Long Weekend In Rome

 

Here are photos I took while visiting Rome in late October 2000. 

 

A truly amazing city full of history, life, fashion, mopeds, tiny cars, stylishly dressed Italian women, food, the pope, etc.  Click here for the fully diary of the trip.

 

The City

A completely overexposed shot of the city from god knows where. Still, it's an interesting cityscape and you can see Saint Peter's Basilica.

 

Vatican City

Me and the pope....somewhere behind me on the steps of Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Couldn't get too close to the great man because of all the crowds.

 

 

But you can see him here on PopeTV giving a speech to the masses.  

 

Inside Saint Peters Basilica.  The place is absolutely huge.  Unbelievable to look at inside.  Shows you how much wealth and power the church had over the centuries.  A church in some format has existed here since 64AD to commerate where Saint Peter was martyred.  In the classical period, Nero's Circus once stood on the site.  

 

Swiss Guards guarding one of the entrances to the Vatican.

 

Somewhere inside one of the Vatican museum buildings.  Amazing ceilings.

 

Another ceiling.

 

Bronze statue of the Archangel Michael atop the Castel Sant'Angelo.  This massive fotress overlooking the river Tiber and Vatican City was originally built as Hadrian's mausoleum.  As well as storing dead roman emperors and their families, it eventually became a fort and was a bolt hole for the popes in times of trouble.

 

Statue of an angel in Castel Sant'Angelo.

 

Picture of the the dome of Saint Peter's Basilica through iron bars in a window atop Castel San'Angelo.  I took this photo as it seemed interesting to show the church behind bars.

 

Me (wearing the company tee-shirt no less) with Vatican City and the basilica in the the background.

 

Roman Ruins

Is the Colosseum sinking or was Simon just going for an arty shot?  It was amazing to see the Colosseum after reading about it, seeing pictures of it and seeing the movie Gladiator.  In many ways, it was the symbol of Rome's power - now a shadow of it's former glory but impressive nonetheless.  Hard to believe but in addition to gladiator fights and animal hunts, they also used to flood the arena and have naval battles here.  It was even higher than pictured as it had 1 to 2 higher wooden levels.  In addition, huge sails used to be pulled over the entire arena to shade the occupants during the show. In between contests, you could buy food and even get laid. 

 

The Colosseum from the inside.  A strange thermal is rising from behind it.  Inside, a christen cross marks the place where the emperor would sit.  The cross is in memory of the thousands of people and animals who died there to entertain the masses before TV was invented.

 

One of the passage ways leading up the upper stands of the Colosseum.

 

"Friends, Romans, lend me your ears!" Here are three guys dressed up in Roman attire for having tacky pictures taken with tourists.

 

This is the Arch of Constantine erected to celebrate the 10th anniversary of emperor Constantine's ascent to the throne and victory over some other guy who wanted it.  Goes to show that roman emperors didn't create/seize/rule an empire by having meetings, they did it by killing everyone who got in their way.  

 

There used to be an amazing roman fountain in front of the Arch but it was bulldozed in the 1930's by Mussolini who intended to stage triumphant parades of his armies through the Arch of Constantine to celebrate his victories. However, given the fact that the Italians considered themselves to be more lovers, not fighters - Mussolini never had any victories to celebrate so no triumphant parades ever took place.  Speaking of Italians as lovers, apparently they are also failing on that front as evidenced by the falling birth rate and the projection that Italy will have 10million less Italians in 30-50 years time. Also, 60% of Italian men under the age of 35 still live at home with their mothers.  .

 

Triva aside, this is the remains of the Temple of Venus and Roma as seen from near the Colosseum.

 

Here's another view of the Temple of Venus and Roma.  To the left can be seen the old road leading to the Imperial Forums.

 

I like this shot. It's the remains of the Temple of Saturn with the sun shining in from behind.  The temple of Saturn is one of the oldest temples in Rome and first was built in 467BC.  Subsequently rebuilt to what we see here at some point....blah...blah...blah.

 

This is actually the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina over which the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda was built. The temple is unusally well preserved as attempts to pull down the columns failed due to it's study construction.  In the columns, you can see grooves cut for the ropes which they used to try and pull the columns down.  

 

This is the forum area looking back upto Palatine Hill.  The columns you see are from the Temple of Castor and Polux

 

Another shot of the forum.  Hard to believe but the whole place used to be covered in marble. Place basically fell apart after a lot of metal reinforcing was removed from structures for melting down into weapons by hordes of conquering dark ages dudes.  Most of the marble was taken away through the centuries to build churches for the Christian God.   

 

Actually makes you wonder what religion is in the end. Here you see evidence of the ancient Romans ideas of lots of gods of various temperaments and personalities taken over by the the Christian idea of one god.  Who is right in the end?  Maybe the one god idea (and a compassionate one at that) was just easier for the masses to digest.  Academic for me as I'm atheist. The funny thing is that while I don't believe in religion, I am interested in it.

 

Another view of the forum.  Here, you can see the remains of the Temple of Vespasian, the Arch of Septimius Serverus and the Temple of Saturn.  Incidently, Septimus Serverus happened to be a guy who was in the right place at the right time when a whole lot of long term plans to conquer parts of the world fell into place.  His father actually did most of work apparently according to the guide that was giving us a free trip around the forum. mmmm...just checked the history books, it was Titus, son of Vespasian who got the free ride and the Arch of Titus to celebrate the fact is up the other end of the photo.  Bygones. 

