Monday, 7 October 2013

007 Travel story: Rome, Fregenae (ITALY), Vatican City (VATICAN) 2011

Italy: Rome & Fregenae and the Vatican City from 24th to 30th of June 2011.
We've been on the trail of James Bond again, this time in Italy. :)

Visiting locations this time mostly from books:
"COLD" (John Gardner)
"James Bond, the Authorized Biography of 007" (John Pearson)
"Role of Honour" (John Gardner)
"For Your Eyes Only", the short story "Risico" (Ian Fleming)

Pirita´s and Mika´s own trip for two

Airline: Finnair, flights Helsinki - Rome - Helsinki 207.27 euros / person
(Discounted price with flight points.)
Flight time: 3h 25 min.

Bed & Breakfast Angolo di Roma
Via Cairoli 31, Rome
225,00 euros / three nights, incl. breakfast,
booked via

Hotel Nazionale
Piazza di Montecitorio 131, Rome
175,00 euros / 1 night, incl. breakfast,
booked via hotel´s own pages
Other accommodation:
Two nights at our Italian friend's house in Fregenae.

"Mamma Mia!"

Roger Moore as Bond in "Live and Let Die"
photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

(Did you know: Roger Moore speaks Italian perfectly, his former wife Luisa Mattioli is Italian citizen. They were married 1968 - 1996, that means it lasted through his "Bond career".)

Friday 24th of June 2011

In advance it was known that there was an "Italian strike" (how convenient was that...) at Helsinki-Vantaa airport security checks, so we came to the airport in time. However, we noticed that the queue was not so much at security check, but the package drop line was incomprehensible. Finnair's flight went well, a great flying weather, no problem. Flight time was about 3.5 hours.

We arrived to the Leonardo Da Vinci Airport (Fiumicino).

"Alitalia Flight AZ 611, Ex-JFK New York, landed at Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci Airport at a little before seven on a cold morning, with fine rain blowing in waves like gun smoke over the runways. Springhill was going to be a little late this year, and seven days had passed since Bond had spent the best part of a memorable night with Toni Nicolletti in her guest room at Quantico. they had nearly three hours to kill before his onward flight to Pisa, so he sat quietly in one of the airport restaurants, sipping coffee and, forgoing his beloved toast, eating bread rolls with butter and jam."

John Gardner: "COLD"
At Leonardo Da Vinci airport

The tickets were 14 euros per person with the Leonardo Express train to Termini station. It took half an hour or slightly more.

After dragging our luggage some fifteen minutes in the heat, we found the Via Cairoli, 31, where was our accommodation place for the first three nights; Bed & Breakfast Angolo di Roma. In the corridor just behind our door was – how conveniently, as just for us – James Bond poster from Sean Connery movie "Dr. No".

The air conditioned room was also decorated with old movie-themed boards / posters.

In order to get breakfast, we had to use vouchers at Bar Trani, which was nearby. Breakfast included cappuccino and chocolate-filled croissants.

The first Roman lunch, we ate at restaurant RomAntica, which was just around the corner from our hotel. After that we went to underground, day ticket cost 4 euros. According to our plan, we went to Cinecitta Studios, entrance fee was 10 euros. Guided tour was included in the price.

Cinecitta Studios

A great views both for indoors and outdoors. There was a ”fake city”, which walls looked real brick walls, even though they were made of plastic. E.g. following films have been partly filmed there: "Name of the Rose" (Sean Connery), "The King's Whore" (Timothy Dalton), "Gangs of New York", "Rome" -TV series as well as "Cliffhanger" and "The Exorcist: Beginning", both by Finnish director Renny Harlin.

In the evening we went to the beer festival, invited by our friend Ale. The festival took place at Open Baladin, at Via degli specchi, 6, Rome. There were beer manufacturers with several new brands of beer. We met some nice Italian people and we had really good time. After a couple of beers and good food, we took a taxi to the hotel.

Saturday 25th of June 2011

Early in the morning we headed to the Vatican City. We had tickets (31 euros / person, including guided Vatican Gardens tour in English) ordered months before via internet.
( That was a good decision, because of the huge queues. You should know that there is a dress code: knees and shoulders shall be covered. Tour lasted two hours, we walked through the magnificent gardens of the Vatican, and the Pope's helicopter was also seen in the field.

Vatican Gardens

After the tour we were allowed to explore St. Peter's Church and its surroundings by our own. The day was really hot and we were tempted by air-conditioned restaurant Bar Moretto just outside Vatican walls. But the prices! One coffee, one orange juice, two rolls and one ice-cream 48 EUR! Like Monaco's prices!

After buying some souvenirs, we went to the Spanish Steps (Spagna). From Spagna we went to Pincian hill.

Photo taken from Pincian hill, see Piazza del Popolo behind

Photo taken from Piazza del Popolo, see Pincian hill up behind

There we found Casina Valadier, to where we were not able to get in because there was a private event.

