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Old 04-02-2008, 11:59 AM   #1
Mike Jones
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Rome 2007 - Mike & Amanda's Trippie - Part 1

Amanda & Mike, Rome, 2007 – Pre-trip stuff.

It may be obvious by now that we enjoy city breaks. In the last 18 months we’ve been to Florence, New York, Barcelona and Paris. The latter was during a family holiday with the kids, based at Disneyland Paris, and was enough of a taster that we wanted to go back on our own at some point. However, Rome ticked a couple more boxes for this autumn’s break and we started planning it over the summer.

Previous, kid-free trips had been easier to sort, as my kids only lived with us alternate weeks. This had changed earlier in the year, and as we now had DD fulltime, we had to consider her needs when booking a holiday. She likes staying with my parents, but her school is difficult to get to (I drop her off and collect her every day normally) and the grandparents don’t drive. So the decision was made to go at her halfterm, when her brother was at his mum’s anyway, and school wasn’t a problem.

This did heavily affect the cost though – last year’s flights to Barcelona were only £30 or so… the best we could do this time was with Ryanair at around £400. Accommodation was carefully considered, and we ended up with a quietly located place north of the Vatican that seemed to have a bit of something about it when compared to the majority of more central places at similar prices. We also booked Terravision transfers from Ciampino airport to the central railway station.

We’ve found that the ideal length (for us) of a citybreak is somewhere between 3 and 5 nights: by that time we are generally a bit exhausted from all the walking (and, to be honest, we get a bit sick of eating out all the time, too.) So 5 nights were booked, which also gave us the convenience of a day or so at each end to sort the dog, kids, washing etc out.

If you’ve read any of my other reports, you’ll already have an idea that we generally fit quite a lot of sightseeing into our holidays, walking miles every day and hitting one or two ‘must-sees’ before letting the rest of the day organise itself: we had the usual tourist magnets on our list (Coliseum, Forum, Vatican etc) but added a couple more after digesting our preferred trip bible, the Rough Guide. We’ve found the Rough Guides are excellent for giving you the inside knowledge and tips, particularly about eateries and transport. We love cathedrals and churches, so should be spoilt on this holiday, and I have always been fascinated by ancient ruins – the idea that you can touch marks made in stone or read words carved by someone who lived 2000 years ago blows my mind! With this in mind, we were enthralled to read in the Rough Guide about the previously ‘lost’ town of Ostia Antica, the old Roman port at the mouth of the Tiber, and allowed a day in our itinerary for this.

Right, on with the report proper…. I give my usual caveat that our trippies are done first and foremost for our own enjoyment, to record the trip in a fashion that allows us to relive the journey whenever we please in the future. My style preference is for a lot of written detail, illuminated with a plethora of photographs. I am encouraged by feedback over the years that this also suits many of the trippie forum readers, but may bore some to tears – in that case, feel free to use the little ‘X’ in the top right corner of your screen!

Amanda & Mike in Rome, 2007 – Day 1, Monday 22nd October

The previous day we had taken our dog, Ruby, to the dogsitters in Cheshire (a long way, but she has a great time there, and is spoiled rotten!) and deposited DD Beth at my parents for the week. We finished off the day by packing (oops, nearly forgot that!) and having dinner at a favourite restaurant near our home. Our flight is at 6.20am, requiring us to rise around 2.15, so we’re in bed by 9.00pm Sunday evening.

I never sleep too well the night before a holiday, and, as expected I am awake around 1.30am. I soon get bored and manage to wake Amanda ‘accidentally’ (oh, sorry darling, didn’t mean to disturb you!) before 2.00 for some company! We shower and have a coffee before leaving at 3.05 for the 40 mile drive to Liverpool.

The roads are wonderfully quiet at this time of day (it’s a pig of a journey after 6.00am! We prefer early flights for this reason, and the fact that we have the better part of a day left in the resort upon arrival.) and it’s only 3.45 when we arrive at the off-site parking venue (Liverpool Park and Ride, based at Lenox Farm, Hale Village – they are only 5 minutes from the airport, totally secure, and cheaper than the onsite parking, which is all too frequently accompanied by sad little piles of broken window glass around your vehicle upon return!)

