I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Our Italian Honeymoon - Rome

Tuesday 8th May

We left home at 08.00 which we thought gave us plenty of time to get to the airport but there was a long tail back on the Hog's Back. The radio said there was a problem on the A3 so we diverted via Compton, Dorking and Reigate. I had been looking at the map to see which way was the quickest but must have been wearing the wrong glasses as I started to feel sick and was finally sick just outside Reigate.

We were about 45 minutes later arriving than we wanted to be but fortunately I had arranged valet parking (the cheapest way of parking). If we had had off airport parking we could have had a problem. We had also booked Speedy Boarding with Easyjet so were able to check in quickly. We had planned on having breakfast at the airport and doing some shopping but as it turned out we grabbed some sandwiches at Boots and went to our gate. Oh by the way my new knee set off the security gate!

The flight was fine except for a girl across the aisle being sick the whole way. I was worried she might have a bug. Also I had a very annoying Italian man next to me who seemed to want more than his fair share of room.

At Rome airport we found our train, the Leonardo Express, easily and in half an hour we were in Rome itself.

We took a taxi to our apartment and met the owner Federico who showed us around. The apartment is on the third floor, with a lift, and in the roof. There is a kitchen and bedroom on one level with a mezzanine over the kitchen with a sofa bed. The bathroom is also up the stairs and is minute with a VERY low ceiling - we have both already hit our heads on the beams. There is a double shower, loo and basin but I'm glad we don't have Millie as we wouldn't be able to swing her! There is a lovely view of the Basilica San Clemente and even a glimpse of the Coliseum. We unpacked and went off in search of a supermarket but stopped off at a bar overlooking the Coliseum. We asked for large beers which turned out to be litres!

We had booked a posh dinner for our first night in a roof terrace restaurant overlooking the Coliseum. We took the lift up to the roof of a hotel and the view took our breath away unfortunately the prices also took our breath away so we left! We could easily have spent over €300+!!! We walked round the corner and found another restaurant with a roof garden - not quite the same but certainly in our price range.

Wednesday 9th May

Today was Coliseum day. I had booked tickets before we left home but we were approached by a woman offering tours which we took up - she only charged us €13 as we already had our tickets. Our guide was an Italian lady called Denny who was very good and really explained everything. I think the thing that really surprised me was that under the wooden floor were a series of tunnels, all that you can see now, where the lions were allowed to roam until they strayed onto a lift and then they were hoisted up into the arena. These lions had been down below since early morning and were hungry and probably pretty fed up! The gladiator didn't know where the lion was coming from or how many were coming up. I forgot to say that before the gladiators started they would set free all different kinds of animals in the arena and just let them kill each other. If, during the day, people got bored they could go off to different rooms and take part in orgies! There was also hand to hand fighting and at the end of the day the Christians were nailed to crosses and left to die or eaten by the lions.

The Coliseum is made from very thin bricks and was originally covered with marble but it was all removed when St Peter's Basilica was built. This makes the Coliseum look quite strange with lots of holes which were caused when the metal holding the marble on was ripped off.

After the Coliseum Denny handed over to Stan, who is the splitting image of George Clooney! He took us up the Palatine Hill which where all the Roman Emperors lived and where Romulus and Remus founded Rome. There isn't much to see now but the foundations are still there so you imagine what it did look like. However Mussolini built a very ugly house up there - trust him! Stan then told us all about the Forum before we walked down into it. I could just imagine the Roman Senators standing around in their togas making decisions!

After a panini lunch from one of the many food caravans we got on the open top bus and headed off. The bus took us to St Peters but that was for the next day. However we got off at Trevi Fountain and admired it eating our first gelato! We walked back to the bus stop and had to wait for 30 minutes for a bus which then went for 2 stops before kicking everyone off saying that they had finished! It was another 30 minutes later before the next bus arrived. When we got back to our stop at the Coliseum there was a near riot on the bus from people who had been waiting there for an hour.

Dinner was at Cafe San Clementi opposite the apartment. I had checked out a few restaurants on Trip Advisor before we came away and this one was recommended - it was good.

Today was very hot - probably about 26 degrees.

Thursday 10th May

On Thursday morning we hit the open top bus again but this time got off at St Peter's. We walked inside the lovely old walls and had an excellent coffee before trying to find the front of the Vatican. Once we knew where we were going we found a nice cafe, Taverna Lina, where we had a leisurely lunch. Richard had a seafood salad and I had a wonderful pizza.

After lunch we walked to where we were to meet our tour guide. I had booked Maximus Tours online before leaving home and we paid €44 each. Michelle was our guide whose father was Italian, her mother British and was brought up in South Africa! The whole Vatican experience was amazing and gob smacking at times. We only covered a tiny percentage of the museum - Michelle said that if you did the whole thing it could take 12 years! The ceilings were beautiful and the statues were stunning bearing in mind just how old they are. Michelle explained all about the Sistine Chapel and how long it took Michael di Angelo to paint it; she also explained what each panel represents. The moment came to go into the chapel and, how can I say this, I was a little disappointed. The ceiling and the Last Judgement were simply amazing but there were so many people in there and the noise level was extraordinary for a place of worship. The security guards were trying to hush people but no one really took any notice. Michelle had told us to be quiet, not take any photos at all and to cover our shoulders and knees but there were even people eating in there. There was also nothing churchy around even though they hold masses there. However our next stop was St Peters Basilica and that really did have the wow factor for me. It was totally amazing - I really hate to think how much money is tied up in that building. We then saw the Swiss Guards and the window where the Pope gives his blessings from. We didn't have to wait long for our bus and this time it went straight through to our stop.

I was so exhausted when got back to the apartment that I decided to do the packing in the morning - big mistake! We had dinner just down the road at Made in Sud which was very good - again recommended by Trip Advisor.

Today was very hot probably about 27 degrees.

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