Our first trip to the Eternal City was a very exciting adventure and it did not take long to see the remnants of its Imperial past as we pass under original Roman walls and past Mausoleums of Emperors past and into the thriving hustle and bustle of modern Rome. We snaked our way through to the region of Rome to the Hotel Oxford near the Borghese gardens. After a checkin process we stored our bags and then wandered down the Via Boncomppagni to the Via Vittoria Veneto and came across a big protest outside the USA embassy regarding the Kosovo situation so we grabbed our first Roman lunch at the cafe de Paris and watched all the action opposite. .
Next day we woke early and after breakfast we visited the Borhese gardens and villa and then through the gardens to the Museum of Modrn Art and checked out the fabulous exhibitions. Next was the Villa Medici and then down through the park and via some Mirador’s to bet the views over Rome into old Rome via the Piazza del Popolo.
from here we walked up the famous Via de Cross with all its up market shops past the Augusta Mausoleum and then up Via Condoti to the Spanish steps with all its crazy crowds.
We were all a bit tired so after a wander around the Piazza Barberini we checked out our first old Palazzo, of course the massive Palazzo Barberini and wow what an insight that was into the populace of Baroque Rome
next day and first stop the Trevi fountain and in went the coins in-between fighting through the crowds but wow what an amazing piece of whimsy that fountain is, tucked away in the strangest of places and it is like a folly of great magnitude.
WE wandered around the fabulously intriguing streets and then onto the Piazza Navona.
The Piazza Navona was an old Roman racetrack or Circus and is now a Baroque frenzy of fountains, Churches and Palazzos.
We loved the atmosphere and spent plenty of time just enjoying the passing parade.
our wanderings then took us to the Pantheon, and wow what an amazing building. The oldest most intact Roman building surviving and it is massive. The bulk outside is complemented by the vast interior with the amazing dome and vaulted ceiling coffers as well as the marble encrusted walls with its frescos and altars that have seen all kinds of religious changes over it’s 2,000 years.
We lunched in the Piazza and enjoyed the lovely autumn sunshine
After lunch it was back to he hotel and a rest for Ann whilst John and the girls went up to the old Roman walls near the Borghese gardens and wandered around little nooks and crannies that made this fantastic green space in the middle of Rome so intriguing.
We are sleeping really well and starting to adjust so up at 6.30am and off to breakfast before heading down to the Capitol Hill via Taxi to start the days exploring. we went up the big staircase to Michelangelo’s magnificent Piazza del Campidoglio with its illusionary architecture and archeological museums which were really fascinating.
The hill overlooks the Forum so we walked down the steps at the back end and straight into ancient Rome. the temple of Jupiter was our first sight and then it kept coming from vestal Virgin houses to triumphant arches in abundance, Temples, Palace ruins, basillicas and the centre of the Roman Empire, the forum itself.
every nook and cranny was full of history and intrigue so we took our time to absorb it all as there was simply so so much.
And of course at the end of the Forum sits the bonus..The incompareable Colosseum!! Wow what a sight, so massive , so vast and so intricate in detail and the enormity of its construction is so visible.
It was easy to view despite the crowds of people and we were able to access very part of it from top to bottom.
you could seriously spend a day just inside this structure and still not see it all, just imagining 50,000 people jammed inside…
after lunch the girls were exhausted and went back to the Hotel whilst i set off to explore the Palantine Hill with all the palace ruins of Emperors cruel, kind, crazy and foolhardy.
It was fascinating and again so much to see but so much in total ruin but looking out over the Circus maximus it was easy to imagine the views of the Chariot races in the good old days. these images below show what is left today and then a reproduction of how it looked in all its glory and how it related to the Forum at the top and the circus maximus at the bottom.
The old aqueduct runs right into the palace complex and there was still plenty of it to gauge how huge it must have been to bring water to the city. i ventured back to the hotel via Ceasars forum and Tradgans Markets.
That night we took a Rome by night tour which was fascinating to really get an overall sense of the city and its sights spread over a large area.
we arrived back in Rome after the train trip from naples and settled back into the Hotel Oxford like an old friend. we decided to head down to the Spanish steps again before heading out to dinner at a Chinese resturant before a bit of an Ice cream supper at the Hard Rock cafe,
The next day was all about St Peters and despite it being shrouded in scaffolding we were able to get inside, But first it was off to the Vatican museum right next door and wow what a place. Some of the best stuff is hidden in here from every imaginable ancient culture along with all the masters.
The Sistine chapel was smallish but extraordinary with intricate details and story behind evert frame.
The hall of maps was mind-blowing along with every room we visited.
And then it was time for St Peters and that was for men the highlight as nothing can prepare you for its majesty, size and overall effect.
The detail and scale is crazy big and everything is just oversized compared to any other church.
Beth and i climbed the 320 stairs to the dome top and enjoyed the amazing view looking down into the nave and then out over the top of Rome.