Monday, May 13, 2013

Roma


On our way into Rome, we stopped for a guided tour at the Vatican Museum. The level of ornate decoration of the building is similar again to the Louvre, and the Chateau de Versailles; basically, it's amazing.

The collection of artifacts and artwork is literally amazing. We only had time to see a portion, but you could easily spend days there.

River statue, Vatican City Museum 
Vatican City Museum

Vatican City Museum

At the end of the Vatican Museum, lies the famous Sistine Chapel, with some of Michelangelo's most famous frescoes: namely the ceiling, and The Last Judgement. They're pretty good for someone who was purely a sculptor before being commissioned to do the ceiling. For a room where no speaking is permitted, it was really quite loud. Over the volume of the people 'not talking', the guards every few second would remind the room "Silence! No talking!", "No photos!" The abundant signage and constant verbal reminders really didn't seem to make a huge amount of difference. But people will do what they will do.

Following the Vatican Museum, we had 20 minutes free time to look around St Peter's Basilica. I can't even count how many amazing basilica's I have been into now, but St Peter's certainly makes an impression. As an added bonus, it also contains Michelangelo's Pieta. Seeing that sculpture, in person, was definitely a wow moment for me. Pictures really don't do it justice; it is quite simply breathtaking.

St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

Following our hour-long wait to get out of the Vatican's carpark, we went into Rome for dinner. We were dropped off at the Four Rivers fountain, and sent to find ourselves something to eat. As we were on a tight schedule, in order to get to our accommodation at a reasonable hour, Matty (a fellow West Aussie country kid) and I shunned some of the other groups that had formed and went on a romantic dinner-date by ourselves. The pasta was amazing, and I'm fairly certain we were the only people in that particular restaurant.

Walking down the street from dinner, amongst the staff out the front of every venue trying to get you to eat there, was one lovely guy who stopped me to have a look at my bag. A dodgy old fabric thing I acquired free from a customer at work once, I have been collecting patches since I went to Amsterdam last November, and at that point had attached everywhere up to Florence. Said waiter, it turns out, also collects patches on his travels! He was quite lovely.

Matty and I then shared some gelato for dessert. We caught up with the rest of the group, and stood around the fountain eating gelato whilst we were all in turn harassed by various gypsies convinced we needed sunglasses, scarfs, lasers, and annoying whistles. Hate gypsies. Although, to be fair, the ones in Rome were nowhere near the worst. Alex then lead us on a brief walking tour to the Pantheon and the Trevi fountain, and then we returned to the coach for a quick drive around Roma, and out to our accommodation.

Rome by night

Our morning in Roma began with a guided tour of the Colosseum, and the Roman Forum. The tour was by the same lady who gave our Vatican tour, equipped with a magical book of photographs of the ruins, overlaid by digital reconstructions of the original structures, which was really quite interesting.

It was a little bit surreal to be in these places that are ruins, and were 2000 years ago, some of the most important parts of the everyday culture of one of the worlds greatest civilisations.

The Colosseum, Rome

The Colosseum, Rome

Graffiti, The Colosseum, Rome

The Colosseum, Rome

Roman Forum, Rome

Roman Forum, Rome

Roman Forum, Rome

After our tour, people split up and went their separate ways. Matty and Georgie (Melbournian) and I went for a wander to the Mouth of Truth, and then past the Circus Maximus (a Roman chariot racing stadium, which rivals in capacity some of the largest modern stadiums) to the Baths of Caracalla. The baths were so amazingly large; the second-largest baths built in Rome, and the center of social interaction at the time.

Baths of Caracalla, RomeBaths of Caracalla, Rome

We then went back in towards town, to revisit the Trevi Fountain by day (and throw in a coin). The version of the coin legend we were given by our tour manager was: one coin, and you will return to Rome; two coins, and you will get married; three coins, and you will marry an Italian. As I already have my Italian future husband lined up, I thought three coins was a little unnecessary, and opted for only one. It will be worth going back if only for the amazing gelato we were recommended.


A particular gelaterie, Alex claimed, was the best in all of Italia. They source each ingredient from wherever the quality is best, and store each flavour at a different temperature, as best suits it. However, the instructions we were given on how to get there from the Trevi Fountain were vague at best, and no name was mentioned. We walked past San Crispino a good half-dozen times before we even realised there was a gelaterie there; it may be the most unassuming store-front ever. Oh my goodness, it was amazing. First, I had banana, and chocolate meringue. So good. Seriously worth going to Rome just for this gelato. The meringue gelato was so amazing, that after I finished, I went almost straight back into the stop to try the other two flavours (caramel and hazelnut). They were so good, I couldn't even bear to part with a little to let the boys try it. I would happily have eaten more.

Gelato consumed, we went for a wander past (and up and down) the Spanish Steps, and on to the metro back to our campsite.

That night, we had a white board party (ie we all purchased "I  Roma" t-shirts and wrote messages on each other's). The bar also happened to have two (bad quality) poles.. so needless to say, much dancing ensued. Having not had a pole to play on in near'n a year, I may have spent a decent amount of the night upside-down. My arms hurt for four days after.

The following morning we departed toward our ferry to Greece.

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