Tuesday, September 16, 2008

When in Rome

August 27, 2008
departing Fiumicino for Sardinia, Italy
coordinates 41 46.307N,012 14.252E

After our exciting entrance to Fiumicino, we were happy to find more safe haven up the channel and under two lifting bridges. Boats tied up three deep on either side of the channel, we found the Constellation Nautica, a marina in name sake only. There are quite a few boat yards available, free internet and showers for a tie up fee of 30 Euros a day. A perfect place to use for our home base to head in to see Rome.

After a bit of walking in circles we found an unmarked bus stop that sits nearly across the street from the marina. The bus that arrives at 10 and 40 minutes after the hour will give you a free ride to the Leonardo di Vinci Airport where you can then purchase a metro ticket for 11 Euros, that no one will check, but will take you directly to the center of downtown Rome. We dropped of our backpacks in our hotel room and hit the ground running! By the end of the afternoon we had covered the Colosseum,
the Roman Forum and part of Capitolene. Still to cheap to pay for a guide we enjoyed the sights on our own. So much information there so will give one of our favorite facts, they used to fill the Colosseum up with water and stage naval battles there! There are some interesting open air bus rides that can give you an all access ride around Rome, and different price scales on the metro, but with a strong pair of legs and a bit of determination, we can attest that one can cover the whole thing on
foot as well.

The first item on the agenda was the Piazza di Bernini situated just down from the US Embassy to get more pages placed in our passports. From there we headed straight for Vatican City and decided that if ever there was a place to splurge for a guide this was it. Lorna, from the east coast of US was our spectacular guide and worth every cent. Her professionalism along with her fun personality, great story telling ability and keeping the boys included and engaged was magnificent. We learned so
much within the walls of the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel, the crypts, St. Peter's Basilica, absolutely awe inspiring and had fun all along the way. Viewing the works of Michelangelo, Rafael, Bernini, Dali and so many more is a very special feeling. Calling them masters is an understatement. Again, history comes to life before our eyes. That afternoon we head for the bone church decorated entirely out of 4000 monks skeletal remains, intriguingly creepy. We counted the number of Spanish
steps at Piazza di Spagna and then enjoyed a cool and peaceful moment within the walls of The Church of the Trinita dei Monti, viewing the Volterra masterpiece fresco of the "Decent from the Cross".

Next day we made our way over to the Piazza Venezia and the Vittoriano, topped by the equestrian statue of the king and colossal bronze chariots, one can also view the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier there. Over to the Fontana di Trevi, water gushing from every point of decorated bas-reliefs and statues. We tossed our own coins in ensuring a safe return to Rome some day. We spent considerable time within the Pantheon, just taking in the grandeur that still stands today as the city's only architecturally
intact monument from the classic times. Built by Agrippa and redesigned by Hadrian in the 3rd century. The remains of many of Italy's most famous Kings and artists buried here including Rafael himself. The simple dome design, powerful marble columns and the open oculous in the ceiling seems are a vision to behold. Up the road a little farther you find the Piazza Navona and the Fountain of Rivers. It's shape traces the Stadium of Domitian where the long oval site once held 30,000 spectators to
watch chariot rides and naval battles. Another half dozen blocks and across the river is the Castle Sant'Angelo. Favorite fact, it contained the famous passetto or passageway, built by Pope Nicholas III in 1277. The corridor ran atop a wall that encircled the Vatican and led to the castle afforded the pope a safe walk way between the two.

One of the last items we found so interesting all throughout Rome was the omnipresent Egyptian Obelisk. Each one brought over by various emperors or Popes of the time they can be found in the Vatican, the Pantheon, and nearly every other Piazza we visited. Covered by their typical hieroglyphics they have a beauty of their own but seem so out of place here.
Whew, just scratching the surface here we look forward to returning someday for a much deeper look.

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