Trip Start May 22, 2007
15Trip End Jun 04, 2007
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Our agenda for Friday included seeing as much of the Vatican area as possible. We got an early start and took the train into Rome, arriving by 9am. We then transferred to the Metro A line for the ride across town to the Vatican. The Ottaviano stop leaves visitors about 1 km from the Piazza San Pietro. The experience grew more taxing the closer we got to the objective. The A line metro was packed. We had to push along with huge crowds and then pack into the subway trains like sardines. The station was so hot, huge and crowded that we were all winded and soaked through by the time we made the trains. The walk up Via Ottaviano was a total circus. Crowds, huge crowds. Hucksters. Tour agents
We wandered into the Piazza San Pietro and found-people. Lots of them. The line to enter the Basilica stretched all the way around the colonnade and across the opening. I suspect that 20,000 people were in that line. We photographed the Piazza as best we could. BTW, the scaffolding that prevented me from seeing the façade of the Basilica in 1999 has been removed. We managed some shots of the duck in the Piazza before we nearly dropped from the heat
We left the Vatican and made our way back to the neighborhood around Piazza Repubblica so that Dad could meet a friend at the church of St. Paul within the Walls. I think there is also one 'Outside the Walls' out in Testaccio. But Dad does not have any friends there so there was no need to go... Buck and I managed lunch and some shopping and then we had to retreat to Frascati to cool down and get some rest. For me, rest meant a short nap and working on my blog. For Buck, it meant a little mountaineering
Saturday was the time to try Ancient Rome. Buck and I made the trip in, taking the Metro to the Colosseo stop. At the Colosseo, we found big crowds of people. Nothing on the Vatican scale, but enough to put the wait for admission to the Colosseo at about an hour. We took some exterior shots and dodged the photo hucksters/bodybuilders in the gladiator uniforms. We also photographed the Arch of Constantine. A personal note: I love that spot despite the mayhem. Both the Colosseo and the Arch are spectacular. The setting is even more special because the place is so beautiful. Down the avenue that goes south from the Colosseo, there are huge pine trees that have been meticulously sculpted for centuries so that all of the foliage is up top. They look like very elegant versions of Dr. Suess's troufula trees from the Lorax. When I spent time here in 1999, my commute to work took me down that avenue every morning and I can still close my eyes and remember that green space. It felt great to see it again today. If you go, go past the Colosseo and walk a bit down that road. You won't be sorry.
When I was here before, I did not have time for the Forum, so we dove into it right away
Finishing the forum, we bought tickets to the Capitoline museum. Finally, we found a place that was nearly deserted. We spent hours wandering from room to room to see the great collection. One thing that I had not expected to see was a magnificent display of artifacts and graphics that helped me to understand the settlement of the Capitoline back into the Bronze age. They had a display of artifacts found on the hill that dated back almost 4,000 years. It also included some nice artists renditions of what the hill looked like at different times. BTW, it looks pretty good now. That Michelangelo fellow really knew his landscape architecture..
Leaving the museums, we strolled past the Theater of Marcellus and across the Tiber (via Isola Tiburtina-a small island) and into Trastevere, where we rested and got ripped off for lunch. The café where we stopped charged us 30 euro for lunch of Panini and beverage. By contrast, Dad had the same today in Frascati and only paid 9 euro. From there, we re-crossed the Tiber and headed south. We found two more very old Roman temples from the Republican period, where the duck insisted on being photographed again. We then went down into and strolled the Circus Maximus. A chariot would have been a lot of fun. The guidebook said it could hold up to 250,000 spectators at its peak. I believe it. I had Buck take my picture in front of my old stomping grounds at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization before we caught the Metro and made our way out.
That amounted to two very hard sightseeing days. I feel like I have had a good butt whipping from the heat and walking. Sandra emailed me yesterday and let me know that my x-rays (taken just before we left) showed a partially torn Achilles. I guess that explains the limping. I will definitely have to behave my self and let Buck climb all the volcanoes as we head to southern Italy on Monday.
We wandered far up the hill tonight into Frascati to find dinner