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Published: November 12th 2015
The first thing we noticed in Rome was the lack of Italians. Our B&B was within walking distance of Termini Station, the whole way almost every shop we saw was Chinese (mostly clothes and accessories) or Indian / Sri Lankan / Bangladeshi (mostly convenience stores). As well as the physical shops there were many African street sellers hawking mostly selfie sticks. Our landlady was Russian. Maybe it shouldn't have been but it was a surprise to see such numbers and variety of immigrants.
Surprise number 2 was the huge numbers of tourists, early November and there were still queues for everything, the longest of which was for St Peters. We thought by going on Saturday there would be fewer people than on Sunday what we hadn't bargained for was the Pope who was doing some kind of Popey thing meaning the Basilica was closed until 2pm. When it reopened the expected waiting time was ~4 hours – bugger that for a game of soldiers. It will have to wait for another day as on Sunday we couldn't be bothered to either get up early enough to be near the front of the queue or put ourselves through hours of waiting.
We did visit the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel which, it has to be said, is impressive. Although in keeping with their standard practice the Catholic Church waste no opportunity to make money - €16 entrance fees and multiple gift shops selling overpriced books, pens, posters etc. being just a couple of examples. I suppose they need to make sure they've got enough to cover the lavish lifestyles of the Bishops and buy off those they've abused.
Of course we visited the usual suspects – Colosseum, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Spanish Steps etc. etc. which are all wonderful to experience and impossible to write about in an interesting way, so I'm not going to try.
We've loved our time here in this magical city but now it's onward again to Florence, home of the Renaissance.
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