When in Rome...

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February 25th 2005
Published: February 25th 2005
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From Monumento Vittorio Emanuele II
When in Rome in February, take an umbrella - it rains a lot.

We took the EuroStar down to Rome on the 25th, after the whirlwind tour of Northern Italy I was looking forward to staying in one city for a few days, less time on trains more time seeing things. Four days hasn't been enough, Rome is so full of things to see and do - least in the daytime - that I've not had chance to visit Pompei - another time. We checked into the M & J hostel, some good points some bad, but overall it's been fun, with a good location, right near the central train station.

I'm picking up some bad habits from Savage - one is referring to visiting or seeing somewhere as “do” or “did” - it ain't just him, (or now me) but so many people in the hostel speak like this - “yeah - we just did the Colloseum” - how can you do a building?

Things we did:

The Colosseum

Still standing after all these years, almost 2000. A massive building which could have seated 80,000 people, famous for gladiators, who would fight each other and beasts brought from all corners of the Empire. I was surprised that the building was mostly brick, most of the marble had been removed, probably to build other monuments under the rule of those who didn't appreciate it enough. Today we see the results of a renovation from 1922 onwards, the only gladiators, mock ones outside (fleecing tourists for photos), the only beasts the vicious feral cats that tempt unwary visitors to stroke them and respond with hissing and claws. 10 Euro.

The Roman Forum

Just up from the Colosseum the remains of the Roman Forum were a fantastic visit. The centre of the Rome 2000 years ago. Massive remains of Basilicas, Temples and buildings that I couldn't recognise just stretch across the area. Free to walk around the Forum - but the nearby Palatine Hill is 8 Euro.

The Pantheon

A must - an incredibly preserved building, built in 27BC (before we started counting!) by Marcus Agrippa (well commissioned by him), the shear scale of the building, it's dome and massive pillars put me in awe today, the Romans could really make fantastic open interiors. I found myself wondering how it would of seemed to someone visiting in the height of the days of the Roman Empire... free entry.

Domus Marcus Aura - subterranean Roman ruins

Just near the Colosseum, I was a little disappointed with this, mostly because we didn't rent the audio guide, just paid entry, expecting more than a few (blatantly obvious) written descriptions of things we could already see for ourselves. It would have been fair to suggest to the visitors that the audio guide is virtually essential - (we were 2mins late so might have missed that). The highlight was Nero's octagon, a perfectly proportioned space, with an eerie light from the surface shining in from a central skylight. 5 Euro (optional audio-guide 3 Euro)

St. Peter's Basilica - see next journal from the Vatican (the worlds smallest country!)

The Vatican Museum - next journal entry.

The Crypt of the Capuchins

The Capuchins were a group of monks who came to Rome in 1631. The hoods they wore gave the name, but their burial method has made them famous. The bones of the monks of the order who'd died prior to there move were transported to Rome and their new church, and arranged beneath in the crypt. The bones were not just stacked, but transformed into works of art, additional bones from poor Romans and any monks who died were added gradually. Today five little “chapels” can be visited, with some the theme is skulls, another the pelvises and shoulder blades, each arranged with care and some kind of beauty. Skulls with wings made from pelvises, vertebrate used to line the walls, complete skeletons suspended from the ceiling arranged into the form of Death complete with scythe and scales - all made from human bones. Optional donation.

Monumento Vittorio Emanuele II

A much more modern construction, housing the tomb of the unknown soldier offers some of the best views of the city. Particularly as it overlooks the Forum and Colosseum.

... plus countless little squares, fountains, coffee shops, cake shops, pizzerias, gelaterias...

So barely scratched the surface really - will come back one day - that is for sure...

Additional photos below
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Loose MasonaryLoose Masonary
Loose Masonary

In the Roman Forum
The PantheonThe Pantheon
The Pantheon

... from Savage - to be replaced soon... other memory card.

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