The compound is locked up tight with no sign of life, but, in fairness, we did tell them we’d be there at 4.00. I can’t quite manage to wait that long though, and rouse the poor chap with a phone call at five to the hour. It’s not Mike, (another one, numpty, not me!) the usual fellow, but a younger bloke with a Cockney accent.

He’s soon up and out and we climb into the crew-bus for the short transfer, entering the terminal at 4.10. The check-in isn’t supposed to be open yet, but the Ryanair staff must have wet the bed and are already starting to process the first arrivals. We are quickly checked in, through security and off for the first nervous wee before half four. The longest queue of the day turns out to be the one at the Food Village for breakfast (as Starbucks, our preferred option, isn’t open until 5.00am) and it takes 25 minutes to get served. I think I’ve been short-changed when I only get four quid back from a twenty for two bacon toasts, a croissant each and a small smoothie! Apparently not, according to the smug, Czech server. Her Polish colleague confirms this, and we wander off, in search of both somewhere to eat (the table provision is about half what they need) and to see if any Liverpudlians actually work here anymore.

The more observant among you will have spotted that we’ve omitted coffee from our breakfast: Starbucks is a pre-trip ritual (also a Sunday ritual, a mid-week, ‘escape from the kids for an hour’ ritual, etc..) so we are saving ourselves. It’s well open for business by the time we get across the lounge, and, glory be, one of the three staff on duty is actually local!

We enjoy a spell of early morning people-watching (there are some wondrous sights at an airport before most people would normally expect to be awake) and then have a wander round the Duty Free shops….. the stock never seems to change an iota year on year – same Casios and Swatches, same handy-dandy gadgets and pseudo Pashminas. At 540 our flight gate is put on the boards so we make our way across to number 40.

Loading is efficient, and we are seated by 6.05. Although first impressions are that it was a full flight, there are a few empty seats and we have a spare in our row for the duration.

There’s a slight delay in getting moving, and we finally leave the tarmac at 6.42 (sorry to be so precise, but how else can I slip in the fact that I own a 100% accurate, solar-powered and ceramic crafted, radio-controlled watch?). The stewardess hands out the Ryanair magazines, which includes a totally unbiased comparison of various, European breads (no, I don’t know why either).. it may come as a surprise that Irish soda bread is the hands-down winner!

We read a bit, resist the various sales pitches from the cabin crew (No, we don’t want coffee. Or plastic food. Or perfume that’s cheaper in the Trafford Centre! Yes, we’re good for scratch cards, ta. And we already bought our Terravision tickets on the web. Yes, really!)

The rest of the flight passes peacefully enough. I find I can do 2 – 3 hour journeys without thinking about it after the cross Atlantic marathons over the years. The one problem with Ryanair though is the fact that the seats have no reclining function, and at 6-foot odd, I am pretty uncomfortable as we approach the 3rd hour mark.

We land at 10.15, but are delayed for a while until they find some steps! There’s a further hitch in the baggage hall, when the second wave of luggage (including both our bags, naturally) fails to arrive for 20 minutes or so after the first ones.

Hey, hum, we get through eventually. And walk outside to find that the whole flight is now waiting ahead of us in the Terravision queue. We are forced to stand around (and it’s bloody cold) until a second coach appears at 1140.

The journey into Rome is a familiar one. No, we’ve never been here before, but every city approach seems to be the same: tired highways, tatty commercial districts either side of farmland and allotments, loads of graffiti everywhere and, (just like Warrington and Leeds,) an Ikea!

We are into the city proper by 1210, passing the University district. The streets are busy with students and foreign vendors flogging dodgy sunglasses, scarves etc from their paste tables and blankets.

It’s 1220 as we arrive at Termini station on Via Marsala. The traffic is horrendous, and I wonder where on earth our driver will find room to stop. He solves the problem in what we soon learn to be typical, Roman style, by just putting his brakes on and letting us disembark into a cacophony of blasting horns, dodging scooters who won’t wait and mount the pavement as we struggle to retrieve our cases from the lockers below the vehicle! Welcome to Rome!

Somewhat breathless, and glad to have survived so far, we head into the station building. Rome Termini is the main railway station for central Rome, and not, as you may imagine, named because of being at the end of anything! It is in fact named after the ancient Baths of Diocletian (thermae in Latin), which lie across the road.

