Arriving in Rome.

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Sadly, we couldn’t stay in Venice forever, so we left our hotel by the back door to get into the water taxi.

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I’m definitely coming here again. So far Switzerland and Venice are on my ‘must do in greater detail’ list.

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Gigi took this photo of me in the water taxi. The wind was whipping past me and I couldn’t open my eyes. I was saying goodbye to Venice and thinking that I’ll always remember the smell of the salt water and the wind as I arrived in Venice and as I departed.

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Goodbye Venice…

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Now I know I was getting wildly excited about buildings that were 1,000 years old when I was in England. But here is a part of the Roman wall. It’s DOUBLE that. We had to go through the wall to get to our hotel.

We spent much of the day driving from Venice today and we arrived in Rome at about 3:30 in the afternoon. The weather forecast for tomorrow is for a very hot day so Gigi made the decision to do some of the set activities today instead of tomorrow, so we drove around and looked at buildings and monuments and then joined Marco, the guide for our walking tour.

As you know, I’m a big fan of the walking tour. Marco has a strong Italian accent but once I got my head around the rhythm of his speech I was ok. We used the ‘vox’ things again and followed him around as he took us around the “hidden treasures of Rome.”

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The first main stop was the Trevi fountain. It was under scaffolding and was fenced off from the general public but it didn’t stop hundreds of them from crowding in there. Those pesky tourists getting in my way!

In fear of gypsies, pickpockets and thieves I went over, snapped the photos and kept my bag close and my iphone closer, before Mal and Heather asked if I wanted a gelato. It turned out to be just the thing. I didn’t throw any coins in, because the real fountain wasn’t working. Maybe next time.

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Well, they’re clearly hidden in plain sight, these ‘hidden treasures of Rome’  because they’re so HUGE, most of them. There’s 13 (I think) of these obelisks in Rome, brought back from Egypt when the Romans conquered them 2,000 years ago. See the statue on the top? This is the Pope of the time being oh-so-subtly symbolic about how the Church has conquered Egypt and is now the best. They either have crosses or Pope’s statues there now.

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Look at the detail of the carving, after thousands of years.

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Then we were taken to this remnant of a Roman temple. All that’s left is the columns.

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You can see here how the buildings have been incorporated in and around the ancient ruins.

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Here’s a model of how it would have looked, back in the day.

Then we walked around a corner and saw something that blew my tiny mind.

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Oh wow. This is a 1900 year old building, where anyone who is anyone has been. (Especially now I’ve been here, of course.) The Pantheon. We walked around a corner, listening to Marco happily chatting away to us and then there it was. It’s surrounded by other buildings coming up so close to it and yet it still exists.

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It’s damaged on the outside, with people removing the marble, but inside it’s relatively intact. Why? As Marco said, anything that the Romans built was torn down and destroyed recycled to make other buildings unless it was turned into a church. Those wild and crazy Catholics.

See how big the doors are? This was made 1900 YEARS ago…

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Sorry for the blurry photo but I was a bit excited. The marble is amazing. Marco said that all of the ruins we’ll be seeing used to look like this, but was scavenged recycled over time, mainly in the Vatican. He said when we go to the Vatican tomorrow, look at the marble everywhere and mentally transport it back to Rome where it originally came from.

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Detail of the interior.

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Look up! This is incredibly impressive. All concrete and HUGE. How they did it back then is a mystery. They say that Michelangelo used this as his inspiration for the dome at St Pauls Cathedral in the Vatican.

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This colour of marble in the floor is now no longer able to be found.

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The columns on the outside are all carved from one piece of marble each.

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But look at how close the city is to it. When I said we were walking around a corner and almost bumped into it, I wasn’t lying.

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The Medici Palace is right next door. This place is massive. It takes up a whole block. I read Jean Plaidy’s trilogy about Catherine De Medici  (what a piece of work she was!) when I was a teenager but seeing the size of this building brought home to me just how wealthy and powerful this family was. In a city where space is at a premium, this place is seriously making a statement.

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An inner courtyard.

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The small lemons are the normal sized lemons that we have at home. Look at the HUGE lemons they grow in the south of Italy!

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Marco showing us how the Italians have built onto the remains and foundations of the Roman buildings. The stucco is ‘modern’… only 2 or 3 hundred years old…. the blocks are 2,000 years old.

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The best cobblestones I’ve seen yet.

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I loved this. These public drinking fountains have been around since the Roman days and they still work. This water is the same as the water they bottle and send around the world and it’s free to whoever wants it. They run 24/7, which seems wasteful to Australian eyes but what a wonderful thing to be able to enjoy!

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Circus Maximus, where chariot races like in Ben Hur were held.

The walking tour and then the Roman dinner are optional extras that you can choose (and pay) to do on the tour. I was always down for the walking tour, but I only signed up for the Roman dinner this morning. I was thinking that it was a lot to spend for one dinner, but we had an illumination drive around Rome after it so I thought,  ‘What the hell? I spent a fortune at the glass place yesterday and now I’m quibbling about a few Euros for the dinner?” So I signed up. I was so glad I did.

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Look at where the restaurant is situated! This photo was taken through the front window. And no… despite what my funny friends and family on Facebook said when I posted this photo there, I did NOT eat in the car or have a pizza delivery…

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How incredible is this? I sat with my back to the window and every now and then I’d turn around to make sure the colosseum was still there.

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Insight had an opera-trained singer and musician come and sing. It was fantastic. He took requests and it sounded magnificent. I bought their cd, so that when the boys sleep in too late on Sunday mornings I can blast them out of their beds with operatic music.

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The oldest couple on the tour, a Serbian couple from Sydney, got up and danced. Up till now they’d been fairly reserved, but it was lovely to see them. You could get a feel for how they must have looked when they were young.

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St Paul’s church on the way home.

Rome and the Vatican tomorrow.

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One Response to Arriving in Rome.

  1. Lucinda Sans says:

    What a tour! How many optional extras are there? Some everyday? Are most meals included in the tour? If you didn’t go to this dinner, would you have had to find dinner yourself?

    And love your wild pants? Was that so you wouldn’t get lost in the crowd?

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