After 10 days in the lovely little village of San Gemini in Umbria, most of our family headed south to Rome (our son, Ryan, and daughter-in-law, Rachel, headed north to Paris and then on to Berlin to visit old friends there).
The remainder of our group boarded a train in Terni and one-and-a-half-hours later we arrived at Termini, the central station in Rome. Not enough can be said about how great train travel is in countries like Italy, France, Spain and England, compared to the U.S.
An odyssey in three taxis via narrow streets that crisscross old Rome like fractures in a cracked plate brought us to our apartment near Piazza Borghese. It was a very nice, large and comfortable flat with plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms for us all. It was almost too close to the most popular tourist sites, but that made it nice for the kids, even if the crowds were significant in some places.
Walking was by far the most efficient mean of getting around, except for cross-town travel, for which the Metro was excellent. It was the first time on a subway for our grandkids and they seemed perfectly comfortable with the dense crowds and hustle into and out of the subway trains.
Our first group activity involved a Metro ride to the Coliseum for a tour of Old Rome with Lucia, a very pretty Roman woman who spoke English with a strong Liverpool (Beatles-like) accent. Born and raised in Rome, she spent several years in England before returning to her hometown and becoming a guide for Nancy Aiello Tours (nancyaiellotours.com).
The kids took to her immediately. She explained the ancient history of Rome in a way that kept them captivated during our more than three hours of walking through the Coliseum and the many parts of the old forum.
After the Coliseum part of the tour, during which she told all about the gladiator fights, lions, tigers, etc., she persuaded three of the guys in gladiator costumes to pose with the kids for a photo, for which they normally charge quite a bit. They waived the charge, but we tipped them anyway. Years from now, our grandchildren will look at that photo, remember the trip with us, smile and tell their kids about it.
Since this is a fishing column, I should mention that the forum is fairly close to the Tiber River, and although I didn’t fish it, some folks try. Lucia told us that in the ancient days, when old folks like Dottie and I got to a certain age the younger generation would just chuck them into the Tiber. I guess it paid to learn to swim in those days.
We ended our Old Rome tour about 1 p.m. and Lucia directed us to her favorite pizza place in all of Rome, Forno Boscioli. It was in the old Jewish section of the city several blocks from the forum. The streets were even narrower there.
We saw lots of interesting old buildings and partially excavated Roman ruins. The many sidewalk cafes in the area were packed with locals and tourists.
Lucia was right, Forno’s pizza was delicious, but then we’ve never really had a bad meal anywhere in Rome.
Dottie and I were tired after walking what seemed miles and headed back to the apartment, but our adult kids and the youngsters went on to check out the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, Piazza Narvona and various other sites.
I was in awe of the children’s stamina and interest in what I had assumed might bore them. They loved Rome.
Back home, fishing off the Sonoma coast this week was excellent on Sunday with a little fog and barely any wind. Capt. Rick Powers, of Bodega Bay Sportfishing, had 45 anglers on board The New Sea Angler and they brought home limits of rockfish, plus 43 lingcod to 16 pounds, and full limits of large dungeness crabs. Call Rick at 875-3344 to book a trip.
Inside the Bay, the best action has been up around the Pump House and off China Camp. Anglers are catching some nice striped bass, and a few have caught some keeper sturgeon this week, said Kevin Wolf, at the Loch Lomond Bait Shop in San Rafael.