October 22, 2019 Rome IT

Our second day in Rome was aimed at the Roman ruins and the Colosseum.  Again the public transport in Rome worked very well and we arrived early for our tour.  This time we were able to get a slot on an earlier tour which was lucky as this tour was pretty small and we had some things we wanted to see after the tour.  

We began by visiting Palantine Hill which contains many of the ruins of the old Roman city center.  They are still discovering many ruins as Rome like many cities is in layers.  We were told that there are seven layers of buildings from the modern we see today to the original remains of the founding of the city.  We began the tour by looking over a site that was uncovered when they were extending the metro system.  It was the remains of a temple and was quite impressive.  The guide says this happens all of the time when new construction is begun in the city.

One of the ancient temples very well preserved because it was converted to a Catholic Church.

The tour of the ruins around the coliseum was very interesting, and the history is fascinating to hear.  The ruins are different than those of Pompei because Pompei was destroyed in a flash, the ruins in Rome happened over centuries due to neglect. Originally Rome was built on hills because the areas between the hills were flood plains. Over time as the Romans developed their sewer systems they were able to manage the floods and much of what we saw today was development in what had been the flood plain.  As Rome declined the sewers and other flood control measures failed, and things were covered over with mud from floods.  

Overview of the Palatine Hill Area of Rome.

After a thorough exploration of Palatine Hill, we headed over to the Colosseum for the big finish of the tour.  The Colosseum is an impressive structure.  The resemblance to modern stadiums is striking.  The building held 50,000 people for events, and they could have the crowds into the building in 30 minutes and could empty the building in 20 minutes.  The construction techniques are fascinating to me, and their solutions to structural issues were quite sophisticated.  Most of the seating is gone but you can easily visualize the crowds.  They even had a method to cover the seats during rain using canvas and ropes.  

Interior of the Colosseum.
Exterior shot.

Our final two sites for the day were the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps.  They are having a real Indian Summer here so the crowds at these two sites were summer like.  For the Trevi Fountain I picked a spot where I could enjoy a view and let Ton dive into the crowd to get some pictures.

Ton braved  the crowds to get this shot of the Trevi fountain.
Today in tourist mode.

October 21, 2019 Rome IT

Today we decided to start our time in Rome by visiting the Vatican.  Yesterday after some research we decided to do a guided tour, it was €10 more than the unguided ticket.  It was expensive but the other option was waiting in line for an indeterminate amount of time to purchase a ticket as an individual.

Our tour was at 11am but not having tried the public transport in Rome we left about 8:45 to give me some time to get lost.  It turns out the trip to the Vatican was a breeze and we were there about 9:30.  We used the time until the tour began to wander around St. Peters Square.  The square itself is very impressive and we had no trouble killing the time we had until our tour.

St. Peters Basilica from the exterior.

We joined our tour and headed over to the Vatican Museum.  The museum was fantastic but the crowds inside were incredible.  I am not sure how many people they let in per day, but if today is any indication it is too many.  At times you could not stop walking as you were being carried along by the crowds.  We saw a lot of beautiful things that we would have liked to stop and admire but were unable to due to the crowds.  It also made following the guides talk very complicated as we would frequently be separated from her by a wall of people and were not quite sure what piece of art she was talking about.  We later learned that even in shoulder season Mondays and Saturdays are very crowded.

This level of crowd was the norm for the tour.

We eventually made our way thru to the highlight of the trip the Sistine Chapel.  Again the place was jammed with people and you were basically herded into the middle of the Chapel and had to stop and stand in one place.  There was no moving around to get a better view of a particular part of the chapel.  Having complained I know why so many people want to see the chapel as it is absolutely stunning, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  In the end it was worth the trouble.  Sorry there are no pictures from the Sistine Chapel allowed.

This picture is a Raphael from the Popes Apartments.  He depicts Michelangelo sitting in the lower left center.  He is in Renaissance clothing unlike the other characters, and  working on a list.

The tour finished up with St. Peters Basilica.  We have visited a lot of Cathedrals during our time touring in Europe but this one is special.  While the crowds were just as large, St. Peters was more than big enough to handle them.  While the place is ornate it struck me as more understated, as if it has nothing to prove.   We appreciated this, but the art that is in the cathedral is beautiful, and surprisingly to us from many different eras.  It is not frozen in time which is also refreshing.

A Michelangelo from St. Peters Basilica.

In the end our three hour tour took a little over four hours due to the crowd, and we emerged from St. Peters famished. Ton had picked out a place she wanted to try and following Google maps we arrived at the site, sat down and ordered some pasta, when I looked across the street and saw the name of the restaurant she had picked out, we were in the wrong place.  The food was pretty good though.

October 20, 2019 Rome IT

Not much to talk about today.  We woke a little early, prepared François for movement after four days sitting in one place.  The drive to Rome was uneventful, the Autostrada was quiet and easy.

The Monastery at Monte Cassino from the Autostrada.  This building was completely rebuilt after WWII as it was fought over for several months during the war and completely leveled, before Polish troops fighting for the allies took it. 

We arrived at the campground pretty early and got set up for what will be another extended stay.  We spent the afternoon researching tours and purchasing tickets for the two big attractions the Vatican, and the Colosseum.  So the next two days are already planned.  As it was Sunday everything was closed but a grocery store so we headed there for a little recreational shopping.  Some days are not very interesting.

