Rome in a Day

Trip Start Aug 01, 2003
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59
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Trip End Sep 20, 2004


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Thursday, May 6, 2004

Rome: December 2000:

I had a bone to pick with the Romans after ill-treating Boudicca and ravaging our country leaving nothing but civilisation, mosaics and straight roads. Unfortunately for the Romans and Rome they thenselves were later to fall foul of the barbarian hordes and all they brought were golden arches.
As we were staying nearby our first visit was to the Vatican City. Unless you are a fan of the Gnostic Gospels, St. Peter was the rock on which the Catholic church was built and judging from his Basilica he was a big one. We entered through an impressive, vast, semicircular columnaded square which draaws you into the Basilica's main gates. Once inside you can only be awed by the weighty display of power and wealth that surrounds you. Marble flooring, large mosiacs covering the dome and alcoves dressed with religious art. The alter piece made from bronze stripped from the Parthenon, melted down, recast and raised as a symbol of Christian rise and pagan fall. The place has gravitas.
How do you get to the to the top of the Basilica? The answer of course is stairs and as Michael Caine would say, 'Bloody thousands of them'. As there is also a lift available the attendant looked bemused as J and I gaily bound up the first few steps. By halfway i was so knackered that I was tempted to saw an inch off my right leg to make the going up the spiral staircase a bit easier. At the roof I began to have visions and J was talking in tongues. but the climbing was still not finished - the ascent up the dome of St. Peter remained.
The reward for our effort was eternal life and a spectacular view of the seven hills of Rome, Vatican gardens and the Castle d' st. Angello.
Italian pizza does not have the ingredients attached to the bread, they tend to just roll about on top providing nourishment and much entertainment, but not as much as the Vatican museum, no this place is a true dragon's horde of treasure. We spent hours, which could have turned to days, exploring corridors of tapestries, manuscripts and exotica but like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre everyone is being slowly drawn to the real gem the Cistine chapel. I don't want to get all gushy so just please visit and spend an hour there.
When I first saw the colosseum i ducked for cover under a park bench fearing its imminent collapse. A very precarious building and (after the problem I had with the engineering on a previous Italian car I never truly relaxed. The interior was partly restored giving a sense of what it must have been like to be a visiting Christian during its hey day.
I must war any male that takes his partner that the guided tour is taken by a young, dark, Italian archaelogy student. I noticed all the females tended to gather very close at the information stops while the men scowled at the back.
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