The Arch of Constantine.
After the Colosseum we still had much to see in Rome. Far too much in fact for a single day. As much as I liked the area around Naples and (spoiler alert) Florence, I think the one place I’d really like to return to is Rome. I was impressed.
There seemed to be Roman remains, including what looked like recent or current excavations almost everywhere.
Not everything is so old however. This towering wedding cake…
…the Altare della Patria (Altar of the fatherland) was only finished in 1925. It’s a monument to Victor Emmanuel II the first king of a unified Italy. Is it me, or does it smack of the fascism which was to come? (Easy to read that in to it with hindsight I suppose.)
Not surprisingly, the city was busy with tourists, but one spot was particularly thronged…
The Trevi Fountain…
…which has recently been cleaned up and is even more shining white than the Altare della Patria.
Rome of course, is not a port. TBH had booked a bus transfer from Civitavecchia where the ship was docked and we had been dropped near to the Colosseum. We were scheduled to meet the tour guide again in St. Peter’s Square, but realised that our projected wander through Rome was going to take too long, so took a taxi directly to the Vatican Museum.
Fortunately, TBH had also booked tickets in advance for the museum which meant that we avoided a very long queue and were able to enter swiftly. Advance booking at the Colosseum was not so effective, but at least meant that we only had to queue once, for the security checks, and not for tickets as well.
The tour guide had warned us that we would have to hurry around the Vatican museum if we wanted to reach the Sistine Chapel, see the Basilica of St. Peter’s and make it to the rendezvous. The museum was very busy. I shall remember it for its long corridors lavishly decorated with paintings, tapestries, mosaics and sculptures.
I got the distinct impression that you could spend a lifetime here without seeing all that it contains.
I was particularly taken with this corridor, The Gallery of Maps, where the walls were painted with huge maps of Italy. If anything, I’m even more impressed now that I know that these frescoes were painted between 1580 and 1583.
It’s not permitted to take photos in the Sistine Chapel (although, of course, people were). I’d heard that the chapel is much smaller than you would expect, so of course, was then surprised that it wasn’t smaller than it actually was. I didn’t know quite what to make of it. I think I preferred the Gallery of Maps.
“When you leave the Sistine Chapel there are two exits. To the right takes you back to the entrance of the museum, which means a long walk back to St. Peter’s Square and then a queue for another security check before you can enter the Basilica. You don’t have time for that. The exit to the right has a sign which says ‘Groups Only’. It doesn’t mean that. Everybody ignores it. You must take this door and it will take you straight into the Basilica.”
Being English, practically addicted to queueing and temperamentally programmed to obey all notices, by-laws, officials, signage etc. I found it difficult to brazenly walk past the ‘Groups Only’ sign. But we did, and this turned out to be a sterling piece of advice.
St. Peter’s is huge. I tried taking panoramic shots to try to do it justice, but in the resulting photos the pillars all seem to be leaning dizzily at crazy angles.
Here’s A outside St. Peter’s. Another point to bear in mind: in many Catholic churches bare knees and shoulders are frowned upon. TBH and A often carried a sarong or two to wear over their shorts – A is modelling one here – otherwise they wouldn’t have got in.
Such was the speed with which we had raced around the Vatican Museum, we now found that we still had a little time to spare. Enough to wander down to the Castel Sant’Angelo…
…by the Tiber.
Ponte Vittorio Emanuele II
Then back to St. Peter’s Square with a gelato to round off our whistle-stop tour.
Apparently, October is the best time to visit Rome. I shan’t be there this October, but maybe one day soon…