We reached the outskirts of Rome just as rush hour was at its height. We were looking for a camper park situated close to Tor Di Valle station and it took some time to find, mostly because the GPS was behaving erratically. After getting parked up we just had time to visit a supermarket before they closed. Back at the motorhome we were pleased to find that our new wifi booster was able to find an internet connection which allowed us to catch up on emails and research what to see in Rome.
On Friday 22nd October we caught a train into the city centre, first point of call the Colosseum. Almost immediately 2 men and a woman in gladiator costumes approached us offering to pose with Joy for a photo. Only after I’d taken the photo did the woman insist on us giving them €5.00! I was so annoyed by such a sharp practice that I offered to delete the photo from the memory card. If there is one thing I cannot stand it’s when people try and take advantage of tourists. What added to the insult was that their costumes were cheap flimsy ones and one of them was even wearing trainers instead of sandals! The queue for the Colosseum was long and so we decided to visit The Forum instead.
Thankfully the queue at The Forum was much shorter and we spent a couple of hours looking around. The Forum has a huge amount of objects to see but for some reason the visit lacked that wow factor. Perhaps on another day things would have been different and also I think you can begin to take things for granted when you are visiting so many great ancient sites. What brought some of the objects to life was the mp3 tourist guide we had downloaded for this and other sites in Rome.
Our next site was the Trevi Fountain where we bumped into an Australian ‘Scotsman’ who was looking for tourist shops. We chatted at length about travels in Europe during which time I discovered that he’d left Scotland as a young man and had been in Australia for over 30 years.
Whilst there we did the usual tourist thing and threw a coin into the fountain so perhaps one day I will return to Rome. The Spanish steps were our next destination and we ascended the steps and went inside the church at the top.
Time was ticking by and we still had places to visit. Next up was the Pantheon. Unfortunately scaffolding on the front prevented me getting a good exterior photo. With the exception of the large pillars at the front, most of the building has a rough, unfinished look about it. I was not disappointed though once I’d entered inside. The interior is amazing, mainly because of the sheer scale of the place. Most people tend to look up at the hole in the dome, the largest brick built dome in the world.
Our last location of the day was the Piazza Navona which is where you will find the very photogenic church Sant’Agnese in Agone and the best street performers in Rome. Most of the artists seemed to be working with aerosol cans and the quality of their work was incredible. There were also a couple of good mime artists, one dressed as a metallic cowboy and another as a businessman in a hurry. The final performer was a man playing classical guitar extremely well, I could have sat and listened to him for hours!
With the sun beginning to get low in the sky we headed back to the motorhome where we decided to watch the movie ‘Angels and Demons’ which was set in Rome.
On Saturday we visited the Colosseum, the joint ticket we had purchased at The Forum the day before meant we could jump the queues. As with the previous day the audio guide we had downloaded helped us appreciate the place, as did the information we gleaned from overhearing English speaking tour guides. In such a large place with so many people it’s easy to lose someone and Joy and I became separated for some time, finally meeting up again at the exit, some few hundred photos later (in Joy’s case).
Our next destination was St. Peter’s Square. As people who know me will testify I don’t usually have much time for organised religion, especially the Catholic church but you cannot help but be impressed by Vatican city. The audio guide was again a great help as it gave us lots of background information about the square and the interior of the basilica. Entry to the basilica was free which naturally meant a queue but before long we were entering inside. During this European tour I had been in many cathedrals but there was no doubting that this was the ‘Daddy’ of cathedrals, and not only due to its sheer size. I also wanted to visit the crypt downstairs where many of the previous popes are buried but it had closed by the time we were ready to explore. We decided to return to the camper park, had our evening meal and sat down to watch another topical film ‘When in Rome’.
Sunday we had good intentions of returning to Vatican City to see if we could catch a glimpse of the Pope and to visit the crypt and the Sistine Chapel. In the end I stayed behind in the motorhome to catch up on admin whilst Joy ventured out for a few hours. Her visit was not that productive as the queues for the crypt were too long to bear and the Sistine Chapel was closed.
On Monday we decided to leave Rome. With any luck if traffic was light we would reach our intended destination, an Area Attrezzata in Lucca.