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Jul 30, 2007

Dublin and Roma in 1 week (or, how to lose weight in a week…) Part II

Rome's splendor in the night. The monumento at night.

Right. The weekend was onto us. And it was off to Rome. The centre of the world during the ages of the great Roman empire. And it had lotz to show for its magnificence.

We managed to hit the streets of Roma (Rome) by the afternoon on Saturday. At first, Roma looked like any other city. Nothing much to speak about. The travel from the airport and to and from the hotel in Roma West didn’t have much to show except for grasslands and a few houses along the road.

But things changed dramatically after entering the city centre. The bus entered the city through what looked liked a massive wall that could have been a fortress. And the city… bellissimo! The bus took us around the gigantic (a bad word, this was so much more bigger..!) Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II.

The monument. This pic doesn't do justice to the size. Those statues guarding the steps could be about 5 meters high.

While I was still taking in the splendour, the bus stopped next to the Theatrum Marcelli. Mama mia – I thought nothing could get bigger than this. Especially not from them days. Wrong…

The Marcello Theatre. Its size is astounding. And its not even famous.

As we walked closer to the magnificent monumento, the entrance to the Roman Forum came into view. This is perhaps one of the most enlightening experience of my life. To be able to walk the steps walked by ancient Romans through the imposing pillars and structures that blows the mind (probably did turing them times too). Every turn of the head showed more different archaeological sites that characterised ancient Forums. Had to speed through the long walkway trying to imprint as much as I could on mind and film.

The ancient Roman Forum. Ceasars used to walk these paths centuries ago admiring the magnificent architecture around them.

We walked a bit more, now probably more in shock and awe as the massive pillars belittled us. As we exited the forum, reflecting on what we just witnessed, the daunting backdrop of the Colloseum came into view. What a magnificent work of architecture!

The Colloseum. I'm not worthy...

We explored the inside of the Colloseum stealing pics and listening intently to tour guides explain the various settings in the mammoth amphitheatre. The underground passages were still in view, and so was the Ceasar’s spot, the various seating levels, entrances etc etc etc.

Inside the Colloseum. The archways hosted Gladiators and animals prior to their moments of glory.

Other highlights of the day (and there were many… just a few below):

  • The Pantheon: Magnificent temple (later church) lined in the front with around 30m pillars that hold up the broad (and probably very heavy) dome. How it does what it does is beyond me.
The Pantheon. Cross a street corner, and boom, right in front of you.

  • The Fontana de Trevi: one of many glorious fountains in Roma. The heat and the water fountain provide a much sought after place for refuge. This is one of them.
The Trevi fountain. Lotz of people surrounded the fountain seeking comfort from the heat.

  • The Spanish steps: marbled steps from a fountain up to the entrance of a church. The view from the top are the 2 domes from the Vatican.

The view from atop of the Spanish steps. Notice the domes of the Vatican in the distance. Straight out of a Dan Brown novel, this pic.

The next day we explored Vatican City. St. Peter’s Basilica is a true wonder. I recommend anyone to visit this place – the sheer size of the church and the pillars and statues surrounding it are daunting enough. The inside is even better. I’m running out adjectives to describe the enormous size of the various pillars, paintings, dome, altar etc.

St. Peter's Basilica. Note the people at the entrance. Now imagine pillars around the left and right of this pic. The lens just couldn't capture the whole beauty.

The view from top of the dome of St Peters. Yes, those dots are people. The pic above was taken from some spot down there.

From inside St. Peters. The walls were covered with paintings. The inside was cross

The view from top of the Capella. Yes, those are people.

The view from the top was truly magnificent.

Then it was the Vatican museum. Just too much to describe. Too little space. I’ll skip the intricate museum description (not cause there’s nothing… cause there’s too much), and move to the highlight. The Sistine Chapel. Michaelangelo’s work of art. I won’t bother try and describe it… You just have to see it for yourself. It will probably take about half an hour and a serious neck strain to really absorb all the detail gone into making the ceiling look like the heavens. My neck is sore.

Inside the Vatican Museum. This ceiling spanned around 30m, the ceiling was covered with paintings - each different from the other.

The Sistine chapel. Michaelangelo's masterpiece. A true reflection of his genius. Zoom in to see the famous 'touch of the fingers'.

So… Rome is a must for any serious traveller. A must for those seeking to be enlightened. A must if you want to come back changed.

A few tips just to keep you on a strong foot:

  • Avoid the summer months – its searing hot. The long queues and visitors don’t help the cause either. Claustrophobic people will not be able to do anything.
  • The queues are massive. Expect to wait long periods. But its worth it.
  • The steps of the Capello at St Peter’s is not easy… Take the lifts. J
  • The walk through the residential side of Rome is not really worth it. Especially if you’re running out of time.
  • Do not wear black or wear Caterpillar shoes. It’s a double-edged sword.
  • Drink lots of water.

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