I started the morning off at what was to become my usual haunt, Antico Forno. I nibbled an apple pastry and sipped cappuccino as I planned my day. Hubs wanted to sleep in again, so I found myself with a free morning. I noticed in my guidebook that St.-Peter-In-Chains basilica was a hop and a skip from our apartment, so off I went.
The church houses Michelangelo's Moses, originally carved in white marble for the tomb of an egomaniacal pope. (We saw one of its partners, Slaves, in the Louvre when we were in Paris more than a decade ago.) It's a gorgeous piece and very indicative of Michelangelo's style. I also got to check out what are said to be two sets of chains that held the apostle Peter, one when he was jailed at the Mamertine prison, and another when Herod held him captive in Jerusalem.
Afterwards, I legged it over to the Museum of the Imperial Forums. Once you pay admission here, not only do you get to see some lovely little exhibitions inside the museum, but you get access to the very upper level of Trajan's Market, where fresh fruit, flowers, vegetables, oil and wine were sold to hungry Romans in A.D. 112. The museum also offers GREAT views of Trajan's Column, the ruins of his basilica, and some of the other ancient forums.
Hubs and I met up for lunch at our neighborhood favorite - Ristorante Due Colonne Di D'Annunzio Angelo. I had a velvety gnocchi with gorgonzola and arugula, and hubs had quattro formaggio pizza. Both were delicious!
With full tummies, we decided to walk over to what remains of the Baths of Diocletian. This ancient Roman bath later morphed into the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli. Here, you can see how expansive and lavish such a bath might have been. (Plus, the meridian in the floor, used in conjunction with a tiny hole in the wall, serves as a celestial clock and a calendar. Neat!)
After a quick visit there, it was across the street to the National Museum of Rome. I loved this place. First of all, it felt as though I had the art there all to myself. There were very few other visitors, and most of them seemed to be art students sketching statues. The statuary there dates back to 500 B.C., with pagan gods, Rome's emperors, philosophers and poets all represented. On the upper floors, you can see gorgeous frescoes from the Farnese Villa, and in the basement, you can walk chronologically through all the items and coins that have been used as currency in Rome. (Early money was just misshapen chunks of bronze, which was weighed to determine value. Over time, bronze coins were developed, then silver and gold coins were introduced. You can watch as the design of the coins gets more elaborate and intricate over time. Amazing stuff.)
We stopped for a raspberry gelato on the way home, then rested up a bit at the apartment before dinner. I couldn't resist talking hubs into going to Ristorante Due Colonne Di D'Annunzio Angelo AGAIN for dinner! To start, we tried the stuffed olives. (Out of all the things we had there, this was the one item I wasn't crazy for. It was just ok.) As an entree, I had a gorgeous vegetable pizza, and hubs had a steak with roasted potatoes. Lots of red wine later, we made our obligatory nightly stop at Antico Forno for cream horns and apricot cookies.
We really didn't have any major items left on my sightseeing list, so we decided to take Day 8 and just wander. We headed west of Piazza Campodiglio, crossing the Tiber River at Isola Tiberina, over the oldest bridge in Rome. We saw the Jewish Ghetto and the synagogue there. We stopped for a forgettable lunch in Trastavere, and on our way back, we swung by the Teatro Marcello, an ancient theatre with a capacity of 13,000 during its operation. We also explored the Port d'Octtavia and the Temple of Vesta. (We saw the Mouth of Truth, too, but I was not ABOUT to stand in that line to get a good shot of it. Awful.)
On our way back to the apartment, we took the long route, around the far end of the Forum and the Circus Maximus. We stumbled on a farmer's market, popping in for a chocolate and coconut gelato and some food items (DELICIOUS garlic and olive spreads for bruschetta) to take home.
We went back to the apartment for a nap, and I woke up feeling sick. Stayed in that evening.
Shopping day! Up early and well-rested, I hit Antico Forno for a crema criossant and a cappuccino. Today was our last full day in the city, so I figured I'd do some shopping. I went up and down Via Nazionale, where I found lots of very reasonable little shops. I snapped up scarves, tops, and a few items for little man. I also found some campy mementos and lots of food items - pasta, dried porcini mushrooms, limoncello, etc. - to take back home.
After a quick lunch of spaghetti with clams and pecorino (and my usual stop at Antico Forno for a strawberry tart), we headed back to the apartment to pack and rest a bit. Then, it was back out for more shopping. Hubs found a great kitchen store, and I couldn't resist bringing home an Italian espresso maker, with a set of two cups/saucers/little spoons. (We've already used them at home!) We stopped for a snack (tiramisu and espresso for hubs, fruit salad for me), then it was back to the apartment for a rest before dinner.
Of course, our last dinner had to be at Ristorante Due Colonne Di D'Annunzio Angelo. We got the grilled vegetable antipasto platter (which was amazing. I was sad that we discovered it so late in the trip!), and I HAD TO get the spinach and ricotta ravioli with butter sauce. Delicious. I savored every bite between sips of red wine.
Afterwards, we wistfully made our last trip to Antico Forno, where I enjoyed my final indulgence and the owner earnestly told me he'd find some way to move his shop to the United States for me.
The next morning, it was cab-airport-flight-flight-bed. It was a long day, but within 24 hours of leaving Rome, we were home and asleep. What a marvelous time we had! What food! What art! What FOOD!