Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Roman the streets is always a lot of fun.

Craig Writes;

29/09/13. Our first time on a plane for a while.  It took us an hour to fly to Rome and we're glad to be back.  It's been over 15 years since Christina and I were here and we're looking forward to showing the boys a few of the sights. It's a whistle stop tour, only two full days so we'll have to try and make the most of it.  Tonight we had our good friends, The Metcalfs, over for drinks and some good old Italian pizza.  They head off on their big cruise tomorrow. Always great to catch up with them.

30/09/13. Oh such grand plans today. The weather forecast said a 70% chance of rain today, but what would they know. The skies looked pretty clear to me so at 10.30am we set off to walk to the Colosseum.  By 10.45 it was sprinkling with intent and we were buying cheap umbrellas from Tanzanian fellas who suddenly started appearing out of doorways with armfuls of the finest Chinese umbrellas that 5 Euro could buy. And by cheap I mean good for one, maybe two good showers before your looking for the next nearest Tanzanian to buy another.  
We managed to make it down to the Colosseum through a relentless drizzle, got some snaps and started to head towards the Roman Forum when all of a sudden things turned serious.

Not the best Colosseum shot but it'll do

I mean it pelted down. We found shelter under a cafes alfresco canopy but started to get looks from the management.  They must have been expecting a party of ducks. We didn't want to settle into a cafe on the main strip so we left and found a small cafe just around the corner. This was all about the shelter not the food, which was just as well.
We stayed as long as we could without ordering five course and left when we saw the first sign of it easing. The streets were raging torrents. It was quite incredible.  You couldn't walk from one side of the road to the other without your shoes becoming boats with laces.

We stopped trying to hail a taxi and started looking for a gondola
Eventually, finally, four limp and saturated travellers made it back to their apartment.  Ironically just as the clouds began to part and the sun started to shine through. Later in the afternoon, once we had all dried off, we decided to take a short walk to San Lorenzo, one of the older parts of Rome and just outside of the old Roman walls.  
The old Roman walls were very impressive

It was talked up by our host Guiseppe as being a place full of cheap but groovy restaurants and bars.  Maybe we didn't go far enough in but we just saw a lot of graffiti, tagging not the cool stuff, and closed shops. We didn't eat there but we did find what we looking for.  The very first Montessori school started by Maria Montessori in 1907.  It still operates as a school today.  Our boys are both Montessori schooled so it was very special for us to see where it all started.
I'm sure Maria would be proud
The very first Montessori classroom
1/10/13 The memories of yesterdays foul weather were bleached to oblivion in the sun soaked day that Rome put on for us today. We caught the metro to the Spanish Steps for a  quick peak. They're lovely and all, widest staircase in Europe etc etc, but unless you're stopping to have your lunch on them it's really grab the photo and keep on moving.  Which  is what we did. 
We came, we snapped, we left
We chose to avoid the main streets and instead wove our way through the back alleys heading in the general direction of the Trevi Fountain. I recall there being a crowd at the Trevi when Christina and I were last here about 15 years ago but man that was nothing compared to today, and this was off season. We all threw a coin in the fountain and made the wish about coming back.  It worked for Christina and I last time so it's worth a couple of Euro. As busy as it is Rome is still a great place to be.
Four euros says we'll be coming back
A little "all you can eat" restaurant was recommended to us by our friends Tony and Tracey so we sort it out and had a quick lunch before heading on.


Someones been telling porkies
A fully chopped Harley
We forged on towards Piazza Navona but this was a bit of a disappointment. Crowded again but not just by tourists. Half the plaza was take up with hawkers selling paintings, doing portraits, selling bags and scarfs and general brik a brak. The main fountain wasn't working due to a shut down for maintenance.
Piazza Navona, a bit of a touristy disappointment these days

We moved towards the Panthenon. This did not fail to impress. Nearly two Thousand years old it still stands as the most complete and best preserved piece of Roman architecture in the world. And even today the massive dome is still the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.
How the hell did they do what they did back in those days?

The Panthenon
It is so beautiful, and so old
We took our time here. I didn't know but the great Raphael, the renown Renaissance painter and architect from the 15th and 16th centuries is entombed here.

From here it was onto the Vatican and Saint Peters.  The Pope must have been signing autographs.  The line into St Peters was literally hundreds of metres and not moving.  

That line across the front went right and all the way to where I was standing
While we stood there contemplating whether or not to join the queue a group of 20 - 30 Chinese tourists wearing matching bright yellow hats joined the end of the cue.  That was it for us.  We headed to the metro, a tube ride home and a stop in at Fassi. Established in 1880, it is Italy's oldest, and arguably best, gelati shop. And, it is a two minute walk from our front door.  We all had to agree, best damn gelati we've had, ever.
It's the best Jerry, the best.
Well, that's our whistle stop tour of Rome done. Must say we loved roaming the back streets. We'll be back again in the years ahead but next time no apartments just a sweet little hotel room for two smack dead in the middle of the city where you can stroll out your front door and have all in front of you.
You find all sorts of interesting alleys when you leave the main streets
This could be our front door in a few years
Now time to pack again as tomorrow morning we head to the land of the Blarney Stone.

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