Gilded Basillicas, Gladiators and Art!

Trip Start Mar 12, 2010
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Trip End Sep 17, 2010


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Where I stayed
Fortuna Hotel

Flag of Italy  , Latium,
Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Italy Tuesday 11th May

 We flew from Goreme' (Kayseri Airport) to Istanbul where we waited for our flight to Rome which departed for Rome (Italy) at 2110 – a long wait since our flight arrived at Istanbul at 0830. Istanbul airport must be one of the most expensive airports in the world for food and when you got the food – it wasn’t that great.  Our flight was delayed from Istanbul by 1 hour and then we had our first experience of the non-alocated seating  on budget airline Bluejet. WE were off and running and gained a great seat midway down the plane. The delay meant that we finally arrived in Rome at nearly midnight.  You actually catch a bus from the plane on the runway to the terminal.  Waiting for luggage took forever and we caught a taxi from airport to Hotel accommodation – it is quite a distance from airport to our Hotel and cost us a fortune!  Something like 86 Euro – which is expensive. I think we could have caught the train a lot cheaper but we just wanted to get to the hotel and sleep.  You don’t have much option though when arriving at the time we did.  Our hotel was probably 20 kms out of Rome which meant we caught a bus to the metro and then the metro into Termini station near the Colosseum in Rome and the places we wanted to see.

12th May

Colosseum.

Bought a "Roma" card which allows entry to Colosseum and another museum and public transport around the metro area for 25 Euro each person.  It also means that you don’t que in lines for an hour or more for entry into the Colosseum (the tour guides trying to sell their tours don’t tell you this, as they use the waiting line as a sales spiel trying to get you to join their tours as you don’t have to que in the long line)  So if you have this ticket you proceed in the express line that the tour groups use-much better! We listened in to the history as tour guides try and take over all the best lookouts anyway and deaf people have their headsets turned up loud so you can hear anyway.

Parts of the Colosseum are undergoing restoration so scaffolding can be seen in some areas but it is not so intrusive as to spoil the grandeur of the moment. We were standing in the Colosseum!!!!  Though you were limited in access to some parts of the structure it was still magnificent – seeing the under structure of the arena and the lifts which bought up little 'SUPRISES’ for gladiators etc.  If you listen into other English (or any other language for that matter) speaking tours you get some further information on historical features.  Also watching Gladiator with Russell Crowe would be a prerequisite for this visit.  It is said that approx. 70 000 slaves were killed at this site during the gladiator times.  The games would sometimes last for weeks with thousands dying each day – horrific when you think about it – just for sport!.  They also have a display on the upper level which have copies of the war garments of different characters (gladiators) during this time.  Daniel knew a lot about the gladiators as he has studied this at school so it really came together for him seeing this place. 

We then walked down to central Rome to the Trevi Fountain – Karlie made a wish and donated a coin to Rome – very crowded even at the time we were there so would hate to see it in July!  Had lunch in a little restaurant close by and met some Australians from Tassie at the opposite table.

We then meandered down the street where we found the Piazza Navona. Really all you have to do is follow fellow tourists with maps held high and you will see most of the spots. On the way you pass  the pantheon and Colonna Aurello though I probably wouldn’t visit just to see them. The Piazza Navona consists of 3 waterfalls in a large open space where it is said they historically held chariot races – bit like modern day speedway without the roar I guess – very nice spot to sit and chill for a few hours.  We watched the buskers – one of which was a finger puppet guy doing Michael Jackson and another improv. Busker which had us in stitches though a little crude at times. He used people Passing by as his props.  We ate gelato and it was all very relaxing against the backdrop of old buildings, water fountains and pigeons.

13 th May -  St Pauls, Vatican and St Peters, Sistene Chapel.

I loved te atmosphere of St. Petro’s square. Just the bustle and the vast columns that surround it – magnificent. I did glance toward the Sistien chapel to see if there was some smoke that may have indicated that the current pope had been replaced – but alas – wronge timing! After processing through security – scanned and handbags scanned we were allowed to walk through the Vatican and gain entry tost Peters basilica.  The place is huge and ornate – like you’d expect.  There is so much to see that you almost need to just sit and look at one place for a while and then another, however not a chair to be found unless you want to say prayers which is always a good time to rest! I guess there is always the confessional!  St Peter’s cathedral, it is huge and in great condition compared to all the other old churches we have visited.  St Peter’s is the best kept with all the mosaics murals on the ceilings intact. It made me realise how majestic the Alya sofa would be that we saw in Istanbul, still my favourite church.

The Sistene Chapel is huge, one must go through the multiple galleries, rooms of the museum which showed how much the Vatican had stolen history from all over the world etc. When you finally getting to the Sistene chapel  - it is really magnificent though a little crowded..  Once there the best place would be the middle of the floor sitting and looking up, however they have security and I sat on the bench of the sides of the chapel with the other people!  Another place where photographs are not allowed though the click of shutters could be heard along with security whispering briskly  ‘NO Phot! No Photo!!!.
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