When in Roma..

Saturday morning rolled around, and with a tiny bit of a hangover, it was time to move onto the next stop – Rome.

Map progress
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Rome is the capital of Italy and a seriously old city. It is over two and a half thousand years old with a population of three million today. This is where Julius Caesar ruled and lots of gladiator fights happened. We started with a drive around the city looking at the massive monuments like the colosseum, Hercules temple shrine, and St Peters basilica before heading into some side streets on foot in search of dinner.

The Trinity Fountain
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Dinner I have to mention, was absolutely amazing. I had fettetinie with shrimps and zucchini. Oh it was just amazing amazing fresh Italian pasta to die for.

By then it was pretty late in the night so it was time for bed. The Roman contiki camp was the cutest tour accommodation so far. Shelley and I were in a sweet wee wooden cabin that totally had the old wooden shuttered windows that open right outwards. So far throughout the trip the accommodation has varied quite greatly. Especially the shower and pillow quality. Some with bedbugs (eek), most without. In Venice we were essentially in caravans. Munich, Prague, Berlin, and Amsterdam were large hostel buildings part of a chain with the Berlin one (called Berlin Plus), being particularly neat. I plan to stay in the Berlin one again as I really liked the funky friendly atmosphere and great location there.

The next morning we headed into the city on the public transport system. Rome has an excellent train and metro system that works in a very similar way to the London tube so very easy to use and work out.

To begin with, Shelley and I set off to view St Peters basilica from a unique perspective. Up a hill near Circus Maximus (some old ruins of a palace from long ago), you can look through the keyhole on some big old wooden gates. The bushes behind line up perfectly to frame the basilica roof giving quite a beautiful view. It is pretty hard to photograph without an amazing camera. But here is my best attempt.

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Circus Maximus
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Next we were off to view the Mouth of Truth wall where legend has it, if you tell a lie while your hand is in the mouth, the statue will bite off your hand. Unfortunately the queue line was too long to test this theory so it was off to the Vatican City next.

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Since we were in Rome on a Sunday, we had the chance to do something quite special that not every tourist gets to do – witness the pope giving his Sunday blessing in person at the square. Shelley and I crammed into the square along with thousands of other people in the hot Roman sun and watched and listened as Pope Franseco gave his Italian blessing. It was amazing to be part of. However it was super crowded and we were literally squeezed together like sweaty sardines in the crowd for a full forty minutes in the heat. Needless to say, neither me or Shelley ever want to do that again. Once was definitely enough. Shelley ended up quite sunburnt (despite sunblock), and we both felt like fainting with the extreme heat of the sun and crowd. Sitting in a nice air conditioned gelato cafe post-blessing helped the recovery process.

Me in my sunsmart blessing gear
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Thousands of people
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Then it was lunchtime. Dying of hunger pains, we just picked the first restaurant we came across. It had cheap prices, as we discovered it was cheap for a reason. The food was pretty awful and microwaved. My lasagna tasted like tomato sauce as did Shelley’s pizza. Worst Italian meal so far. Next time I’ll be a bit choosier and go for somewhere where the food is made fresh to get the mind-blowing experience that I’ve become accustomed to.

For the afternoon there was just one big monument left to see. The most famous and biggest sight in Rome – the Colosseum. It was getting pretty hot by that part of the day. We had a specially booked contiki tour guide person, but with the heat I found it too hard to concentrate on what she was saying so I wandered off a couple of tour mates to take photos.

Inside the Colosseum
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And outside
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And with that, it was time to head back to the campsite for another contiki party to celebrate our last night in Rome. This one with a Roma theme.

Overall I really loved Rome. It’s a beautiful old city that’s relatively clean and easy to get around in. One evening and a day was not enough time for this city. I didn’t even get anywhere near half of the touristy things done that I wanted to do. But best of all, you can sit anywhere for free unlike Venice!

Final verdict – excellent!

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