Published: January 14th 2011January 12th 2011
The famous Colosseum
Buongiorno! (Mike and Susanna - that phrase book you gave me for my birthday is the handiest thing I own right now!)
Anyway, we arrived in Rome on 4th Jan, after meandering our way down from Vienna via the towns of Villach and Bologna (as in Spaghetti Bologna-ise) and it was everything we expected - amazing, expensive, historical, crowded, and most of all - f**kin busy considering it's the middle of winter!
The first day saw us taking the train into the centre of Rome for a bit of a look-see and to get the lay of the land. Renton and Jacko marched around Rome at a quick pace, and I followed two steps behind and never quite catching up. The city centre is interesting - ruins thousands of years old mixed in with modern buildings. You'd wandering the city streets, then come around a corner and there's a massive fountain, or monument, or ruins of something, like it's just normal. And then I would look up and Renton and Jacko were gone (stopping and looking at things is not advisable when travelling with these two!).
Anyway, so the next day we decided to have a look around
Inside the Colosseum. The floor of the arena isn't there anymore, so what you can see is the underneath, where all the gladiators and wild animals hung out before the battles.
the Colosseum and the Forum, although when we got there mid-morning the queue was pretty massive. Not to worry, we had our lucky charm with us (Jacko) and no sooner did we approach the Colosseum were we approached by a tour guide taking an english tour in 5 minutes at a very reasonable price. And we got to miss all the queues. Perfect.
I won't go on about the Colosseum suffice to say that it used to be flooded for naval battles, which is awesome. And lots of slaves got wasted there.
The next day was set aside for the Vatican. We had learnt a few lessons from the previous days queues, so after a 0530 wake-up we arrived nice and early in St Peter's square. It's at this point that I should explain that we had sussed out a tour that left at 0815 from outside the Vatican museum.
So at 0745 we entered St Peter's Basillica for a look see (it was awesome) and then went outside to meet our tour, only to realise that it left from the other side of the Vatican, which was a good 15min walk away. So after a refreshing
The ruins of the massive palace. Renton likes this one as the circle of bricks at the far end of the room was a midget racecourse. Midgets and children used to race small animals for the emperor's pleasure.
early morning jog, we arrived just in time to see our tour group departing. Not to worry, we had our lucky charm with us again, and another tour guide said we could join her group that was leaving straight away, and it was cheaper than the other one. Awesome!
So I tell these stories to illustrate that we didn't really plan anything at all and it all fell into place (though it had the potential to turn pear shaped...)
The Vatican was great, it has tonnes and tonnes of old stuff, and its really grand, with everything built out of marble that the Vatican acquired back in the day by taking apart the Colosseum and other ancient Roman buildings. The tour also took us through the Sistene Chapel, with its famous ceiling by Michaelangelo. There is so much stuff to look at in the Vatican that it's hard to see it all and appreciate it all - our tour guide said that if you looked at every item in the Vatican museums for 30 seconds you would be in there for 5 years.
On exiting the Vatican, the queue had grown to about 1km long, so it
The view of the Forum from Palantine Hill. More ruins.
would have taken hours and hours to get in, and the same outside St Peter's Basillica. So the early morning was well worth it.
So this brings us to around the evening of 7th Jan, which was Jacko's final evening with us. We hadn't had much luck with the Italian food in central Rome so we had a goodbye dinner at a restaurant near our camp ground (about 20min out of Rome). I only mention this as it was the best meal ever - delicious delicious pizza and pasta. Mmmm.
So sadly we said goodbye to Jacko on Jan 8th and started our slow trip back to France. Suffice to say there is alot more room in the camper, and our food bill has halved... Just kidding Jacko the place isn't the same without you!
Until the next one...
There are more photos below