All roads lead to Rome

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
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Trip End Mar 16, 2009


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Where I stayed

Flag of Italy  , Lazio,
Sunday, July 27, 2008

All roads lead to Rome, so the story goes. And a lot of stories Rome has! This ancient city was built on thousands of years of mythology, bloodshed, heroes, villains, crazy eccentric rulers and inventors to what today is a probably one of the most visited cities in the world. From the minute you arrive in the city you realise you are just one of a few million map and guidebook carrying tourists in this ancient city.
 
Since accommodation in the popular city comes at a premium we opted to stay in the Bus-About recommended accommodation which was a camp site just outside of the city. A quick bus ride and a few subway stops got us into the center of the city. The campsite was abuzz with young travelers and had a great if not slightly noisy vibe to it and was ideally situated next to a big supermarket and other amenities.  The first thing I purchase from the supermarket before any beer, wine, or food was a little 12 Euro braai (BBQ), a bag of charcoal and firelighters. I figured we had five nights camping in Rome and another five night in Florence so for just over a Euro a day I would pay my little baby off in no time. It turned out our little braai was very popular and we used it almost every night. On route to Rome we met a lovely South African girl from Stellenbosch, Elaine who joined us for many of these legendary braai's and even treated us to some fantastic braai-broodjies one night. It was great to have met her and I sure we'll run into each other in the near future.
 
Back to Rome. As usual we booked a walking tour of the city to get a better idea of the city and Roman empires history which took us through all the highlights of its history and buildings. The guide was fantastic as he made 2700 years worth of history sound interesting and was able to condense it to fit into the four hour walk. This gave us just enough information to return the following days and visit some of the more famous sights like the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, the massive Pantheon just to mention a few.
 
To also do justice to the Vatican City we also arranged a guided tour through the Vatican museum and St Peters Basilica. The museum was simply mind-boggling to say the least and it was said that if you spend only 30 seconds at each exhibition it would take you something like 12 years to see everything. Saying this we felt the guided tour rushed us through this section and we would have appreciated a little more free time in the museum especially after we spent more than an hour in a stuffy bus on route to the museum when we could simply have started the days tour at the Vatican instead of the other end of the city. It was not as if we could simply return the following day as it cost 22 euro to get into the Vatican City. In short skip the expensive 'ROMEING TOURS - Vatican Tour' and rather get an audio guide or book.
 
After our rushed tour of the museum, and I know I of all people should not be complaining about being rushed through a museum, we made our way through the famous Sistine Chapel. Wow! Wow! Wow! To think that a famous sculptor not a recognised painter, Michelangelo, spent years bent over backward creating this masterpiece that legend has it was a dare by another famous artist who did not think he could do it. Well he sure showed him! Taking photos in the chapel is not allowed and does not do this amazing fresco any justice but I did manage to sneak in a few illegal shots to illustrate why everyone should see this for themselves.
 
To end the tour we took a walk through the equally impressive St Peters Basilica and to do this justice I would have to write a whole book. So to spare our readers I will simply say you can't say you have been to Europe if you haven't been to Rome and you can't say you have been to Rome if you have not seen St Peters Basilica. Oh, what I can add is that whilst in the queue to enter the cathedral I stool in line with the pop star Seal (not the one on the coco pops box) and his wife and children, I was chuffed that even celebs had to queue.
 
After being so impressed by St Peters I returned the following day to climb to the top of the cupola for a bird's eye view of the city. Anyone who has ever read Dan Browns 'Angels and demons' will know that Rome is covered with hundreds of cathedrals, churches and chapels and there is no better place to witness this than from the top of St Peters. The climb was along narrow corridors and up 500 steps so Inge-Marie opted to explore the area around the cathedral while I made the climb on our behalf. The view form the top was amazing and well worth the effort.
 
We also made the compulsory visit to the ancient Colosseum where gladiators used to battle it out to the death. Since it was a really hot day we tried our best to cover all the attractions of Colosseum but felt totally drained after just an hour. We never actually made it to the Roman Forum or the Palatine Hill as the next day Inge-Marie was feeling a little under the weather as a nasty little cold started settling in. It was not long before I also caught the cold and by the time we left Rome we both sniffing and coughing. We had both been religiously taking multi-vitamins daily since we had started the trip but for some unknown reason we had skipped a few and this must have been the moment the little bug was waiting for. The toughest thing about being sick while you are traveling is that even though you feel terrible you cant bare to spend the day in bed where there are so many exciting things to see and do. So somewhere along the line we will have to plan some down time, maybe Florence?
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