Tivoli and the last day in Roma

Trip Start May 26, 2007
Trip End Jun 12, 2007

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Friday, June 1, 2007

Tivoli yesterday afternoon was fantastic. I really wished we had more time there, but as it was a harder place to get to (about 35km out of Rome), we opted for a bus tour (they are all designed for oldies unfortunately) which only stayed in each of the two spots (Villa Adriano and Villa d'Este) for about 1 hour each. I could have spent 5 hours just at Hadrian's (=Adriano's) Villa alone!
Mum as happy though, because it meant i didn't drag her around for so long and i must admit it was nice to be in a bus and not be thinking about what train we were catching etc.

Hadrian's Villa was huge and just as sweet as i remembered from all my lessons on its architecture at Uni in a past life. It took 50,000 slaves ten years to complete and it shows. It had the best of everything - theatres, baths, libraries, dinning halls etc - and could sleep 3,000 of the Emperor's guests at any one time. I took plenty of photos racing around in my usual fashion and got funny looks from all the oldies (much to my glee), with one asking if i was doing a thesus "on Tivoli or something". The Villa is nestled into the hills and still has a great view back towards Rome on the horizon.  

The next stop was the Villa d'Este further up the hill where the modern town of 30,000-odd Tivlolians live. It was built over a period of 25 years and contains over 400 fountains in its gardens (no pumps used here, they are all powered by gravity - a real lesson in hydrolics).
It was really beutiful with wall and ceiling paintings by pupils of Raphael. It is in really good condition and it was nice to stroll (i was racing getting pictures) around and get a good look at all it had to offer.

Today Mum and I travelled South-West to the ancient Roman port town of Ostia (Ostia Antica). It has really taken a hammering over the centuries and it showed. The Papacy fleeced the place of anything that wasn't nailed down and i was lucky to catch a few glympses of the exotic marbles that the Pope had managed to damage and subsequently left behind. Ostia also has many gorgeous mozaic floors - including pictures of fish, men boxing and charioteers in action (it was all very Ben Hur). It was a different sort of ruins to what i have seen so far and took quite a while to get around all the parts as you have a much freer range of where you are allowed to walk there (compared to Pompeii say).

On the way home we stopped by at the Baths of Caracalla (Terme Caracalla) which blew me away with how massive they are. These weren't just any baths, they were damn near a whole town. There is a theatre, libraries, gymnasiums, gardens and open spaces here all within the precinct of 'The Baths'.
At their highest, they still stand about 6-8 stories high from what i could tell. Just so big you couldn't believe that they were built entirely of fired clay bricks with no modern machinery and would have once been decked out in the finest marble, frescoes and statues from floor to ceiling. Very cool.

That's it. Tomorrow we head for Florence, about 1.5hrs on a train going north. We were planning to see the Vatican Museum, but Mum is too knackered to bet up early tomorrow to make it happen, so we are giving it a miss. Apart from that, i have seen nearly every square inch of Rome and surrounds that i wanted to, so i am pretty happy with how things are going so far. I'll do some shopping in Florence as it is cheaper than here in Rome and they have the famous leather markets (new jacket, here I come). Tomorrow will be a fairly relaxed day for a change, with just the train ride and then find our hotel before i can roam around and start to explore a new city in the afternoon.

Hope all is well with you in NZ or Australia. The weather here is pretty good and the food, wine & coffee are hard to beat! Signing out from Rome for the last time...

PS Apologies for any mistakes above, there is no spell checker...
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