Rome

We had an early train to catch from Monterosso, so were pleased when the hotel manager brought the breakfast food out about fifteen minutes early. It gave us a chance to sit down and enjoy breakfast before we had to leave. We wheeled our cases through the town and along the beach to the railway station in bright, early morning sunshine. It was good to be early for the train to Pisa. It was only a short ride, just over an hour and ten minutes, and it got in about fifty minutes before our connecting train to Rome. The second train journey was longer, about three and a half hours. We found the taxi rank at Roma Termini and, as you can see in the first photo, had to wait in a long queue for the ride to our apartment.

We’re staying in a part of Old Rome called Camp de’ Fiore, which was only a ten minute drive from the train station. By the time we’d been shown around the apartment by our host’s friend, it was 4pm and we hadn’t yet had lunch. We stopped for a slice of pizza at his favourite pizzeria just around the corner. It was pretty good, but we knew that eating a big lunch so late would most likely mean we wouldn’t be particularly hungry for dinner later on, so we found a supermarket and loaded up on a few things to nibble on at home later. The restaurants of Rome could wait another day.

It was raining when we went for a walk at about 5pm. No surprises there. We’ve had rain in every part of our Italian travels at some stage. The Basilica of Sant’Andrea della Valle provided a chance to get out of the rain for a while and also an opportunity to begin our explorations of some of the beautiful churches of Rome. We weren’t disappointed. The artworks on the walls and ceiling of the church were quite breathtaking.

A little further down the road we came across our first Roman ruins at Largo di Torre Argentina. In this square are the remains of Roman temples and Pompey’s Theatre. A few columns and arched walls still stand, while others lie where they’ve fallen over the years. We didn’t stop for long here as it was still raining. In nearby streets we passed other Roman relics.

At the Piazza Venezia we arrived at the massive Monument to the first King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II. The tomb of Italy’s Unknown Soldier is also here, attended dutifully by a guard of honour which has watched over it since 1932. Climbing several flights of stairs within the monument took us to a viewing platform which allowed us to look out over Old Rome. The Colosseum was just down the road, but we could see a long queue, so it will wait for another day when we have more time. The ruins of the Roman Forum, Trajan’s Forum and Trajan’s Market were even closer still, and hopefully we’ll have a chance to have a longer look at these a later time as well.

The rain had stopped and the late evening sun was lighting up the buildings on the Capitoline Hill as we began our walk back to the apartment. This is located on one of the famous Seven Hills of Rome. The Piazza del Campidoglio here was designed during the Renaissance by Michelangelo. A statue of Marcus Aurelius on his horse is the centrepiece of the piazza, surrounded by three impressive buildings, or palazzi, which are now collectively known as the Capitoline Museums. In many places we saw SPQR, which stands for Senātus Populusque Rōmānus in Latin, and literally translates to The Senate and People of Rome.

The sun was shining as we made our way back to the apartment. The Hare Krishnas were singing and dancing near the Argentina ruins. As we walked back through the Campo de’ Fiori piazza, the sunlight fell on the statue of Giordano Bruno, a Dominican friar who proposed theories about the structure of the universe, who was burned at the stake for heresy in this piazza in 1600. The gloomy, brooding nature of the statue is indicative of Bruno’s tragic fate.

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