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Paul & Tracey's Travels
29th Oct 2010 - Rome, Italy
Historic Rome and industrial action

It’s Tracey’s birthday today and as we opened the curtains this morning we could see it was going to be a nice day – bright sun and not a cloud in the sky (Scorchio!). Once we had eaten breakfast we picked up our complimentary ‘City Box’ – a picnic bag to take with us containing sandwiches fruit and water. We set off at 9am to walk round to the Metro station and go the 5 stops south to the Colosseum.

The metro costs 1 euro for a 75 minute ticket which would take you easily to either end of the line on both the Line A or B. You can also get day tickets for 4 euros and weekly tickets as well. We opted for a 4 euro ticket and set off. As you come out of the Metro the Colosseum is directly opposite, however you first have to take your life into your hands crossing the 4 or 5 lane road. Although it was still early there were hundreds of people milling about, including numerous Roman Centurians (see photos) ! We took a walk around the outside of the building, and then made our way to the entrance, however it turned out that it was closed due to industrial action ! We intend to return tomorrow. Our next stop was the Roman Forum opposite, but that was also closed, so we had to content ourselves with peering through the railings.

Undaunted, we set off in a westerly direction to find the River Tiber and take a stroll along the bank. We had to cross several main roads and the traffic was absolutely gridlocked, although this was not helped by the fact that the local police had cordoned off a couple of roads for some reason. Apparently only local residents are allowed to drive in the centre of Rome to try and reduce congestion, however I think further measures are needed.

We joined the river at the point that the Ponte Palatino crosses and started making our way north up the east bank. This is the equivalent of walking along the embankment in London – I would say that the Tiber is slightly less wide than the Thames as it makes it’s way through the city, but it looks a lot cleaner, and there are well maintained cycle tracks running all along the length that we walked.

At Ponte Fabricio we walked over to the tiny island of Isola in the middle of the river where we stopped in a small cafe to have a coffee outside in the sun. By now it was getting very hot and I was regretting not wearing my shorts. Back on the main road, we continued north along the tree lined avenue, stopping at each bridge to take photos and look up and down the river. At Ponte Sant Angelo, which in common with several of the bridges is pedestrianised, we crossed to the west bank to have a closer look at Sant Angelo Castle. This is now a museum but we did not go in as the weather was so nice. From here you get a good view straight down the Via Della Conciliazione to the Vatican and St Peter’s Square. We will probably visit there tomorrow.

By now it was lunch time, so we found a suitable place to sit near the castle, looking over the river to the heart of the city, and ate our ‘City Box’. Having eaten, we set off again north and re-crossed the river on the Ponte Umberto to make our way to the Piazza Navona. Once you leave the river, it all becomes a maze of tiny cobbled lanes and piazzas, and we were glad that we had a good street map with us which we had picked up at the airport. These tiny streets and squares have got so much character, with busy bars and cafes, and small boutiques everywhere you look. There is also as much to see by looking up at the buildings surrounding you, as what you are seeing at ground level. There appears to be no buildings in the centre of Rome that are more than 6 or 7 stories high, and no modern office blocks at all.

After a couple of wrong turns we finally emerged from the sun starved alleys and lanes, blinking into the bright sun in Piazza Navona. This is one of the main squares where tourists and locals come to sit and have a coffee or a beer and watch the world go by. Not to be outdone, we did exactly that, although at 8 euros for a beer and about the same for a glass of wine, we made them last ! The square is built around the fountain in the centre and there were hundreds of local artists selling paintings and hand made jewellery.

On leaving Piazza Navona, we did the short walk to the Pantheon. This is a temple that dates back to the 2nd century AD, and is famous for it’s huge domed roof. It is free to go in and has an amazing marble floor. At this point we were starting to feel a bit weary, so decided to make our way to the nearest Metro station, however there was still plenty to see on the way. We passed Tempio Adriano with it’s many pillars, Palazo Montecitorio, and the Trevi Fountain, which was swarming with tourists. Tracey did the throwing ‘three coins in the fountain’ bit, although owing to the high cost of the drinks earlier, it was strictly low denomination coins.

It was then a five minute walk to Barberini Metro station where we picked up the B Line south a couple of stops to Termini station, where we changed on to the A Line back north to Piazza Bologna and our hotel. Termini was as busy as ever and we were absolutely jammed into the train for the three stops. We arrived back at the hotel at about 4pm for a rest before going out again for something to eat, and to ensure that we got full value from our day Metro ticket !
At about 6.45 pm we set off back to the Metro to return to the Colosseum in order to see it lit up at night. We arrived a little after 7pm and naturally the crowds had thinned considerably. It looked quite impressive all lit up and we managed to take a couple of good photos. We then walked up through some gardens opposite to a road that overlooked the Colosseum, and found a restaurant where you could sit outside and eat whilst looking over at the building. After a tasty meal of spaghetti and cannelloni, we caught the metro back to the hotel, stopping on the way at the Punto Supermecato again to stock up on provisions (alcohol including birthday fizz and snacks) !



Next: Vatican City and Italian Catholic Youth Movement
Previous: Arrival in Roma


Diary Photos

Paul outside the Colosseum, Rome

Tracey outside the Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum, Rome

Roman Forum, Rome

Roman Forum, Rome

Roman Forum, Rome

Colosseum, Rome

Paul with the locals, Rome

Colosseum, Rome

Colosseum, Rome

Tracey outside the Colosseum, Rome

Roman Forum, Rome

Roman Forum, Rome

River Tiber, Rome

River Tiber, Rome

Tracey on Ponte Fabricio, Rome

Isola Island in the River Tiber, Rome

Ponte Sisto, Rome

Ponte Mazzini over the River Tiber, with St Peter's in the background

Tracey by the River Tiber, Rome

Ponte Sant Angelo and Sant Angelo Castle in background, Rome

View towards St Peter's from in front of Castle Sant Angelo, Rome

Palazzo di Giustizia, Rome

Ponte Cavour, Rome

Paul studying the map trying to negotiate the way to Piazza Navano, Rome

Piazza Navano, Rome

Piazza Navano, Rome

Piazza Navano, Rome

Tracey in Piazza Navano, Rome

Paul enjoys a beer in Piazza Navano, Rome

Paul and Tracey in Piazza Navano, Rome

The Pantheon, Rome

Tracey in the Pantheon, Rome

Tempio Adriano, Rome

Trevi Fountain, Rome

Trevi Fountain, Rome

Colosseum at night, Rome

Colosseum at night, Rome

Paul & Tracey, Colosseum, Rome


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