Time for a bit more on our trip... After a very smooth flight over the Atlantic, we arrived in Gatwick at about 9:30 a.m. British time. After clearing Customs, we walked around the airport and grabbed some coffee and danishes. As we had lots of time to make our B.A. connection to Rome, we browsed in some of the airport shops. I bought some magazines (estate listings that we would all later drool over while sunbathing at the villa). Gradually we were making our way to the north terminal to find our gate to leave for Rome. All of a sudden an alarm goes off and we are told over the P.A. system that a fire alarm had been triggered and EVERYONE had to vacate the airport. Argh! Can you imagine! We followed the general crowd - slowly - and went down to the main floor. Sortly after we got down there, thankfully, the alarm was cancelled, and we made our way back to the north termninal and our gate. We were only about a half hour to 45 minutes late taking off as a result and we made up time in the air, so we landed in Rome around the scheduled arrival time of 5:30 p.m. We breezed through Customs again and waited for our bags. They all arrived fairly quickly - all except for one green duffle bag, that is - Shaun's. We waited, and waited and waited, but still no sign of the Shaun's bag. Finally Brad found the desk where you report lost luggage and we made a claim. Somewhat tired and deflated, we called the contact who would meet us at our apartment to let us in and give us the key. We agreed to meet him at 9:00 p.m., which seemed a bit late for us. In any case, we gathered up our stuff and made our way to the Metro station. Brad is an amazing navigator and map-reader. He led on and we followed, each of us buying a 3-day pass for the Roman Metro. We got off just a couple of minutes from our apartment and found it in no time. We called Tim again, the contact person, and told him we had arrived. He showed up not long afterwards.
He let us into the residential/office building and he and Mary and I and quite a bit of the luggage went up to the 5th floor in the tiny elevator. The others walked up. He opened the door to our apartment, and we were well pleased. A large foyer and hall, a huge terrace, a very large livingroom/dining room also with balcony, a decent kitchen, 2 bathrooms each with shower, and a largish bedroom, a small bedroom, and a very small bedroom. Don and Mar got the largish bedroom, Brad and I got the small room, and Shaun and Mary holed up in the very small bedroom. It really all worked out, as we were only in the bedrooms to sleep anyway.
That first night, we had dinner in a trattoria just around the corner from our building (you could see it from our balcony, actually), and we bought some wine at a very friendly neighbourhood store. A mom and pop operation, with junior still working there as well. They were super friendly and nice. We went back several times over the 3 days to stock up on wine and beer.
Across the street from the apartment was an outdoor market that stretched 7 or 8 blocks. Vendors sold everything from pasteries to wild boar, eels to flower arrangements. We ended up buying bread, vegetables, cheese and wine there and dining at our apartment several times for for breakfast and lunch, and for one dinner.
Here are a few more pics of the apartment:
The terrace was amazing. We had several good meals out there and lots of good times.
Brad cutting bread in the kitchen
The Spanish Steps. A famous gathering spot in Rome for many, many years. The Spanish Embassy is or used to be located nearby, I think.
PS: Shaun's piece of luggage was delivered to our apartment shortly after 1:00 p.m. the next day. It was probably at the airport all along and had just not been off-loaded from the plane or had fallen off the conveyor. Luckily, that was our one and only glitch with air travel.