t sure the bus was actually going to show up. First attempt at the Roman bus system…huge fail. You can read about our second attempt here. Once we were inside, the driver asked if we had called to schedule the pickup and even gave us a reservation name. When we told him that wasn’t us, he just shrugged and drove off anyway. So… we also stole a taxi from someone else. #killingitinRome
We got back to the hotel around 0100 and headed to bed to prep for an early start at the Coliseum in the morning. Another 20K step day…complete.