Saturday, May 07, 2005

Rome - March 2005

For our anniversary this year we decided a trip to Rome was in order. We stayed in a hotel just down the road from the Colosseum, which was the first thing I wanted to see, and which we saw for the first time at sunset. Marvellous!

Colosseum at sunset

Since this was a sightseeing weekend, not a resting weekend, we set off early next morning, starting at the Colosseum and continuing through the Roman Forum adjoining it. Wandering around in the brilliant, warm sunshine in such awesome surroundings soon helped us forget we had hangovers from the previous night, which involved St Patricks Day celebrations in two of Rome's Irish pubs.

Overlooking the Roman Forum from on top of Palatine Hill

We exited the Roman Forum at the opposite site to where we had entered it, and found ourselves outside what is possibly the most beautiful and impressive building I have ever seen. The Victor Emmanuelle Monument, home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with its white marble exterior and exquisite statues and carvings, is simply enormous. Come to think of it, everything in Rome seems to be enormous - the Romans obviously never believed that 'Less is more'!

Victor Emanuelle monument

Ignoring the fact that we'd been on our feet for half the day already, we set out across the city, taking in the beauty of the Pantheon, having a leisurely cup of coffee at an outdoor cafe in the Piazza Navona and then strolling through endless narrow streets and piazzas until we found the Trevi Fountain. It was packed with hundreds of people, and we joined the hordes in tossing coins into the water to ensure our return to the city one day.

Trevi Fountain

After a brief, failed attempt at shopping due to exhaustion, we trudged back to our hotel for a quick power nap before heading out to dinner, where we indulged in a delicious meal and too much red wine.

The following morning after a hangover-beating breakfast of coffee and pastries, we hopped on a bus to Vatican City. Once again, the sheer size of the place left me breathless, and all I could say for a while was, "Wow!" It took hours for us to take in the sight of the massive columns flanking St Peter's Square and then to wander around St Peter's Basilica. The beauty and opulence of the place left us feeling extremely insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

St Peter's Square

From there we wandered over to the Castel S Angelo, across the bridge lined with statues of angels, and through more narrow winding streets, discovering something amazing every time we turned a corner. There seems to be a grand piazza, Church, obelisk or other architectural wonder at the end of every road in Rome, not to mention plenty in between. Eventually after a couple of wrong turns (my navigational abilities seemed to break down for a while) we reached the Spanish Steps, where we joined hundreds of other tourists resting in the sunshine.

Spanish Steps

We had pizza and beer for lunch at a trattoria nearby, and spent the rest of the afternoon shopping on the Via Del Corso, finding our way through the police line at the top of the road where a demonstration was in progress, to do some more shopping on Via Nazionale before returning to the hotel. Another delicious dinner and even more red wine made for another perfect evening.

Since we had some time before having to leave again for the airport the following day, we spent the morning wandering more or less aimlessly around the streets surrounding our hotel. Rome has so much to offer, and there is so much to see, it is impossible to cover everything in one long weekend.

Santa Maria Maggiore church - at least that's what we deduced using our map-reading skills..!

So, hopefully the coin-in-the-Trevi-fountain thing pays off, because of all the cities I've been to, Rome is the one I most want to see again!


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