 

Around here, was also given the speech by Marc Anthony upon the death of Julius Caesar that more or less started a war between march Anthony and Julius Caesar's adopted son Octavian (later called Augustus). Ocatavian won.  Marc Anthony and his main squeeze at the time, Cleopatra, committed suicide in Eqypt.

 

Speaking of Augustus, this is his mausoleum - near the river not far from Piazza de Spagna and Piazza del Popolo.   

 

Baths of Caracalla.  Saw the outside of the baths on my trek half way cross Rome to check out the Catacombs.  

 

Colosseum at night.  Crappy photo but reminds me of Halloween with the orangle lighting in the archway.

 

Roman forum at night. Crappy photo again but the falsh battery was dying and is not exactly good at lighting up whole swathes of ruins. As I was taking these shots, I saw several newly married couples having pictures taken near the Colosseum and other ruins.  Pretty groovy location of wedding photos, hey?

 

The Streets of Rome

Ahhhh....Rome....you gotta love the place.  I thought I'd walked all over it once, twice maybe three times but kept finding things I hadn't seen before.

 

A funny place to start but here's a man hole bearing the mark of the city of Rome 'SPQR'.  I find this interesting as it is the symbol that you see in Gladiator or Russell Crowes arm and also on Roman battle standards and artifacts.   

 

Fountain Of the Moor at one end of the Piazza Navona.  Apparently, this is the site of Domitian's Stadium where various sporting events were held during roman times.  The whole piazza is in the shape of a chariot or running track.  The obelisk is part of the spectacular Fontana dei Fiumi byBernini.  There are lots of cafes and bars here and the place is a popular meeting point on Saturday night.

This is a demonstration by the Italian Communist Party or something outside the Baths of Diocletian near Piazza della Republica.  Quite amusing was all the heavily armed police nearby keeping a close eye on them.

 

This is the Fontana di Trevi.  Very beautiful but crowded with hundreds of visitors.  The tradition there is to throw two coins over your shoulder and make a wish.  I did but I've forgotten what I wished for and whatever I wished for hasn't turned up yet.  Also saw a lady surreptitiously throwing a magnet or bag of some kind into the fountain and then pulling it in to collect a whole lot of coins.  Afterwards, she walked quietly away.  Sad.

 

Crazy camera angle warning.  

 

A street somewhere.  Probably leading up to Piazza di Spagna

 

Another pretty street.

 

Yet another one off the Piazza di Spagna

 

Ahhh...the Spanish Steps on the edge of the Piazza del Spagna. So named after the Spanish delegation to the Vatican that is located off the square. The steps are hard to see with the crap photo and all the people but the steps actually widen and narrow in compact stages in no way bound by any rigid  scheme.  

 

The cute church up the top there is called the Trinita dei Monti.  I actually saw a wedding party arrive there.  I've have never seen such a fat ugly bride as that one but you get that on the big jobs.  She was just standing there, bulbous, in white, with a cigerette hanging from her mouth. Pure class.  I almost wanted to run up the groom and drag him away to save him from his fate.  Still, love knows no bounds...okay...but maybe I have a few...

 

Piazza del Spagna absolutely chockers with people on the weekend. 

 

The Gucci and Bulgari stores off the Piazza Del Spagna.  Great shopping is to be had around the area. Lots of beautiful and stylishly dressed Italian women to check out as well.

 

Via Margutta just off Via Del Babuino - the street linking Piazza Del Populo and Piazza di Spagna.  The Via Margutta was lovely to walk down.  So full of paintings and artists.  So many little galleries.  So much I wouldn't mind hanging on my own walls - if I actually owned any walls.  it's times like these that I find it frustrating that I really have no fixed abode.  No flat or plat of land that is actually mine and a permanent base for me and my possessions.  

 

Via Margutta again.  Just around the corner

 

Further up is the Piazza del Populi.  The two identical churches on either side of the Flaminian Obelisk are the Santa Maria di Montesanto and Santa maria dei Miracoli - both by Bernini and magnificent to look at despite their small size.

 

The Flaminian Obelisk.  It dates from 1200BC and was originally erected by Rameses II in Heliopolis opposite the Temple of the Sun according to the guide book. Augustus bought it to Rome and erected in in Circus Maximus. I must say, the Roman emperors sure liked their souvenirs (and probably caused the deaths of hundreds bringing them back to Rome). 

 

I took this photo because I though the actresses were extremely cute.  Again, you can see the 'SPQR' symbol on top of the picture frame.

 

A poster I saw on the wall.  Looks cool.  Advertising the opera 'Boheme'

 

Smart cars are found everywhere in Rome.  I have never seen so many in one place and it makes so much sense - car parking in Rome is a nightmare.

 

And mopeds are parked everywhere.  Sometimes, you see these cars, even tinier than the Smarts occupying moped spaces.

Arty building shot.

 

Another street

 

The 2 Jehovahs Witnesses girls that I partied with on the Saturday night.  Not sure now.  Have to say they were a lot different from the dudes that came knocking on my door the other morning.  I was tempted to follow Billy Connelly's advice and tell them to 'Fuck off' but I meekly took their brochure and said I'd read it.  It went in the bin.

 

Me and one of the Jehovah's Witness girls at this Irish pub.  Can't remember the name but it wasn't the The Drunken Ship where I partied with a whole lot of American college students.  This place was funny as I just hung out with the girls drinking and joked with a lot of the italian guys there.  The Italian guys didn't really speak english but we had a laugh anyway.  Some guy jokes cross language boundaries.

 

Old buildings on the road to the catecombes. No pictures of the Catacombs unfortunately as you cannot take pictures.