October 2000 - Rome, Italy

This is just a bunch of notes I jotted down in my Palm Pilot while I was in Rome.  Added in extra notes for bits I didn't write up. Click here to check out the photos.

 

Friday 27 October 2000

Had a cool day once I decided to get out out of bed.  Checked out the Colosseum. Got a free tour around the outside from these guys offering not so free tours of other places.  Amazing to look at.  Was bought back to the opening scenes of the movie Titus Andronicus where you see the ruins of the Colosseum.  Actually, it could be another stadium but it looked impressive in the movie.  Incidentally, they filmed some other scenes in Rome outside a famous building in the E.U.R area.  Check it out if you get the chance. 

 

Also thought of the Colosseum (computer generated) in the movie Gladiator. The size of the thing was truly immense. Amazing to see it so close up. 

 

Joined another 'free' tour of the Roman Forums.  Was excellent as the woman was American and extremely theatrical and enjoyed talking about the place. It was great as she really bought it to life.  She finished off by doing a speech from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Riveting stuff. I think it was Mark Anthony's speech to the Romans after Caesar was murdered by Brutus. Met two girls from Brisbane. More on them later.  

 

Worked my way around Piazza Venezia and a whole lot of grandiose Italian government buildings and up Corso Vittorio Emmanuele.  Got lost looking for the Pantheon but eventually found it.  The Pantheon was impressive but I was a bit under whelmed by it all.  Is basically a church inside.  Still, it was good to be walking through the streets and getting a feel for the place.

 

Ended up in an Irish bar and met up with the two girls from Brisbane.  Another guy turned up and we all ended up going to dinner together.  Turned out they were Jehovah's Witnesses on holiday.  They were really nice.  Was interesting to find out about the whole Jehovah's Witness thing as well.  Apparently, the Jehovah's Witnesses hold that the is a limit on how many people who can go to heaven.  These two girls said that they definitely wouldn't make it as the place upstairs was full and they probably sinned too much.  Interesting line of thought.  We all ended up going back to the Irish bar and getting totally trashed.  All in all, not a bad Friday night.

 

Saturday 28 October 2000

Got out of bed a little later than planned. Definitely the last time I hit the town with a bunch of Jehovah's Witnesses. Missed planned tour so thought I'd check out the Vatican by myself. Got to the P.San Pietro and saw it filled with school kids. After a few speeches by church functionaries, a whole lot of cheering thg Pope gave a speech. It didn't do much for me as I don't understand Italian. My mind drifted & I started having impure thoughts - making love, nuns, monks and a donkey named Pedro.  Not really good form when the pope is speaking. Must have been all the cute teenage italian school girls wearing short school dresses & amazingly form fitting school blazers. It was a far sight from my school days.  Actually, I'm lying about the donkey thing.

 

After the pope, I checked out the Sistine Chapel. I was a bit under whelmed (yep! that phrase again) at first but the more I studied it, the more I appreciated it. The ceiling is amazing as is the Last Judgement - all by Michelangelo. I recommend the audio guide to get the full appreciation for it. BTW, this is also the place where the Cardinals elect the pope and signal the results with smoke from the chapel's chimney. Like the Indians. Pretty cool heh?

 

Also checked out some of the artworks and Egyptian stuff but ran out of time b4 the place closed for the afternoon. Also realised that I hadn't paid for my accommodation that night and had to rush back to the Hotel Aphrodite near Stazione Di Termini. Just managed to get the last bed for the night.

 

Dinner that night was spent hunting around for Trastevere for a restuarant.  Don't know where I ended up exactly but I think it was near Teatro Argentina.  Had dinner in this restuarant.  Food was fine but company wasn't (that is, me, myself and I) so I started chatting to these two American college students - Katie and Jennifer - who were studying in Rome.  They were great girls.  We ended up going to The Drunken Ship and getting totally wasted.  Didn't get back to the hotel very very late.  Finished off a fantastic night by vomiting in copious amounts in the toilet next to my dorm room.  room mates were not impressed the next morning.

 

Italian Women

Women are amazing in Rome. The style of the clothes they wear, the way they hold themselves, the makeup, the hair, the sultry sensual look and finally the attitude. I love the look of them when they are just hopping off their scooters with their helmets casually worn on their heads like it was just another stylish accessory. My eyes have been overwhelmed by it all.