As well as being the hub for the surface railways, Termini is also the connection for the two (soon to be three) subway or Metro lines. We need line A (Red). All Metro trips are a single Euro each, regardless of distance or transfer to the second line (and this low cost also includes any number of surface trips by tram or bus commenced within 75 minutes of first activation… it costs my daughter more than that to get 1.5 miles from her school to my office!). As we don’t yet have the change for the automated machines (although we find later that they take notes too) we buy a couple from a newsagent stall in the concourse.

Down a couple of levels to the platform, we are soon onboard a cramped train heading west to the other side of the Tiber. Our stop is Lepanto, the fifth (and only 5 – 10 minutes) from Termini.

Our emailed advice from the Hotel gave us detailed walking instructions from the station. Although negotiating the steep kerbs and seemingly abandoned cars along the way with our wheeled cases took some small effort, we arrived at the hotel gates just after 1.00pm.

Villa Laetitia (owners' website) is a charming, early 20th century residence standing on the Lungotevere Delle Armi, effectively the main road running along the west bank of the Tiber. The house is still a private residence for the owners, and the accommodation is created by the conversion of the ‘foresteria’ (garden lodge or guesthouse I suppose?) into individual rooms and apartments. We know from reports on Tripadvisor that access is to the rear of the main house, and we soon find ourselves in reception. A pleasant and efficient young Italian guy swiftly processes us and we walk the 6 feet or so to our room, Bambu, immediately behind the reception desk.

First impressions are very good. It’s a cosy room, about 5 metres square, with a large, kingsize bed (having extremely comfortable, memory-foam mattress and pillows), reclaimed wall tiles, flat screen TV, an antique cabinet, 1950s lamps and a beautiful, arched and shuttered window looking into a corner of the garden. Beyond, in the area between the bedroom and the shower room, is a tiny kitchen, including a full-sized fridge (the only bit we used!), sink, hotplates and enough equipment to create a decent meal. The wardrobe area is opposite, and includes a safe.

The shower room has a four-piece suite (no bath, sadly) and loads of storage for bits and pieces. All the towels, bedding (Terrance or Jasper Conran, can’t remember which, *** I’m a bloke!) and free cosmetics are monogrammed with the Villa logo, as are the fluffy bathrobes. Free slippers are also provided!

The room has a large, arched and shuttered window with a pleasant outlook into the private gardens.

So far, so good! We unpack and hang our clothes on the half dozen or so hangers – why do even decent hotels never, ever provide enough coat hangers? – before heading out for our first wander. It’s 1.45pm, grey and a bit cool (we were sulking a bit about the weather, to be honest, as the pattern in the last three weeks, and historically for this week for several years past, was sunny and warm. The forecast started going pear-shaped a few days ago, and we’d reluctantly included winter coats in our luggage at the last minute.) Having done a quick tour of the nearby streets, identifying a café and small supermarket for later use, we strike out across the nearest bridge and head towards the historic centre.

The traffic is heavy along the river and adjacent streets, but it’s the numerous scooter and motorcycle riders you really have to watch out for.. they fly along, faster than the cars, weaving in and out, and while the cars will grudgingly heed red lights, the two wheeled commuters won’t!

We pass through an impressive gateway in the ancient, Aurelian walls into the Piazza Del Popolo, named for the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, tucked against the city wall.

Caught in the act…..

The square was the original gateway into Rome, and the start of the Via Flaminia, the most important road to the north. Now, following a redesign in the early 19th Century, it presents a Neoclassical face to visitors, including impressive walls and fountains to the sides, but centred on a 100ft high, Egyptian obelisk. (Apparently brought to Rome in 10 BC and first sited at the Circus Maximus, more of which in a few days)

Something must have happened last week of local significance, as a large, hoarding like structure currently splits the square in half and rather spoils the aspect across the centre.

The Piazza is exited to the south by way of three streets (the Tridente) including the central Via Del Corso, and, our choice, the Via Del Babuino on the left. Although pretty narrow, this important road is lined with designer boutiques…

… (quick, someone distract her!)
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Old 04-02-2008, 12:00 PM   #2
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…and tall, many-storied buildings,

…and leads us to our first, sightseeing objective, the Piazza di Spagna, and the adjacent, romantic, Spanish Steps, although I much prefer the Italian name: Scalinata della Trinità dei Monti .. or, ‘the staircase leading (up) to the Church of Trinita dei Monti’. In fact (boring, tour-guide mode here again, sorry!) the steps aren’t Spanish at all, having been paid for by the Bourbon Court of France, to link their embassy with their church high above the square, and only previously accessible by clambering up an often muddy track!

