From Corfu we will take an overnight ferry, via Igoumenitsa (west coast of Greece) to Ancona (mid- east coast of Italy). We have decided to give ourselves a treat, so from Igoumenista we have upgraded from deck class to a cabin.
Yes, I know, decadent isn’t it.
One of the questions Michelle asked the ticketing officer, when we made our booking, was “Now these Superfast Ferries are they as big as the slower ferries”. The reply, “Mam, they’re all the same size; Superfast is the name of the ferry company”. Ooppps.
14 hours later, we land in Ancona, mind you; we are feeling refreshed and ready for our next leg.
From Ancona we take one of the regional trains, as opposed to the Eurostar (express) to Rome & arrive early evening.
Already the scenery proves to be different from that of the countries we have already experienced and from east to west this also is very diverse.
Rome is bursting at the seams; it would appear that we have timed our arrival with the Beatification of Pope John Paul II (Papa as he was affectionally called). Close to 1 million pilgrims converge for the canonisation
Beatification of Pope John Paul II
At the Vatican, around 1 million will attend
during the week that we are here. Don’t go near the Vatican, we are constantly warned, unless you are here for Papa.
Despite the crowds, we did make it and the fact that St Peter’s Basilica was closed for the festivities, we did get into the Sistine Chapel. A memorable experience was the sound of a choir as we approached the Vatican Square, purely beautiful. Oh by the way, on our way back to the hotel we found this fantastic funky restaurant/bar for a late lunch, and a great laugh.
We have allocated four nights for Rome and have a good opportunity to explore its sights. Pension Independence is our home for the duration. Probably not the flashiest place we have stayed in, but having talked to other people that are in Rome for this period probably the best we could have done under the circumstances.
Walking the streets, of an evening, we have a sense of ease and familiarity (one we didn’t get in Athens) and despite the constant warnings re pick pockets we felt unthreatened and quite safe. Michelle comments that she could quite easily live here.
We make our way to the Roman
Forum and Colosseum and spend a number of hours wondering inside this incredible structure. On my first visit (all those years ago) my memory is of this burnt out husk; and I remember thinking “isn’t it disappointing that vagrants have used the enclaves as homeless shelters and the walls are blacked due to their cooking fires”
Reality check: Construction started in AD 72 completed in AD 80 it was part of Nero’s huge park in the centre of Rome. Emperors used the colosseum to entertain the public with free games such as gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on classical mythology. Capable of holding near on 55,000 it was ceased being used for entertainment during the middle ages. A large earthquake in the 14th century collapsed a large portion of the building and it was then scavenged for building refuse, even for St Peter’s Basilica.
My first impressions give way to one of fascination and awe.
The Spanish Steps were spectacularly beautiful, especially with the spring blooms cascading down either side of the steps. It is a stark contrast of ancient cobbled roads,
that once paraded the might of the Roman Empire and majestic stone buildings, that now house famous boutiques under the names of Louis Vuitton, Gianfranco Ferré, Givenchy, Versace, Moschino, Fendi and Prada – just to name a few. (Bet you girls & Glenny K are impressed that I noticed)
We meandered the streets and came upon the famous Trevi fountain, not just for its ornate extravagance, but the superstition that anyone who throws in a coin is assured of returning to Rome. The legend inspired the romantic 1954 movie, Three Coins in the Fountain, and the song of the same name.
OK, now we all know how much of a romantic Michelle is. So here I am, about 15 or so metres from the fountain, taking a photo and out of the corner of my eye I notice an overthrow of an arm and a coin sail towards the fountain. (NO, Jarvis, no claps for Aunty Michelle – sorry in joke) Well, coin doesn’t quite make the water, in fact striking a lady in the head (said woman shakes her head, picks up coin and puts in her pocket). Undeterred, Michelle moves down to the fountain’s edge and
Who me Officer
In front of the Trevi Fountain
promptly throws another coin into the fountain.
Coming up the stairs with a rather smug smile on her face I remind her that in order for the superstition to work you have to throw the coin, with your right hand over your left shoulder, into the fountain. Hmmmm, probably should have kept my mouth shut (AGAIN). SO, as we’re leaving the area I glance around, just in time, to see Michelle with her back to the fountain – maybe 10m meters away from the water – and let fly with another coin. Well the coin hurtles through the sky and I watch with fascination as the police officer, standing between us and the fountain, somehow manages to evade the lethal projectile, without losing an eye and stares in stunned amazement as Michelle punches the heavens. (OK Jarvis, now you can clap).
I believe the police still have an active APB out on Michelle, not really sure if this is how the superstition of returning to Rome is supposed to turn out.
Time to smuggle Michelle out of Italy, we will return (one way or another) and it’s time for us to make our way to France.
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