December 31 2003 – New Years Eve in Rome!
It is just after 6pm and we have heard several bangs already (gunshots or fireworks!). Rebecca and Maureen spent the night here last night, so we all got together in the morning for coffee and panetone. Stephanie came over too. Rebecca left at 11, Stephanie too, so the remaining four of us walked in the rain exploring Campo dei Fiori, Via Giulia and then had coffee on Piazza Navona.
Maureen headed off for the train and we had a wonderful lunch out at Armando del Pantheon right beside the Pantheon – bruschetta, perfect vegetable soup, spaghetti with cheese and pepper (not expensive), then found the Rome webcam and stood in front of it for awhile, walked around the Spanish Steps (counted them – 132), went to the Anglo-American Bookstore and then to Lion Bookstore (Lion was closed), made it up to Piazza del Popolo when my back started to hurt and we were all really tired. Colleen, Steve and I hopped into a taxi, Stephanie walked home.
Tonight Stephanie and Cesare are going to an outdoor concert then will come over to our apartment so we can watch the fireworks from the balcony.
We are being slowed down by my back pain but are having a lovely time. BUT I would not recommend spending Christmas in Rome. It is unbelievably crowded! More people on the streets and in the restaurants than when we have been here in September. I think lots of Italians come into Rome for the holidays – it does not seem full of tourists, be we do see other tourists.
Many restaurants are closed for the whole Christmas/New Years time. Nearly all restaurants were closed December 25 and 26. New Years Eve is mostly set (expensive) menus. You have to reserve restaurants even for lunch.
And the weather has alternated between very cold and constant rain.
There are lots of Christmas events, but we have been too tired in the evening to go to them. Many are concerts in churches and you would end up standing because of the crowds. Piazza Navona is crowded with people and a Christmas Market has been set up – but is just booth after booth of junk and some fun looking carnival games things. I did manage to purchase a Roma football scarf.
My point is that I had romanticized “Christmas in Rome”. I had pictured bright sunny, but cold, days. Empty piazzas, empty galleries. But it isn’t like that. Colleen left early one morning to see the Vatican Galleries but even at 9am the line was huge, so she gave up.
We love traveling with Colleen – she travels just like us (but is a big more organized, which is good) – and she does start her day before us (but who doesn’t?) I think this may be the first of many trips together. We are all sitting in our living room wondering, can you phone out for gelato?
Happy New Year!!