Saturday, 17 November 2012


Founded, according to legend, by Romulus and Remus in 753 BC, Rome was first the centre of the Roman Republic, then of the Roman Empire, and it became the capital of the Christian world in the 4th century. The World Heritage site, extended in 1990 to the walls of Urban VIII, includes some of the major monuments of antiquity such as the Forums, the Mausoleum of Augustus, the Mausoleum of Hadrian, the Pantheon, Trajan’s Column and the Column of Marcus Aurelius, as well as the religious and public buildings of papal Rome -
Walking down the cobbled streets of Rome's old town, it really struck me that Rome was cleaner than Naples, and certainly a lot cleaner than when I was there twelve years ago. Do not miss the walk down Via dei Coronari, or just the area between Piazza Navona and the river in general. No matter how many charming narrow laneways we walked down all over Italy, we never got sick of them.

When in Rome, catching a glimpse of something familiar-looking peeking out from between two buildings on an aimless after-dinner stroll can turn into your first view of the Colosseum, lit up in all its glory.
The subway system is handy for getting around quickly, but it's so much more rewarding to walk around to take in the sights. In fact, you almost don't even really need to seek them out, just wander around, maybe follow the busier walkways, and sooner or later you'll come across the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, and so on.

The Pantheon is one of James' favourite buildings, ever, and we got some amazing shots in the fading twilight. It's pretty awe-inspiring that they managed to build something of this magnitude nearly 1900 years ago, and that any random person can still walk in and admire it, free of charge.
For some reason the night we were at the Trevi Fountain it was CRAZY busy, and some had resorted to hurling their coins over rows of people three deep into the water.
The next day, we headed into town early to tick off the Spanish steps, and do our tourist duty by going to the Forum and inside the Colosseum.
Here's a tip - go to the Roman Forum as soon as it opens to buy your combined ticket to that and the Colosseum, because you sure as hell don't want to be queuing for an hour just to get into the latter. Of course, all the tourists were jostling for position to get a clear shot of them with the famous gladiatorial arena in the background, and we were no exception.
After that, it was time to make our way to the former Olympic Stadium to watch the All Blacks thrash the Italian rugby team. Despite this, the locals were extremely positive - I suppose they knew it was a foregone conclusion and came just as much to admire the ABs in action as to support their national side.
Afterward, a random spotted my two dollar shop New Zealand flag, and amidst an enthusiastic chant of 'Change flag! Change flag!', I managed to score myself a very nice Italian flag as a souvenir, to add to the commemorative scarf we also purchased.

We wandered into Trastevere for dinner, and thanks to the advice of a local tourist, ended up at Trattoria Da Lucia for dinner, where we had the most delicious pasta on the entire trip.
[Flickr set here]

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