There’s a bonny fountain at the bottom, although getting a decent picture of either this or the Steps is tricky, due to the large crowds milling uncertainly around. You get the impression that, now they’ve found it, they’re not too sure what to do! You can’t just walk away, can you? I suppose they can always have a gawk at the Keats Museum to the right of the Steps, where the young poet died in 1821, or take a staggeringly expensive cuppa in the historic, Babingtons Tea Rooms, to the left!

The view up to the Church is somewhat compromised by sheeting around an obelisk in front of the building, presumably during restoration, although they have kindly printed an image of the column on the covering to show us what we’re missing!

Well, we have a clamber up them to the mid point and take in the views down the cross streets.

It’s 3.00pm now, and we are a wee bit peckish. Heading vaguely towards the heart of the city, and aiming at our next headliner, the Trevi Fountain, we stop along the way at one of the numerous café-bars for a panini and a coffee each (9 Euros)

The Fontana Di Trevi are astonishing. We approach from a back street, with no sight of the main façade, and sense the crowd before realising that we have arrived.

The fountains stand at an historic spot, and replaced an earlier, less dramatic affair that displeased Pope Urban VIII in the 17th Century. The construction was stop-start, originally overseen by Bernini, but stopped at the death of the Pope. It wasn’t recommissioned until 1732 under the sculptor Nicola Salvi, who laboured on it for thirty years but died (of chest problems caused by the damp workings) before the project was finished in 1762.

Most of the substantial crowd are standing on the terrace immediately in front of the fountains, and the steps that lead down to them. The rest of the smallish piazza is busy, but there is just room to make a path through to one of the adjacent streets. A constant police presence exists, to deter vandalism and ad hoc paddling etc.

There’s a little tale to this, happy photo… check Youtube for ‘Bon Jovi, Thank You for Loving Me’ ( http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ESOVrc4K3CQ ) and watch where JBJ is standing at 1min 49 secs… and, when I ask you to guess what our wedding song was..?

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Old 04-02-2008, 12:01 PM   #3
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We head off through appealing streets towards the Via Corso,

…passing through an imposing, faded arcade of once fine shops (now closed or disused) with apartments or offices on several floors above.

The Via Corso (the middle one of the three roads heading south-ish from the Piazza Del Popolo, remember?) leads to one of the city’s most significant and yet controversial monuments, the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II (National Monument of Victor Emmanuel II) or more often,"Il Vittoriano", is a huge edifice built to honour Victor Emanuel, the first king of unified Italy. Designed in 1895, it required the services of dozens of sculpors from all over Italy, was inaugurated in 1911 and completed in 1925.

Constructed entirely of white marble, it remains controversial because of it’s location (set into the base of the Capitoline Hill, it destroyed mediaeval buildings previously existing on the site), it’s immense size, (even without a tower, you can see it from virtually any mildly elevated part of the city, more so because it’s gleaming white façade clashes with the essentially brown or grey buildings around it) and because of its design – nicknames abound, including ‘the Wedding Cake’, ‘the Typewriter’ and worse!

As has become normal on our trips, key buildings (Duomo in Florence, Guggenheim in New York, Le Seu in Barcelona..) are generally sheeted up and under refurbishment. The Vittoriano is no exception. The bulk of the building is visible, but the numerous, inner columns on the upper level are all hidden. C’est la vie, I suppose.. just means we’ll have to come back!

The busy square in front of the monument, Piazza Venezia, is a hub for several roads and almost chaotic at this time of day (although it’s probably silly most of the time!). The centre is also excavated and shuttered off – part of the third Metro line construction, I think.

We brave the perils of the Roman traffic and manage to get onto the Vittoriano steps. There are no problems walking up to the various levels, even though a fair number of tourists and tour parties are in the vicinity.

There are temporary art exhibitions and a permanent museum within the buiding, but we don’t plan on ‘doing’ many galleries etc this trip, preferring to concentrate on the architecture of the city.

We stroll up the steps and take the required photographs. On the first ‘landing’ is Italy’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, attended by two, motionless and probably frozen guards, standing on red plinths either side of the grave.

Up again, and you reach the base of Emanuel’s statue. This is one of the world’s largest, at 12m x 10m – apparently his moustache is 3m across!

