Down by the Tiber

Trip Start May 06, 2009
Trip End Jun 30, 2009

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Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Friday, June 12, 2009

We arrived at our hotel about 4pm and found it to be gigantic, and luxurious. It was a block from the Tiber river. At about 6pm, we headed to Campo dei Fiori to take a night walk across Rome. Campo dei Fiori (field of flowers) is a great, colourful square full of people, restaurants, and flower vendors. This is also the site of Julius Ceasars' assasination. We continued our walk to Piazza Navona, where we had been almost 3 years earlier on our honeymoon (we watched Portugal defeat the Netherlands in World Cup 2006). The walk took us to the Pantheon, built by Emperor Hadrian in A.D.120. We then saw the 6th century B.C Egyptian Obelisk taken as trophy by Augustus after his victory in Egypt over Marc Antony and Cleopatra. In the Palazzo Colonna, we saw the huge 2nd century column honoring Marcus Aurelius, before coming upon the great Trevi Fountain. The area around the fountain was abuzz with people enjoying the beautiful atmosphere that is only in Rome. We joined in, throwing coins over our shoulders and making wishes. There was an Arabic lady in full garb with a toy gun in her hand. She pointed it at us, and it was a little unnerving. We were able to calm down as she lifted her veil to lick a gelato and we nearly pissed ourselves laughing. We meandered through the streets (stopping to grab a few bottles of beer at the store) and arrived at the Spanish Steps.This would prove to be our late night hangout throughout our stay. The steps are really beautiful and a great night crowd (featuring a real cast of characters that we soon got to know) gathers around and lingers/lounges. Everyone is drinking, talking, laughing, singing, and some playing guitar. We even saw a group of guys playing cards, using a Peroni beer case as their card table. Time flew by and we grabbed a few slices of pizza (cost determined by weight), and jumped on the final Metro back to our hotel. The next day, we paid a visit to Juliana's Zia Concetta (Nonna's sister), who lives in Travestere. Zia will be 90 years old in September, and although she was at first a bit shy to meet us for the first time (she visited Canada before Juliana was born), she warmed up very quickly and began to tell us many stories about the family. We visited with her for an hour and a half, then tipped back to our hotel to watch the French Open final. Paul was very happy to see Federer win. We took a short nap (siesta is very important), and took a short Metro ride to the Barberini stop. We took a nice walk as the sun set, and wound up at the Spanish Steps as the red sky set on a beautiful evening in the eternal city. there are three main players at the steps. 1: guy who looks like Mike Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemount High- who wore the piano key scarf. 2: Chinese guy with white afro wig. 3: Drunken, little black guy, who pops his eyes out of his sockets to shock the crowd and who sings aloud (with hugging motion), "Baby, let me hold you tonight." We drank beers and talked on the steps, before our nightly tradition of grabbing pizza before jumping on to the Metro to get back to our hotel.

On Monday morning, we bit the bullet and bought a new camera. From there we made a short walk to the Vatican, and decided it was best to take a guided tour with audioguides (it saved us three hours waiting in line). It was a great idea, as there are no explanations for any sites in the Vatican. We got a full art lesson on Michaelangelo's ceiling paintings in the Sistine Chapel, as well as Raphael's works that can be found in the Vatican Museum. We saw where Popoe Benedict lives, and his blinds were open, indicating that he is in house. The Sistine Chapel was, as advertised, breathtaking. In St. Peter's Basilica, the grandest church on this earth, we saw tombs of former Popes and Saints, including St. Peter (who lived during the time of Jesus) and Pope John Paul II. The bodies of the popes were either preserved in wax or bronze. We also saw Michaelangelo's Pieta, and said said a prayer in the chapel. That night, we took the Metro to the Colosseum. It was just as Paul remembered from 1998, when he visited with Paul Rosa. As you step out of the station, there it is--magnificently illuminated in all of its glory! We sat and kissed, as young lovers often do on a romantic night in Rome. We sat facing the 2, 000 year old structure,drinking beer and talking about life. We agreed there was nowhere else we'd rather be than right there, right then, with eachother. The night was capped off by McDonald's burgers, as all romantic nights are!

On Tuesday, we went to see Palantine Hill, the Roman Forum, and the Colosseum, by day. The ruins were interesting, as they contained the palaces of former Emperors, but were a bit confusing to navigate. The Colosseum was incredible, and contains more history than we can begin to tell you about. Did you know that the entertainment inside could be animal vs. animal, animal vs. human, human vs. animal, or disturbing scenario where a prisoner/criminal was forced to act out the death of a tragic, historical hero and was killed in the exact way by a gladiator. We walked forever and arrived at the Cappucine Crypt, where we saw artistically arranged bones of more than 4,000 monks who died between 1528 and 1870. It was freaky to be inches away from jaw bones, neck bones, and skulls. Unfortunately, there are no photos allowed, but we did buy a postcard in case anyone wants to see when we get home. At night, we made our final treck in to downtown Rome, and visited the Trevi Fountain one last time and got a gelato at the world's most famous gelateria- Giolitti's. Yummy! We returned to the Spanish Steps for the final swansong, and drank beer in the greatest drinking spot in the world. We returned to our hotel, listened to the Beatles, Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, and talked all night over cheap wine. Rome is everything you could imagine, and more. We've seen many cities now, but Rome is incomparable. As Dean Martin sang, Arrivaderci Roma!

P & J

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