ROME. An ancient city of many delights.
Trip Start Jun 02, 2012
83Trip End May 31, 2014
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We left Civitavecchia on Thursday with a bus ride to town, train to Rome and bus close to the hotel and all for 8€ each. Our hotel was only a 2* but was adequate enough for our needs with everything you needed in the room except a tea tray. Is England the only country that provides a tea tray in rooms?
We got settled in and then had a wander to get our bearings and had our first pasta supper. We found that the hotel was indeed right in the city centre and within walking distance of everywhere that we wanted to see. We found the Pantheon and had a wander round inside. It has an open cupola in the centre. It was very chilly that evening and we found the Piazza Navonna where 2 hot chocolates were 12€ plus 2€ service charge AND not even a mug size but the silly cup sizes they have here
Next morning we set off to see the Colosseum via some ruins on the way we reached it easily and skipped the long queue by taking the audio tour instead of waiting in the ordinary ticket line. The building is very impressive both from the outside and inside and the audio-guide did a good job of explaining things as we went along. If you have watched Gladiator the scenes in the arena are exactly what happened with the tigers coming up from hidden trapdoors. The Colosseum was the first major building using the new construction material of concrete and the first time that preformed parts were built offsite before adding them in. It was built using the labour force of 100,000 Jewish slaves from the successful Judaic war in Jerusalem about 72 AD.
After that we had some lunch and then wandered back through the narrow streets and piazzas to find the Trevi fountain which to me seemed far too fabulous to be where it was in a small piazza and joined onto a church. Michael Portillo (on one of his train journeys) says it was called the Trevi Fountain because it was built at the junction of 3 roads. I think it was Pope Benedict who had it built.
Next day was 'ruins' day
On Sunday we decided to try out the museums on Capitaline Hill and spent hours in there looking round all the different rooms and items.
Monday and Tuesday were to be the Vatican City visits so on a wet cool morning we set off for St. Peter's Basilica walking along the river to the bridge where you cross over. The queues were not too bad to get into the Basilica and about 30 mins later we had gone through the security check and were inside. Well it was certainly huge inside and beautifully decorated. The apse where St.Peter's remains are supposed to be buried was astonishing in it's richness of gold. There were no stained glass windows. It was so high that we felt very small by the sheer size of everything, but perhaps that was the idea. It didn't take too long to 'do' the Basilica and then we were outside and whilst checking on the whereabouts of the museums for the next day, a tour guide tout told us that the Pope had resigned that morning and it would be wise to get a guide if we were thinking of going to the museums tomorrow
It was a slow walk back to the hotel passing the Castel San Angelo on the way where Pope Clement escaped to when Rome was sacked in 1527 and as Henry V111 was trying to divorce Catherine of Aragon.
Our last day was the Vatican City museums visit and of course the renowned Sistine Chapel. We had been told to expect huge queues and to go early, but we are not early risers these days so decided to go lunchtime instead. We strolled through the narrow streets and piazzas to get to the bridge to cross the Tiber once more. As we got to the other side there were lots of TV crews, vans etc everywhere waiting for Pope Benedict to appear. We're not sure if he did or not as we headed for the museum entrance right around the back of the city wall. There were no queues at all and we walked straight in and got an audio-guide to help us. It was very difficult to find your way about and the stewards seemed loathe to help. Anyway, we got started in the Egypt section before moving onto other areas. To be honest we were statue'd out by this time and only became more enthusiastic when we reached the library. This was a long long long corridor 120m covered in fabulous artwork, filled with cabinets of books, showing off gifts to the Papacy over the years and a geographica room which had 47 painted sections of the whole of the Italian coastline at that time
So. finally we made our way to the Sistine Chapel that would shortly be in use for the Cardinals to choose a new Pope
The room is a simple chapel that has been transformed by the artists that painted the walls and of course Michaelangelo's ceiling and wall. At first we were under-awed (if that is a word) but listening to the audio guide telling how it all came about we could then see the story unfold. It took Michaelangelo (really a sculptor ) 4 years on his own to paint the gospel story. Other renowned artists of the day painted the wall sections and the draped curtain effect on the lower walls. Steve couldn't believe the curtain was painted, so he had to touch it to be sure....and it was just a wall! As we sat and looked up at the ceiling, the paintings came to life in 3D effect. Honestly, you felt that you could reach up there and touch real living people it was so incredible.
So that was indeed the highlight of the trip and what a way to finish 6 days in Rome.
Rome as a whole.......
Rome is a compact city with the usual narrow streets, cafe's, bars, piazza's etc
So there you are readers.....now we are heading South to the Neopolitan Riviera to see Pompeii and Naples.