Don't get me wrong, spending Christmas in Rome was fantastic, but since I've never been away from home on a holiday before it was very, very strange. Even with all of the streets decorated, nativity scenes everywhere (and I truly mean everywhere) and countless sightings of Babbo Natale...it just didn't feel like Christmas. There was no Christmas Eve dinner with the family, no exchange of gifts, no pollyanna with the cousins (or the girlfriends, or the grade school friends), no Christmas morning breakfast at Mom and Dad's. It was surreal to say the least.
The Rome trip started out with a bang...our flight from Palermo was delayed 2 1/2 hours. Instead of arriving at our hotel at 7:30pm like we planned, we got there at 10pm. For future reference: if you are going to Rome on Christmas Eve there is no subway service after 9pm. We didn't know this, even though we did exhausting amounts of research for this trip, including going to the Rome metro website, where nothing was listed about a 9pm closing time. Why am I continually shocked by things like this happening in Italy? At any rate, we walked from the train station to the hotel, threw our bags down and went out to explore. A night time walk past the Colosseum, Piazza Venezia, Fontana di Trevi, Piazza della Rotunda and onto Piazza Navona for a delicious pork sandwich for dinner. Not exactly my usual Christmas Eve dinner of fish...but it was late, restaurants were no longer seating for dinner, and there was a stand with a huge roasted porchetta calling our names.
After the pork sandwich we got pizza. Overkill? Yes, but we don't care...that's how we do.
The next few days were basically filled with eating and sightseeing. We went to the Basilica, toured the Vatican Museum, saw a display of 106 nativity scenes in Piazza del Popolo, went to an art gallery to see the works of Giovanni Bellini (where we also saw Sam Waterston of my beloved Law and Order...I'm not joking, he was really there, Scott can attest), and visited the Pantheon.
The culinary highlight of the trip was a great place called Cul de Sac. Teresa and I have eaten there before and I knew Scott would love it. We got wild boar pate, crottin cheese with truffles and head cheese salame. Soooo good and the place has a great atmosphere. The pate had chocolate in the middle, which we didn't expect because it wasn't written on the menu. It might sound strange, but it was absolutely delicious.
We did a lot of walking, drinking, eating and touring. It was great fun, but not better than being with family and friends. No more holidays away from home for us.