October 22, 2019 Rome IT

Our second day in Rome was aimed at the Roman ruins and the Colosseum.  Again the public transport in Rome worked very well and we arrived early for our tour.  This time we were able to get a slot on an earlier tour which was lucky as this tour was pretty small and we had some things we wanted to see after the tour.  

We began by visiting Palatine Hill which contains many of the ruins of the old Roman city center.  They are still discovering many ruins as Rome like many cities is in layers.  We were told that there are seven layers of buildings from the modern we see today to the original remains of the founding of the city.  We began the tour by looking over a site that was uncovered when they were extending the metro system.  It was the remains of a temple and was quite impressive.  The guide says this happens all of the time when new construction is begun in the city.

One of the ancient temples very well preserved because it was converted to a Catholic Church.

The tour of the ruins around the Colosseum was very interesting, and the history is fascinating to hear.  The ruins are different than those of Pompeii because Pompeii was destroyed in a flash, the ruins in Rome happened over centuries due to neglect. Originally Rome was built on hills because the areas between the hills were flood plains. Over time as the Romans developed their sewer systems they were able to manage the floods and much of what we saw today was development in what had been the flood plain.  As Rome declined the sewers and other flood control measures failed, and things were covered over with mud from floods.  

Overview of the Palatine Hill Area of Rome.

After a thorough exploration of Palatine Hill, we headed over to the Colosseum for the big finish of the tour.  The Colosseum is an impressive structure.  The resemblance to modern stadiums is striking.  The building held 50,000 people for events, and they could have the crowds into the building in 30 minutes and could empty the building in 20 minutes.  The construction techniques are fascinating to me, and their solutions to structural issues were quite sophisticated.  Most of the seating is gone but you can easily visualize the crowds.  They even had a method to cover the seats during rain using canvas and ropes.  

Interior of the Colosseum.
Exterior shot.

Our final two sites for the day were the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps.  They are having a real Indian Summer here so the crowds at these two sites were summer like.  For the Trevi Fountain I picked a spot where I could enjoy a view and let Ton dive into the crowd to get some pictures.

Ton braved  the crowds to get this shot of the Trevi fountain.

Another very touristy day, but we have no regrets.  Sometimes you have to be a tourist and not a traveler.

Today in tourist mode.

October 21, 2019 Rome IT

Today we decided to start our time in Rome by visiting the Vatican.  Yesterday after some research we decided to do a guided tour, it was €10 more than the unguided ticket.  It was expensive but the other option was waiting in line for an indeterminate amount of time to purchase a ticket as an individual.

Our tour was at 11am but not having tried the public transport in Rome we left about 8:45 to give me some time to get lost.  It turns out the trip to the Vatican was a breeze and we were there about 9:30.  We used the time until the tour began to wander around St. Peters Square.  The square itself is very impressive and we had no trouble killing the time we had until our tour.

St. Peters Basilica from the exterior.

We joined our tour and headed over to the Vatican Museum.  The museum was fantastic but the crowds inside were incredible.  I am not sure how many people they let in per day, but if today is any indication it is too many.  At times you could not stop walking as you were being carried along by the crowds.  We saw a lot of beautiful things that we would have liked to stop and admire but were unable to due to the crowds.  It also made following the guides talk very complicated as we would frequently be separated from her by a wall of people and were not quite sure what piece of art she was talking about.  We later learned that even in shoulder season Mondays and Saturdays are very crowded.

This level of crowd was the norm for the tour.

We eventually made our way thru to the highlight of the trip the Sistine Chapel.  Again the place was jammed with people and you were basically herded into the middle of the Chapel and had to stop and stand in one place.  There was no moving around to get a better view of a particular part of the chapel.  Having complained I know why so many people want to see the chapel as it is absolutely stunning, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.  In the end it was worth the trouble.  Sorry there are no pictures from the Sistine Chapel allowed.

This picture is a Raphael from the Popes Apartments.  He depicts Michaelangelo sitting in the lower left center.  He is in Renaissance clothing unlike the other characters, and sitting working on a list.

The tour finished up with St. Peters Basilica.  We have visited a lot of Cathedrals during our time touring in Europe but this one is special.  While the crowds were just as large, St. Peters was more than big enough to handle them.  While the place is ornate it struck me as more understated, as if it has nothing to prove.   We appreciated this, but the art that is in the cathedral is beautiful, and surprisingly to us from many different eras.  It is not frozen in time which is also refreshing.

A Michaelangelo from St. Peters Basilica.

In the end our three hour tour took a little over four hours due to the crowd, and we emerged from St. Peters famished. Ton had picked out a place she wanted to try and following Google maps we arrived at the site, sat down and ordered some pasta, when I looked across the street and saw the name of the restaurant she had picked out, we were in the wrong place.  The food was pretty good though.

October 20, 2019 Rome IT

Not much to talk about today.  We woke a little early, prepared François for movement after four days sitting in one place.  The drive to Rome was uneventful, the Autostrada was quiet and easy.

The Monastery at Monte Cassino from the Autostrada.  This building was completely rebuilt after WWII as it was fought over for several months during the war and completely leveled, before Polish troops fighting for the allies took it. 

We arrived at the campground pretty early and got set up for what will be another extended stay.  We spent the afternoon researching tours and purchasing tickets for the two big attractions the Vatican, and the Colosseum.  So the next two days are already planned.  As it was Sunday everything was closed but a grocery store so we headed there for a little recreational shopping.  Some days are not very interesting.