However, there was an exhibition on the front yard of Casina Valadier. There were lots of interesting artwork.

Then we landed down the hill, and saw Villa Medici, which also had a private event.

Villa Medici

Finally discovered a cozy and classy restaurant Ciampini where we enjoyed a luxurious dinner with after-dinner Sambucas. Wasn't it the very same place where James Gandolfini ate his last dinner?

Ciampini restaurant

Sambucas and desserts

"From Milan Bond flew to Rome where he called on Prenderghast. He was glad to see him, especially after all the rumours he had heard. For Prenderghast was looking splendid and clearly was in great form. After the wretched Croxson with all his moanings and complaints, it was good to be with someone who enjoyed himself. It was also good to see an old friend who was doing well. They walked through Rome and Bond enjoyed hearing what was going on. After Americanos at the ‘Tre Scaline’ they strolled up the hill of the Pincio and dined at the Casa Valadier – that is to say, they dined extremely well. They were drinking their sambucas when Bond brought up the subject of Croxson and his reports:"

John Pearson: "James Bond, the Authorized Biography of 007"

"They first flew to Rome and stayed for a week at the Villa Medici. Percy had never been to Rome and Bond enjoyed showing her as much as one can fit in seven short days."

John Gardner: "Role of Honour"

Sunday 26th of June 2011

We went to the Vatican again, probably because we didn’t get enough of it the previous day. We went to St. Peter's basilica, elevator ride up 7 euros / person. Then we walked up the rest of the way and that was some experience! Staircase was physically really hard, and narrow, and it was not possible to turn back. Of course, nearly 40 C of hotness did not help. After Vatican City we went directly to the Colosseum. We had got tickets via internet months before.( English guided tour cost 23.50 euros / person. Duration of the tour was 1 - 1,5 hours and frequency of every new tour was fifteen minutes. During the tour we heard detailed stories about ancient gladiators and their fights, which took place in the amphitheater of the Colosseum. It was possible still to sense the ancient feeling.

At Colosseum

In the evening we met our friends from Italy, Stefano, Gianluca, Marco, Ale and Serena, who is the singer of Karmamoi. Serena has a strong and beautiful voice, band plays great together and their music is extremely awesome!

Karmamoi CD

We went first to Altroquando, the bookstore owned by Ale. After that we went to dinner to Cantina & Cucina. Our friends ordered a big cheese plate with ham, which we ate all together, and of course we drank Italian red wine. What a wonderful evening with great company.

Pirita and Mika

Monday 27th of June 2011

It was time to check out of the first hotel, which was paid in advance. Our next hotel was also really nice, 4-star Hotel Nazionale, at Piazza di Monte Citorio, 131, which is located in the Pantheon area, right next to the Parliament. Reception officers took copies of our passports in the hotel lobby, because the hotels are obligated to inform about hotel residents to the City of Rome.

Hotel Nazionale

Hotel Nazionale by night

After check-in we went to Fontana di Trevi and threw a coin into the fountain. Legend says that if one throws a coin, they will return to Rome.

At Fontana di Trevi

We visited the Temple of Pantheon, there we got to experience of "enlightenment": The temple has a huge hole in the roof, so rain or shine will get in. In our case it was shining.


After that we went for a lunch to Rosa Rosae restaurant, which was in the little alley nearby.

As we walked along the streets, we found Brioni. There seemed to be fine and expensive suits.


Did you know: Brioni was the dress manufacturer which clothed Pierce Brosnan for the role of Bond, and also Daniel Craig in "Casino Royale". After this movie Bond is clothed by Tom Ford in "Quantum of Solace" and "Skyfall".)

We found also Hard Rock Cafe Rome.

Hard Rock Cafe Rome

Then we went to Excelsior hotel's Club Doney bar, enjoyed Negroni drinks as on the book and snacks.

Hotel Excelsior

"James Bond felt the inspection. The same surreptitious ex-amination had been going on since he had met the man two hours before at the rendezvous in the Excelsior bar. Bond had been told to look for a man with a heavy moustache who would be sittingby himself drinking an Alexandra. Bond had been amuzed by this secret recognition signal. The creamy, feminine drink was so much cleverer than the folded newspaper, the flower in the buttonhole, the yellow gloves that were the hoary, slipshod call-signs between agents. It had also the great merit of being able to operate alone without its owner. And Kristatos had started off with a little test. Then Bond had come into the bar and looked round where had been perhaps twenty people in the room. None of them had a moustache. But on a corner table at the far side of the tall, discreet room, flanked by a saucer of olives and another of cashew nuts, stood the tall-stemmed glass of cream and vodka. Bond went straight over to the table, pulled out a chair and sat down. The waiter came. "Good evening, sir. Signor Kristatos is at the telephone." Bond nodded. "A Negroni. With Gordon's, please." The waiter walked back to the bar. "Negroni. Uno. Gordon's."