 

Sunday 29 October 2000

Got up relatively early feeling rather seedy and wondering yet again how the cat that shat in my mouth got into the hotel room. One day, I'm going to find it and kill it. 

 

Decided to head off yet again to see San Pietro's Basilica from the inside. Yet again I failed miserably as they were having another Jubilee 2000 mass. Saw the Pope again but soon got bored and decided to check out Castel Sant' Angelo. Was pretty impressed with it because as well as being the bolt hole for popes of yore in times of strife (which goes to show that despite being God's chief ambassador to the savages on the planet earth, if someone else has got a bigger army than yours, pope or no pope - you're still going to get your arse kicked), it was also the mausoleum for the roman emperor Hadrian. Had a great view of the Vatican as well. 

 

After the castle, I followed the river around and checked out Mausolao Di Augusto - the final resting place of the first emperor of Rome. Had a beautiful outdoor lunch of roasted tomato stuff with rice plus chicken tortellini in a chicken broth sauce. Beautiful.

 

Wandered up to Piazza del Popola and Piazzale Flamino to have look around and take pictures of all the Italians enjoying their Sunday afternoon. One curious thing you see in the Piazza del Popola (and other places too) is the Flaminian Obelisk. Dating to 1200BC, it was originally erected by the Egyptian pharaoh Rameses II in Heliopolis opposite the Temple of the Sun. Make you realise how far the Roman Empire stretched. Emperor Augustus originally bought it to Rome and re-erected it in the Circus Maximus before some Pope had it moved in the 16th century.

 

Anyway, eventually stopped people watching and walked halfway across Rome to Circus Maximus where the Romans use to hold their chariot races (ala Ben Hur). All you can see today is the original shape from the lay of the land but it's pretty impressive - especially with the ruins on Palatine Hill beside it. These ruins are interesting due to their sheer size. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to checking them out. 

 

Went to check out another huge set of ruins of the Baths of Caracalla. Very impressive from the outside but they were closed by the time I got there. Kept walking along the cobbled Via di Porta San Sebastiano towards the Catacombs. On the way I passed the church of 'Domine Quo Vadis? (Lord, where are you going?'. This it where Jesus appeared to the apostle Peter as he was fleeing Rome for fear of being crucified.  Jesus gave him some advice that resulted in Peter going back to Rome and subsequent career ending martyrdom.

 

Eventually arrived at the Catacombs of San Callisto and I'm dreaming of walking through them listening to Jimi Hendrix & smoking a spliff. Unfortunately, I'm not even allowed to take pictures of the ancient underground Christian burial site let alone what I'm dreaming. By the way, the catacombs were pretty interesting although there was no groovy skeletons like the catacombs in Paris.

 

A long walk back to the hotel followed but managed to take in the ruins of Circus Maximus, the Colosseum, Palatine Hill and the Forums. Absolutely spectacular at night. Also saw a few newlyweds having their pictures taken. Great backdrop for it all. Amazing.

 

Ended up having a great dinner of antipasti, ravioli with spinach and ricotta as well as a bottle of red. Decided to have an early night after that - just for a change. Was meant to meet up with Katie and Jennifer at The Drunken Ship but couldn't be bothered.

 

Monday 30 October 2000

Got up relatively early to see if I could avoid the crowds (3rd time lucky) and check out the inside of San Pietro's Basilica. It was worth the effort. Don't think I've seen such a grand church - wall to wall marble and amazing painted ceilings. Also checked out the crypt but that was pretty boring apart from a chaple for San Pietro. There has a huge queue of people for the dome so I gave it a miss. Pity, because the view is meant to be spectacular. It's really great that Rome doesn't have huge skyscrapers - the character of the city has really been preserved.

 

Tried to check out some of the museums in the park near Piazza del Popolo but they were all closed. Still, there was plenty to see just walking down and around Piazza del Spagna - famously named for the location of the Spanish mission to the Vatican and a set of steps known as the Spanish Steps.

 

Had ravioli for lunch against some restaurant and wandered in and out of all the shops. The area is really characterful and the shops looked amazing. Took lots of pictures. Its a pity I didn't have a female friend with me as i would have felt more comfortable going into the women's shops. I like looking at women's clothing - its always so much more vibrant, exciting and colourful. Contrary to popular belief however - I'm not into wearing it. Still, had a good time although I didn't buy anything.

After a couple of hours, I called it a weekend and headed to the airport. All in all, a pretty good weekend with a heap of good sight-seeing, Italian food and partying.