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Old 04-02-2008, 12:02 PM   #4
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We descend and walk around to the right of the building. A bit of sunshine breaks through and takes the chill off for a minute. I turn round in response to a tap on my arm – a British lady asks “is this yours?” and hands me my camera in its case! Eek! It had un-Velcroed itself from my belt and dropped (cushioned in the case, thankfully) on to the steps. Thankyou!!

It’s 3.50, and after catching up on my trippie notes, we are too chilled to stand around and head off along the streets west of the Vittoriano, on a vague route towards the Piazza Navona. We stumble first though into the striking and beautiful ruins of Largo Di Torre Aregentina.

This is a city block-sized square surrounding the (sunken) remains of four, Republican era temples, and include the site of Julius Caesar’s assassination. It now hosts a thriving colony of rescued cats, cared for by volunteers who also tend the felines at several other, city centre sites. The cats look to be in their element here, and although some have missing limbs or ears etc., they are all well fed and in good, general health.

Interestingly, many of the city’s ancient remains are sign ificantly lower the present day roads and pavements, leading to the impression that for some reason they were built partly below surrounding levels. The simple truth is that modern Rome is around 15 feet higher than in Caesars’ day because each generation has been happily knocking down bits of the last century’s structures and building on top of the rubble instead of removing it.

We continue on a few streets to Piazza Navona. This is thought to be Rome’s most famous square, and, unlike many others, is effectively traffic free (but watch out for those scooters!) It’s oval shape is due to the current buildings respecting the original outline of the Stadium of Domitian, a principle, 1st Century AD athletics and chariot racing venue.

Three fountains mark the area, one at either end, and an imposing, central edifice called Fontana Dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of Four Rivers), by the sculptor Bernini and dating from 1651. Guess what? It’s being refurbished! However we are able to see most of the stunning carvings through viewing panels left clear in the sides of the hoarding.

It’s not pleasant lingering in the cool breeze, so we continue on our tour of the Centro Storico district. Studying the map, we see that we’re not too far from a building we very much want to see, a complete, roofed and dramatically domed , ancient Roman temple known as the Pantheon.

This stands in a well-proportioned and attractive square, Piazza della Rotunda. The building is frankly incredible, with its massive columns guarding the imposing entrance. It was thought to date from 27BC but it has been proven in more recent times that it was in fact completely rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in 125AD. We walk across the piazza, busy with foreign vendors trying to sell illuminated toys, and enter the building, now a church (consecrated in 609 AD).

Wow. We are standing inside what is essentially a cathedral, looking up to a 43m dome, only marginally smaller than the one at St Paul’s!. I am astonished to learn that it is made from cast concrete! There’s a 9 metre hole in the centre, allowing daylight (and, presumably, rain) to enter the structure.

The sides are decorated and various altars and niches exist, dedicated to different saints or popes. Raphael’s tomb is here too.
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Old 04-02-2008, 12:03 PM   #5
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We make our way back towards the Largo Argentina at a brisk pace. It’s getting on 5.00pm now, and we could do with a restroom break. Choosing a café more or less at random, we walk inside (the Delfino) and order hot chocolates. I catch up on my notes why we thaw out. The drinks are absolutely delicious… I’m not mad about UK hot choc drinks, even though I LOVE chocolate generally, and I suspect that this beverage is essentially melted chocolate bars – the dregs certainly seemed to solidify as the cup cooled!

It’s cosy in here, tucked in to a side window and watching people wander about outside. We’ve nowhere to go in any hurry, so we order a bottle of Chianti Classico (the server apologises that he has to charge me 8 Euros to drink it inside – it’s only 6 to take home!) It’s lovely, and would cost a tenner or more at home.

I caught up on my trippie notes and phoned the kids at home. We’re warming up nicely now, and it’s starting to get dark outside. Somewhat reluctant to leave our cosy haven (it’s only a café, but the wine’s taking effect!) we browse through the Rough Guide recommendations for nearby eateries and set off at 6.25pm in search of dinner.

Our route takes us down attractive streets into the lovely square of Campo De’ Fiori. This is a pretty space, not large in comparison to others we’ve seen today, and delightfully informal in the architecture of surrounding buildings. It does however have a gory past, having been the site of public excutions. An imposing statue commemorates one of the victims, Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake during the Inquisition in 1600.

