Of course, Piazza Spagna is not the respite because that area is always crawling with thousands of tourists. No, it is a small door to the left of the stairs through which it is possible to enter Babington’s Tea Rooms, a traditional English tea house that has been at this location since 1893. I first visited Babington’s last March, and returned for the amazing feeling of calm you get when you walk through the door. Outside, the piazza is bustling with activity, but once you cross the door, peace and quiet greets you. I ordered some fruity tea and read my Nook in this sanctuary amidst the storms of tourists and prepared myself to venture once more into the fray. When I was ready, I made my way to the top of the Spanish Steps and turned to the right, towards the Fountain of Tritone. There, I got another Panini on the go and went to the Palazzo Barberini.
The Palazzo Barberini is one of those rare finds. It was an amazing collection of artwork housed in the old palace of the influential and wealthy Barberini family. The family coat of arms with the bees was placed everywhere to emphasize the family’s greatness. I’m not even sure how to describe all the treasures you can discover in the Palazzo, all I can say is if in Rome, you must visit this place. I spent two hours and that wasn’t even close to enough time. The museum is not crowded, rather off the tourist radar, but it includes masterpieces by Caravaggio, Raphael, Pietro da Cortona and many more. Not to mention the price of admission is a mere fraction of some of the other museums. I absolutely enjoyed it and would definitely return!
I stopped for an apetivo in the piazza Barberini and followed it up with some pistachio and cream gelato. Then I made my way to the Trevi fountain to throw in some coins. I figured it has worked before, so it will work again. I pushed past crazy crowds to toss my pocket change over my head, then walked onward. I discovered a nice little shopping center right across from Trajan’s Column with a beautiful indoor gallery covered by stained glass, which reminded me of the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel I had just visited in Milan, but on a much smaller scale. From the tourist area, I made my way back to the Forum and started up the hill towards my apartment. About 10 minutes from the Coliseum, I stopped into the Fiddler’s Elbow, an Irish pub, for a refreshing cold drink on my long walk. When I made it back to my apartment, it was 10:30pm, my feet were covered in blisters from all of the walking in the heat, and I desperately needed to shower. And that was day 1 of my 2 day Rome trip. I went to so many different places and crammed in so many different experiences that I needed 2 blog posts to even begin to do it justice. Now, where to start for Day 2?