Hello all We are back from our wonderful holiday in Rome, and are busy catching up with all the stupid boring stuff that going away on our holidays brings, like doing the washing, realising that there is no fresh food in the house, and avoiding thinking about going back to work on Monday… And blogging Cath has been prodding me to blog cos I am a bad person
Rome was amazing. There are no photos ready yet – DB took about 500 on the dig cam and is busy not uploading them to his website (instead he is busy rediscovering his love of the Dungeon Keeper games). They are on the PC, just not online We arrived at the hotel about 9pm Rome time on the Sunday, so all we could manage that day was to dump our stuff and go find somewhere to eat. Rather nicely, we found what is supposed to be one of the best Pizzeria in Rome round the corner – Pizzeria Ivo I was good and had a risotto which was YUM, but DB had a big yummy mushroom pizza. It was vvvvv nice. The hotel is lovely, based near the Piazza di Santa Maria, but has no soundproofing on the windows (they are beautiful old ones with shutters on either side of the glass – you’ll see when I get the pics link), so while the building was quiet, the streets were not – apparently Italians go out in style on a Sunday (we didn’t leave Ivo until about 11pm and people were still piling in), so we had strange noises, loud boisterous Italians and scooters until about 2 or 3 am Monday we were rather sleepy when breakfast came, but luckily Italians think lots of food is good. After scoffing we headed out to a park in Trastevere near where we were staying, and climbed to the top of the Janiculum hill to Piazza Guiseppe Garibaldi and a view over the city to get our bearings. Just stunning – you could see right from the Vatican to the Colosseum (yes I can spell it now ;D). We headed down towards the Vatican but couldn’t go in as the Italian president was there with the Pope, so we stared in awe for a bit then headed down to the Castel S. Angelo (where the midday cannon took us by surprise), which was closed, but stunning to look at… By this time we were feeling a bit knackered, so we wandered along the route we wanted and had a nosey round for a nice trattoria and found one that was almost totally empty on a back street. This sounds really daft, but I had the nicest salad there, but it was simply thinly sliced mushrooms with HUGE shavings of parmesan and some lemon juice on it. Really simple but delicious.
After that we wandered around some of the Piazza, and found our way to the Pantheon. The Pantheon is just awe inspiring. It totally struck me down. You really can’t appreciate it until you see it in real life – the dome from the inside makes you dizzy and the hole in the centre just seems to add to the vastness of the dome (I think it was about 9m wide, if that helps put any pics in perspective). Even the huge bronze doors which must have been over a foot thick, and the simplicity of the columns just take your breath away.
We made our way from there to the Trevi Fountain (made even more famous by La Dolce Vita) which again is incredible. I forgot to throw a coin in but I think we may still find our way back to Rome some time and we managed to take a pic of ourselves by it too! It is definitely a place to go to – it seemed miles busier than most of the other places we saw on Monday, including the Pantheon (but only by ratio of people to size, if that makes sense – the fountain is smaller but has not much space around it, and it was jammed full of people taking pics and admiring it). By this time we were pretty shattered so we went back to the hotel and zombied for a bit before heading out for some dinner. We went to a Pizzeria on the other side of the river but still not far away, called Remo, and is apparently THE best in Rome according to locals. Simple decor, but excellent food. We had no idea how big the pizza would be so we ordered 2 portions of fries, which came in a huge dish as a starter. When the pizza came, it was falling off the plates – at least 15″ wide, and we’d ordered two (my treat for naughty food while away How could I go to Italy and not eat pizza!?). Delicious! All that, a litre of water and a litre of white wine for less than 20 euros After that we found our way to a lovely little bar back in Trastevere called Caffe Della Scala, where they pour measures by eye and are rather generous with it too… YUM.
Day two was spent on the other side of Rome for the most part. We started by head towards the Vittoriano and the piazza behind it. Romans apparently despise it and find it totally hideous, but I think they are being a bit cruel. Yeah, it is a tad over the top, but you get excellent views from the top, and if it had been built 2-300 years earlier, it probably wouldn’t have been as hated (it was only finished in 1935, and is used as a war memorial for the unknown soldier). It is pretty damn big though Then we headed past the Palatine to the Colosseum. Here’s a hint – don’t even pay for the tours that are being touted outside there – the queues for getting in are huge (and even when we were there and it was relatively quiet, they were an expected time of 45 mins waiting before getting in), and their main selling point is that going with the tour group will get you in without queuing. Just head to the ticket booth at the Palatine entrance a couple of minutes away up the cobbled road opposite (near the arch) and buy a ticket there, and then come back to the Colosseum and jump the queues with your ticket. You can get an audio tour too (but you need to leave ID for it) and it works out much better value. Once inside we wandered round the exhibit based on Homer and the Iliad, and then went into the main arena for a look round. I don’t think photos can ever demonstrate just how MASSIVE the place is. The only way you can gauge it is by looking at the size of the people wandering around on the higher tiers opposite you. The arena itself is quite small, but as the building expands to accomodate the seating it just seems to grow and grow and dwarf you totally. And it has many cats sunbathing in it We were pretty knackered again by this time, so rather than walk back through the Palatine, we decided we’d have another go at the Vatican to see if we could get in, and took a route so we could pop into the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and see the Michelangelo sculpture inside of Christ bearing the cross. The church also has some rather interesting design on the ceiling, and is the only gothic church in Rome. It is also home to the headless body of Saint Catherine of Siena – her head lives in Siena still, but they managed to find a skull to make up for it which sits on top of a small reclining figure in one of the chapels of another saint (whose name I am sorry to say I currently forget). Catholicism never fails to fascinate or intrigue me…
By the time we reached the Vatican it was starting to get dark and we realised that thanks to completely mad opening times, we’d missed entry by about 3 hours or something else very silly indeed. We did manage to make it into the square this time though, and to the Tomb of Popes. Most of the area was quiet till we reached the most recent – John Paul II. At this point there were nuns and monks, and a lot of catholics coming to pray and take photos and leave items for him and requests for help. Some people had items touched on his tomb, and one teenage boy with his mother was clearly not too excited and had to be pushed to his knees to ‘pray’ by his mum I can’t deny that, in spite of not being particularly religious (I should add that I am spiritual to a certain extent, but don’t particularly lean to a faith) and certainly not catholic, it was incredibly moving to be there. The peace that you are required to maintain, and the obvious love and awe from the visitors around you make it worth a visit alone. We came out of the tomb area feeling strangely tranquil and peaceful, regardless of our very achy feet and the extremely amusing looking Swiss Guard hanging around near the exit.
At this point we were totally shattered, so we headed back through Via Della Scala again, for of all things, a Chinese (but a bloody good one – dare I say that Italians do Chinese better than Brits?), some Limoncello (which is the best drink ever) and some dark chocolate with chili in it (best choccy ever too).
Then Wednesday we came from the beautiful no-jacket-required weather (it was a bit nippy at night, but we went round the Colosseum with no coat while Italians were around in scarves and winter jackets ) to almost black sky and pissing with rain
Luckily I had the Knitting Show to look forward to. But that’s for another post I’ve wittered too long, and have lots to do today before going back to work, including making up those prizes for my blog winners, and posting out the yarn Leah won (but has yet to find out what colourway I’ve bought for her – it arrived last weekend petal just before we left ), and preparing for some more interviews this week :S Oh, and DB tells me he has a Flickr account and has so far added 18 pics to it Oooo! I just checked now again, and he has 60 (including some ace pigeon/statue action ;D), but mostly without details of where they are – and I bet he’s missed the one off where we are both at the fountain… I’ll wait to post the link till he’s added some info!