ROME. An ancient city of many delights.
Trip Start Jun 02, 2012
82Trip End May 31, 2014
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We left Civitavecchia on Thursday with a bus ride to town, train to Rome and bus close to the hotel and all for 8€ each. Our hotel was only a 2* but was adequate enough for our needs with everything you needed in the room except a tea tray. Is England the only country that provides a tea tray in rooms?
We got settled in and then had a wander to get our bearings and had our first pasta supper. We found that the hotel was indeed right in the city centre and within walking distance of everywhere that we wanted to see. We found the Pantheon and had a wander round inside. It has an open cupola in the centre. It was very chilly that evening and we found the Piazza Navonna where 2 hot chocolates were 12€ plus 2€ service charge AND not even a mug size but the silly cup sizes they have here. So...no more hot chocolates for us
Next morning we set off to see the Colosseum and via some ruins on the way we reached it easily and skipped the long queue by taking the audio tour instead of waiting in the ordinary ticket line. The building is very impressive both from the outside and inside and the audio-guide did a good job of explaining things as we went along. If you have watched Gladiator the scenes in the arena are exactly what happened with the tigers coming up from hidden trapdoors. The Colosseum was the first major building using the new construction material of concrete and the first time that preformed parts were built offsite before adding them in. It was built using the labour force of 100,000 Jewish slaves from the successful Judaic war in Jerusalem about 72 AD.
After that we had some lunch and then wandered back through the narrow streets and piazzas to find the Trevi fountain which to me seemed far too fabulous to be where it was in a small piazza and joined onto a church. I think it was Pope Benedict who had it built.
Next day was 'ruins' day. The old city where the Forum had been was a mass of old columns, bits of columns, a ruined basilica, and bits n bobs. It was still very interesting and we enjoyed the day in the sunshine finishing up at the Palatine Hill ruins and small museum.
Monday and Tuesday were to be the Vatican City visits so on a wet cool morning we set off for St. Peter's Basilica walking along the river to the bridge where you cross over. The queues were not too bad to get into the Basilica and about 30 mins later we had gone through the security check and were inside. Well it was certainly huge inside and beautifully decorated. The apse where St.Peter's remains are supposed to be buried was astonishing in it's richness of gold. There were no stained glass windows. It was so high that we felt very small by the sheer size of everything, but perhaps that was the idea. It didn't take too long to 'do' the Basilica and then we were outside and whilst checking on the whereabouts of the museums for the next day, a tour guide tout told us that the Pope had resigned that morning and it would be wise to get a guide if we were thinking of going to the museums tomorrow. We thanked him for his information but declined the tour.
So. it was a slow walk back to the hotel passing the Castel San Angelo on the way where Pope Clement escaped to when Rome was sacked in 1527 and as Henry V111 was trying to divorce Catherine of Aragon.
Our last day was the Vatican City museums visit and of course the renowned Sistine Chapel
So. finally we made our way to the Sistine Chapel (currently being made use of by the Cardinals to elect the new Pope).
The room is a simple chapel that has been transformed by the artists that painted the walls and of course Michaelangelo's ceiling and wall
So that was indeed the highlight of the trip and what a way to finish 6 days in Rome.
Rome as a whole.......
Rome is a compact city with the usual narrow streets, cafe's, bars, piazza's etc. A lot of the buildings and artefacts were very dirty. The museums were expensive. The people did not look happy and were not particularly helpful at times. The food was pizza and pasta generally speaking but you could get a delicious Chinese meal. We did find a trattoria which we enjoyed but not especially for the food but for the owner who was so like Basil Fawlty in his demeanour that we laughed when we got outside. We could imagine him clouting his chef behind the scenes because we sent back the soup as being too cold! He was a smashing person though and he said "all his customers were like family you understand" and knocked a few euros off the bill!
So there you are readers.....now we are heading South to the Neopolitan Riviera to see Pompeii and Naples.