Rome 2012 - Day 3

Submitted by dkranker on Fri, 10/05/2012 - 01:06

Today was a packed day, we got up early and called a taxi to take us to the Plaza Del Popolo.  We met our tour guides for the Pompeii tour and Mt. Vesuvius hike at the obelisk, in the center of the circus.  Our guides walked us through the gates and explained that the St. Magdeline? church to our right housed a sculpture by Raphael.  The bus took us to Cassino for our first rest stop.  We went into a nice stop with higher quality food and gifts.  We took a look at the cameos, which they hand make in the area, the area is known for this. They carve native shells, but also shells from Madagascar, in both the typical 18th century female profile, and some other newer and different designs.  The cameos carved from Madagascar shell have a peach color, which seemed to be the typical cameo color I'm familiar with.  The native shell colors are a light pink, and a purple color.    Also known in this area is a particular wine called Lacryma Christi, or Tears of Christ.  Our guide told us about it and the legend, so they also have a large selection of wines, a lot of "lemon" flavored foods and wines, and flavored chocolate.  I tasted some of the chocolate samples and they were okay, we didn't buy anything. After the rest stop, we were back on the road for the Pompeii tour, Mt. Vesuvius.  On our way to Pompeii, we drove by the bay of Naples (Napoli).  The water looked amazing in the sunlight.  The whole coast was very picturesque and looked to be one of those places we probably should try to go to the next time.  There are a lot of cruises that day trip to Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius we noticed (we had originally planned something like this, but you couldn't beat the tour we got, which included the meal).  Pompeii was a good trip, our local guide we got onsite was very knowledgeable and helped to get us through on time.  The grounds are kept up and they have a lot of vegetation and plantings along the outside of the city. After Pompeii, we walked to our dinner.  We got the typical "margarita" pizza, named for Queen Margaret who wanted to try the simple meal of the people, for which this pizza was named.  Tomato sauce on bread with basil and mozzarella cheese.  After the meal we got back on the bus and began the summit to Mt. Vesuvius.  The bus took the narrow road complete with twists and turns.  There was some delay with the busses and people at the top, but we made up as far as the buses could go, and we began walking up to the top, it was rough and took a lot out of you, but the views were nice, some kids give you hand made walking sticks to go up, at the end you are supposed to tip them, and they gave us some rocks for souvenirs.  We looked into the crater and could see the smoke coming out, as this is still an active volcano.  We went back down noticed they were selling the wine there as well.  I took a sample, and if it was good was going to get it, it was only 5 Euros a bottle, but it wasn't really that sweet, it wasn't bad, but we skipped it.  We hurried back down the mountain and were one of the last to get back on the bus.  Made the trip back to the halfway point at Cassino, and bought a cameo pendent for Kristi.  As we got back into Rome, on the trip back they told us a lot of the history of Vatican City, which just so happened to be our next planned destination. They wanted feedback at the end, which we gave, we both like the tour and their planning, we asked the tour guide about Vatican City tours, which was our next planned destination.  We were hoping their company had something, but she just recommended we talk to someone with our motel, which we did, but this was kind of a funny part I'll get to later.  We were let off at the Plaza del Popolo, which is where we started in the morning.  We took one of the roads of the circus to a restaurant recommended by one of our guides.  It was great, authentic Italian food and atmosphere.  The name was Osteria Gusto, and they had a food bar you could pick food off of (which we didn't do) but their sauce was great and their salad portions were large.  They also provided bread for dipping.  We got a taxi back the motel, this driver was a little crazy and liked loud music as we drove back.  We got our clothes back from the motel when we returned as expected, and they were clean, nothing appeared to be missing.  This was expensive but handy and saved time we couldn't lose today.  Getting back to the funny part, we asked the man at the front desk, who did speak English fairly well, if they knew who to recommend for a guided tour, so we could stick to a time schedule and get more information.  He looked online or on his computer a little bit and said, "Oh I'm sorry, the Poppa in no in Rome".  This became a running joke for us for a while.  I guess there's no point in his eyes, of going to Vatican City if the Poppa is not there.  The Poppa not in Rome, became the excuse for several things not being as we thought they should for the rest of the trip.