We continue on to our chosen destination, Il Drapo, on Vicolo Del Malpasso, but although it’s supposed to open at 7.00, and it’s now 7.05, the doors are locked. We tour the block a couple of times, but by 7.15 we give up and pop into a nearby coffee for a pee – which costs the price of an espresso each! (Only 2 Euros)

Quick check at 720, Il Drappo is still closed, so we head to another place that sounded interesting, called Da Alfredo e Ada. Here’s what the Rough Guide says about it:

Da Alfredo e Ada
“There’s no menu, and precious little choice, at this city-centre stalwart, at which Ada presides over an appreciative clientele of regulars, serving up pasta starters, followed by veal stew with peas, sausage and beans, or whatever they happen to have cooked that day. Dessert is biscuits from Ada’s tin, dished out with grandmaternal generosity. Three courses cost less than 20 Euros, including wine.”

The ‘restaurant’ is a tiny place, about 12 feet wide and extending maybe twice that depth into the block, terminating in a modest kitchen/preparation area. The sign on the door is written on the glass with marker pen!

It’s few tables are perhaps half full, and a middle-aged chap (who we presume is Ada and Alfredo’s son, as he bears a striking resemblance to the elderly, smiling Ada, and photographs of Alfredo on the wall, showing the patriarch in his vegetable garden) shows us to a table next to two German women of about our age.

With little English on his side, and no Italian on ours, it’s a good job there’s little choice! White or red, basically! A carafe of wine appears, with a bottle of water, followed by a bowl of pasta bows with sausage, served by Alfredo-junior’s wife (we assume.) Ada hovers near the kitchen area, smiling benevolently down on her flock. There are a couple of steps up to this part, and I notice that sawdust has been sprinkled around to prevent the old dear from slipping.

Junior brings us a plate of fresh bread, sawn from a loaf in a locker near the centre of the room. He repeats this manouvere constantly as people arrive, adding to a steadily increasing pile of breadcrumbs around his feet!

There’s a lovely sentiment on a carved picture hanging on a wall in front of me, showing a large feast of pasta and wine – “ Una pasto senza vino è come una giornata senza sole” (My translation : “A pasta without wine is like a day without sunshine” – any Italian speakers please correct as necessary!).

We have a choice for Primi (main course) between beef and veal, apparenty, so we elect for the veal. This comes, as the RG predicted, as veal stew, with peas! It’s lovely! An accordian playing busker enters while we await the veal and ‘entertains’ everyone for a few minutes. I pay him double the usual amount in an effort to prevent him playing again! It works, and he leaves!

The restaurant is full by now, mostly with locals and their families. Junior is kept busy sawing away at his endless stock of loaves. I nip to the toilet (tiny space off the miniscule kitchen.) As I leave, Grandma Ada takes hold of my arm and has a happy, animated conversation with me for a few moments. I nod, and smile, and finally she says ‘Bene!’, pats my arm and lets me go back to my food!

Ada’s biscuits are dispensed in time-honoured fashion, from a battered tin, although it’s her son who does the honours. We ask for the bill, to be told “36 Euro”. (about £25!)

It’s around 8.15pm as we leave this homely diner. A lovely experience to complete our first day in Rome. We head north-west, towards the River, a few blocks away. Ahead is the beautifully illuminated bridge (Pont) Sant Angelo, leading across the river to a substantial fortress, the Castel Sant Angelo.

This dour hulk started its life as a mausoleum for the ashes of Emperor Hadrian. It was subsequently acquired by the Vatican and converted to a fort, with a subterranean passageway linking it to St Peter’s, for use in times of siege or invasion.

We watch as a variety of ‘done-up’ (in my DS, Adam-speak) cars approach the catle, and assume some sort of function is underway inside.

Turning left we are treated to a clear view of St Peter’s Basilica, framed by the lights of its main approach, Via Delle Conciliazone.

We walk the length of this avenue, passing a range of gift shops and stores, into St Peter’s Square.

I didn’t imagine that the first time I stood in this place I’d be pretty well alone, given the crowds you see on the TV, but apart from a handful of pilgrims and a couple of police vehicles, this holy piazza is deserted.

We take more photographs and enjoy the view of the magnificient façade of the Basilica, before turning north and heading back up river. We stick to the riverside, passing another six bridges before reaching our hotel, picking up some beer and water from a shop along the way.