"She turned and walked up the curved steps of the hotel. Bond looked after her thoughtfully, and got back into the taxi and told the man to take him to the Nazionale."

Ian Fleming: "For Your Eyes Only", the short story "Risico".

In the evening with Stefano we ate delicious meat dishes in the restaurant called L'Antica Birreria Peroni. After dinner Stefano showed us Rome some more.

Tuesday 28th of June 2011

Good breakfast in Nazionale. Then we checked out from the hotel, but left suitcases to their storage.

We walked to Piazza del Popolo which was a starting place for Angels & Demons tour arranged by Dark Rome Tours. (56 euros / person.)

We had an air-conditioned bus on our five hour tour and also we searched locations by foot. The day was really hot but luckily some juice and lemonade were included in the tour price. Our guides were young Americans, Kelsey and Robert. They were truly inspirational. The tour took place on the book venues, and guides told us about events of Roman history. There were even humorous twists. In addition they showed how different some place can be in a real life than in a movie, for example the fountain scene in Piazza Navona! Fountain in the movie is much deeper than in real life. It would not be possible to dive there in reality. Great experience! We got a map of the Illuminati and free admission into Castel Sant'Angelo.

Angels & Demons - Illuminati map

Locations of the tour were:

1. St. Maria del Popolo Church
2. St Peter's Square

3. St. Maria della Vittoria Church
4. Piazza Navona

5. Castel Sant 'Angelo

6. ll Passetto (from the outside)
(Pope Clement VII used Il Passetto as an escape route to Castel Sant’ Angelo.)

We were not able to get in to Santa Maria della Victoria, because we got stuck in a traffic jam. Delay originally was caused by our other guide who talked so long time about the history of St Peter's Square. After the tour we had lunch at Sico Moro restaurant. Good pizza and lasagna.

We went by taxi from Rome to Fregenae which is by the sea. (15 minutes from the airport, about an hour away from Rome) There we stayed at our friend Stefano's parents' beach villa, where they offered us food and drink, and kept good care of us, thank you so much! In the evening we all went together for a dinner, it was a fantastic restaurant Lo Spuntino in Fregenae, and the feeling of the night was warm and nice with Stefano and his family.

At Fregenae

Wednesday 29th of June 2011

Stefano's parents made breakfast for us and Stefano had left to work early. Body language and vocabulary were needed, since the family did not speak English and we didn’t speak Italian, but fortunately Stefano had translated some phrases in advance and we were doing just fine. Food was offered many times a day. We are very grateful for the Italian hospitality.

We had a great opportunity to borrow family's bicycles and we went to the Riviera beach, where Stefano's family own small part of the beach, including locker room. We also had an opportunity to order whatever we wanted from the bar. While we were sitting on the beach by the Tyrrhenian Sea, we had to use sun protector number 50.

We didn’t swim at all in the sea, as we were told that the ocean would not be so clean. Instead, we went to swim to the pool, where it was forbidden to swim without a swimming hat.

We bicycled back to the house, where the family had prepared food for us. We had lunch at their porch and we ate rise with olive and tuna and a variety of different cheeses and some red wine and brandy. We learned that brandy is quite good when mixed with ice-cream. We also learned to put ice-cream inside a croissant. A Sicilian way, they say. Siesta was a good idea after all the eating and drinking.

In the evening, Stefano took us to the other side of seaside, there was a sunset party on the Singita beach. Lots of people, including Ale and Serena, had gathered to watch as the sun "sank" into the sea.

Sunset at Singita beach, Fregenae, Italy

We had Mojitos in our hands (like Pierce Brosnan had Mojito in the movie "Die Another Day") and watched the sunset as hypnotized.

Halle Berry as Jinx and Pierce Brosnan as Bond
photo © EON, United Artists, Danjaq LLC

Later we went back at the house, where we had a dinner, variety of different pizzas.

Thursday 30th of June 2011

This day was the first cloudy one, such a relief among the hot days. We went back to beach and enjoyed our last day in Italy for now. (Attention: Later we got back to Italy, but that's another story. Stay tuned!)

We went back to the house, where the lunch was served: Really good meat and pasta too. Pasta had jalapeno in it and accidentally Pirita ate jalapeno, which was too strong for her and she felt flames in her mouth. Her eyes were watering and she felt she can't breathe. Pirita drank plenty of water, but it didn't help. Then she tried red wine, and it had to be taken fast and a lot, then taste of jalapeno was gone, but Pirita got drunk and it was hilarious for Mika.

Later in the evening it was time to go home. Taxi took us to the airport. The flight to Finland had turbulence a couple of times. The plane landed at Helsinki-Vantaa airport at midnight. Rome is a wonderful mix of ancient and new, the Vatican is stunning, and Fregenae is a paradise on earth. Thank you Italy! We'll be back.


See the list of 007 LOCATIONS (visited), excluding 007 HOTELS (visited) and
007 RESTAURANTS (visited), which have sections of their own, please follow the links.


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