Have I mentioned the traffic in Rome yet? I think not. Unlike all the other cities and towns we have visited where we felt quite comfortable crossing the road and walking along streets with no sidewalks Rome's drivers have us ever watchful and fearful for our very lives. There is a big game of bluff played out in the streets between drivers and pedestrians. Even at light controlled crossings you have to be prepared to step out and bluff the driver into stopping otherwise they just drive on through. The motorscooterists are by far the worst. They even zip down the wrong side of the road to get to the front of the line only just getting out of the way of oncoming traffic. So far as pedestrians are concerned we are just a mobile chicane for these guys. Car drivers will stop for us on a pedestrian crossing but only if we show no fear and keep moving into their path. Judging by the frequent sounds of ambulance sirens though, I reckon that some pedestrians occasionally lose the bluff.
Enough of that though! So far we have survived. We left our hotel with our bags at about 9am and dragged them along roughly cobbled roads and paths for about 20 minutes or so until we reached 108 via Urbana our BnB for the next two nights. We were met by out host Giulia on the 6th floor apartment after taking the old fashioned open sided elevator. It was a bit creaky but it made it up with both of us and our bags. Giulia is a screenwriter who is still waiting to make it into the big time. She has won a few awards but this hasn't been reflected into job offers. She has an 8 year old son who is staying with his dad tonight but we may meet him tomorrow. We have smallish bedroom in her three bedroom apartment and have to share the bathroom with the family. There is no shower, just a shower head on a hose in the bath. This will be interesting!!! At least we can make a decent cup of tea in her kitchen.
After we introduced ourselves and dropped our bags we went out for our Colosseum, Forum and Palatine Hill visit. Giulia suggested that we drop into the church of St Peter in Vincoli where there is a magnificent sculpture of Moses done by Michelangelo. The sculpture is simply stunning and it costs nothing to see and there were no crowds. When we entered the church there was an English language mass taking place in a side chapel but that didn't stop we tourists. We then moved to the entrance of the Roman Forum where we weren't able to purchase tickets which also give access to the Colosseum without the sort of queues that you get at the colosseum ticket box. As I had been there before Maree took the lead and we wandered about looking at wonderfully complex ruins of the Roman civilisation. What will we leave for future generations in 2000 years time in cities like Melbourne or Sydney?
After two hours or so we were ruined out so we left the forum to find a coffee and then lined up to enter the Colosseum. With our pre-purchased tickets we were soon inside and laughing at the long queues of people buying tickets here. Even on a second visit the Colosseum is quite astounding. The engineering and design that went into it is amazing given that there were no computers or machinery. We stayed for about an hour and then made our way back to view the Palatine Gradens. Here we discovered that our ticket only allowed a single entry into the Forum/Palatino area and we had already used up our entry when we went into the Forum the first time. A nice ticket checker took mercy on us and let us in again but only because it was clear from the ticket that we had purchased it only a few hours earlier. As the tickets are valid for two days we would have been stuffed had we come back the next day. The Palatine Gradens are very extensive with lots of walking to do. At one point we sat in the sun and ate a panino that I had purchased earlier for lunch. Since my previous visit there had been numerous changes to the museum in the Palaatino with better displays and some audiovisual CGI showing what this area looked like in its heyday. After another hour or so of walking and admiring the ruins we finally left and started to make our way back to the BnB.
We both felt like a cuppa so stopped at a bar and ordered one. When it came Maree straight away said that it smelt oddly we tried a couple of mouthfuls but the smell, like old socks, was really off putting. I called over a waiter who suddenly spoke no English, and asked him to have a sniff which he refused but called over an older female staff member. She assured us that the cups were properly washed and the water came out of their usual coffee machine but when she took a sniff we saw her nose turn up. A few moments later the first waiter came back and took away our cups indicating that we could go. No charge but no replacement cuppa. The only solution was to go back 'home' and make one for ourselves which we duly did.
For dinner we were going to go to a restaurant just across the way called 'the drunken cow' but it was full so we strolled down the street looking into other ones until we found one called 'Urbana 47', because of its address. The waitress said we could come in so long as we were out by 9:00 which was not going to be a problem for us. It was clear that this place was a bit different because they also sold products and the Sou chef used an ancient hand cranked meat slicer to prepare the thin slices of ham for antipasta. We started with a delicious eggplant parmigiana done with angelhair pasta followed by pappardelle with anchovies in a broccoli and lemon sauce for Maree and sagnarelli with a lamb ragu for me. Once again all the dishes were delicious and we seemed to have made a great choice by luck. We chose not to have desert there but walked up to a gelateria for some, you guessed it, gelato. For once my eyes were bigger than my stomach and I chose a medium tub instead of a small one and actually had to chuck some away as I couldn't finish it all. Tomorrow we are off to visit the Vatican museums and perhaps St Peter's.