July is tourist season in Europe and we have learned that in Italy there is no bus service for long distance locations. So the train it is!
We have also learned that we need to pre-book our hotel/hostel or spend a few hours trying to find a place and inevitably paying dearly for accommodation. We have been using the online site Booking.com as they have a large selection of hotels/hostels at all prices.
It’s less stressful and the packs seemed a little lighter when we got off the train and walked 10-15 minutes to our Hotel Louisiana in Rome. We had time to do some immediate sightseeing. Keith & Sharen had been in Rome for a few hours last year so felt confident in being the tour guides! There is soooo much to see….best get at it!
The first site was San Carlos Quattro Fountains. On each corner of the street they’ve placed a fountain. A very cool corner! In Rome, the street fountains all provide safe drinking water which is wonderful. We save several euros per day just by refilling the same bottle!! It wasn’t until we arrived in Greece(Europe) that we have been able to drink safe water from the hotel room taps and public fountains.
Next on to Trevi Fountain…..what a incredible fountain! It depicts Neptune’s chariot being led by Tritons, with sea horses representing the moods of the sea. Usually the square is packed with tour groups, this time we were able to get really close to it and take lots of pictures. We threw euro pennies over our shoulder….this apparently ensures our return to Rome!! Approx. 3000Euros are chucked away DAILY…..perhaps we should have returned in the dark of night …..financing of our trip before our very eyes!!
The Pantheon, a 2000 yr old temple, now a church, is the best preserved of ancient Rome’s great monuments. The dome is very unique. Considered to be the Roman’s most important architectural achievement, it is the largest masonry vault ever built. So sophisticated that if it had been built in modern times it would have collapsed under its own weight a long time ago!! Light enters through an oculus, which also acts as a compression ring, absorbing and distributing the dome’s vast structural forces. Cool, eh?
The Spanish Steps offer a great place to sit & people watch while resting our weary feet! It was built with a legacy from the French in 1725, but named after the Spanish embassy to the Holy See. A fountain of a sinking boat is at the bottom. We climbed these to the top for a good view of the area.
The VATICAN- WOW….such beauty!! Early to rise and make our way to St. Peter’s Basilica before the crowds arrive. We did well… NO lineups!!! It was great. In the early morning, several masses are taking place at various areas within the Basilica. It was neat, however it meant that we could not get close to the Holy Door which is only opened once every 25 yrs –next opening is apparently 2030. Also could not get close to Michelangelo’s Pieta- the only work to carry his signature.
We climbed up to the Dome, also designed by Michelangelo. It was really neat!! As we got closer to the top, the stairs became narrower as the dome tilted; you had to climb leaning inwards.
St. Peter’s is Italy’s biggest, richest and most spectacular church. No other Basilica in the Roman Catholicism is allowed to be longer than St. Peter’s.
We also went through the Vatican Museums and visited the Sistine Chapel. Lots of tourists here, but the lines did move quite quickly. It was all so beautiful…..almost overwhelming.
In the Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo’s ceiling displays his famous Genesis (Creation) painting which he did 1508-12. Quite impressive!! No pictures were allowed, but Keith & Sharen turned OFF their flash and just pointed the camera to the ceiling. The Sistine Chapel was very, very crowded and quite dark, but they did get a partial picture of the ceiling.
As you leave the museum you have to exit down a circular metal staircase with an interesting floral design embossed on the sides. A great time spent at the Vatican and St. Peter’s Square.
The COLOSSEUM: IMPRESSIVE!! Loved it! Again we went early in the morning and so only had to line up for about 25 minutes.
This place seated 50,000 people, it had a retractable roof and the stage was built over underground chambers that held the animals, gladiators, Christians & criminals. It had a unique elevator system that delivered the animals and victims to the floor of the arena. On its 100 days of inauguration over 10,000 exotic animals fought one another or took part in killing and eating 20,000 Christians & criminals….. all this for the Romans entertainment. Pathetic, isn’t it? It wasn’t good to be a Christian or criminal in the real old days.
It was easy to spend lots of time roaming around the Colisseum. We were able to take a great picture of Constantine’s Victory Arch from here.
The Old Roman City was just across the street and we spent several hours walking and admiring the ruins.
It was really great that most of the sights were free of charge. Thoroughly enjoyed our time in ROME!!