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Published: October 7th 2009
Sadly I had allocated only two and a half days to explore Rome. I spent the first half day wandering around and allowing myself to stumble in to beautiful buildings and churches. Everywhere you turn here there is beautiful old architecture. The Trevi Fountain suprised me because it's so large for such a small square! It's very beautiful. There were so many tourists it was impossible to get close to it so I didn't throw a coin in. I suppose I could have lobbed one over everyones head but I wasn't game enough to try it. 😊 There's a really nice ice-cream parlour just around the corner too. Perfect for a hot day.
The Pantheon was equally as crowded but really interesting because it's round! Originally it was a pagan church dedicated to the gods of Imperial Rome which is why it wasn't the typical cross shape like most Christian churches. Very interesting.
On day two I really got down to the serious business of being a true tourist. I headed off to The Colloseum and was one of the first in line before it opened (which is how I managed to get lots of photos without any people
in them! WOOT!) It was a strange experience to think of how many men and beasts had died there so long ago (and on a floor which no longer existed). There was a display of some of the small artifacts archaelogoists found like dice and womens hair pins. Things like that make it all seem more real. I especially liked the carved graffiti of the spectators favourite gladiators (if only todays graffiti was so artistic). It's one of the best places I visited in Rome without question.
Next was The Vatican. To avoid all the ques (I wasn't going to waste precious Roman hours standing in the sun) I signed up for a tour of both St Peter's Basilica and The Vatican with an audio guide for each and immediate entry for only 25 euro (including your site tickets). Money well spent I say.
The Vatican has quite a large museum within it before you get to The Sistine Chapel. It even has an Egyptian section which I hadn't expected! I especially enjoyed some of the fresco's like those in the Stanze of Raphael (which obviously were painted by Raphael and his school). There was also an interesting
Throne of St. Peter
St Peter's Basilica
hallway with giant maps frescoed on the walls. So you get to see heaps of beautiful paintings and ceilings before you even get to The Sistine Chapel. To be honest I expected the Chapel to be bigger, but despite its size it is truly stunning. I managed to wrangle myself a seat on one of the benches and spent half an hour listening to my audio guide (which really helped me appreciate things more) and getting a crick in my neck from staring upwards! It's incredible to finally see the original painting of God reaching out to Adam after seeing representations of it for so many years. While in the chapel the guards frequently yell 'Silenzio!' but with so many people in the room it'll never be silent.
St Peter's Basilica has some of the most stunning sculptures I've seen in all of Italy. I especially loved the altar with Bernini's massive bronze baldacchino (canopy) over it. It's really solidified my liking of the Baroque style (even though it's so heavy and ornamental there's no denying it's beauty). Bernini also did the bronze throne of St. Peter which has a gorgeous stained glass window above it with a dove
View from Musei Capitolini
My favourite view of Rome.
in the centre. The way the sun streamed across it was breathtaking.
The exploration of these places took up most of the day (they're worth doing properly!) so I finished my day with a bus tour around Rome. I also headed down to see The Colloseum all lit up at night. It's gorgeous!
For my final day I started with Piazza Venezia and The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier which had some fabulous views once you'd scaled the steps. Apparenlty many cities have a tomb with an unidentified soldiers body in it to serve as a symbol for all those who die in war and are never identified. Nearby there was the Musei Capitolini (a museum) which was filled with marble sculptures. The best part though was the view from a series of windows overlooking The Roman Forum. It was my favourite scenic view in Rome.
In the afternoon I decided to avoid the crowds (they were getting annoying) and visit some of the smaller places. I had a museum pass so I caught a bus and went to a small museum which was once the holiday home of a prince. It had, both built in and
displayed, some stunning stained glass windows. (I forget what it was called because I've mailed my journal home!). Those who know me know that I love coloured glass so this was a highlight. (It also made a refreshing change from sculptures!). Next door was another stately home and an art gallery inside so I popped in there (it had a beautiful ball room!) before heading to some of the big gardens for a wander.
And thus I finished my stay in Italy! And whilst the three weeks passed very quickly and I've only just scratched the surface of what Italy has to offer I've had a fabulous experience. I will definitely be returning in the future.
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