Monday, 31 August 2015

Day 2: 30/08/2015 In Search of Ancient Rome

Awoke to another day of blue sky and sunshine. Had a good breakfast at the hotel before heading out in seach of ancient Rome. This plan was held up slightly as we had a bit of a wait for modern piublic transport, but eventually we got to the colloseum. First impressions as we walked out  the train station and saw it was that it's big. It was also very busy, however our Roma cards allowed us to by pass some of the queues, once we had avoided all the people tryingto sell us tours, hats,water etc.  However I guess  the crowds, including the tat sellers make it seem more realistc., after all it would have been crowded when in use. Standing there in the bright light of a summers day, surrounded by tourists it seemed difficult to imagine this as the place where people fought to the death for entertainment. One change since ancient times is that a large cross now stands on one side of the arena and the pope prays here every Good Friday.

After leaving the collesium we crossed the road, through another ticket barrier and up the palatine hill in the steps of the important men of ancient Rome. Fantastic views from the top, looking towards St. Peter's, where Nero's circus would have been in ancient days. Going back even further we saw the ruins of the alleged house where Romulus lived. According to the legend Romulus and his twin brother Remus were raised by a wolf after being  abaonded as babies  and went on to be the founding fathers of Rome.

Heading back down the hill we walked through the streets of the forum, where decisions that shaped Europe's history were taken.

The only building still whole enough to go inside is the temple of Rommulus which has since also formed an enterance to a church. It now houses a small collection of statues excavated from the ruins, and also has some wall paintings. Andrew got a little bit excited when we found the temple of the Vestal Virgins until I pointed out that men were not allowed.

As the sun was past it's zenith and baking hot we headed in search of liquid and sustenance. Both of which we found in a little restraunt between the collesum and the main train station.

Fortified by plates of fresh pasta, expresso in my case and beer in Andrew's, we decided to move forward a few centuries from this morning and visit the archbasillica of St. John Lateran. This church is the official seat of the pope in Rome, built by Pope Melchiade (311-314). The church is Rome's cathedral and claims to be the most ancient church in the world. Admittedly it has had at least parts rebuilt aftef pillinging from Visigoths and Vikings (400's), earthquake (896), and two fires in the 1300's. The present structure was compleated in the 1700's.

The ceiling is brightly colouredd, glorioiusly painted and has the odd gold statue attatched to it. Large statues of the apostles line the main aisle. The walls are and side chapels are covered in baroque paintings, although there is space for a multi lingual notice on how to claim an indulgence by praying for the pope. There is also a door into the church which is only opened in Jubilee years and is kept bricked up the rest of the time.

As it was now getting very hot , headed back to the hotel for a rest before dinner. Decided not to bother going back into town but see what we could find in the local area. Ended up at a very nice restraunt, except that the menu was all in Italiam. Eventually ordered two different tortellini dishes, not sure what eitherbof them were, but they both tasted very nice. This was followed by bowls of ice cream as th weather was still very hot.

When we first came the evening had seemed quiet but was now busy, every table filled and despite the fact that it was past 10pm there were still a few children about.

from my LiveJournal, Jane Williams - The Wombling World of Madness

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Summer Holiday 2015- Day 1 29/08/2015 Coventry to Rome

Went to bed relatively early last night, knowing we had an early start this morning, so of course couldn't get to sleep and was rather bleary eyed and half asleep when the taxi arrived on time at 5am. Check in went smoothly. Took a while to get through security. A kid in front of me was very worried about letting their bear go through the scanner. I then had to wait as my tablet was taken for extra testing but was returned safe and sound. Once through security we went to hunt down breakfast and coffee. Wetherspoons was looking very busy, so we decided to try the new animal on the block - The Giraffe. The Giraffe provided Andrew with a cooked breakfast and me with pancakes with blueberries and bananna, and the all important coffee. Had time for a quick look round the airport shops, but I wasn't allowed to buy a rugby world cup sheep mascot, before boarding the flight. The flight was uneventful and I ate my crossiant, read the free paper and caught up on my sleep. Arrived in Munich in plenty of time for our connecting flight so headed to the lounge for breakfast part 2 or lunch part 1 depending on how you look at it and a sip of something bubbly to celebrate the start of our holiday. Boarded the flightbto Rome on time and were treated to some stunning views as we flew over the alps. Arrived im Rome and got our first taste of Italian efficency, or the lack of it, it took 10mins from the plane parking to people being allowed to get of. This was followed by nearly on hours wait for baggage. However eventually we were reunited with our luggage. Headed outof customs to find our taxi driver waiting for us. Also found a cash machine, which would have been useful, if it had been working. Our driver assured us we could pay by credit card. So of we went. Given what I had previously heard about Italian roads and drivers, I was plesantly surprised at how little horn honking and close calls there were. Arrived at the hotel in one piece, unfortunatly the taxi drivers credit card machine wasn't working. Andrew went with the traxi driver to the cash point, whilst I sorted out cecking us in. The foyer of the hotel is I have to say, very nice and grand with marble floors, wooden fittings, chandeliers and leather seats. Our junior suite is very nice with a sofa as well as a bed. The bathroom is large and includes a jacuzzi bath and 2 washbasins! As we are here for a few days, unpacked a few bits. The weather is very hot, so it was time to change into shorts and sandels. Got the train into Rome to get our roma passes, a 3 day pass which covers public transport as well as free or discounted entry to various sites. Had a quick walk around the center past Diocleation's bath house, but we were wilting in the heat so headed back for a rest. Enquired at reception as to nearby eating places and followed directions to a pizzeria called La Poralina. Here we enjoyed some very nice Italian beer, pizza and delicious puddings. Eaten in a conservartory looking out on to the street watching the human race flow past. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and eventually found our way to the roof top bar where we sat drinking beer, eating snacks and looking out into the night over the local church and the hills of Rome.