I have been to Rome several times but it is amazing how the memory fades, so when I received the following email from my friend Monica I asked could I add it to my blog as it brought back such strong memories of our visits. I found Helena’s game amusing, although we don´t allocate points, as a family we do something similar, it started in Paris when we were passing a statue and OH said, the statue was saying ….. from then we had a saying for each one we passed – the more stupid or ludicrous the better, we were like a bunch of school children giggling and sniggering.
I hope you enjoy Monica’s Roman capers as much as I did.
Trip to Rome 7-11th May 2011
There are advantages and disadvantages for taking a flight at 07:00a.m. The adrenalin flows but, do you crash out in the afternoon and miss the daylight or try to keep going, fighting the dreariness, until mid-evening. We did the latter, having arrived by the Leonardo Express before midday. The advantage was that we went on the whole round-city sight-seeing tour during the afternoon which, whilst leaving us in awe, helped us to get our bearings and make some decisions about what to visit in the next few days.
It is worth mentioning that the Leonardo Express has the highest steps of any train we’ve taken and everyone was struggling to get their 20KG cases aboard. Phew! We were shocked by the poor graffiti everywhere, why hasn’t Banksie found Rome yet? But as the train progressed we caught glimpses of the painter’s Italy, the warm ochres and burnt umbers of peeling walls, colourful window boxes, cypress trees, green hills and washing between apartments.
We came out of Termini station having resolved to walk to the hotel with our wheeled cases. It was supposed to be about 6 minutes from the station but we hadn’t realised how very long the station was, ending with a very large open air bus and metro station. It was quite a walk in the heat but we discovered that Romans are always ready to volunteer to help confused tourists and we soon found our hotel.
We were close to the huge, magnificent church of Santa Maria Maggiore. In this less renowned area of Rome, this is outstanding in its splendour. I think we spent most of our holiday gazing upwards open-mouthed as Roman ceilings are generally wondrous. The church is said to hold five pieces of wood from the original manger and these are encased in a gold and silver crib. Bellini is said to be buried here but there was so much to see… I forgot to look!!
Food and drink are very, very expensive in Rome. My husband was aghast at the ‘eight euro a glass’ beer and that was half the size of a one euro cerveza in Tenerife! The daily menus were generally good value but do not buy any food or drink near the main monuments; find more secluded restaurants in alleyways and watch the world go by!
It is such a fabulous city, full of surprises and each tiny piazza suddenly reveals a phenomenal monument or building with enough history to fill a huge tome! It was even more fantastic visually because spring blossoms foamed amongst the ruins.
We fell into bed at about 9:30p.m. the first night and the faint sound of horns, accordion music and laughter in the street below, somehow gave us that special excitement of ‘being abroad’.
We had to get up very early to be in the tour office for the visit I had wanted to make all my life: The Vatican Tour. As a Catholic, St. Peter’s has always been my Mecca along with The Holy Land.
I had booked for us from the UK and it was easy to find the offices near the Museums. It was great to walk past the queue and undertake the tour, albeit very long, but we would not have appreciated any of the Vatican State without it and our guide gave us so many little extra bits of information. Michelangelo became a real person to whom one could relate through his trials with the Pope and how he was physically able to draw and paint so much as well as sculpt and design. There were fabulous views, intimate gardens, statues, busts, baths, the Raphael tapestries, the map room and then the Sistine Chapel.
Now I would like to go back every day for at least a year and see one room at a time. It was vast and yet we enjoyed little things such as the busts which smiled, the statue with a face like Clinton, the giant stone fir cone (symbol of fertility!) and the huge globe sculpture by Anish Kapoor where Christianity encompasses the world. It actually turned. I wanted all the people to go away and let us look and marvel in peace. I wonder what it is like at night when the crowds are gone?
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