It’s 920 as we arrive, so the reception is still manned (they close at 1100). The gardens look lovely in the subtle lighting, but it’s too cool to remain outdors and we settle down in our room to catch up on the notes, ponder over tomorrow’s agenda and enjoy a beer. We’ve covered 8-10 miles on foot today, and after the very early start, we’re ready for bed by 10.15.


Mike & Amanda

Tomorrow: The Roman Forum, Circus Maximus and Trastevere.
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Old 04-02-2008, 12:45 PM   #6
I need a cup of tea and a big bar of free chocolate now
Was born with my dancing shoes at the ready
I will be back later to stalk some more
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As ever a fantastic and detailed report. i love the shoe shop picture
April 2003 DLRP, November 2004 WDW and Barbados, September 2005 WDW, September 2007 WDW,October 2009 WDW

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Old 04-02-2008, 12:49 PM   #7
Did you speak to a 'human being'?
As you can see, all I have is a load of gobble-de-gook writing
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WOW-is all i can say!!!
Those pictures are beautiful.My Mum went on a cruise and she stopped off at Rome and she said how lovely it was.
What a great detailed piece of writing.Thanks for a good read.x.

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Old 04-02-2008, 01:09 PM   #8
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Great report. Know what you mean about the traffic though, crazy.
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Old 04-02-2008, 04:10 PM   #9
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Loving the report as ever Mike.
You've now covered Barcelona and Rome, two of the places on our Med cruise in the summer. If you could fit in trips to Florence, Santorini, Dubrovnik, and Athens before August I would be most grateful as I'm using your reports as a guide book.

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Old 04-02-2008, 05:39 PM   #10
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Great start to your trip report. You managed to fit so much in on the first day!

Your photos are bringing happy memories flooding back to me....my DH took me on a surprise trip to Rome for Easter in 2004. Such a lovely place!

Can't wait to read more....

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Old 04-03-2008, 06:45 AM   #11

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As always Mike, fantastic

Respect to you both for the amount that you pack into each day. Looking forward to the next installment.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:05 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Kevin Stringer View Post
Loving the report as ever Mike.
You've now covered Barcelona and Rome, two of the places on our Med cruise in the summer. If you could fit in trips to Florence, Santorini, Dubrovnik, and Athens before August I would be most grateful as I'm using your reports as a guide book.

..LOL Kev... I've been to Dubrovnik, but many years ago, and Amanda and I did Florence 2 years back.. I didn't do a typical trippie, but there are some pics knocking around somewhere....

Last edited by Mike Jones; 04-03-2008 at 09:17 AM.
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Old 04-03-2008, 07:44 AM   #13
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Another brilliant report, as always, Mike - looking forward to the next instalment

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Old 04-03-2008, 04:42 PM   #14
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OK. That's it! I'm no longer going to even try to pretend I'm not jealous, because I am! The Barcelona report and now this one--I'm nearly (but not quite) speechless. How wonderful for you to spend such a glorious day together in such breath-takingly beautiful places. Your photo album must be jammed full of snaps with impressive backgrounds.

Thank you for once again sharing your travels, your impressions, and your photos. And thank you for choosing such wonderful places to visit. Perhaps I can return the favor some day with a report of a three day trip to Little Rock, Arkansas or maybe Wichita, Kansas. Somehow I don't think it would be a fair trade!
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Old 04-04-2008, 03:39 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by SusanEllen View Post
OK. That's it! I'm no longer going to even try to pretend I'm not jealous, because I am! The Barcelona report and now this one--I'm nearly (but not quite) speechless. How wonderful for you to spend such a glorious day together in such breath-takingly beautiful places. Your photo album must be jammed full of snaps with impressive backgrounds.

Thank you for once again sharing your travels, your impressions, and your photos. And thank you for choosing such wonderful places to visit. Perhaps I can return the favor some day with a report of a three day trip to Little Rock, Arkansas or maybe Wichita, Kansas. Somehow I don't think it would be a fair trade!
..you're very kind, Susan, but I think you're wrong about the fair trade. It's always the places you can't go easily that appeal most - I'm a keen Stephen King fan and I wouldlove to visit the ordinary places mentioned in his books, like the state of Maine. There are another 1000 or so places in the US that I dream about seeing, but probably never will..

So, let's have that trippie then!

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