"Rome has not seen a modern building in more than half a century. It is a city frozen in time." - Richard Meier.
30.06.2011 26 °C
Civitavecchia is the heart of Italy as this is a really big and important port and harbour. Civitavecchia, which means "ancient town", is about 80kms away from Rome. Walking on the port is not allowed, so a shuttle bus from the ship takes us into town where we take the 1.5 hour train ride into Rome.
1. Civitavecchia harbour wall
Rome has a few different train stations as the city is so big. We decide to buy a ticket for one of the hop-on-hop-off bus tours. The bus stops at 12 major points in Rome and you get earphones to plug into a little box where you can listen to interesting facts. These type of buses are a really quick and cheap way to see the city when you don't have a lot of time.
2. The map and our stops
As the bus drives down Via Labicana you see the Colosseum coming towards you. When we round the corner we also see the sea of tourist surrounding the popular fighting grounds of Ancient Rome. We walk around, take some photos and then proceed up Fori Imperial, past some beautiful buildings and ancient ruins.
3. Thank you Mr. Obvious, we almost didn't see the Colosseum there
4. Entrance gate to the Colosseum
5. The Colosseum
In the distance you can see the Il Vittoriano and it takes your breath away. The Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II is a monument build to the first king of a unified Italy, Vittoria Emanuele. It is visible to most of Rome as it is so large, but is regarded by most as too pompous. To me it was just one magnificent structure. The building is made out of pure white marble and it just dominates everything around it. Not even the rude gladiators can ruin the mood.
6. Il Vittoriano
Everywhere on the streets there are men dressed as gladiators and you pay them to take a picture with them. We ask the one which way we should walk to get to the fountain. He rudely replied: "Why should I speak English to you. I am standing here and I am hot in this outfit and you don't even want to pay me for a photo." We then just use our own little map and figure the way out on our own.
The square in which the fountain is situated is so crowded that we cannot even reach the edge to throw in some coins. Throwing in a coin will, according to Roman legend, ensure that you return to Rome one day. In the end I climbed on a step just to get a photo. The Fontane di Trevi really is very beautiful. This should not be confused with the Fountain of Love that can be seen in the movie, When in Rome as this is a made-up fountain. We then make our way down to Stop 12 and come across the Pantheon without even searching for it. The Pantheon was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods. Vittorio Emanuele II is also buried here. Today the Pantheon is used as a Catholic church.
7. Trevi Fountain
Stop 1: Citta del Vaticano. Arriving there, the queue to get inside is at about 2 hours. We have no time to stand in this queue, so we just take some pictures of St. Peter's Basilica, the dome, and then get some ice-cream. We sit on a bench and wait for our bus to come back so we can take the train back to Civitavecchia. The ice-cream melts immediately as it probably has the same density as milk. You eat so fast, just to avoid getting melted ice-cream all over yourself. This being the first relaxed moment we had all day, I just sit in wonderment at the busy Roman street in front of me and the beautiful view of the Vatican to the right. The Vatican City has a population of about 800 people and it is ruled by the bishop of Rome, who is of course the Pope. It is the sovereign territory of the Holy See, which is where the jurisdiction over the Catholic Church presides. It is thus the central government of the Catholic Church. The current pope is Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th Pope. He is of German descent and holds both German and Vatican citizenship.
9. Pope Benedict XVI
10. Outside the Vatican
Rome is a big and magnificent city. Even though there is so much more to see in Rome than in smaller cities like Florence, Florence is much more beautiful. Rome is dirty at best and there are so many people everywhere that you get crushed wherever you go. Rome is just such a big city that you really need about three days to experience it properly.
Next stop: Palermo, Sicily.